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Week 3 Reflection Narrative Paper Jonathan Nguyen University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign RST 242 Nature and American Culture Dr Jacob Fredericks February 4th 2024 2 The American frontier is a concept that holds a sense of mysticism and sparks imagination Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries the United States was a young country aiming to expand its territories westward However I define the frontier as the border separating two countries There have been many frontiers throughout the history of the United States One of the most famous frontiers was the frontier created after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 which gave the U S a massive area of land to explore and settle This frontier had been previously unexplored and mostly uninhabited by Europeans The photo shown below depicts a different type of frontier It shows the U S Mexico border where people waited along the border wall to have their claims for U S citizenship processed The main concept presented by Turner s Frontier Thesis is that the hardship that the United States people underwent by exploring the frontier made them stronger since they became more independent and resourceful Turner emphasized the strength and rugged individualism that Americans gained from the frontier and that this promoted the development of democracy However Turner failed to acknowledge that Native Americans already inhabited the frontier 3 long before the Europeans had arrived which brings the validity of his argument into question In Nature s Nation Obie expands upon this idea by stating that In America a landscape depleted of wood from a forest a low tobacco harvest from overused soil or the end of a vein of iron ore could also be remedied by a fresh start in the western wilderness Opie 1998 p 116 This reveals that the United States had become too small for the rapidly growing population and that resources were becoming scarce As the population continued to grow from 4 million in 1790 to 17 million in 1840 Opie 1988 p 115 so did the settlers insatiable appetite for land and resources Some looked on the West as a source of untapped wealth ready and waiting for single minded businessmen Opie 1998 p 159 The West promised economic prosperity and high standards of living which was very attractive My definition of the frontier is different from Opie s description of westward expansion Opie described the frontier as the border between civilized American states and the wild west which was filled with obstacles and uncertainty I would not like to live on the western frontier during the 19th century because I would feel too much pressure to establish a livelihood for myself and my future generations The unpredictability and riskiness of exploring the frontier is not something that I would personally prefer to experience However I would enjoy the adventure aspect of exploring the frontier Exploring nature has significant benefits as one can find peace of mind and develop an appreciation for the natural world For example my family loves traveling to new places such as the Caribbean because we enjoy experiencing landscapes that we do not get to see in Illinois such as vibrant blue oceans and breathtaking mountains References 4 Fallon P T 2023 An aerial image shows people waiting along the border wall to surrender to US border patrol agents to have their claims processed Photograph The Guardian https www theguardian com us news gallery 2023 may 11 us mexico border photos title 42 Opie J 1998 Nature s nation An environmental history of the United States pp 114 185

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UIUC RST 242 - Week 3 Reflection Narrative Paper

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