How Did Manifest Destiny Manifest Itself?
How did Manifest Destiny manifest itself? Manifest Destiny manifested itself in several ways during the period 1840-1896. Almost every major crisis or notable event was somehow related to manifest destiny. To understand the meaning of Manifest Destiny, we need to go back to its origins.
The term Manifest Destiny was first used by John O? Sullivan in July-August 1845, in the Democratic review; “our manifest destiny to overspread the continent allotted by Providence for the free development of our yearly multiplying millions” O? Sullivan said this while asking Congress for the annexation of Texas.
The annexation followed quickly after but O? Sullivan? s use of sentence was barely noticed. Later in 1845, O? Sullivan reused the phrase but this time it created an extremely influential political idea. The general idea of Sullivan? s phrase was that God gave the United States of America territory so that the American people could travel westwards and settle on land that was rightfully theirs. We can notice that Manifest Destiny is a racial doctrine and it put forward the white supremacy. Some people say, that the idea served as a justification for the expropriation of Native American lands.
This theory cost the death of many Whites, Blacks and Native Americans. O? Sullivan created the perfect excuse for politicians like Polk, to push forward their plans of expansion in the West. James Polk was the 11th President of the United States and was in charge during both of the annexation of Texas and the Mexican War. He is one of the only presidents that competed his agenda while he was in his office. He was the last president before the outbreak of the Civil War. He is mostly remembered for his foreign policy success. The only reason Polk was not criticized a lot about the war was that he put forward Manifest Destiny.
He stated that he was fighting for the Americans so that they could move westwards into new land. While the Mexican war was going on, Polk managed to increase the size of Texas, gain new territories of California, Nevada and Utah. This war of two years resulted in the treaty of Guadeloupe. According to different Sources, the treaty of Guadeloupe gave the USA an area of land from 900,000 square miles. Because of all this new and unpopulated land, the American government was keen on populating these areas to get for example more export availabilities. This caused a lot of Americans to move west because it was a new opportunity for them.
From 1940 to 1962, four new laws were put through which encouraged people to move westwards. The Religion of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, more commonly known as the Mormons was another cause why the western borders were shaped by Manifest Destiny. The Mormons claimed that people from Jerusalem were helped by god to get to the western hemisphere 600 years before Jesus Christ was born. According to Smith, the western land was rightfully the property of the Mormons and therefore resembles with the doctrine of Manifest Destiny. Smith died before being able to bring his people west.
The LDS were persecuted so much because of their beliefs in Ohio and Illinois, that when Brigham Young took over, he started going westwards. The plan was to escape was to create a religious state in Utah. On the way to the West, they were attacked by both Native Americans and other Whites (mostly Mormons). When they arrived, Young founded Salt Lake City and became governor of Utah. It was in Utah, where the Mormons fought bitterly against other religious movements because of their previous hounding. The Oregon Boundary Dispute was another incident that was the cause of manifest destiny.
It had been a problem since 1818 when the USA and Britain claimed that the Oregon territory was their own. To avoid war, the two countries occupied the territory and waited for a permanent solution instead. In 1844, there was another presidential election and Polk was a candidate. He promised them that he would fight for the boundary to be put at 54 40-north latitude. At the same time, war tensions were at an all time height because both countries wanted land and were ready to fight for it so therefore the Treaty of Washington was signed. It gave the USA and Britain, equal amounts of new land.
Westward travel was made easier because railroads were built around America. It was the country with the most developed railroads and they were built quickly around the country. In the end, America had over 30,000 miles of railroads. Following the railroads, a Transcontinental Railroad was built between 1863 and 1869. Americans didn? t want to cross salt flats and deserts so they wanted to be able to assert their right of manifest destiny. The railroads meant that Americans could now go around America until the Rockies in the far west. Before people didn? go into the west but the railroads made it easy to get there and people found resources in the ground which gave them money and the opportunity of a new way of living. A lot of people from the east who fought in the Civil War moved to the west because they saw a new opportunity of prosperity. This also helped the transcontinental railroad. Like a lot of other events, which were related to manifest destiny, minorities were abused. It was the Irish and the Chinese, which spent the most time on the railroads but in the end, it was the whites, which benefited the most from the economical growth.
