Manifest Destiny In History of America

Last Updated: 11 Oct 2020
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Manifest is a view that gives evidence on the history of America whose boundaries changed and created a nation. Manifest destiny has no chronological periods since it is a philosophy that was and still exists. This phrase attempts to explain the territorial expansions of America and its claim to new territories.
Cause of expansion

The rallying cry for expansion was publicized and argued throughout the nation. The doctrine was absorbed and this was a start of the expansion under the influence of Editor John L. Oa sullivan. (Jones & Donald 1997)

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In 1818, Andrew Jackson who was the 7th president of the United States led military forces during the Florida crisis punishing the seminal Indians and captured several cities. The reasoning and moral conservations of most Americans about their leader Jackson, made their conscience to push to expansion of the American territory. .

Another cause was that the people the Deep South exercised their right in capturing fertile land. This was because Americans had been installed with the belief that they could own any land which they wanted. The manifest destiny term had a meaning that US destiny included imperialistic expansion and a want and need to explore new lands and borders. (Jones & Donald 1997)

There was the idea that America should have been the world power and this become strong after the Spanish American war. The united stated had a strong belief that it would capture the boundaries to North America. (Shenk, 2004) (Jones & Donald 1997)

Method of expansion

With the need for fertile land Americans moved to Florida and in the Deep South, the planter class consequently took land and started setting and planting. This was an arrogant move into the Florida territories since they did not seek political approval or permission. The idea is as old as America and the philosophy went across the Atlantic to colonist and ended in the Plymouth Rock with the pilgrims. This philosophy also spread during the Great Awakening with fire and brimstone preachers. In the spread of manifest destiny ideas Roosevelt, Harrison and Captain Mahan were expansionists who advocated for the creation of America but these ideas were opposed by Grover Cleveland, Andrew Carnegie and Mark Twain.

As new territories were formed, the expansion also included extending the institution of slavery since thus was a central issue of America as a missiona. John Quincy Adams orchestrated the 1818 treaty, which resolved standing boundaries of the US and UK to the west of Rocky Mountains with joint occupation of the Oregon country. He also purchased Florida from Spain extending the border to the Pacific Ocean. (Jarnow, 2005)

The U.S government wanted to expand in to the west and this would mean the legal processes of purchasing of Native America land in treaties. The expansion to the west was a success since the policy which was formulated by Henry Knox had the provision for such an expansion. (Jones & Donald 1997)

In the 1896 election, republicans recaptured the white house for 16 years and this promoted overseas expansion on the North American continent. This occurred as a result of the Guano islands act, Spanish American war and treaty of Berlin among others.
The United States acquired Guam, Puerto Rico and Philippines Island as colonies rather than as states. (Jarnow, 2005 ).

Cost of expansion

As a result of the expansion there were several wars such as the war on Mexico in 1846. The aggressive act with the war caused the American civil war. The Spanish America war caused legislators to annex all Spanish territories. John Quincy Adams gave a warning through the Monroe doctrine which he formulated. This doctrine warned against the European colonization of the western hemisphere which includes London, England and the United Kingdom. Peaceful and violent attempts were witnessed in the American Revolution with a target of including Canada in the US.

Result of expansion

The war resulted in to a win of the southwestern United States. With the conquering of new lands and borders, moral, cultural, social and economic differences begun to show themselves among people, states and countries involved. The expansion through fine and brimstones preacher led to building of the first national road. (Michael, 1997)

Further more with the expansion from 1815 to 1860; the United States had expanded to the Pacific Ocean and serves as continental borders in the United States today. With the Anglo American convention of 1818, thousands of Americans moved over the Oregon Trail. The British rejected a proposal in which John Tyler wanted to have forty nine parallel boundaries in the region. The British called for a boundary line further south along the Columbia River.

