Winston Churchill once said, Manifest Destiny was on the march, and it was unfortunate that Mexico stood in the path. ( https://www.azquotes.com/quotes/topics/manifest-destiny.html). Manifest Destiny is a phrase coined in 1845 by a journalist named John O’ Sullivan and expressed the idea that drove the 19th Century United States territorial expansion. Christianity was very prominent during this time and many settlers believed that the United States was destined by God to expand its ideas and culture across the entire North America continent. Because of this, people believed that the land was theirs for the taking. Many of the historical events, such as the Mexican-American War, the Gold Rush of 1849, gaining Louisiana after the Louisiana Purchase, the western expansion, occurred during this expansion journey. The effects of the belief were both positive and negative. The process of Manifest Destiny not only led to an evolutionary occurrence in history that introduced some of the greatest political influencers and leaders and allowed for growth in religious, economical, and political ways, but it also led to strife and hostility across the area.
Supporters of Manifest Destiny insisted the course of America empire was both obvious (manifest) and inexorable (destined) (Greenburg 2). The Second Great Awakening, a Protestant religious revival that occurred during the 19th century, had just occurred when the expansion was beginning. Many Protestant settlers were forming the idea that expansion was inevitable because it was God’s destiny for them to expand.
Many political leaders supported the idea of Manifest Destiny. The belief in the importance of western expansion was obvious during Andrew Jackson, the 7th President of the United States, term as President of the United States. He pushed for removal of Native Americans. He attempted to make removal sound beneficial to all, but in reality, he was only interested in expansion (Greenberg, 62). The ideology of Manifest Destiny was a primary motivator for westward expansion ( projects. leadr.msu.edu)
Expansion throughout the continent was also President James K. Polk’s, the 11th President of the United States, goal. Polk is the President who is most closely associated with Manifest Destiny (history.com). One of his main goals as President was to acquire California (Greenberg 107), which he accomplished. He was also able to expand the United States through the Mexican-American War (biography.com).
Land was also associated with power, wealth, and politics so this is another reason
Manifest Destiny supporters felt it was theirs for the taking. The attitude behind
Manifest Destiny had long been a part of the American experience. The impatient English who colonized North America in the 1600s and 1700s immediately gazed westward and instantly considered ways to venture into the wilderness and tame it (David Heidler 1). A sad reality of this expansion was the conflict that occurred. Much of the conflict that we have with peer countries, areas that are part of the United States, state and federal government processes, and so much more that America is known for practicing today can link back to this century and this journey of Manifest Destiny.
To acquire more land, the United States looked West because the land was free, there were opportunities for growth and new economic opportunities such as trade among the Pacific Ocean, and they specifically wanted Mexico. However, moving West would lead to conflicts. Although before the term Manifest Destiny was coined, America had conquered over France and in 1803 took ownership of Louisiana, which we know today as the Louisiana Purchase. This is what really sparked the idea of expansion. It was not too long after that President James K. Polk came into office and really got the expansion going. He had a thirst for expanding and according to www.history.com, Polk was able to acquire at least 10 states within his one term alone. One of the most widely known historical events to occur during this journey was the Mexican-American War . Mexico had become free from Texas in 1836; however, this is something that basically America had regretted ever since. In 1846, America sent troops to the border of the Rio Grande and the Mexican-American war broke out. This went on for two years until America had conquered them and re-claimed this area. This allowed for a major expansion and is something that people associate with the term Manifest Destiny. Polk also signed the Oregon Treaty of 184, which also according to www.history.com, he was able to claim five more states without going to war. Overall, he was able to expand the US more than anyone before or after him.
Due to this journey of westward expansion, America changed greatly. The country became immensely wealthier and larger. There was this new reputation around America that made others feel as though anything and everything would be done with perseverance for America to get what it wants no matter who they lost relationship with along the way. This could be both a good and bad thing; however, as for America, many relationships with neighboring areas were hurt, and it left us with few allies, as well as a strained relationship with the Native Americans, which leads to the Indian War. During this specific time; however, this matter was not of importance.
Another issue during this period was slavery. According to www.riversprojectweek.weebly.com, with the expansion increased the areas available for farming which in turn increased the need for slaves. However, Manifest Destiny later brought on debates about slaves and helped to abolish slavery. Many people believe the westward expansion ended with the Civil War , however it did not, it just helped, and this in turn ended slavery. Most of Manifest Destiny was pro-slavery.
In conclusion, Manifest Destiny, although only a term, is a symbol for America. This was a process that took place in the 19th century and allowed for political, physical, and economic growth. There were many events that took place during this journey that we are taught and read about today. With any evolutionary change, there are both positive and negative side effects, but the process of Manifest Destiny lead to an amazing occurrence in history that introduced a strong-willed political leader, made America a country of extreme worth; both financially and personally, and although led to conflict, had a greater positive impact on the country today.
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