Expansion westward seemed perfectly natural to many Americans in the mid-nineteenth century. Like the Massachusetts Puritans who hoped to build a "city upon a hill, "courageous pioneers believed that America had a divine obligation to stretch the boundaries of their noble republic to the Pacific Ocean. Independence had been won in the Revolution and reaffirmed in the War of The spirit of nationalism that swept the nation in the next two decades demanded more territory.
The "every man is equal" mentality of the Jacksonian Era fueled this optimism. Now, with territory up to the Mississippi River claimed and settled and the Louisiana Purchase explored, Americans headed west in droves. Newspaper editor John O'Sullivan coined the term " manifest destiny " in to describe the essence of this mindset.
The religious fervor spawned by the Second Great Awakening created another incentive for the drive west. Indeed, many settlers believed that God himself blessed the growth of the American nation. The Native Americans were considered heathens. By Christianizing the tribes, American missionaries believed they could save souls and they became among the first to cross the Mississippi River. Economic motives were paramount for others. The fur trade had been dominated by European trading companies since colonial times.
German immigrant John Jacob Astor was one of the first American entrepreneurs to challenge the Europeans. He became a millionaire in the process. The desire for more land brought aspiring homesteaders to the frontier. When gold was discovered in California inthe number of migrants increased even more. At the heart of manifest destiny was the pervasive belief in American cultural and racial superiority.
Native Americans had long been perceived as inferior, and efforts to "civilize" them had been widespread since the days of John Smith and Miles Standish. The Hispanics who ruled Texas and the lucrative ports of California were also seen as "backward.
Expanding the boundaries of the United States was in many ways a cultural war as well. The desire of southerners to find more lands suitable for cotton cultivation would eventually spread slavery to these regions. North of the Mason-Dixon line, many citizens were deeply concerned about adding any more slave states.
Manifest destiny touched on issues of religion, money, race, patriotism, and morality. These clashed in the s as a truly great drama of regional conflict began to unfold. Report broken link. American History 1. The Iroquois Tribes 2. The House of Burgesses 3.Manifest Destinyin U. The purchase of Alaska after the Civil War briefly revived the concept of Manifest Destiny, but it most evidently became a renewed force in U. Propounded during the second half of the 19th century, the concept of Manifest Destiny held that it was the divinely ordained right of the United States to expand its borders to the Pacific Ocean and beyond.
Later it was used to justify the purchase of Alaska and annexation of Hawaii. The idea of Manifest Destiny arose in response to the prospect of U. John L. Yet when he expanded his idea on December 27,in a newspaper column in the New York Morning Newsthe wider audience seized upon his reference to divine superintendence.
Some found the opinion intriguing, but others were simply irritated. The Whig Party sought to discredit Manifest Destiny as belligerent as well as pompous, beginning with Massachusetts Rep. James K. Yet unabashed Democrats took up Manifest Destiny as a slogan.
The phrase frequently appeared in debates relating to Oregonsometimes as soaring rhetoric and other times as sarcastic derision. Although it became a rallying cry as well as a rationale for the foreign policy that reached its culmination in —46, the attitude behind Manifest Destiny had long been a part of the American experience. The impatient English who colonized North America in the s and s immediately gazed westward and instantly considered ways to venture into the wilderness and tame it.
The cause of that ceaseless wanderlust varied from region to region, but the behaviour became a tradition within one generation. The western horizon would always beckon, and Americans would always follow. After the American Revolution —83the steady advance of the cotton kingdom in the South matched the lure of the Ohio Country in the North.
InPres. Expansionists eager to acquire Spanish Florida were part of the drive for the War ofand many historians argue that American desires to annex Canada were also an important part of the equation. As the United States pacified and stabilized volatile regions, the resulting appropriation of territory usually worsened relations with neighbours, setting off a cycle of instability that encouraged additional annexations. Caught in the upheaval coincidental to that expansion, Southeast Indians succumbed to the pressure of spreading settlement by ceding their lands to the United States and then relocating west of the Mississippi River under Pres.
