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Robert Kennedy's United States History Class

  1. Concept number one{ Discuss and demonstrate the values that develo ed in the frontier.

  • [[PASTING TABLES IS NOT SUPPORTED]] .The frontier was not so much a sect10n o e country as it was a state of mind for the American people. It produced a new set of values which reinforced the worth of the individual within society. ,

  1. The state of mind represents American Ws and attitudes which came out of America's experience on the frontier. There are SIX major values that came out of this experience:

1..-7Opportunity = frontier. Up until 1890, the frontier was mostly landed, which gave opportunity to those who had the will and ability to survive.
2.· Social Mobility. The frontier gave people the opportunity to s;hange class. Our society encourages people to make this change if they HAVE THE ABILITY. THIS IS WHAT MADE THE UNITED STATES UNIQUE AND THE OPPORTUNITY TO CHANGE CLASS HAS BEEN THE DRIVING FORCE BEHIND AMERICAN DEVELOPMENT .
3. -7:Social Darwinism. Having the ability to adjust to the envirournent ; survival

  1. of the fittest. To survive in the frontier one needed the ability to physically
  2. adjust to the harshness of the environment whether that be the landed frontier or the business opportunities of the industrial frontier.
  3. Pragmatism (practical). To adjust to the environment you have to be practical, flexibk, do what works, etc. ·
  4. Rugged Individual. The rugged individual or a self made man was self reliant
  5. and had the inner strength that allowed him to survive.M"i 'f.1 1 j9 ·· I
  6. Laissez Faire. In the landed frontier there was no structured society to regulate or protect the individual. Thus, with the available land there was opportuni for those rugged individuals who were.J?ragmatic enough to a just to the environment.
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  8. . Concept number two : Discuss the two types of frontiers and the patterns found in each
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  1. There'were two types of frontiers; the first was the existed from )607-1890. Examples are the fur trade, the mining front1e ,_. cattle kingdom.
  2. / ,--

    B. The second type of frontier is theJNDl ISIRJ AJ.. f ROMTIER . which started in

    [[PASTING TABLES IS NOT SUPPORTED]] when the United States was first recognized as anl!!-dustrial natio..u_ and has continued

    &I'{- until today in the 1990's. Examples are John D. Rockefeller and the qU: refinr;&..

    industry, drew Carnegie's steel industry , and Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs, the

    founders of 9\pple.Computers.

    Within each frontier there are two patterns to be found.

First there is the PRIMARY FRONTIER. This is the time period when the individual has a chance to becom:e ithout inveg a lot of

money . It takes hard work, self-discipline , thrift, and a willingness to­

gwticip'ate in the frontier. The primary frontier is generally replaced by the

2. The SECONDARY FRONTIER is the period where the individual has a much harder time being successful. In order to be successful during this period, large capital outlays are necessary for research and investment. It

-ta-kes money to make money.

Concept number three: What makes the development of American institutions and values

unique and wh. at is an American?

  1. Background : In order to understand and appreciate the development of our institutions we need to discuss them from an historical persepective.In studying the history of our country, one sees the evolutionary development of our political , economic, and social institutions ; from a simple colonial organism to the complex units we have today. Quotes from John Adams and Dr. Benjamin Rush help demonstrate this point:

  • Adams stated: "But what do we mean by the American Revolution? Do we mean the American war? The Revolution was effected before the war commenced. The revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people.. .. This radical change in the principles , opinions, sentiments, and affections of the people was the real American Revolution."

  1. Thus the American Revolution was a process, that started with our first representative government in Virginia with the House of Burgesses of 1619 and continued up through the Declaration of Independence of 1776. What was significant about the American Revolution was not that the colonists invented new principles; but, within the context of the American environment. they realized the theories of the wisest European writers. -
  2. Thus; it was not new revolutionary ideas that bought about the American Revolution or changed the colonist's complacency with England. It was the revolutionary conditions of America 'senvironment (free land = opportunity which = frontier) which impacted America's social, economic, and political systems as theywere transplanted from Europe and developed within this country . This process of European ideas being transplanted to America and interacting within the environment forced American thinkers to come up with new ideas to understand and explain their position.
  3. America's first continental frontier was the<Atlantic coast; its last was the Great Plains. As the frontier moved west it became more American; thus the advance of the frontier meant a steady movement( away from the influence of Europe and a steady growth ofindependence on American lines. The isolation of the frontier from England or as settlement moved deeper into the continent allowed for the development of truly American ideas which redefined old values and produced new ways of looking at freedom,( opportunity, and social mobility[[PASTING TABLES IS NOT SUPPORTED]] This process was the American Revolution, as it, reinforced the worth of the individual both within society and to himself . This is what Adams had in mind when he said: "This radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments, and affections of the people was the real American Revolution. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people ..... The Revolution was effected before the war commenced." In otherwords; the American Revolutionary War was fought to preserve what the American Revolution as a process hadcompleted by 1776. 0_ fN.Y. c! c- ,,f. Dr. Rush a patriot from Massachusetts, expanded on John Adams' statement: "There is nothing more common than to confound the terms of American Revolution with those of the late American War. The American war is over, but this is far from being the case with thecr..rvV : ) l 4'1µ fll . :£,..vV'-l 1V\e;'f0- ----- h<.J-< { (l\tt .

