Why Was Manifest Destiny a Significant Component in the Making of America?

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During the 1830s and 1840s, American nationalism and westward expansion had merged into the widespread belief in manifest destiny. Proud of their victories and independence, many Americans thought of themselves as the forbearers of freedom. Americans took this idea and ran with it, making it their new profound slogan. Manifest Destiny asserted that expansion of the United States throughout the American continents was both justified and inevitable; it not only influenced the idea of expanding land but also the expansion of democratic institutions and Protestantism, and became a philosophy which can be compared to the idea of imperialism. The term “Manifest Destiny” was the belief that the expansion of the U.S. was ordained by God to spread over the entire continent, but also many just saw it as a slogan to promote expansion. The term first came about by a man named John L. O’Sullivan in 1845, who expressed the idea that Americans had the God-given right to settle all of North America. This term was used widely by the people who supported the campaign of annexing western territory but also the people who wanted to expand to the Pacific. In John L. O’Sullivan’s article, “Annexation” he exclaims, ".... the right of our manifest destiny to over spread and to possess the whole of the continent which Providence has given us for the development of the great experiment of liberty and federative development of self government entrusted to us. It is right such as that of the tree to the space of air and the earth suitable for the full expansion of its principle and destiny of growth."(1) Once the concept had been given the name 'Manifest Destiny' it became widely used, appearing in newspapers, debates, paintings and advertisements. O’Sullivan’s original conception of Manifest Destiny was not a call for territorial expansion by force. He believed that the expansion of the United States would happen without the direction of the U.S. government or the involvement of the military. O’Sullivan did not originate the idea of Manifest Destiny, while his phrase provided a useful label for ideas which had become particularly popular during the 1840s, the ideas themselves were not new. Ideas from manifest destiny were emphasized in the Monroe Doctrine, and also the colonial times as Americans tried to break away from their mother country. The Monroe Doctrine of 1822 stated that Britain couldn’t settle anywhere in the western hemisphere, hence the reason why America wanted to place keeps on the land around them. The ideas were also developed in colonial times when the colonists were trying to break free from Britain, and the revolution added the sense of nationalism that this concept illustrated. John L. O’Sullivan’s exert from his article definlitley opened the idea to Americans more so than ever. It became the leading light for westward expansion and during this period in history thousands of people packed up their families and belongings and moved west to new territories to gain land and to make a fortune. The term Manifest Destiny conveyed the idea that the rightful destiny of the US included imperialistic expansion. In 1836, the Republic of Texas declared independence from Mexico and, after the Texas Revolution, sought to join the United States as a new state. The annexation of Texas became a big deal, and with the idea of nationalism and the Americans “destiny” they were able to accomplish annexation, but Mexico refused to see them as independent. The annexation of Texas was controversial, however, since it would add another slave state to the Union. Presidents Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren declined Texas’s offer to join the United States in part because the slavery issue threatened to divide the Democratic Party. Although elected by a very slim margin, Polk proceeded as if his victory had been a mandate for expansion. As he came to office congress had already approved the annexation of the area of Texas. Polk decided...
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