Manifest Destiny
Overview
 
Manifest Destiny was the 19th century American belief that the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 was destined to expand across the continent. It was used by Democrat-Republicans in the 1840s to justify the war with Mexico
Mexican–American War
The Mexican–American War, also known as the First American Intervention, the Mexican War, or the U.S.–Mexican War, was an armed conflict between the United States and Mexico from 1846 to 1848 in the wake of the 1845 U.S...

; the concept was denounced by Whigs
Whig Party (United States)
The Whig Party was a political party of the United States during the era of Jacksonian democracy. Considered integral to the Second Party System and operating from the early 1830s to the mid-1850s, the party was formed in opposition to the policies of President Andrew Jackson and his Democratic...

, and fell into disuse after the mid-19th century.

Advocates of Manifest Destiny believed that expansion was not only wise but that it was readily apparent (manifest) and inexorable (destiny).

The concept of American expansion is much older, but John L. O'Sullivan
John L. O'Sullivan
John Louis O'Sullivan was an American columnist and editor who used the term "Manifest Destiny" in 1845 to promote the annexation of Texas and the Oregon Country to the United States. O'Sullivan was an influential political writer and advocate for the Democratic Party at that time, but he faded...

 coined the exact term "Manifest Destiny" in the July/August 1845 issue of the United States Magazine and Democratic Review in an article titled "Annexation." It was primarily used by Democrats to support the expansion plans of the Polk
James K. Polk
James Knox Polk was the 11th President of the United States . Polk was born in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. He later lived in and represented Tennessee. A Democrat, Polk served as the 17th Speaker of the House of Representatives and the 12th Governor of Tennessee...

 Administration, but the idea of expansion faced opposition from Whigs like Henry Clay
Henry Clay
Henry Clay, Sr. , was a lawyer, politician and skilled orator who represented Kentucky separately in both the Senate and in the House of Representatives...

, Daniel Webster
Daniel Webster
Daniel Webster was a leading American statesman and senator from Massachusetts during the period leading up to the Civil War. He first rose to regional prominence through his defense of New England shipping interests...

, and Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

 who wanted to deepen the economy rather than broaden its expanse.
Encyclopedia
Manifest Destiny was the 19th century American belief that the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 was destined to expand across the continent. It was used by Democrat-Republicans in the 1840s to justify the war with Mexico
Mexican–American War
The Mexican–American War, also known as the First American Intervention, the Mexican War, or the U.S.–Mexican War, was an armed conflict between the United States and Mexico from 1846 to 1848 in the wake of the 1845 U.S...

; the concept was denounced by Whigs
Whig Party (United States)
The Whig Party was a political party of the United States during the era of Jacksonian democracy. Considered integral to the Second Party System and operating from the early 1830s to the mid-1850s, the party was formed in opposition to the policies of President Andrew Jackson and his Democratic...

, and fell into disuse after the mid-19th century.

Advocates of Manifest Destiny believed that expansion was not only wise but that it was readily apparent (manifest) and inexorable (destiny).

The concept of American expansion is much older, but John L. O'Sullivan
John L. O'Sullivan
John Louis O'Sullivan was an American columnist and editor who used the term "Manifest Destiny" in 1845 to promote the annexation of Texas and the Oregon Country to the United States. O'Sullivan was an influential political writer and advocate for the Democratic Party at that time, but he faded...

 coined the exact term "Manifest Destiny" in the July/August 1845 issue of the United States Magazine and Democratic Review in an article titled "Annexation." It was primarily used by Democrats to support the expansion plans of the Polk
James K. Polk
James Knox Polk was the 11th President of the United States . Polk was born in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. He later lived in and represented Tennessee. A Democrat, Polk served as the 17th Speaker of the House of Representatives and the 12th Governor of Tennessee...

 Administration, but the idea of expansion faced opposition from Whigs like Henry Clay
Henry Clay
Henry Clay, Sr. , was a lawyer, politician and skilled orator who represented Kentucky separately in both the Senate and in the House of Representatives...

, Daniel Webster
Daniel Webster
Daniel Webster was a leading American statesman and senator from Massachusetts during the period leading up to the Civil War. He first rose to regional prominence through his defense of New England shipping interests...

