Manifest Destiny Term Paper

“Manifest Destiny” was a phrase that was created by journalist John O’Sullivan in which its meaning was to promote the annexation of Texas and the Oregon Country, and as a result expanded the United States. During the 19th centuries Americans believed that the United States was destined to expand across the continent, and with the availability of cheap land made a lot of Americans believe they could become rich off of it. The United States justified Manifest Destiny as a belief that God had intended for the American people to spread their cultural and political values throughout the nation. It was also said that it was to spread traditions and at the same time enlighten more primitive nations. According to the American settlers they believed that God had blessed the growth of the American nation and that they were demanded to actively continue working on it.
Americans thought it was their mission to impose their virtuous way of life on everybody else while expanding all the way to the west coast. Americans had came up with excuses as to why they should expand west like resources, more land and more trade routes. Although some Americans had a mentality of “not knowing what is out there” and that it would only expand slavery into the new territories, and therefore were against the idea of “Manifest Destiny”. Those who wholeheartedly supported “Manifest Destiny” were more likely to be Democrats, and those who opposed it were known as Whigs, which happened to be most common in the north. Though it might have been seen as more of a positive factor in expanding the United States, some people like Mexico and the Native Americans had only seen it as losing their land.
In the beginning, America’s population had rapidly grown and this would lead to many Americans moving westward in search of the new land and opportunities. Following the Lewis and Clark expedition President Thomas Jefferson had kicked off the westward expansion with the Louisiana Purchase, which would double the size of the United States. France at the time had control of the land and had agreed to let America buy the western territory from them at $15 million with congress approval. Thomas Jefferson also had his eye on Florida, which at the time belonged to Spain and would not be included in the United States until 1819 under President James Monroe through the Transcontinental Treaty (Adams-Onis Treaty). Another way America achieved “Manifest Destiny” was by claiming the Oregon Territory, which at the time was occupied by Great Britain and Mexico. Though having America achieve “Manifest Destiny” was not going to be an easy walk in the park, as it was seen during the Oregon Trails when american settlers were so determined on moving towards the west coast in search of a new beginning.
Although Great Britain had easily agreed to set a line between the United States and them which is now today known as the border between the United States and Canada, the Mexican lands were much harder to attain. After Texas had gain independence from Mexico and admitted itself as a slave state into the United States, a border dispute soon surfaced between the two nations. Not to far behind America and Mexico were soon at war with each other, which was known as the Mexican-American War for 2 years until both nations decided to stop and agreed on the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which was in favor of the United States and made Mexico recognized Texas as independent and the Rio Grande as its border. Also throughout the Mexican Cession, America had gained land that included parts of the present-day Arizona, California, New Mexico, Colorado, Texas, Nevada and Utah. Later on, this ignited the debate of slavery and would ultimately result in the American Civil War.

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As the Americans were gaining new lands, the Native Americans were losing theirs. Americans saw the Native Americans as an obstacle that was in the way of their “American Progress”. Many Native Americans like the Cherokees, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Seminole, and Creeks were forced to move west under President Andrew Jackson’s removal policy (Indian Removal Act of 1830). Their land had become so valuable and also grew to be more coveted as the Americans flooded into the region. Americans wanted their land and would do almost anything to get it. Later on several states had passed laws limiting the Native Americans sovereignty and rights to their land. Therefore, they were to be moved into “Indian colonization zone”, which the United States had acquired as part of the Louisiana Purchase (Present-day Oklahoma). The Native Americans had suffered great hardships while relocating, which was soon known as the infamous Trail of Tears. They were forced to leave their lands by threats of invasion by the U.S. Army and had to march more than 1,200 miles to their “new territory”, and nearly 5,000 Native Americans had died due to whooping cough, typhus, dysentery, cholera, and starvation. They made their journey on foot, but some were “bound in chains and marched double file”. The government had promised that their new land would remain untouched, but as more american settlements moved west the “Indian country” had continued to shrink until it was gone for good.

However, the Americans had thought that the achievements they had obtained was proof that God had specifically chosen the United States to grow and flourish. With California now under the United States it made it easier to trade with other nations over the Pacific Ocean that had previously been European commercial preserves. Though with the new western territories it had disrupted the political system regarding slavery, and had revived arguments that had previously been compromised with. And for a time Manifest Destiny was closed until James Gadsden had purchased a small piece of land in 1853 for a southern route. Because of this the Gadsden Purchase had provoked the North, and America found itself at yet another argument. It was not until around 1860 that the age of “Manifest Destiny” would officially come to an end. Although at the time “Manifest Destiny” was probably seen as an achievement finally coming to end, the concept of it did not stop there.

In the end, “Manifest Destiny” had expressed the American vision of improvement, change, and growth. Although achieving “Manifest Destiny” was not easy and did have a negative impact on those others than the Americans, it did benefit the United States by developing more trade routes, strengthening national security, acquiring access to the Pacific Ocean, spreading ideas of liberty and gaining more resources. With “Manifest Destiny” it gave many Americans a new start and was able to allow new opportunities to surface. This achievement had become one of the most influential aspects of the United States history and was just one of the many extensions of the “American Dream”. Although I think that trying to accomplish “Manifest Destiny” did lead to many unnecessary situations that could have been avoided, I also believe that it was a major key point in the United States becoming very successful and that some things have to be sacrificed in order achieve your goal.

Primary Sources:
“Manifest Destiny.” The American Yawp,

The American Yawp Reader,

Secondary Sources:


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