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This era of massive migration and settlement was particularly encouraged by the Colonial and early United States government following the Louisiana Purchase, and coined the term and political philosophy known as "Manifest Destiny".As defined by Hine and Faragher, "frontier history tells the story of the creation and defense of communities, the use of the land, the development of markets, and the formation of states." They explain, "It is a tale of conquest, but also one of survival, persistence, and the merging of peoples and cultures that gave birth and continuing life to America." Through treaties with foreign nations and native tribes; political compromise; military conquest; establishment of law and order; the building of farms, ranches, and towns; the marking of trails and digging of mines; and the pulling in of great migrations of foreigners, the United States expanded from coast to coast, fulfilling the dreams of Manifest Destiny.As the American frontier passed into history, the myths of the West in fiction and film took a firm hold in the imagination of Americans and foreigners alike.In David Murdoch's view, America is "exceptional" in choosing its iconic self-image: "No other nation has taken a time and place from its past and produced a construct of the imagination equal to America's creation of the West." The frontier line was the outer line of European-American settlement.There might be a storekeeper, a minister, and perhaps a doctor; and there were a number of landless laborers. In the South, frontier areas that lacked transportation, such as the Appalachian Mountain region, remained based on subsistence farming and resembled the egalitarianism of their northern counterparts, although they had a larger upper-class of slaveowners. However frontier areas of 1700 that had good river connections were increasingly transformed into plantation agriculture.Rich men came in, bought up the good land, and worked it with slaves. It had a stratified society comprising a powerful upper-class white landowning gentry, a small middle-class, a fairly large group of landless or tenant white farmers, and a growing slave population at the bottom of the social pyramid.In the earliest days of European settlement of the Atlantic coast, down to about 1680, the frontier was essentially any part of the interior of the continent beyond the fringe of existing settlements along the Atlantic coast.English, French, Spanish and Dutch patterns of expansion and settlement were quite different.

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"Frontier" refers to a contrasting region at the edge of a European-American line of settlement.

American historians cover multiple frontiers but the folklore is focused primarily on the conquest and settlement of Native American lands west of the Mississippi River, in what is now the Midwest, Texas, the Great Plains, the Rocky Mountains, the Southwest, and the West Coast.