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Cette "exception américaine" ("exceptionalism") est mise à mal par les générations suivantes d’historiens.
Véritable point de rencontre de nations et d’empires dès l’époque coloniale, région aux frontières internationales, l’Ouest semble se nourrir, aujourd’hui encore, de ces relations, contacts et interactions entre les peuples.
Since its settlement was the last stage in the completion of the country, thus marking the closing of a crucial period in American history, the West has had a special place in the nation’s self-image, and it has always been considered as central in the construction of American identity.
Society is described as an organism in constant evolution, and the frontier being "the line of most rapid and effective Americanization" (Turner 3).
Not only does the frontier stand as the bedrock of the American nation, it also creates a new people, "a mixed race, English in neither nationality nor characteristics" (Turner 23).
The pioneer experiences a "rebirth", : "The wilderness masters the colonist.
It finds him a European in dress, industries, tools, modes of travel, and thought.
The link between the “instinct for moving” and the development of human history and culture was forcefully made by Turner in an 1891 address to the Madison Literary Club: “The colonizing spirit is one form of the nomadic instinct.
L’Ouest américain est souvent présenté comme ayant un statut à part dans la construction de l’identité américaine.
Considered as the founding father of Western history, Frederick Jackson Turner is famous for a lecture he gave in 1893, entitled "The Significance of the Frontier in American History".
The Turner thesis has had an extremely long-lasting impact, and may be considered as one of the main documents of American historiography.