Manifest Destiny

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In order to understand manifest destiny one should come to an understanding of the origins of the term and what it meant to Americans. In the middle of the nineteen century Americans were eager to move west. They had wanted to see the span of the United States from the Atlantic Ocean to the pacific. Americans felt that open land meant opportunity and potential wealth. They also believed that America was destined to be a great nation and by moving west, they could share their unique form of government, and the freedom it represented. This concept of discovery was not new; Europeans had believed they had a right to claim their discovery, and thought of the new world as a wilderness waiting to be tamed. The Europeans however found out that this land was not empty, and was home to countless American Indians. Indians were people who hunted, farmed, and raised families on the land. These native residents disagreed with this claim, on their land, and viewed the land as theirs. In the beginning Americans had a different idea, “The whole continent of North America appears to be destined by divine providence, to be peopled by one nation, speaking one language, professing one general system of religious, and political principles, and accustomed to one general Tenor of social usages, and customs for the common happiness of them all, for their peace and prosperity, I believe it is indispensible that they should be associated in one federal union” (John Quincy Adams).

The first person to coin and use the term manifest destiny was a journalist by the name of John O’Sullivan. O’Sullivan wanted the United States to annex Texas and the Oregon territory. “That claim is by the right of our manifest destiny, to overspread and to possess the wh...

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...s that manifest destiny was more of a sparring ring for political parties. Basically time might pass, but political bickering would remain a constant variable in the great task of expanding.

In conclusion, all three of these authors have a distinct view on manifest destiny. Frederick Merk feels manifest destiny as being a law, while Anders Stephanson believes it is God’s will or divine right, and finally Thomas Hietala believes that without American expansion the world will not prosper. American felt that they could prosper in the west, and build new lives. While this feeling to move west was great in the eyes of Americans, it ruined many native cultures already occupying the lands. Manifest destiny can be tossed around many different ways but untimely all come to one conclusion, that Americans wanted to expand, and felt it was a duty, law or right too.

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