Manifest Destiny – it was a phrase that molded a controversial period of American history. When we think of Manifest Destiny, we think of our nation’s unshakable quest to capture land from the Atlantic to the Pacific, pillaging Native American homelands and calling them our own. It’s easy to hear the term and look at it as a barbaric excuse to have all this land to ourselves. But was it really just a word to cover up the cruel reality of American imperialism, or was it something more to Americans? The term manifest destiny was widely used and interpreted, but it always seemed to outline three basic themes. Those themes were virtue, mission, and destiny. Manifest destiny focused on the virtue of America’s people and government. American Exceptionalism was the belief that America’s history was exceptional, in comparison to other nations and that it was “good” and ethical unlike what has been seen in other nations. Exceptionalism showed in the beliefs of people who thought that God had selected America as a “City on a Hill”; a role model and an ideal for the rest of the world, especially still-developing areas. Also, many people believed that America’s people, the “Anglo-Saxon race” were, in terms of morality, intelligence, et cetera, naturally superior to other peoples, although we know now this would be subject to change.
Supporters of manifest destiny believed not only that they could expand and dominate, but that they also should. They believed it was the mission of the United States to spread democracy, creating a world in the image of America. Others disagreed; they thought that the United States should just remain a role model for other countries, and that that was their mission. Manifest Destiny was the belief that the United States was destined by God with the mission of expanding across the continent, from the Atlantic to the Pacific. To the American people at the time it was much more than some excuse to expand, it was as a deeply rooted part of our...
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