Manifest Destiny

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Manifest Destiny was a phrase which invoked the idea of divine sanction for the territorial expansion of the United States. It first appeared in print in 1845, in the July-August issue of the United States Magazine and Democratic Review. The anonymous author, thought to be its editor John L. O'Sullivan, proclaimed "our manifest destiny to overspread the continent allotted by Providence for the free development of our multiplying millions." The philosophical support for manifest destiny was based on the idea that America was destined to expand democratic institutions in North America, which gave the nation a superior moral right to govern areas where other interests would not respect this goal. The specific context of the article was the annexation of Texas, which had taken place not long before. Other applications of the notion of manifest destiny were soon found. It was used to promote the annexations of Mexican territory acquired in the Mexican-American War, of territory in Oregon gained through negotiations with the British, and the seizure (not carried out) of Cuba from the Spanish during the 1850's. In the mid 19th century, expansionism, especially southwards, faced opposition from those who opposed slavery. The public now linked expansion with slavery. As more territory was added to the United States in the following decades, whether or not "extending the area of freedom" also meant extending the institution of slavery (which was a bit of a contradiction). This became a central issue in the continental expansion of the United States. However, this could not be done without causing the conflict about the balance of Slave and Free states in the Senate. If a state was admitted as free, the North would have more people in the Senate than the South, and vice versa. Eventually, the North and South "compromised" and decided that the status of the state should be determined by the people who live there (popular sovereignty). However, this then would cause both...
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