There were different opinions that found advocated of Manifest destiny calling for the annexation of Oregon country. The democrats were for the idea of annexation of all Oregon at the time of presidential elections of James K. Polk. Polk who was a presidential candidate offered to divide the territory to 49 parallel boundaries. Meanwhile the dispute over the division of the region was finally settled with the Oregon treaty of 1846.( shenk,2004)(Richard 1991) .

When the sovereign state in the republic of Texas declared independence from Mexico in 1836, and joined the united stated as a new state. Annexation of all Mexico meant extending the United States citizenship to Mexicans. The Mexican cession saw the addition of the Alta California and Nuevo Mexico territories to the United States. The American war of independence was a civil war that involved the kingdom of Great Britain and North American colonies. (McCartney 1992) (Salzman, 1986)

European wars led to American Revolution and a continental army. The west ward expansion created a 4000 mile border between the United States and Canada which also servers as the most peaceful boundary in the world. (Jarnow, 2005), (Richard, 1991), (Feldman, 2004)

The Pacific Northwest was an expansion due to an American John Jacob Astron who opened a trading post named Astoria at the mouth of the Columbia River.

The Louisiana Purchase was the acquisition of 828,000 squire miles of French territory by the United States of America. This purchase included 15 U.S states and 2 Canadian provinces Oklahoma Panhandle and south western portions of Kansas and Louisiana were still claimed by Spain and there were complains that it was unconstitutional. As a result Jefferson purchased Louisiana since France and Spain wanted to have power to block American trade access to the port of New Orleans. (Michael, 1997) (Feldman, 2004)

The expansion and settlement in the western territories gave freedom to limitless land. With the spirit of manifest destiny Americans settled, planted and did farming activities in the Indian land. Manifest destiny was the reason for territorial expansion and settlement in vast tracks of land that were sparsely populated. Manifest destiny created American history and is also responsible for its independence and expansion. (Craven, 2003)


The events that occurred during the late and early 18th centuries in United States brought division in American politics. This was especially due to the manifest destiny and territorial expansion. (McCartney 1992)

A great number of people were in supported these moves but politician as well as the strict constructionists did not support the ideas. In their view they understood that the constitution did not allow or give the right to acquire land and expand boundaries as per the plans and powers in governments. (Michael, 1997) (Richard 1991)

Slavery was also a major issue that influenced presidential elections at that time. Following further expansion of boundaries, there was imbalance in the number of slave state and Free State representatives in congress. It was a major challenge on the senators and representatives due to emerging accusations of conspiracies by congress on Free State members. Charles Sumner thought that the southerners wanted more land to have slavery in the territories and hence become slave states. (Richard 1991)

The war between Mexico and Great Britain caused fears for those who were against it. James Polk enticed Mexicans to attack and with this he use it to claim that he had defended the U.S (Shenk, 2004). The issues on slavery conflict, the unexpected election of Polk and the Mexican war brought American politics into great and weighty issues of concern.


Craven W., American art: History and Culture in America, 2003.
Feldman R. T. The Mexican-American War: Twenty-First Century Books, 2004.

Jarnow J., Moriarty J.T. Manifest Destiny: A primary Source, History of Americas territorial expansion in the 19th century. Rosen Publishing Group. 2005
Jones H, Donald A. R.., Prologue to Manifest Destiny: Anglo-American Relations in the 1840S, Unites States: Rowman & Littlefield 1997.
Lubragge M. T.1994 Manifest Destiny:1/6 The Philosophy That Created A Nation          Retrieved from on Thursday,    April 10, 2008

McCartney J.T., Black Power Ideologies: An Essay in African-American Political Thought Temple University Press, 1992.
Michael A. M. Slavery and the American West: The eclipse of Manifest Destiny. UNC press, 1997.

Richard W. “It’s Your Misfortune and None of My Own”; A History Of The American West. University of Oklahoma Press, 1991.

Salzman J.,American Studies: An Annotated Bibliography: Cambridge university press, 1986.
Shenk, W. R. North American Foreign Missions, 1810-1914: Theology, Theory, and Policy: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2004.

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