Fredrick Jackson Turner developed the thesis that the American West created and reinforced the American ideals of: equality, democracy, opportunity, and individualism. I disagree with Turner?s thesis and feel that the American West created just the opposite. It created a period of inopportunity and inequality especially between the rich and the poor classes of the time period.
There are many things to show that Turner?s thesis was off beam. The Homestead Act was one such thing. This act gave every person who wanted it the opportunity to take free land. However, the government gave more plots of land to important people that they did to ordinary people. Also, land speculators snatched up big portions of land and held on to them so that they could sell them for profit at a later time. This left the ordinary people with much less land to live on and much less opportunity. This shows inequality between the different classes of this time period.
Another thing to show inequality between the different classes in the period of 1865 to 1900 was the new version of the reaper invented by Cyrus McCormick. This was expensive and not all could afford it, once again showing unequal opportunity. This led to a disadvantage for the poorer folk and left them with much more labor. The people who could afford this reaper profited more than those who didn?t, thus showing inequality between the rich and poor.
A final example that showed how Turner?s thesis was erroneous was the Sand Creek Massacre. Seven hundred Colorado drunkards marched their way to the Indians? fort and started to maim and mutilate them. They ended up killing a lot of Indians. This is obviously unequal treatment between the whites and the Indians. The whites could freely kill Indians on a whim without any punishment. Indians were forced to leave their lands, move onto reservations, and flee their homelands. In essence, Native Americans were treated more like animals than people.
Clearly, the above information shows how the American West created unequal lifestyles between the different classes in the period of 1865-1900. Some may feel that Turner?s thesis is valid, while I disagree and the supporting facts above show how it is an unsound document.