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.
Unlike the North, where small towns and even cities were common, the South was overwhelmingly rural.
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.
It moved steadily westward from the 1630s to the 1880s (with occasional movements north into Maine and Vermont, south into Florida, and east from California into Nevada).
The American frontier began when Jamestown, Virginia was settled by the English in 1607.
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.
Thus, Turner's Frontier Thesis proclaimed the westward frontier to be the defining process of American history.
The wealthy speculator, if one was involved, usually remained at home, so that ordinarily no one of wealth was a resident. The great majority were landowners, most of whom were also poor because they were starting with little property and had not yet cleared much land nor had they acquired the farm tools and animals which would one day make them prosperous.
The American frontier comprises the geography, history, folklore, and cultural expression of life in the forward wave of American expansion that began with English colonial settlements in the early 17th century and ended with the admission of the last mainland territories as states in 1912.
"Frontier" refers to a contrasting region at the edge of a European-American line of settlement.
Enormous popular attention in the 19th and early 20th century media focused on the Western United States in the second half of the 19th century, a period sometimes called the Old West, or the Wild West, the theme of which typically exaggerated the romance, anarchy, and chaotic violence of the period for greater dramatic effect.
This eventually inspired the Western genre of film, which spilled over into comic books, and children's toys, games and costumes.