, and Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

 who wanted to deepen the economy rather than broaden its expanse. John C. Calhoun
John C. Calhoun
John Caldwell Calhoun was a leading politician and political theorist from South Carolina during the first half of the 19th century. Calhoun eloquently spoke out on every issue of his day, but often changed positions. Calhoun began his political career as a nationalist, modernizer, and proponent...

 was a notable Democrat who generally opposed his party on the issue, which fell out of favor by 1860.

The belief in an American mission to promote and defend democracy throughout the world, as expounded by Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

 and Woodrow Wilson
Woodrow Wilson
Thomas Woodrow Wilson was the 28th President of the United States, from 1913 to 1921. A leader of the Progressive Movement, he served as President of Princeton University from 1902 to 1910, and then as the Governor of New Jersey from 1911 to 1913...

, continues to have an influence on American political ideology.

Context and interpretations

Manifest Destiny was always a general notion rather than a specific policy. The term combined a belief in expansionism with other popular ideas of the era, including American exceptionalism
American exceptionalism
American exceptionalism refers to the theory that the United States is qualitatively different from other countries. In this view, America's exceptionalism stems from its emergence from a revolution, becoming "the first new nation," and developing a uniquely American ideology, based on liberty,...

 and Romantic nationalism
Romantic nationalism
Romantic nationalism is the form of nationalism in which the state derives its political legitimacy as an organic consequence of the unity of those it governs...

. While many writers focus primarily upon American expansionism when discussing Manifest Destiny, others see in the term a broader expression of a belief in America's "mission" in the world, which has meant different things to different people over the years. This variety of possible meanings was summed up by Ernest Lee Tuveson, who wrote:

A vast complex of ideas, policies, and actions is comprehended under the phrase 'Manifest Destiny'. They are not, as we should expect, all compatible, nor do they come from any one source.


Journalist John L. O'Sullivan
John L. O'Sullivan
John Louis O'Sullivan was an American columnist and editor who used the term "Manifest Destiny" in 1845 to promote the annexation of Texas and the Oregon Country to the United States. O'Sullivan was an influential political writer and advocate for the Democratic Party at that time, but he faded...

, an influential advocate for Jacksonian democracy
Jacksonian democracy
Jacksonian democracy is the political movement toward greater democracy for the common man typified by American politician Andrew Jackson and his supporters. Jackson's policies followed the era of Jeffersonian democracy which dominated the previous political era. The Democratic-Republican Party of...

, wrote an article in 1839 which, while not using the term "Manifest Destiny", did predict a "divine destiny" for the United States based upon values such as equality, rights of conscience, and personal enfranchisement-- "to establish on earth the moral dignity and salvation of man". This destiny was not explicitly territorial, but O'Sullivan predicted that the United States would be one of a "Union of many Republics" sharing those values.

Six years later O'Sullivan wrote another essay which first used the phrase Manifest Destiny. In 1845, he published a piece entitled Annexation in the Democratic Review, in which he urged the U.S. to annex the Republic of Texas
Republic of Texas
The Republic of Texas was an independent nation in North America, bordering the United States and Mexico, that existed from 1836 to 1846.Formed as a break-away republic from Mexico by the Texas Revolution, the state claimed borders that encompassed an area that included all of the present U.S...

, not only because Texas desired this, but because it was "our manifest destiny to overspread the continent allotted by Providence for the free development of our yearly multiplying millions". Overcoming Whig opposition, Democrats annexed Texas in 1845. O'Sullivan's first usage of the phrase "Manifest Destiny" attracted little attention.

O'Sullivan's second use of the phrase became extremely influential. On December 27, 1845 in his newspaper the New York Morning News, O'Sullivan addressed the ongoing boundary dispute
Oregon boundary dispute
The Oregon boundary dispute, or the Oregon Question, arose as a result of competing British and American claims to the Pacific Northwest of North America in the first half of the 19th century. Both the United Kingdom and the United States had territorial and commercial aspirations in the region...

 with Britain . O'Sullivan argued that the United States had the right to claim "the whole of Oregon":

And that claim is by the right of our manifest destiny to overspread and to possess the whole of the continent which Providence has given us for the development of the great experiment of liberty and federated self-government entrusted to us.


That is, O'Sullivan believed that Providence had given the United States a mission to spread republican democracy
Republican democracy
A republican democracy is a republic which has democratic forms of government. One of the key principles is free and open debate prior to casting a vote. A republic in the modern understanding is a nation or state where the people are sovereign. It is not a monarchy, where the king or queen is the...

