Manifest Destiny

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Manifest Destiny is the belief that the United States is destined to expand its boarders and become a supreme power. During the early nineteenth century, immediately after the war of 1812, the migration west was a representation of American ideals; geared to spread institutions, democracy, and create a new and better society. The rising tide of Westward migration shifted American interests and insinuated tensions between the North and South. With the admissions of new states into the Union each side feared a threat of inequality, especially when it centered on the struggle between pro-slavery and anti-slavery. As the country expanded westward the economic interests and policies within the country began to differ depending on location. There are many opinions and interpretations regarding Westward Expansion and as some historians who study this period considers it as an economical opportunity to increase the American empire. Conversely, it can also be seen as the growing division within the American political sphere. Therefore, the question that arises when studying this period is whether, the benefits outweigh a nation being divided. J Turner is the author of the book, Rise of the New West, Colonization of the West, and in his writing he investigates the period of Western migration and the economical and powerful ideals it furnished. Turner argues that this movement clearly marked a divide between the South and West by the close of the period. The Western lands were areas of great opportunity for people because of, “the existence of a great body of land offered at so low a price inevitably drew population toward the West” (Turner 306). After the Louisiana Purchase, the lands were apparently free which attracted settlers, especially those seeking a new beginning or even a better life. There were also those who were dealing with the distress from the War of 1812. Poor whites in the North East who could not compete in the growing market and poor Southern farmers, who did not own land, migrated out West. They brought with them their wives and children to help cultivate the lands. It has always been in human nature to want more; after seeing the life a plot of land could provide in the east the expansion became inevitable. In a short time one could be a land owner. As Western migration continued Turner explains, “a new society was forming, a Western flavor. “The West a place of planters as well as pioneers, exploiting the wilderness, a mixture of slave and free” (319). Turner is identifying the inhabitants of this vast land, and explains that those settlers were different but seeking similar objectives. The west became a region of development and immense influence over the cotton kingdom and market economy. Settlers of the North were attracted to the northern and middle section because as, “the great bulk of western exports passed down the tributaries of the Mississippi to New Orleans” (Turner, 321). Therefore, it was an area centered on farmers and town builders anxious to trade and prosper. The Southern territories however, were learning the advantages of cotton and sugar cultivation. From this the Southwest resulted in an increase in slave holding. Slaves were purchased in considerable numbers and exported to the Southwest, forming a region of slave holding planters. Turner even states that, “it was estimated in 1832 that Virginia annually exported six thousand slaves for sale to other sates. Illicit importation of slaves through New Orleans reached an amount estimated from ten to fifteen thousand a year” (317). The existence of this new land and settlement illustrated new institutions, growth, and activity but as Turner relates; the journey to the West was long and painful and cannot be dismissed. The expense of the long journey was very costly because of the decrease in transportation “brought by the competition of the Erie Canal” (Turner, 312). It was an extremely difficult journey where settlers with...
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