Manifest Destiny first came about in the United States in the mid-1800s, and was based off of an idea that Americans specifically had the right to expand with absolute no limit as far as country or area. Americans used Manifest Destiny as a defense for United States territorial expansion, and this right had supposedly been given to them by God. These ideas of Manifest Destiny still bleed over to our current lives today, but all repercussions and end results were not completely positive nor negative.
These certain positives were also more abundant for Native Americans specifically.
In addition to the discussion of negative outcomes for the Native Americans, these people were forced away from their own families, forced out of their own homes, and even killed. The concept that truly fueled the idea of Manifest Destiny was the idea of American’s being simply more unique, superior, and exceptional in areas where other nations had failed. Although there were negative outcomes, there were also some positive ones as well.
The additional land had provided an increase in the production of goods that were able to be sold in and to the economy itself. There were also advanced forms of communication as well as improved forms of transportation. These types of advancement led to a great economic growth and pushed the growth westward in a faster manner.
Over this time, the cost of forms of transportation became cheaper. This resulted in new regions being more drawn into the market quicker. The cause of this was the come about and development of transportation methods such as the steam boat, railroad, and canal. These different methods provided a transportation network that allowed different regions of the nation to connect and be a part of one another in positive and effective ways for the economy. Once these things really started booming, communication became more and more important over time in order for things to remain running as smoothly. This is when the postal system was created, as well as the telegraph.
Immigration increased greatly in the United States, and had a pretty positive affect on the economy. This created a greater population, which in return created a greater number of consumers. Because of this, more jobs became available and there were more people available to maintain jobs, and this had caused an increase in economic growth. Although there were many positives, there were negatives as well. The truth about Manifest Destiny is that regardless of how people truly view it, whether it be good or bad, America would not be what it is today.
In order to fully understand the concept of Manifest Destiny, you have to view it from different points of view. Depending on the point of view you are viewing it from depends on whether or not you view it as positive or negative. Americans believed that expansion would lead to more opportunity and strictly positivity. Manifest Destiny did lead to these things, and was a very positive experience with positive outcomes, but it was not all a piece of cake. People argue that the Manifest Destiny is responsible for changing the face of American history, and the reason why America has a history. Manifest Destiny is best described as being a phenomenon rather than an historical event. It existed and continues to exist today.
An example of a quote from an article that states an opposing view that was voiced by a majority of Americans in 1845:
‘Texas has been absorbed into the Union in the inevitable fulfillment of the general law which is rolling our population westward…. It was disintegrated form Mexico in the natural course of events, by a process perfectly legitimate on its own part, blameless on ours…. (its) incorporation into the Union was not only inevitable, but the most natural, right and proper thing in the world…. California will, probably, next fall away from…Mexico…. Imbecile and distracted, Mexico never can exert any real governmental authority over such a country…. The Anglo-Saxon foot is already on its borders. Already the advance guard of the irresistible army of Anglo-Saxon emigration has begun to pour down upon it armed with the plow and the rifle, and markings its trail with schools and colleges, courts and representative halls, mills and meeting houses. A population will soon be in actual occupation of California, over which it will be idle for Mexico to dream of dominion… All this without agency of our government, without responsibility of our people- -in natural flow of events, the spontaneous working of principles, and the adaptation of the tendencies and wants of the human race to the elemental circumstances in the midst of which they find themselves placed.’ (Blum 277)
This quote is evidence of an opposing attitude towards Manifest Destiny ideology. A letter from 1837 written to Henry Clay from William Channing:
‘Did this county know itself, or were it disposed to profit by self-knowledge, it would feel the necessity of laying an immediate curb on its passion for extended territory…. We are a restless people, prone to encroachment, impatient of the ordinary laws of progress… We boast of our rapid growth, forgetting that, throughout nature, noble growths are slow….. It is full time that we should lay on ourselves serious, resolute restraint. Possessed of a domain, vast enough for the growth of ages, it is time for us to stop in the career of acquisition and conquest. Already endangered by our greatness, we cannot advance without imminent peril to our institutions, union, prosperity, virtue, and peace….. It is sometimes said, that nations are swayed by laws, as unfailing as those which govern matter; that they have their destinies; that their character and position carry them forward irresistibly to their goal;….
that … the Indians have melted before the white man, and the mixed, degraded race of Mexico must melt before the Anglo-Saxon. Away with this vile sophistry! There is no necessity for crime. There is no fate to justify rapacious nations, any more than to justify gamblers and robbers, in plunder. We boast of the progress of society, and this progress consists in the substitution of reason and moral principle for the sway of brute force….We talk of accomplishing our destiny. So did the late conqueror of Europe (Napoleon) ; and destiny consigned him to a lonely rock in the ocean, the prey of ambition which destroyed no peace but his own.’ (Blum 276)
As I stated earlier, to truly know the concept of Manifest Destiny would be to understand all different points of view of the ideology. There is no right or wrong idea of it, and everyone has different opinions of it. This does make Manifest Destiny an extremely controversial topic for everyone. In conclusion, Manifest Destiny has a special significance for America, and we would not be where we are today without the occurrence.
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