Manifest Destiny

Topics: Native Americans in the United States, Manifest Destiny, United States Pages: 6 (2165 words) Published: June 4, 2013
Manifest Destiny
From the words of John Louis O’Sullivan, the first use of the term “Manifest Destiny” was phonated. Following this eventful day, the age of expansion brought forth in some preordained power began to take its image in the territorial dominance by the American settlers. Through the essays “The Meaning of Manifest Destiny” by Robert W. Johannsen and “This Splendid Juggernaut” by Thomas R. Hietala, the woes and supremacy of Manifest Destiny are explored. From the early 1840s and well into the latter half of the 19th century the ideals of expansion was brought forth following the nations “affirmation and newfound resolution” which allowed the US to expand, annexing Texas and absorbing the Oregon territory and California into its sphere of influence and eventually into a fellow state. In both essays, the authors tries to validate the reasons that Manifest Destiny was necessary, Robert W. Johannsen, a history professor from University of Illinois, tries to paint the greatest expansion of the US into a positive light, calling the expansion a perchance to revitalize the economy as well as a stimulant for the growing population without creating a “white slave” country that Britain exemplified. Thomas R. Hietala, professor of history at Grinnell College, however, portrays the story differently. Hietala starts the historical essay with qualifying his opponent’s point, to exclaim that expansion was not only necessary but vital for the growth of our country but later criticizes the approach in which the settler used, destroying and degrading the tradition many of the natives held dear. The two opposing viewpoints offers an engrossing introspection into the differing opinion held by historians and historical figures alike.

Economically, the idea of Manifest Destiny was easy and simple: the expansion of land would allow more trading posts and more mercantilism thereby stimulating the economy as well as creating more places where businesses can conduct their livelihood. In “The Meaning of Manifest Destiny” Johannsen is adamant that Manifest Destiny would further the economic status of the US by enlivening its drive for expansion and also its claim for more territory. As a supposed “preordained, God-sanctioned mission” the forward moving development of the US territory came off as expected and people did not question its validity. Johannsen also went on to say that Manifest Destiny was expected with the growth of advanced technology and the drastic rise of immigrants as well as an increase in transportation and the shortening of time it took to travel to places which allowed the citizens of the US to travel to their “preordained” destinations with much more ease than before. The settlers that travelled Westward during this period of time was undoubtedly seeking economic opportunities that they felt existed in those areas or had more of a chance to succeed in a new territory rather than the crowded industrialized cities of the East Coast. By using the various accounts of historical figures, Johannsen allows his essay to have much more validity as well as offering many different viewpoints without being too convoluted by infusing too many opposing opinions. In this regard, Johannsen effectively demonstrates that the US was very bent on job opportunities and the expansion was not a sole territorial power grab but rather a necessity for the increasing population and a growing job demand amongst the general public. Not only were the lives of Americans changing rapidly and dramatically in a myriad of economic and social ways like the rise of an industrial establishment and the mass production of consumer good but also because the midcentury Americans were reaching out beyond their borders to learn more of other lands and people. In “This Splendid Juggernaut” Hietala mentioned that the expansion was not solely for pure expansion just like Johannsen mentioned but Hietala demonstrates a darker intent for expansion. In a negative...
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