Explain how the US used Manifest Destiny to expand her borders within and outside North America. (50marks)
“Upon the sacredness of property civilization itself depends” (Andrew Carnegie) and the idea of land and property being a symbol of wealth and development was the driving force for expansionism in the New World. Consequently, the ability to be powerful meant that one should easily be able to manipulate and control the affairs of others. The United States felt that it was their destiny to achieve this level of power in the Western Hemisphere. The doctrine of Manifest Destiny was used to justify America’s continental expansion and was employed to “assert that the United States had a right and duty to extend its influence and civilization in the Western Hemisphere and the Caribbean” (Alonzo L. Hamby). The United States evolved into modern colonizers and Manifest Destiny furthered “America’s economic exploitation and domination” (Walter Rodney). The Monroe Doctrine, Platt Amendment, Roosevelt Corollary, and other foreign policy all stemmed from the doctrine of Manifest Destiny, and were principal policies in the exercise of US expansionism throughout North America, Latin America, and the Caribbean.
“The USA was a worthy successor to Britain as the leading force and policeman of the imperialist/colonialist world” (Walter Rodney). The US had evolved into a super power, exercising control and threatening the monarchies of Europe. It was Manifest Destiny that fueled US expansionism and the doctrine preached to Americans that they were divinely commissioned to be their brother’s keeper. The doctrine according to Eric Foner “expressed the belief that it was Anglo-Saxon American’s providential mission to expand their civilization and institutions.” This idea of American superiority was not only spouted by presidents and policy makers, but it was also disseminated in the press indoctrinating the minds of the common man. It was John L O’Sullivan, the American writer who coined the term in 1845, that helped publicize the idea with the aid of the ‘penny press’. Having developed this superiority complex, The US sought to imbed their civilization on dependent developing countries.
Having established a brief background of Manifest Destiny, it must be understood that the world power sought to gain control of the entire North American continent, as well as in the Americas. The US’ internal expansion began with the acquisition of Alaska once they discovered Gold in the frozen ‘wasteland’. After the acquisition of Alaska, the Americans decided that it was in their prevue to control the continent. The US then turned its eyes to Texas. John L. O’Sullivan, in reference to US control of Texas stated “Her star and her stripe may already be said to have taken their place in the glorious blazon of our common nationality; and the sweep of our eagle's wing already includes within its circuit the wide extent of her fair and fertile land. She is no longer to us a mere geographical space— a certain combination of coast, plain, mountain, valley, forest and stream. She is no longer to us a mere country on the map. She comes within the dear and sacred designation of Our Country....” Texas at the time of this statement was a Mexican province and America needed to secure this land in order to affect their complete control of the continent. When the Mexicans invited the Americans to settle in Texas without tax, they had no idea of the repercussions to expect. “The Anglo-Saxon foot is already on its borders,” stated O’Sullivan “Already the advance guard of the irresistible army of Anglo-Saxon emigration has begun to pour down upon it, armed with the plough and the rifle, and marking its trail with schools and colleges, courts and representative hails, mills and meeting-houses. A population will soon be in actual occupation of Texas, over which it will be idle for Mexico to dream of dominion.” The Americans in Texas, indoctrinated by literature...
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