Manifest Destiny: Western Expansion of America

Manifest Destiny: Western Expansion of America

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The Manifest Destiny was a progressive movement starting in the 1840's. John O'Sullivan, a democratic leader, named the movement in 1845. Manifest Destiny meant that westward expansion was America's destiny. The land that was added to the U.S. after 1840 (the start of Manifest Destiny) includes The Texas Annexation (1845), The Oregon Country (1846), The Mexican Cession (1848), The Gadsden Purchase (1853), Alaska (1867), and Hawaii (1898). Although this movement would take several years to accomplish fully, things started changing before we knew it. New technology took off right away!

Steamboats were invented in the early 1800's, but it took until the 1820's to make them a common site on U.S. rivers. In the 1840's their popularity kept rising as they continued to increase the amount of trade possible. The reaper, for farming, was also developed in 1831. This allowed more farming in the west on the prairies. Many other farming machines were also developed during this time period, they all made farming in the west much more popular, easier, and profitable. The Trans-continental railroad was started in 1862, even though other trains were already running in different parts of the U.S. The telegraph also went up along with the railroads, although the first time it was used was in 1844. All four of these major technological advancements made the United States really get going on their Manifest Destiny.

The economy would also blossom during this expansion. First, the Manifest Destiny included extremely inexpensive land for sale in the west. In some cases it was free since it was government land, and they passed things like the Homestead Act to encourage westward settlements. With so many people taking part in horizontal mobility by moving west, it gave the economy a chance to expand commerce. We would do this by building ports and increasing trade with countries in the Pacific. The economy also got a kick when there were gold or silver rushes in the west. These occurred in Denver, Colorado (1859), Virginia City, Nevada (1859), Last Chance Gulch (1861), and in the Black Hills of the Dakotas (1875). All of these sporadic improvements of the economy helped us grow into a big super power.New inspirations entered the art world at this time too. Many artists tried to capture the image of Manifest Destiny by illustrating families traveling west.

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One of the very popular art works of the time showed an angel like figure watching over a Conestoga wagon traveling west. Songs also changed with the building of the Trans-continental railroad. The different cultures that all came to work on the railroad influenced the songs of the times. These were just a few ways that Manifest Destiny changed the art world.

Overall, I think that Manifest Destiny was a crucial part of American History because it established the basis for our modern day country. Without this moving (mobility) movement our country would not have been able to expand in its early years. As I've said before, without Manifest Destiny, we would be nothing like we are today.

Works Cited

Haynes, Sam W. "Manifest Destiny." Manifest Destiny. PBS & University of Texas at Arlington. May 21, 2002. <>

Manifest Destiny. PBS. May 21, 2002. <>

"Manifest Destiny", "Settling the Last West." The Volume Library. 1998 ed.

Lubragge, Michael T. The American Revolution. January 2, 2001. Department of Humanities Computing. May 21, 2002. <>
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