 ("the great experiment of liberty"). Because Britain would not use Oregon for the purposes of spreading democracy, thought O'Sullivan, British claims to the territory should be overruled. O'Sullivan believed that Manifest Destiny was a moral ideal (a "higher law") that superseded other considerations.

O'Sullivan's original conception of Manifest Destiny was not a call for territorial expansion by force. He believed that the expansion of the United States would happen without the direction of the U.S. government or the involvement of the military. After Americans emigrated to new regions, they would set up new democratic governments, and then seek admission to the United States, as Texas had done. In 1845, O'Sullivan predicted that California would follow this pattern next, and that Canada would eventually request annexation as well. He disapproved of the Mexican-American War in 1846, although he came to believe that the outcome would be beneficial to both countries.

Ironically, O'Sullivan's term became popular only after it was criticized by Whig
Whig Party (United States)
The Whig Party was a political party of the United States during the era of Jacksonian democracy. Considered integral to the Second Party System and operating from the early 1830s to the mid-1850s, the party was formed in opposition to the policies of President Andrew Jackson and his Democratic...

 opponents of the Polk administration
James K. Polk
James Knox Polk was the 11th President of the United States . Polk was born in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. He later lived in and represented Tennessee. A Democrat, Polk served as the 17th Speaker of the House of Representatives and the 12th Governor of Tennessee...

. Whigs denounced Manifest Destiny, arguing, "that the designers and supporters of schemes of conquest, to be carried on by this government, are engaged in treason to our Constitution and Declaration of Rights, giving aid and comfort to the enemies of republicanism, in that they are advocating and preaching the doctrine of the right of conquest." On January 3, 1846, Representative Robert Winthrop
Robert Charles Winthrop
Robert Charles Winthrop was an American lawyer and philanthropist and one time Speaker of the United States House of Representatives....

 ridiculed the concept in Congress, saying "I suppose the right of a manifest destiny to spread will not be admitted to exist in any nation except the universal Yankee nation." Winthrop was the first in a long line of critics who suggested that advocates of Manifest Destiny were citing "Divine Providence" for justification of actions that were motivated by chauvinism and self-interest. Despite this criticism, expansionists embraced the phrase, which caught on so quickly that its origin was soon forgotten.

Themes and influences

Historian William E. Weeks has noted that three key themes were usually touched upon by advocates of Manifest Destiny:
  1. the virtue of the American people and their institutions;
  2. the mission to spread these institutions, thereby redeeming and remaking the world in the image of the U.S.; and
  3. the destiny under God to do this work.


The origin of the first theme, later known as American Exceptionalism
American exceptionalism
American exceptionalism refers to the theory that the United States is qualitatively different from other countries. In this view, America's exceptionalism stems from its emergence from a revolution, becoming "the first new nation," and developing a uniquely American ideology, based on liberty,...

, was often traced to America's Puritan
Puritan
The Puritans were a significant grouping of English Protestants in the 16th and 17th centuries. Puritanism in this sense was founded by some Marian exiles from the clergy shortly after the accession of Elizabeth I of England in 1558, as an activist movement within the Church of England...

 heritage, particularly John Winthrop
John Winthrop
John Winthrop was a wealthy English Puritan lawyer, and one of the leading figures in the founding of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the first major settlement in New England after Plymouth Colony. Winthrop led the first large wave of migrants from England in 1630, and served as governor for 12 of...

's famous "City upon a Hill
City upon a Hill
A City Upon A Hill is a phrase from the parable of Salt and Light in Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew 5:14, he tells his listeners, "You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden."-American usage:...

" sermon of 1630, in which he called for the establishment of a virtuous community that would be a shining example to the Old World
Old World
The Old World consists of those parts of the world known to classical antiquity and the European Middle Ages. It is used in the context of, and contrast with, the "New World" ....

. In his influential 1776 pamphlet Common Sense
Common Sense (pamphlet)
Common Sense is a pamphlet written by Thomas Paine. It was first published anonymously on January 10, 1776, during the American Revolution. Common Sense, signed "Written by an Englishman", became an immediate success. In relation to the population of the Colonies at that time, it had the largest...

