Manifest Destiny: Offered a moral justification for American Expansion, a prescription for what an enlarged United States could and should be. At its worst it was cluster of flimsy rationalizations for naked greed and imperial ambition. “the belief that America had a God-given right, or destiny, to expand the country’s borders from ‘sea to shining sea”. People moved West for various reasons; for adventure, new land, search for wealth, new life/starting over, and many other reasons.
The Federal government encouraged this because new territories could be added to the US. This was called Manifest Destiny, the belief that Americans were entitled and ordained by God to occupy all of North America. If disputed areas in the West such as places like Texas, Oregon and New Mexico territories could be settled and have a majority of Americans there, then these places could and would become US property by default. The Industrial Revolution just added to this push West by the influx of immigrants to America thus many people moved West to get away from this influx.
Trades and trappers were the pathfinders of empire, and an unguarded boundary was no barrier to their enterin sparsely peopled and scarcely governed Mexican borderlands. Manifest Destiny was a concept which heavily influenced American policy in the 1800s. The idea was the driving force behind the rapid expansion of America into the West from the East, and it was heavily promoted in newspapers, posters, and through other mediums. While Manifest Destiny was not itself an official government policy, it led to the passage of legislation such as the Homestead Act, which encouraged Westward colonization and territorial acquisition.
It also played an important role in American thought. The term was first used in 1845 by John O’Sullivan, an American newspaper editor who was writing about the proposed annexation of Texas. O’Sullivan stated that it was America’s “manifest destiny to overspread the continent. ” The editorial suggested that through expansion, the United States could become a recognized political and social superpower. America had, in fact, O’Sullivan argued, been uniquely chosen for the task of expanding Westward, driving out the wilderness and establishing civilization.
The Westward expansion of the United States did not, of course, begin with Manifest Destiny. The Louisiana Purchase of 1803, in which 23% of the existing territory of the United States was acquired, was probably the first major step. The government saw the appeal in acquiring more land, as well as the potential political power which large tracts of land could confer upon the young nation. As a result, a policy pursuing aggressive expansion was actively pursued. The idea of Manifest Destiny was merely a component, and one which captured the popular imagination.
O’Sullivan’s Manifest Destiny editorial added fuel to the fire with a catchy phrase. Numerous government campaigns painted the allures of the West for prospective settlers, and promoted programs which could help people acquire and hold land in the West. With the discovery of gold and other valuable minerals, a tide of Easterners started to pour into the West, supported by their belief in their right and duty to expand. The idea of Manifest Destiny was also behind American political actions overseas. Although the term ceased to be used in a political context in the early twentieth century, the far-reaching impact of Manifest Destiny was clear.
A section of the Manifest Destiny editorial reminded Americans that they were uniquely positioned to spread democracy throughout the world, and this concept clearly played a role in twentieth century American foreign policy. Many historians use the term “Manifest Destiny” to refer to the period in American history which was marked by rapid expansion “from sea to shining sea” through annexation of the Western half of the continent. The hardships of going west and new lands: Routes to the West for American Settlers Roads, Canals, and Trails Led the Way for Those Who Settled the American West: The Erie Canal.
Canals had proven their worth in Europe, where cargo and people traveled on them, and some Americans realized that canals could bring great improvement to the United States. The National Road A land route westward was needed in the early 1800s, a fact made evident when Ohio became a state and there was no road that went there. And so the National Road was proposed as the first federal highway. The Oregon Trail In the 1840s the way westward for thousands of settlers was the Oregon Trail, which began in Independence, Missouri. The journey over the trails usually began in the spring to avoid traveling in the winter.
The most common vehicle for Oregon and California-bound settlers was a crude farm wagon covered with a canopy and led by a team of oxen (which were greatly preferred over horses and mules). In later years, following the advice of Brigham Young, many Mormon settlers made the crossing to Utah with handcarts. For all settlers, the scarcity of water and fuel for fires was a common brutal challenge on the trip. In many treeless areas buffalo chips were the most common source of fuel. Up to a one-tenth of the settlers who attempted the crossing died during the trip, most from disease such as cholera.
Hostile confrontations with Native Americans defending their homelands, although often feared by the wagon trains, were actually comparatively rare. Many made the journey to California and Oregon because they saw these new lands as a place of endless opportunity. 3. The war with Mexico and annexation of Texas In 1845, the United States of America annexed the Republic of Texas and admitted it to the Union as the 28th state. The U. S. thus inherited Texas’ border dispute with Mexico; this quickly led to the Mexican-American War, during which the U. S. aptured additional territory (known as the Mexican Cession of 1848), extending the nation’s borders all the way to the Pacific Ocean. Texas claimed the eastern part of this new territory, comprising parts of present-day Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Texas, Wyoming, Utah, and Oklahoma. The resulting dispute among Texas, the federal government, and New Mexico Territory was resolved in the Compromise of 1850, when much of these lands became parts of other territories of the United States in exchange for the U. S. federal government assuming the Texas Republic’s $10 million in debt.
Anglo-American immigrants, primarily from the Southern United States, began emigrating to Mexican Texas in the early 1820s at the request of the Mexican government, which sought to populate the sparsely inhabited lands of its northern frontier. Anglo-Americans soon became a majority in Texas and eventually became disillusioned with Mexican rule. Coahuila y Tejas, a Mexican state of which Texas was a constituent part after 1824, endorsed a plan for the gradual emancipation of the state’s slaves in 1827, which angered many slaveholding settlers who had moved to Texas from the South.
For this and other reasons, Texas declared independence from Mexico, resulting in war with Mexico. In 1836, the fighting ended and Sam Houston became the first president of the Republic of Texas, elected on a platform that favored annexation to the United States. James K. Polk, a Democrat and a strong supporter of territorial expansion, was elected president in November 1844 with a mandate to acquire both the Republic of Texas and Oregon Country.
After the election, the Tyler administration realized that public opinion was in favor of annexation, consulted with President-elect Polk, and set out to accomplish annexation by means of a joint resolution. The resolution declared that Texas would be admitted as a state as long as it approved annexation by January 1, 1846, that it could split itself up into four additional states, and that possession of the Republic’s public land would shift to the state of Texas upon its admission. On February 26, 1845, six days before Polk took office, Congress passed the joint resolution.
Not long afterward, Andrew Jackson Donelson, the American charge d’affaires in Texas and the nephew of former president Andrew Jackson, presented the American resolution to President Anson Jones of Texas. On July 4, 1845, the Texan Congress endorsed the American annexation offer with only one dissenting vote and began writing a state constitution. The citizens of Texas approved the new constitution and the annexation ordinance on October 13, 1845, and Polk signed the documents formally integrating Texas into the United States on December 29, 1845 Causes of Mexican American War: The war between the United States and Mexico had two basic causes: First, the desire of the U. S. to expand across the North American continent to the Pacific Ocean caused conflict with all of its neighbors; from the British in Canada and Oregon to the Mexicans in the southwest and, of course, with the Native Americans. The second basic cause of the war was the Texas War of Independence and the subsequent annexation of that area to the United States.
Consequences of Annexation: The United States acquired the northern half of Mexico. California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. President Santa Anna lost power in Mexico following the war. U. S. General Zachary “Old Rough and Ready” Taylor used his fame as a war hero to win the Presidency in 1848. Relations between the United States and Mexico remained tense for many decades to come, with several military encounters along the border. With this war, United States provided a training-ground for the men who would lead the Northern and Southern armies in the upcoming American Civil War.