The considerable hardships suffered by the Indians in that episode were exemplified by the devastation of the Cherokees on the infamous Trail of Tearswhich excited humanitarian protests from both the political class and the citizenry.
Finally, in the s, diplomacy resolved the dispute over the Oregon Country with Britain, and victory in the Mexican-American War —48 closed out a period of dramatically swift growth for the United States.
Less than a century after breaking from the British Empirethe United States had gone far in creating its own empire by extending sovereignty across the continent to the Pacific, to the 49th parallel on the Canadian border, and to the Rio Grande in the south. Having transformed a group of sparsely settled colonies into a continental power of enormous potential, many Americans thought the achievement so stunning as to be obvious.Parents and Teachers: In light of the COVID crisis, and the many disruptions it has caused or will cause to our kids' education, I am offering subscriptions to the upgraded site MrN Please note the site you are on, mrnussbaum.
Use the coupon code "edu4life" when you register for mrn During this time, America articulated its first foreign policy through the Monroe Doctrine and a growing sense of nationalism gripped the population.
Americans started believing that they were morally and culturally superior to their Native, Mexican, and British neighbors and that it was God's will and the people's duty to spread American virtues from "sea to shining sea.
Innewspaper editor John O' Sullivan first coined the term "Manifest Destiny," to describe the mindset of American expansion. The idea of Manifest Destiny was reflected in the 19th century by the mass migration of Americans from the eastern United States to the west through the great emigrant trails such as the Oregon, California, Santa Fe, and Mormon Trails.
It was used to justify the corrupt treaties and wars that resulted in the removal of Native Americans from their ancestral land. It was also used to justify the Mexican-American War, resulting in the annexation of 1. Manifest Destiny also accelerated the onset of the Civil War as it touched off intense sectional dramas between southern states hoping to expand slavery into new territories and northern states hoping to prevent the spread of slavery.
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Manifest Destiny Painting, 1872
Remove ads. Manifest Destiny. This page describes the concept of manifest destiny and how it was used to justify expansion throughout the continent, and the expense of Native Americans and other nations. The Spiritual Embodiment of Manifest Destiny. Will Lead to Civil War Manifest Destiny also accelerated the onset of the Civil War as it touched off intense sectional dramas between southern states hoping to expand slavery into new territories and northern states hoping to prevent the spread of slavery.
Manifest Destiny Activities: Oh Columbia! Recognizing Symbols of Manifest Destiny Mr.The two words "manifest destiny" quickly caught on, soon coming to mean that those who favored expansion had God on their side and were engaged in the noble task of spreading democracy. Despite the fact that the expansionist doctrine was based partly on the notion of racial superiority -- O'Sullivan referred to the "superior vigor of the Anglo-Saxon race" -- it appealed both to supporters of slavery, who wanted Texas annexed, and to antislavery advocates, who favored adding California and Oregon to the Union.
Proponents of manifest destiny claimed that a continental United States would benefit from trade with Asia, from the commercial advantages of San Francisco Bay and Puget Sound, and from lower tariffs. Sea-to-sea expansion would also safeguard democracy, give the nation room to grow, and preserve the essential character of the country as an agricultural nation in the Jeffersonian tradition. My Preferences My Reading List. All Subjects Accounting How can banks afford to lend out so much money?
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I have pictures, too. How do I pull together all the notes I've taken to study for a test?Manifest destiny was a widely held belief in the 19th-century United States that its settlers were destined to expand across North America. There are three basic themes to manifest destiny:.
Historian Frederick Merk says this concept was born out of "a sense of mission to redeem the Old World by high example Historians have emphasized that "manifest destiny" was a contested concept— Democrats endorsed the idea but many prominent Americans such as Abraham Lincoln Ulysses S. Grant and most Whigs rejected it. Whigs saw America's moral mission as one of democratic example rather than one of conquest.
