Manifest Destiny

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Manifest Destiny

Manifest Destiny is the belief that the United States of America was clearly set apart for a special purpose. That special purpose was to extend its boundaries all the way to the Pacific. The belief in Manifest Destiny was very prominent in the 1830’s and 40’s. The main idea was to have a dominant, independent, powerful country with lots of land, people, and economic assets.

There were many different sections of North America that the United States wanted to obtain. One section was called the Oregon Territory (Country). Oregon Territory was a huge chunk of land that lay between the Pacific Ocean and the Rocky Mountains north of California. It included what is now Oregon, Washington, and Idaho plus parts of Montana and Wyoming. The region also contained about half of what is now the Canadian province of British Columbia.

Americans started to settle in the Oregon Territory during the 1830’s. Reports of fertile farmland persuaded many to make the great journey West. Some of the first settlers were Christian Missionaries who wanted to bring Christianity to the Native Americans. Dr. Marcus Whitman and his wife, Narcissa, went to Oregon in 1836 and built a mission among the Cayuse people. The new settlers unknowingly brought measles to the mission, resulting in the deaths of many Native children. Blaming the Whitman's for the sickness, the Cayus attacked the mission in November 1847 and killed them and 11 others.

In the early 1840’s, “Oregon Fever” swept through the Mississippi Valley. The Depression of 1836 had hit the region hard, forcing people to find better land and jobs. While the only place where opportunities were, was in the Oregon Territory. It was either Oregon or Bust for many people in the 1830’s and 40’s. Tens of thousands of people mad the 2,000 mile journey to the Oregon Territory. These pioneers stuffed canvas-covered wagons, called Prairie Schooners, with supplies. These people followed the Oregon Trail,...
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