In 1845 Manifest Destiny was just a term coined by John O’Sullivan in his article. At first, its main purpose was to justify the annexation of Texas and encourage Americans for the further expansion of the West. However, Manifest Destiny acquired greater value and became a political doctrine of the nation. The main argument, which gave Americans the right to colonize the continent, was superiority of their economic and political system. Sullivan depicted American expansion as liberation of undeveloped nations. Manifest Destiny was a declaration of the American greatness, and their understanding of own significance was vital for the young nation. It happened that “the idea that America had a special destiny to stretch across the continent motivated many people to migrate West” (Digital History, 2012). Thus, Manifest Destiny had a great impact on American trappers and settlers and turned the westward expansion into the divine mission of promoting democracy. At the same time, it infringed other nations and cultures, which were not considered American.
The expansion of the West
Taking into account the constantly increasing population of the USA, the expansion of the West was inevitable, and O’Sullivan admitted it in his doctrine. The western lands were the best place for white settlers who strived to build new cities and farms on the fertile lands. The doctrine provoked the movement of the pioneers into Mexican lands that finally led to the Mexican War. Many politicians exploited Manifest Destiny for urging the war. President Polk was one of those who used the doctrine for justifying his expansionist policy towards Texas and Oregon and the war with Mexico. Pioneers were inspired by Manifest Destiny to explore the new lands. Actually, this idea made people “to dream big dreams” and to risk their lives for Providence (Digital History, 2012).
Manifest Destiny greatly influenced on the nature of the expansion of the West and South. Democrats who expected to spread their influence on the newly acquired territories supported it. Using this doctrine meant to give a new shape to the expansion. Probably, a conventional colonization would not get any support among American citizens. However, the diffusion of democracy and freedom became an agreeable justification for the expansionist policy of the US government. The westward expansion was a chance for Democrats to spread slavery upon new lands. Manifest Destiny proclaimed the greatness of American nation but it was not related to Native Americans and African Americans. The doctrine convinced white settlers of their superiority while other nations were doomed to cede the land or to serve the white Americans. Basically, the notion of freedom for Southerners was tightly interwoven with slavery, which was an integral part of their economics and culture. Thus, Manifest Destiny raised aggressive nationalist ideas, which justified Indians’ removal from their lands and African Americans’ enslavement.
Undoubtedly, Manifest Destiny became the general justification for all illegal actions of American government during westward expansion. At the same time, the doctrine became a moral boost for thousands of white settlers, providing them with a romantic feeling of destiny. Actually, Manifest Destiny popularized the expansion of the West and South among Americans making them to take risky trips. Although the doctrine shaped the nation making it stronger and firm, it ruined the life of Native Americans. It strengthened the position of Southerners towards slavery that soon led to sectional conflict between the North and South. American culture spread throughout the continent, displacing other cultures and the wheels of progress swept all obstacles from its path. All in all, the positive role of Manifest Destiny is as controversial as the idea being destined to expand, though it is impossible to deny that the doctrine became a crucial point in westward expansion and establishment of American culture.
Digital History. (2012). Pre-Civil War era: Westward expansion.