, Thomas Paine
Thomas Paine
Thomas "Tom" Paine was an English author, pamphleteer, radical, inventor, intellectual, revolutionary, and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States...

 echoed this notion, arguing that the American Revolution
American Revolution
The American Revolution was the political upheaval during the last half of the 18th century in which thirteen colonies in North America joined together to break free from the British Empire, combining to become the United States of America...

 provided an opportunity to create a new, better society:

We have it in our power to begin the world over again. A situation, similar to the present, hath not happened since the days of Noah until now. The birthday of a new world is at hand...


Many Americans agreed with Paine, and came to believe that the United States had embarked upon a special experiment in freedom and democracy—and a rejection of Old World monarchy in favor of republicanism
Republicanism in the United States
Republicanism is the political value system that has been a major part of American civic thought since the American Revolution. It stresses liberty and inalienable rights as central values, makes the people as a whole sovereign, supports activist government to promote the common good, rejects...

—an innovation of world historical importance. President Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

's description, in his December 1, 1862 message to Congress, of the United States as "the last, best hope of Earth" is a well-known expression of this idea. Lincoln's Gettysburg Address
Gettysburg Address
The Gettysburg Address is a speech by U.S. President Abraham Lincoln and is one of the most well-known speeches in United States history. It was delivered by Lincoln during the American Civil War, on the afternoon of Thursday, November 19, 1863, at the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery...

, in which he interpreted the Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

 as a struggle to determine if any nation with democratic ideals could survive, has been called by historian Robert Johannsen "the most enduring statement of America's Manifest Destiny and mission". Lincoln opposed Southern sectionalism, anti-immigrant nativism, and the imperialism of Manifest Destiny as both unjust and unreasonable. He believed each of these disordered forms of love threatened the inseparable moral and fraternal bonds of liberty and Union that he sought to perpetuate through a patriotic love of country guided by wisdom and critical self-awareness. Lincoln's "Eulogy to Henry Clay", June 6, 1852 provides the most cogent expression of his reflective patriotism.

Not all Americans who believed that the United States was a divinely favored nation thought that it ought to expand. Whigs especially argued that the "mission" of the United States was only to serve as virtuous example to the rest of the world. If the United States was successful as a shining "city on a hill," people in other countries would seek to establish their own democratic republics. With the Louisiana Purchase
Louisiana Purchase
The Louisiana Purchase was the acquisition by the United States of America of of France's claim to the territory of Louisiana in 1803. The U.S...

 in 1803, which doubled the size of the United States, Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom , the third President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia...

 set the stage for the continental expansion of the United States. Many began to see this as the beginning of a new "mission"—what Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson was the seventh President of the United States . Based in frontier Tennessee, Jackson was a politician and army general who defeated the Creek Indians at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend , and the British at the Battle of New Orleans...

 in 1843 famously described as "extending the area of freedom." As more territory was added to the United States in the following decades, whether or not "extending the area of freedom" also meant extending the institution of slavery
History of slavery in the United States
Slavery in the United States was a form of slave labor which existed as a legal institution in North America for more than a century before the founding of the United States in 1776, and continued mostly in the South until the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution in...

 became a central issue in a growing divide over the interpretation of America's mission.

Era of continental expansion

The phrase "Manifest Destiny" is most often associated with the territorial expansion of the United States from 1812 to 1860. This era, from the end of the War of 1812
War of 1812
The War of 1812 was a military conflict fought between the forces of the United States of America and those of the British Empire. The Americans declared war in 1812 for several reasons, including trade restrictions because of Britain's ongoing war with France, impressment of American merchant...

 to the beginning of the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

, has been called the "Age of Manifest Destiny." During this time, the United States expanded to the Pacific Ocean—"from sea to shining sea
From Sea to Shining Sea
From Sea to Shining Sea is a concept album and twenty-fifth album by country singer Johnny Cash, released on Columbia Records in 1968...

"—largely defining the borders of the contiguous United States
Contiguous United States
The contiguous United States are the 48 U.S. states on the continent of North America that are south of Canada and north of Mexico, plus the District of Columbia....

 as they are today.

Continentalism

The 19th century belief that the United States would eventually encompass all of North America is known as "continentalism". An early proponent of this idea was John Quincy Adams
John Quincy Adams
John Quincy Adams was the sixth President of the United States . He served as an American diplomat, Senator, and Congressional representative. He was a member of the Federalist, Democratic-Republican, National Republican, and later Anti-Masonic and Whig parties. Adams was the son of former...

