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.In 19th- and early 20th-century media, enormous popular attention was 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".Historian Frederick Jackson Turner in his "Frontier Thesis" (1893) theorized that the frontier was a process that transformed Europeans into a new people, the Americans, whose values focused on equality, democracy, and optimism, as well as individualism, self-reliance, and even violence.Thus, Turner's Frontier Thesis proclaimed the westward frontier to be the defining process of American history.
This eventually inspired the Western genre of film, which spilled over into comic books, and children's toys, games and costumes.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.Few artisans settled on the frontier except for those who practiced a trade to supplement their primary occupation of farming.Conflict with the Native Americans arose out of political issues, namely who would rule.
The "French and Indian Wars" were imperial wars between Britain and France, with the French making up for their small colonial population base by enlisting Indian war parties as allies.
In the colonial era, before 1776, the west was of high priority for settlers and politicians.