Newspaper editor John O'Sullivan is generally credited with coining the term manifest destiny in to describe the essence of this mindset, which was a rhetorical tone;  however, the unsigned editorial titled "Annexation" in which it first appeared was arguably written by journalist and annexation advocate Jane Cazneau.
However, manifest destiny always limped along because of its internal limitations and the issue of slavery, says Merk. It never became a national priority.
Byformer U. President John Quincy Adamsoriginally a major supporter of the concept underlying manifest destiny, had changed his mind and repudiated expansionism because it meant the expansion of slavery in Texas. From the outset Manifest Destiny—vast in program, in its sense of continentalism —was slight in support.Westward Expansion: Crash Course US History #24
It lacked national, sectional, or party following commensurate with its magnitude. The reason was it did not reflect the national spirit. The thesis that it embodied nationalism, found in much historical writing, is backed by little real supporting evidence.
There was never a set of principles defining manifest destiny, therefore it was always a general idea rather than a specific policy made with a motto. Ill-defined but keenly felt, manifest destiny was an expression of conviction in the morality and value of expansionism that complemented other popular ideas of the era, including American exceptionalism and Romantic nationalism.
Andrew Jacksonwho spoke of "extending the area of freedom", typified the conflation of America's potential greatness, the nation's budding sense of Romantic self-identity, and its expansion. Yet Jackson would not be the only president to elaborate on the principles underlying manifest destiny. Owing in part to the lack of a definitive narrative outlining its rationale, proponents offered divergent or seemingly conflicting viewpoints.
While many writers focused primarily upon American expansionism, be it into Mexico or across the Pacific, others saw the term as a call to example. Without an agreed upon interpretation, much less an elaborated political philosophy, these conflicting views of America's destiny were never resolved. This variety of possible meanings was summed up by Ernest Lee Tuveson: "A vast complex of ideas, policies, and actions is comprehended under the phrase "Manifest Destiny".
They are not, as we should expect, all compatible, nor do they come from any one source.Download Image. The philosophy describing the necessary expansion of the nation westward was called Manifest Destiny ; the belief that it was our duty to settle the continent, conquer and prosper.
The settlers have overcome hazardous terrain and death in order to reach the American West, bathed in a welcoming golden light. This vision of the frontier as a promised land persisted. There was a price to be paid, however. Frontiersmen had to be willing to face the risks inherent in migration — but had their parents not faced similar risks in coming to America?
They had to be willing to do the backbreaking work required to turn a wilderness into prosperous farms and towns — but had their ancestors not done that as well? They had to be willing to break with the familiar and comfortable, and face hardship — perhaps even death. The finished mural, located in the United States Capitol Building, served as propaganda for many Americans looking for a brighter future. This was something that was sorely sought after the time — for at the time this work was painted, the Civil War had just begun.
The theme of American destiny continues in another Capitol mural study, this one for the dome on the Capitol Building. Artist Constantino Brumidi has focused on the eminence of America. At the center is its founding father, George Washington, surrounded by allegories of American inventions and leaders which helped put this country on the path to greatness.
The completed Capitol dome mural was finished in one month, Aprilthe same month in which the Confederacy surrendered and Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. Capitol during of one of the most tumultuous times in American history — the onset of the Civil War.
The painting celebrates the belief that the American West held both unspoiled beauty and infinite promise for a better future. What can we learn about the ideals surrounding westward expansion from this artwork? How do artists employ symbolism to augment a specific message in their work? The surging crowd of figures records the births, deaths, and battles fought as European Americans settled the continent to the edge of the Pacific.
Central among them is a three-person family group seated on a promontory and looking to the sunset — an allusion to the Biblical holy family.
At the bottom of the composition are small, round portraits of explorer William Clark, at left, and frontiersman Daniel Boone, at right. The portraits flank a landscape painting of San Francisco Bay — the western destination of the pioneers.
