Many Americans in the early 1800s believed that it was the destiny of America to control all of the North American continent. This belief was called "Manifest Destiny." The term originated from a New York newspaper editorial of December 27, 1845, which declared that the nation's manifest destiny was "to over spread and to possess" the whole continent, to develop liberty and self-government to all. In the eyes of the Americans, it meant that it was God's will that Americans expand their territory from coast to coast.
This idea of Manifest Destiny strongly influenced the attitudes of the people and the policies of the U.S. government. Americans believed that they were bringing God, technology and civilization to the lands in the west. What they brought, in fact, was death, disease and wars to the Native Americans and Mexicans who occupied these lands. Americans used the idea of Manifest Destiny to justify their dishonest, cruel, and racist treatment of the Indians and Mexicans who already occupied these lands. Americans looked upon Native Americans as dumb savages and upon Mexicans as inferior people who were lazy and ignorant.
Origins of Manifest Destiny
The idea of Manifest Destiny did not begin in the 1800s, but began back when Puritans were first settling the Atlantic coast.
In 1803 Thomas Jefferson was President of the United States and the Mississippi River was thought of as the western border of the United States. Napoleon Bonaparte was the ruler of France which controlled a huge piece of land west of the Mississippi River. This land stretched from the Mississippi River all the way to the Rocky Mountains and was called the Louisiana Territory. Napoleon was on the verge ...
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...end of the Mexican American War came with the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo on February 2, 1848. Mexico surrendered the New Mexico and California territories to the U.S. In 1853d the U.S. purchased more land along Mexico's northern border, which then set the southern border of the United States as we now know it.
Manifest Destiny was the belief that white Americans had that led to the expansion of U.S. territory from coast to coast. This belief resulted in the acquisition of territory for the U.S. but also was the direct cause of tremendous death and suffering for the Native Americans and Mexican people who occupied this territory. Because Americans believed that they were destined by God's will to expand over the whole continent, they justified their wrongful and deceiving actions against other human beings as merely carrying out God's will.