THE LEGACY OF CONQUEST: The Unbroken Past of the American West by Patricia Nelson Limerick

THE LEGACY OF CONQUEST: The Unbroken Past of the American West

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An economic interpretation of the history of the American West that seeks to correct what the author sees as the misperception of the West as a ""frontier"" ripe for the taking. Limerick (History/Univ. of Colorado) attempts nothing less in this volume than the displacement of the Frederick Jackson Turner school of ""closed frontiers"" with the Limerick school of open vistas, in exploding Turner's famous dictum, first promulgated in 1891, that the American frontier was closed, Limerick imputes Turner's motives as nationalistic and ethnocentric. ""English-speaking white men were the stars of his story: Indians, Hispanics, French Canadians, and Asians were at best supporting actors and at worst, invisible."" But those groups, and others, were, and continue to be, involved in a struggle for conquest and a contest for property and profit--and their great meeting ground was the West. The motivating factor behind every trapper was trade; behind every cowboy, ranching. Miners and gold-seekers were usually only fronts for larger economic thrusts. In defending her thesis, Limerick explores how every major issue from frontier history has resurfaced in our own time in either the courts or the Congress, including struggles over Indian resources and tribal autonomy, Mexican-American relations, the controversy over the origins of Mormonism, conflicts over water allocation, farm crises, the use of public lands, and the boom/bust cycles of oil, copper, and timber, to name only a few. The demythifying of the West, with panache.

Pub Date: June 29th, 1987
Publisher: Norton