Manifest Destiny Analysis

Topics: United States, United States Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson Pages: 5 (1111 words) Published: October 2, 2015


Gerald Stourzh, an Austrian historian and author of Benjamin Franklin and American Foreign Policy, once wrote “Expansion was the essential condition for growth and prosperity of America” (Weeks, 1) Early American leadership was aware of the potential of the American land mass, and expansion was prevalent in the discourse of US political strategy. In fact, from 1776 to 1865 America transformed from a British colonial possession, into an affluent world power that controlled territory from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean and governed a region stretching nearly 1,500 miles north to south. Rapid ascendancy on the continent raises the obvious question: How did America expand so vastly so quickly? Focusing on three key factors can answer the...

For example, the concept of providence. Providence is the notion that due to American virtue, America was to become the New Jerusalem. Furthermore, God’s approval of the American cause was the main reason for victory and liberation from the British in 1783 (Weeks, 35). Another belief is that America was the “redeemer nation” for all of humankind (Weeks, 34). A nation that had ripped off the chains of monarchical cruelty, achieved freedom, and was meant to lead the world as the zenith of liberty (Weeks, 34-35). However, the most eminent belief attached to American expansion is the concept of Manifest Destiny. Manifest Destiny was a fundamental pillar on which most 18th and 19th century American dogmas were built, and can be seen as the overarching doctrine for all conquests of American expansion. Benjamin Franklin was one of the first to pen – broadly – the traits of Manifest Destiny in his work Observations Concerning the Increase of Mankind (Weeks, 9). Weeks describes the early tenants of Manifest Destiny as, “… a fast-growing, rapidly expanding domain that would be the embodiment of human freedom, political justice, and material progress” (Weeks, 8-9). Week’s description of Manifest Destiny expresses that the aforementioned ideologies evolved from the theories originated by Franklin; ideas that American’s are ordained with superior virtue, are the apex of government design, and destined for a...

Throughout this time frame, Manifest Destiny evolved to create the justification for expansion. Each generation added or subtracted from the zeitgeist of Manifest Destiny in order to righteously achieve expansionist goals, or as Weeks puts it, “…destiny justified the enslavement of the African, the removal of the Indian, and the conquest of the Mexican” (Weeks, 122). Once the leaders of America had an ideological foundation, the next progression was to become cunning statesmen. Although in some cases war was necessary to force discourse concerning American territorial sovereignty, each generation of diplomats succeeded in expansion. As important as ideology and diplomacy were to expansion, it would be difficult to imagine American success during this period without technological developments. The ships secured the nations shores, carried cargo throughout the oceans of the world, and traversed the winding rivers of North America, transforming the United States into a powerful economic force. Further, the telegraph changed communications and allowed messages to transform all facets of life. Perhaps greatest of all technological achievements, was the development of the largest railway system in the world. The railroad allowed for goods and people, to quickly populate and develop the next budding territory. The American empire was forged by these three...
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