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Thread: frontier heritage

  1. #1 frontier heritage 
    Forum Freshman phoebe's Avatar
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    why Americans like to believe that a difficult problem can be solved immediately—an impossible one may take a little longer, and why political leaders have reminded Americans of their frontier heritage and the tough determination of their pioneer ancestors, when times were hard, traditionally.


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    I can't recall being reminded of my frontier heritage except maybe indirectly in history class, or when watching the hystory channel.

    Maybe others have been reminded of their heritage, but not me, and I am an American.

    I also don't "like to believe that a difficult problem can be solved immediately."

    Although I may on occasion be wrong in thinking this way, I nonetheless do not "like to believe" that way. When I am presented with a prior mistake I correct it. If I am overly ambitious and this somehow prevents me from accomplishing my goal, then I "like to believe" that I have the faculties to eventually notice, take a step back, slow down, and/or change whatever I was doing wrong.

    Of course I may not be your average American. Scholastically I am in the top 25%, which, in my opinion, has at least something to do with one's problem solving skills.

    Nonetheless can you provide some support for your claim that "Americans like to believe that a difficult problem can be solved immediately" because I first of all, don't agree with this statement, and second of all, don't know exactly what your talking about.

    Also please provide some examples of political leaders speaking about American frontier heritage because I'm pretty sure you can find out why they did by the context of what it is they said, who they were specifically speaking to, and the general reaction of those individuals to current(current then) affairs.


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  4. #3 Re: frontier heritage 
    Forum Isotope Bunbury's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by phoebe
    why Americans like to believe that a difficult problem can be solved immediately
    A really silly generalization.

    political leaders have reminded Americans of their frontier heritage and the tough determination of their pioneer ancestors, when times were hard, traditionally.
    Maybe some have, although none comes immediately to mind. Many Americans understand that the settlement of the west, and the existence of great cities here, depended on the federal government far more than on "tough determination of their pioneer ancestors".
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    It depends where exactly in the US you're talking about. Certainly Utah has a strong nationalistic sense of pride for pioneers. There's a pioneer day parade at the tail end of June, for instance (in a few days I believe).

    In a more general sense Wyoming, Texas, and probably a few others have a "cowboy" pride. But that's not quite the same thing.
    "A witty saying proves nothing." - Voltaire
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  6. #5  
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    Quote Originally Posted by phoebe
    why Americans like to believe that a difficult problem can be solved immediately—an impossible one may take a little longer, and why political leaders have reminded Americans of their frontier heritage and the tough determination of their pioneer ancestors, when times were hard, traditionally.
    I think Americans these days like to think you can just fight about everything, and when dust settles the problem will magically have been solved. Liberals do it just as much as conservatives, only with libs it's about protesting until the powers that be solve the problem for you, rather than killing off the decade's favorite bad guy.

    Quote Originally Posted by Numsgil
    It depends where exactly in the US you're talking about. Certainly Utah has a strong nationalistic sense of pride for pioneers. There's a pioneer day parade at the tail end of June, for instance (in a few days I believe).

    In a more general sense Wyoming, Texas, and probably a few others have a "cowboy" pride. But that's not quite the same thing.
    The Utah'ns are a fine example of a settlement that benefited very little from any federal assistance whatsoever.
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    "I think Americans these days like to think you can just fight about everything, and when dust settles the problem will magically have been solved."

    Again, read my above post. There are many sub-cultures within America, some embrace American ideals, others do not.

    "Liberals do it just as much as conservatives, only with libs it's about protesting until the powers that be solve the problem for you, rather than killing off the decade's favorite bad guy."

    LOL, I'm very conservative and enjoy me a peaceful protest. Are you implying that conservatives don't protest and that liberals don't use violence?
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  8. #7  
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    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    Nonetheless can you provide some support for your claim that "Americans like to believe that a difficult problem can be solved immediately" because I first of all, don't agree with this statement, and second of all, don't know exactly what your talking about.

    Also please provide some examples of political leaders speaking about American frontier heritage because I'm pretty sure you can find out why they did by the context of what it is they said, who they were specifically speaking to, and the general reaction of those individuals to current(current then) affairs.
    Thank you very much for answering my question. I am not an American. This semester I learned a course "American Way" to study American culture, beliefs,values, religions, business, history and politics. I admire those American ways very much after that course. The United States of America must be a marvelous country.

    The sentences"Americans like to believe that a difficult problem can be solved immediately" and "political leaders have reminded American of their frontier heritage" are writen in my textbook--American Ways, writen by Maryanne Kearny Datesman. The writer consider it as "the Can-Do Spirit". I am quite confused about the first sentense because I cannot understand it.
    for"political leaders have reminded American of their frontier heritage", we can take Schwarzenegger as an example. during his campaign, he frequently referred to his movie role as "the terminator" and talked about how he was going to clean up the state government, then his image appealed to Californian voters.
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    I rather admire some of the responses to the opening 'assumption'. Broad brush description of a culture, nation etc. are often just accepted without challenge.

