Manifest Destiny's Legacy
Justification for controversial claims and actions are typically met with rational and irrational explanations. It is human nature that perpetuates the excuses and reasoning behind one’s actions or their belief in something; therefore, it is common that when justification is need on mass scales ideas are developed that reign people into consecutive thought patterns- whether their logical or completely ridiculous. One such idea is that of the Manifest Destiny, which is a doctrine developed as justification for the inevitable expansion of the United States throughout the North American continent. It is the idea that the United States is ordained by God to carry out its expansion and influence.
Like most ideological concepts such as the Manifest Destiny, it was created to promote basically a consensus among people. For instance, the colonist came to the New World in search of a plethora of advantages and most significantly- religious freedom. Colonist had to have some conceptual agreement with a higher power to feel that they were special humans that had the will of the supernatural as their catalyst, to be brave enough to settle into a hostile, uncharted area- months away from home. Sam Haynes, a history professor at the university of Texas at Arlington stated in an essay he wrote about the Manifest Destiny that, “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.” Manifest Destiny, however, is an example of thought development by individuals that have ulterior motives.
The first self-sustaining settlements of the Europeans in what is now the United States, better known as the first thirteen colonies, were limited to the eastern edge of the country. The colonization of this area called for the exodus of the Native American’s, who were driven westward. In an attempt to develop a thriving economy, trade with other nations produced a need for more products –eventually leading to the expansion westward. Manifest Destiny was used as a catalyst to the idea.
Based on the beliefs and influence of such ideas as that from Manifest Destiny, the democratic- republic we enjoy today in the United States was given a foundation of benediction. Even though the Manifest Destiny became a term of the past in the 20th century, it fostered, in my opinion, the birth of a new idea. It is apparent throughout the short history of these United States and its few wars that Americans have some deep seated need to directly influence the citizens and governments of other countries.
It is known all too well of America’s “mission” to spread and defend democracy. This is the modern Manifest Destiny. It is the belief that we are obliged by some force to carry out our influence and to interject our views into the “corrupt” governments of the world. We can simply go into a country and overthrow its stable government and justify our military occupation with the idea of spreading democracy. The Manifest Destiny spirit will always be with the citizens of the United States and therefore the world. It’s an Idea and idea’s don’t die. They morph and change- adapting to the complexities of the present; and they prepare for the challenges of the future. Manifest Destiny is a significantly charged concept that make’s America so unique.
Haynes, Sam W. "Manifest Destiny." Manifest Destiny. PBS & University of Texas at aArlington. May 21, 2002. <http://www.pbs.org/kera/usmexicanwar/dialogues/prelude/manifest/d2heng.html>
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