One of the most contentious issues in American history is the ideology of Manifest Destiny and American Territorial Expansion. The ideology is warranted by the need to enlarge American territories during the antebellum era. This era can be traced back to before the civil war, before 1789, and after the conflict. Historically, “Manifest Destiny” ideology has been rationalized by the belief that Americans were divinely ordained to expand their regions across all continents. Negotiations or battle was used to obtain the lands. It was agreed that American natives would be evicted to make room for settlers and build transcontinental train lines. Moreover, the concept of Manifest Destiny was based on a belief that American culture, social, and political institutions were ordained to be majestic to other countries. This belief was used to justify the territorial expansion of the Republic of Texas to the United States and the United States’ battle in Mexico. Moreover, the impression was conveyed in the multiple scuffles of the U.s Army with indigenous tribes, especially in the Northwest of the United States.
Causes of Expansion
There were numerous contributing factors to the concept of Manifest Destiny. Some of the primary reasons for the ideas of manifest destiny were a sense of accountability and the role of religious conviction. In matters of beliefs, proponents of the Manifest Destiny doctrine presumed that the United States was bestowed with divine intervention to conquer the universe. They assumed that it was God’s resolve for the United States to spread across the region and the universe, and nobody could avert it. Others presumed that America’s duty was to monopolize the North American continent through imperial extension.
The expansion began in 1803 with the purchase of Louisiana from France. The purchase quadrupled America’s size, initiating a domino effect of territorial expansion. President Polk’s government confronted Britain over Oregon in the late 1840s, and he proclaimed war on Mexico in 1846. Polk won the war with Mexico and brokered a pact with the United Kingdom. The events resulted in a one-third territorial expansion, adding Oregon, California, New Mexico, Texas, and Utah to the previously bought Louisiana territory (Greenberg 199). According to Greenberg, the Guadalupe Hidalgo Treaty, negotiated in February 1848 between the United States and Mexico, signaled the end of the two nations’ battle (200). Nevertheless, this agreement cost Mexico roughly 525,000 square miles or approximately half of its total territory. Because of the treaty, Mexico North would become part of the American Southwest. Included within this treaty were provisions needing the United States to comply with Mexican and Spanish independence indefinitely, but the United States excluded those provisions. Without the legislation, the US could perform its administrations voluntarily.
Some Americans and government officials believed in the idea of “manifest destiny,” a phrase invented by journalist John L. O’Sullivan in 1845, which stated that American Citizens were predestined to oversee all of the mainland territories west to the Pacific, south to the Rio Grande, and north to Canada. Nevertheless, manifest destiny may likewise be a cover for opportunistic behavior (Greenberg). America’s westward extension profited both traders and agriculturalists. California was recognized for the agricultural farmland and, later, for its abundant gold mines, but American traders desired it for the Pacific harbors. These enabled American extension towards the Pacific Ocean for trading activities with China and Japan and ultimately resulted in the creation of a robust American submarine base in Hawaii.
American leaders and newspapers promoted the Manifest Destiny movement in a multitude of ways and techniques. Foremost, they asserted that economic colonialism was the main driver of universal development. Nonetheless, yellow journalism impacted American citizens to endorse the Manifest Destiny drive, especially during the battle between secessionists in Spain and Cuba. By overcoming new territories and declaring economic power, American leaders presumed that the United States would become a significant world power (Greenberg). For instance, President James Monroe approved the Monroe Doctrine in 1822, cautioning the entire world to avoid the Western Hemisphere since America meant to colonize and govern it. Because most citizens and leaders assumed the need for expansion after the Spanish and American war, the Manifest Destiny movement grew more assertive. Moreover, lawmakers, correspondents, and leaders such as Roosevelt and Harrison championed the capture of Spanish colonies and the institution of an American territory. Notwithstanding the call to build an American empire through growth, some leaders, for instance, Grover Cleveland, had divergent views to the notion of manifest destiny.
The manifest destiny doctrine bolstered the eviction of Native Americans from their inherited homeland, battle with neighboring nations, and expansion. The term above was conceived by John O’Sullivan in assistance of the United States’ territorial expansion. Despite difficulties in seizing territory from Inherent Americans and nations, the United States got to remain on track and complete settlement. Westward growth was achieved through wars, tense relations, and harsh living conditions, and the United States now claims 50 states. People were made to trust that reforms would be initiated and that it would be helpful because of Manifest Destiny. The conviction came because of westward growth and widespread chauvinism. It was to symbolize American pride, and give individuals hope that they could complete projects and begin their lives in the United States.
Greenberg, Amy S. Manifest destiny and American territorial expansion: A brief history with documents. Macmillan Higher Education, 2017.
Greenberg, Amy S. “New Mexico Reservations.” Reviews in American History 47.2 (2019): 198-203.