Rugged Individualism

QUESTION: What is rugged Individualism?

ANSWER: Rugged Individualism (Frontier culture in America) was first presented as an important historical event at a meeting of the World Congress of Historians held in Chicago in the summer of 1893. A young professor from the University Wisconsin named Frederick Jackson Turner read his social analysis entitled "The Significance of the Frontier in American History." In it, he told Americans they were a rugged, self-made race of men, forged in adversity through the pioneering experience, reborn and purified into a breed unique on earth.

Maybe a more accurate and less romanticized view of what the uninhabited American frontier provided was space where people were able to choose to live among like-minded people in isolation from others and the raw material necessary to do it. And the hardship of the pioneer experience did forge a new society by requiring the people to drop some of the cultural makeup, to undergo a trait reduction and simplification. Meanwhile, those traits which were retained became more important and formed a base to which new traits were added to form a new culture. Frederick Jackson Turner may have been wrong in much of his historical analysis, but he did capture a true sense of American rugged individualism.

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