Behind this national triumph, the Native Americans and the Chinese immigrants were completely socially excluded. Another aspect of manifest destiny is the American reaction when gold was discovered in California. It was found at the Sutter? s mill by James Marshall in 1848. The gold rush lasted from 1848 to 1855 and it was a huge boom for California. Manifest Destiny developed in a completely different idea during that period. The WASP? s were actively looking for gold and they tried to prevent the minorities from finding any expensive resources. The Whites also benefited from the treaty of Govt.
While the whites found minerals, the water of the Native Americans was poisoned and not clean so therefore they suffered from disease and sometimes-even death. Native Americans also died of smallpox and other rear diseases At the start of Manifest Destiny, less then 20,000 people lived in California. By 1855, there were over 300,000 gold seekers. Because of this massive increase, anti-foreigner laws were passed. Racist ideas were passed on in generations and the tax for immigrants got increased so that they would move out of America. Manifest Destiny was again used as an excuse for white supremacy.
Sometimes, the government just took land and said that God told them to. After a few years, California became its own state when all the Native Americans were gone. People, which were pro- slavery, argued that manifest destiny allowed them to bring their slaves into the new land. In their point of view, they helped the slaves because they gave them food and a few supplies but in fact the slaves were treated badly and it wasn? t right to do it. Before the Mexican war, there had been 15 pro-slavery states and 15 anti-slavery states. In 1850, the Missouri Compromise took place. The compromise included: The admission of California as a free state * The Texas dept. would be taken to the federal government * A better Fugitive Slave Act (FSA) * The continuation of slavery but the abolition of slavery in Washington DC In the Kansas-Nebraska problem, manifest destiny manifested itself in several ways. Because Kansas was on the border between the South and the North, there was a big problem for the government whether to allow slavery or not. There was a public outcry when Douglas, who was the runner up for the presidency as a democrat, repealed the 1820 Missouri Compromise.
Obviously, the north didn? t want any more slave states. To oppose the idea of Kansas, the northerners shipped people to Kansas while the south send people over the border into the state. Eventually a fight broke up and there were murders. In the end, unfortunately for Douglas, the problem he had caused was the end of Manifest Destiny. So instead of getting stronger and unifying the democrats, Douglas had split the party into two. When the conflict came to an end, when the west had been populated, the land taken and the American Indians killed, manifest destiny was just not what it had been before.
There was no more land to capture but unfortunately that didn? t mean the end of Manifest Destiny. According to Turner? s theory, the frontier drew and promoted some types of people which wouldn? t have risen as high without the frontier. It could almost be called the survival of the fittest. The ones that adapted best got the most out of their own situation. Jameson on the other hand claimed, that the frontier held back the revolutionaries so when the frontier was gone, the people ceased to be revolutionary. To oppose this theory, Turner argues because of this, these men and women flourished.
The difference between the two men was that Jameson looks at the frontier as a very active agent, which formed the people while Turner states that the frontier attracted people which were looking for a new opportunity. Manifest Destiny had a lot of serious consequences for Native Americans, since the expansion into the West by the Americans meant the occupation and annexation of Native American land. This land was sometimes even used to expand slavery. The Americans only recognized parts of the Indian territory and this was supported by the Washington Administration which was signed by Henry Knox who was the Secretary of War.
As a conclusion, manifest destiny manifested itself during almost every major event in the period 1840-1896. It was the reason of every conflict, in the minds of every pioneer and behind every political move towards the expansion of the United States of America. It had three main components but most saw the doctrine as a literal thought. Many said that it was a White man? s yoke to bear. A minority saw in it a sense of a mission. They saw a historical need that America needed to expand to be able to rule the whole continent. Yet for all these rather positive aims, Manifest Destiny had its dark side.
The negative thing about Manifest Destiny is that apparently it gave the whites the right to burn, kill and raze anything that came in their way of expanding into the west. No one thought about what they were doing to the Native Americans until after they were dead. I think, the Americans used manifest destiny as a rallying cry, which said: “We are superior, we are better than you. ” In other words, America manifested itself to satisfy the hunger for land that the American people had at the time. It served as a way to greaten the United States of America and please its people.