    When one hears 'The Chinese think that... or People in India want ' ... is it a true reflecetion of those nations? Can a country like China, with a territory larger than the USA and 4 times the population be summed up in any sentence that 10 Chinese would agree upon?

    Those of us not American get a constant barage of 'Americans' are this or that. Generalities such as: 'I'd never go the the USA as it's too dangerous to walk down the street'....the only thing ever killed on the street of Shelby, Montana was probably a dog run over.
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    Quote Originally Posted by raptordigits
    Those of us not American get a constant barage of 'Americans' are this or that. Generalities such as: 'I'd never go the the USA as it's too dangerous to walk down the street'....the only thing ever killed on the street of Shelby, Montana was probably a dog run over.
    I am very sorry about that. these two sentences are written in my textbook and I do not know whether it is right or wrong. Thank you for noticing me.
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    I am probably closer to a 'frontier heritage' than most Americans, since I am a New Zealander, and our country was settled much more recently. My Aunt was born in the rain forest in a tent, since my grandparents had not got round to building a house on their land. My father was heavily engaged in muscle and back breaking work in converting said rain forest to a farm. Today he would be called an environmental vandal, but then he was a pioneering hero.

    So as the son of a pioneer - am I tougher and more adaptable???
    Actually, I am a total wimp, and would not know how to solve their kind of problems at all. I am physically lazy and much more oriented to mental tasks. So much for the pioneering spirit!
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    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    "I think Americans these days like to think you can just fight about everything, and when dust settles the problem will magically have been solved."

    Again, read my above post. There are many sub-cultures within America, some embrace American ideals, others do not.
    The political majority makes the decisions about whether we'll send our soldiers into a war, not the fringe groups, or "sub-cultures".

    "Liberals do it just as much as conservatives, only with libs it's about protesting until the powers that be solve the problem for you, rather than killing off the decade's favorite bad guy."

    LOL, I'm very conservative and enjoy me a peaceful protest. Are you implying that conservatives don't protest and that liberals don't use violence?
    Good point. Conservatives often show up en mass to protest things like Gay marriage, or the showing of movies that offend them. However, in terms of foreign policy, I rarely see conservatives protesting anything the US gov. chooses to do abroad.
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  13. #12  
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    "Good point. Conservatives often show up en mass to protest things like Gay marriage, or the showing of movies that offend them. However, in terms of foreign policy, I rarely see conservatives protesting anything the US gov. chooses to do abroad."

    Inductive reasoning is mindboggling.

    Liberals hate it when I tell them that I'm conservative even when I beleve in the same things but for a different reason, and think we should accomplish them in different ways.

    For example, the only reason I'm conservative and not liberal is because I don't like the government. The smaller the government the better. Welfare and socialization are all JUST as possible if done by independent groups with specific foci and not a centralized control station for all the melting pot's wants and needs.

    So I'm all about helping humanity and making a better world, although I'm completely indifferent towards Gay marriage and censorship, and no that's not a tactic for avoiding confrontation, Indeed I fight with many people on both sides about my right to remain indifferent.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    I am a New Zealander, and our country was settled much more recently. My Aunt was born in the rain forest in a tent, since my grandparents had not got round to building a house on their land. My father was heavily engaged in muscle and back breaking work in converting said rain forest to a farm. Today he would be called an environmental vandal, but then he was a pioneering hero.
    New Zealanders are great heroes because they glorified this beautiful land. I respect them very much. Their spirit is a source of pride and inspiration.
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  15. #14  
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    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    "Good point. Conservatives often show up en mass to protest things like Gay marriage, or the showing of movies that offend them. However, in terms of foreign policy, I rarely see conservatives protesting anything the US gov. chooses to do abroad."

    Inductive reasoning is mindboggling.

    Liberals hate it when I tell them that I'm conservative even when I beleve in the same things but for a different reason, and think we should accomplish them in different ways.

    For example, the only reason I'm conservative and not liberal is because I don't like the government. The smaller the government the better. Welfare and socialization are all JUST as possible if done by independent groups with specific foci and not a centralized control station for all the melting pot's wants and needs.

    So I'm all about helping humanity and making a better world, although I'm completely indifferent towards Gay marriage and censorship, and no that's not a tactic for avoiding confrontation, Indeed I fight with many people on both sides about my right to remain indifferent.
    You might be a conservative by declaration, but you are certainly an outlier within a group that's largely homogeneous.