Manifest Destiny: What It Meant for American Expansion
Both men were entrusted to lead settlers into western territories, with Boone exploring and settling the lands of Kentucky, and Clark of Lewis and Clark fame a pioneer explorer of the land acquired in the Louisiana Purchase and later governor of the Missouri Territory.
In one section, Leutze depicts the Greek myth of Jason and the Argonauts. This fleece, having been won after a long quest, fulfills a prophecy and returns Jason to his rightful place as king.
Here he alludes to the end of the Old Testament flood. The dove carries proof of dry land to Noah, bearing with it assurances that his seven-month journey across a decimated, watery world is nearing its end. At the top of the margin, front and center, is an American eagle with wings spread. In it, Berkeley predicted that Western expansion would make America the site of the next golden age.
What significance might this image have held for Americans at the start of the Civil War? Emmanuel Leutze was trained abroad as a history painter. Inthe Louisiana Purchase almost doubled the size of the United States. Over the next few decades the status of newly admitted western states and territories as free or slave would add fuel to the already contentious relationship between the North and the South.
The Kansas-Nebraska Act of allowed the people living in those territories to decide whether slavery was allowed within their borders. By the time Leutze executed this mural study inthe war was underway and the nation torn in two.Manifest Destiny was a term that came to describe a widespread belief in the middle of the 19th century that the United States had a special mission to expand westward. The specific phrase was originally used in print by a journalist, John L.
O'Sullivan, when writing about the proposed annexation of Texas. O'Sullivan, writing in the Democratic Review newspaper in Julyasserted "our manifest destiny to overspread the continent allotted by Providence for the free development of our yearly multiplying millions. That concept was not especially new, as Americans had already been exploring and settling westward, first across the Appalachian Mountains in the late s, and then, in the early s, beyond the Mississippi River. But by presenting the concept of westward expansion as something of a religious mission, the idea of manifest destiny struck a chord.
Though the phrase manifest destiny may seem to have captured the public mood of the midth century, it was not viewed with universal approval. Some at the time thought it was simply putting pseudo-religious polish on blatant avarice and conquest. Writing in the late 19th century, future president Theodore Rooseveltreferred to the concept of taking property in furtherance of manifest destiny as having been "belligerent, or more properly speaking, piratical.
The idea of expanding into the West had always been attractive, since settlers including Daniel Boone moved inland, across the Appalachians, in the s. Boone had been instrumental in the establishment of what became known as the Wilderness Road, which led through the Cumberland Gap into the lands of Kentucky. And American politicians in the early 19th century, such as Henry Clay of Kentucky, eloquently made the case that the future of America lay westward.
A severe financial crisis in emphasized the notion that the United States needed to expand its economy.
And political figures such as Senator Thomas H. Benton of Missouri, made the case that settling along the Pacific would greatly enable trade with India and China. The president most associated with the concept of manifest destiny is James K. Polkwhose single term in the White House was focused on the acquisition of California and Texas. It's worth nothing that Polk had been nominated by the Democratic Party, which was generally closely associated with expansionist ideas in the decades before the Civil War.
And a Polk campaign slogan in the campaign"Fifty-four forty or fight," was a specific reference to expanding into the Northwest. What was meant by the slogan was that the border between the United States and British territory to the north would be at north latitude 54 degrees and 40 minutes. Polk got the votes of the expansionists by threatening to go to war with Britain to acquire territory.
But after he was elected he negotiated the border at 49 degrees north latitude. Polk thus secured the territory that today is the states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and parts of Wyoming and Montana. The American desire to expand into the Southwest was also satisfied during Polk's term in office as the Mexican War resulted in the United States acquiring Texas and California. By pursuing a policy of manifest destiny, Polk could be considered the most successful president of the seven men who struggled in the office in the two decades before the Civil War.
In that period between andwhen most occupants of the White House couldn't point to any real achievements, Polk had managed to greatly increase the territory of the nation.
Though no serious opposition to westward expansion developed, the policies of Polk and the expansionists were criticized in some quarters.