* eq ual, but it does advocate t!!,at everyone ousht to have an opportynity for social mobility and a chance for success. "' -

1. Thus, the self-made person is the American ideal and is the kind of person that all men or women might become.

Hence, our history shows that Americans, more so than any other people in the world, have an open field in their attempt to fulfill their desires and destiny.

However, the values (the big six) that emerge out of the frontier are only

_ good in the frontir. There is no ( 1) social mobility j\'ithout the frontier because once it has bee conq uered there is no more (2) opportunity.

Without opportµn jt:)'. the (3) rugged individual does not haye the chance to

....make (4) pragmatic adjustments to his/her environmt in order to enhance his/her advancement.

The frontier can only exi t in an unstructured environment (5) (laissez faire) which gives the people who are rugged individuals and who have the abilities to adjust to that environment (6) (Social Darwimsm) the opportunity to be successful.

As America's free land disappeared and the economic base of our society changed (from agrarian to big business,) the nature of America's frontiers also changed. Business opportunities became the new frontier.

. Once a frontier is conquered or becomes settled and a society is firmly established, social classes develop and society becomes rigid. This happens because the controlling aristocracy (be it cattlemen versus the homesteaders, or in business, the dominant business entity versus the new business entity) uses its influence to keep others out. Consequently , the opportunity that once existed passes.

IV. Concept number four: Discuss ethnicity as a means of developing an idenity in today's society. You must also answer the question: What should be the defining element of American society; ethnicity or American idelogoy? - )

This theory of free land and the uniqueness of American institutions comes together under two theories: (1) the Germ theory and (2) Americanization by miture.

. . American institutions began tlieir development with the Germ theory. The Germ theory involves the idea that when people came to this country,

regardless of nationality, they came with the idea of doing better than they had done at home because America was a land of opportunity. They also came with the idea that they would preserve their old cultural values intact because they would germinate them (plant the seeds of their culture) in the American soil or environment. They expected to live in the same manner and fashion they had lived in the old country, but they would be better off financially .

a. Hence, our early history is the study of European institutions developing in an American environment. Today, its the development of Asisan and Latin institution developing in an American environment. Chart.

b. America's values and democratic systems did not originate in the German or English forests but in the American forests and plains. Consequently; the Germ theory fails and the Americanization process by mixtu re develops.

  1. Under the theory of the Americanization by mixture, dissimilar men and institutions were brought into the same empty frontier zone in a sort of melting pot process. The frontier promoted the formation of a composite nationality for the American people. It was in the crucible of the frontier that the immigrants were Americanized, liberated, and fused into a mixed race, English in neither nationality nor characteristics.
  2. In the community he left, the immigrant usually had a fixed place. He would carry on his father's craft or trade; he would farm his father's land, or that small portion of it that was left to him after it was divided with his brothers.



  1. Once having broken with the past, except for sert'timental ties andcultural inheritance, he had to rely on his own ability. It was the future and not the past to which he was compelled to address himself.Hence, this is why, since 1607, when the first English settlers reached Ithe New World that over 68 million people have migrated to the United States. This represents the largest migration of people in all recorded history.6

  • The Americanization by mixture or melting pot process was accepted by historian and the general public until the late l 980's. From the late l 980's, to the present, there has arisen an emphasis on ethnicity as the defining element of developing and identity in American for many_nonwhite people.

  1. The following material contains different segments from Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.' s book, The Disuniting of America : Reflections on A Multicultral Societv.

  1. Discuss Schlesinger's statements and develop an opinion to the following question: What is an American and how do you define Americanism?


Discuss the role of cultural conflict as well as the historical patterns of the relations between the white man and the Native Americans.

  1. Concept number one: Discuss the problem of defining and maintaining an identity for the Native American in the
  2. The major problem the Native American has in society today is one of establishing an identity.
  3. The Native Americans remain probably some of the most misunderstood Americans of us all. They share no common native language and few common customs, but they do have some common traits.
  4. Our treatment of the Native American during our past still affects the national conscience. We have been hampered by the history of our relationship with the Native American in our efforts to develop a fair national policy governing present and future treatment of Native Americans.
  5. Before we can develop a successful policy to work with the Native American. we have to know where we have been in the past. Hence, it seems a basic requirement to study the history of the Native American. .,
  6. The problem of identity for the Native American can best be demonstrated by the use of the word "Indian." What and who is an Indian?
  7. I . . There is no clear answer to this question, since different people apply different definitions. Generally, however, most definitions rest either upon a "cultural" or a "racial" basis, with the former being used most widely in Latin America and the latter in the
  8. In brief, from the Latin American perspective, to be a Native American is to live a Native way of life. '