    Also, belief in welfare or big government is not a central tenant of liberalism. Some liberals may also want to shrink the government, just not very many of the currently elected democrats.
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    Of course, no-one is pure conservative or pure liberal. I am a mixture of the two myself. I believe that humans can help themselves better than central government can help them, and that central government's main task is to remove obstacles to the performance of individuals and businesses. Not that central government has much of a record of doing that!

    However, I also believe that humans are social animals, and we need to get together to work together for the common good. This makes me a mixture. And I think most people are mixtures.
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    Indeed, I'm beyond conservative, but there are rather solid borders between "traditionalism" and "open mindedness"

    You can have your own traditions and be open minded when it comes to certain things, but when it comes down to it your ideals are either that people should be open minded and learn new things, or that we should stick to old systems and do what has been shown to work.

    There are some circumstances they may be the same, but for the most part they are clearly different directions to focus our energy.


    If conservativism is measured by their traditionalism then how far back do their traditions go? For example, I'm American, so do my traditions start at the revolution? the civil war? WW2? the vietnam era? are my traditions war and the mythology of freedom and democracy?

    no

    my traditions are not relative ideals... if my traditions are freedom then I am a slave without a master, if my traditions are democracy then I am a tyrant without a throne. My traditions are older than the US and resemble socialism, but are not enabled by the government, only my own force of will
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  18. #17  
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    At least we're starting to get back on topic.

    However you want to look at it, US history has a lot of bloodshed mixed in it, and territorial expansion via bloodshed. I think what the OP might be suggesting is that we're having a hard time learning to do differently in the present than we have in the past.

    Is the war in Iraq just a continuation of our old take-what-we-want policy? Are Muslims the new Cherokee for us, and whenever we want more oil are we just going to go over there and beat them up and take it? (Just like we used to beat up the Cherokee whenever we wanted more farm land?)
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  19. #18  
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    American frontier heritage is plain when contrasted to the Canadian West.

    Western Canada was settled in the wake of railroads, post offices, and other civilizing conveniences. "Build it, and they come" was the rule. Pioneer families used to shuffle around the coast so they could hit that magic number of six children in the settlement, that entitled them to official recognition with a schoolhouse plus teacher and mail service. We mainly flocked just where the lumber and coal barons told us to, and moved elsewhere when the mill or mine shut down. The first permanent residents of a community were typically real estate speculators who optimistically built shack-hotels, general stores, and of course taverns - in short, a service industry. My own city, Vancouver, was effectively founded by a San Francisco man with the gumption to bring a keg of whiskey and call it a saloon. Most arriving then to Western Canada shipped direct from Britain and would not "pioneer" unless they believed civilization at the end of their voyage.

    When we wanted a road, we petitioned the government. :|

    I think the American West in contrast was essentially lawless, and families expected nothing but the land itself.
    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
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  20. #19  
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    if yo uwant to really see the depth of the frontier heritage in America follow cowboy references and you'll find the frontier in many unexpected corners
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    I think the American West in contrast was essentially lawless, and families expected nothing but the land itself.
    This might apply to the early Mormon settlers who wanted little to do with the federal government, and basically invented dryland irrigation farming. Mormon irrigation expertise was adopted and developed by the Feds through the Bureau of Reclamation, which was established to encourage the population of the west by selling very cheap water for farming. The Corps of Engineers built the dams that allowed cities to exist in the desert. Without the enormous amounts of federal (i.e. taxpayer) help and organization the American west would still be a sparsely populated desert.
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  22. #21  
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    I was thinking more of homesteaders west of the Rockies: Willamette Valley, Bay Area, i.e. before dry land agriculture. Butter & turnips.

    From Canada, we perceived a threat of lawless American pioneers settling unchecked up and down the West, while Canada was sparse and wide open. We built a railroad to inject our own citizens before the land became American de facto. So perhaps the myth of dauntless American frontiersmen was partially grown of Canadian fears.
    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
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  23. #22  
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    Ah, well I was thinking of the Great American Desert, and southern California. So while you were busy filling up BC with Canadians to keep the Americans out, the Americans were busy filling up California to keep the Japanese out. Having filled up California they discovered there was no water so there was at one time a plan to divert Canadian rivers to L.A. You guys objected though, and it didn't happen. I think there was even talk of war.
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  24. #23  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bunbury
    Ah, well I was thinking of the Great American Desert, and southern California.
    I think you're right. I discounted that... landscape... in favour of actual settler populations west of Rockies.

    But I should know: even empty, land affects the nation. Canadians take identity similarly from the Arctic. Not that 1% of us have lived there. We just like to feel we're cut out for it better than anybody else.
    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
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