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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.

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English, French, Spanish and Dutch patterns of expansion and settlement were quite different.

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.

Only a few thousand French migrated to Canada; these habitants settled in villages along the St.

Lawrence River, building communities that remained stable for long stretches; they did not simply jump west the way the British did.

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