, a leading figure in U.S. expansion between the Louisiana Purchase
Louisiana Purchase
The Louisiana Purchase was the acquisition by the United States of America of of France's claim to the territory of Louisiana in 1803. The U.S...

 in 1803 and the Polk administration
James K. Polk
James Knox Polk was the 11th President of the United States . Polk was born in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. He later lived in and represented Tennessee. A Democrat, Polk served as the 17th Speaker of the House of Representatives and the 12th Governor of Tennessee...

 in the 1840s. In 1811, Adams wrote to his father
John Adams
John Adams was an American lawyer, statesman, diplomat and political theorist. A leading champion of independence in 1776, he was the second President of the United States...

:

The whole continent of North America appears to be destined by Divine Providence to be peopled by one nation, speaking one language, professing one general system of religious and political principles, and accustomed to one general tenor of social usages and customs. For the common happiness of them all, for their peace and prosperity, I believe it is indispensable that they should be associated in one federal Union.


Adams did much to further this idea. He orchestrated the Treaty of 1818
Treaty of 1818
The Convention respecting fisheries, boundary and the restoration of slaves between the United States of America and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, also known as the London Convention, Anglo-American Convention of 1818, Convention of 1818, or simply the Treaty of 1818, was a...

, which established the United States-Canada border as far west as the Rocky Mountains, and provided for the joint occupation of the region known in American history as the Oregon Country
Oregon Country
The Oregon Country was a predominantly American term referring to a disputed ownership region of the Pacific Northwest of North America. The region was occupied by British and French Canadian fur traders from before 1810, and American settlers from the mid-1830s, with its coastal areas north from...

 and in British and Canadian history as the New Caledonia
New Caledonia (Canada)
New Caledonia was the name given to a district of the Hudson's Bay Company that comprised the territory largely coterminous with the present-day province of British Columbia, Canada. Though not a British colony, New Caledonia was part of the British claim to North America. Its administrative...

 and Columbia District
Columbia District
The Columbia District was a fur trading district in the Pacific Northwest region of British North America in the 19th century. It was explored by the North West Company between 1793 and 1811, and established as an operating fur district around 1810...

s. He negotiated the Transcontinental Treaty
Adams-Onís Treaty
The Adams–Onís Treaty of 1819, also known as the Transcontinental Treaty or the Purchase of Florida, was a treaty between the United States and Spain in 1819 that gave Florida to the U.S. and set out a boundary between the U.S. and New Spain . It settled a standing border dispute between the two...

 in 1819, purchasing Florida from Spain and extending the U.S. border with Spanish Mexico all the way to the Pacific Ocean. And he formulated the Monroe Doctrine
Monroe Doctrine
The Monroe Doctrine is a policy of the United States introduced on December 2, 1823. It stated that further efforts by European nations to colonize land or interfere with states in North or South America would be viewed as acts of aggression requiring U.S. intervention...

 of 1823, which warned Europe that the Western Hemisphere
Western Hemisphere
The Western Hemisphere or western hemisphere is mainly used as a geographical term for the half of the Earth that lies west of the Prime Meridian and east of the Antimeridian , the other half being called the Eastern Hemisphere.In this sense, the western hemisphere consists of the western portions...

 was no longer open for European colonization.

The Monroe Doctrine and Manifest Destiny were closely related ideas: historian Walter McDougall calls Manifest Destiny a corollary of the Monroe Doctrine, because while the Monroe Doctrine did not specify expansion, expansion was necessary in order to enforce the Doctrine. Concerns in the United States that European powers (especially Great Britain) were seeking to acquire colonies or greater influence in North America led to calls for expansion in order to prevent this. In his influential 1935 study of Manifest Destiny, Albert Weinberg wrote that "the expansionism of the [1830s] arose as a defensive effort to forestall the encroachment of Europe in North America."

All Oregon

Manifest Destiny played its most important role in, and was coined during the course of, the Oregon boundary dispute
Oregon boundary dispute
The Oregon boundary dispute, or the Oregon Question, arose as a result of competing British and American claims to the Pacific Northwest of North America in the first half of the 19th century. Both the United Kingdom and the United States had territorial and commercial aspirations in the region...

 with Britain. The Anglo-American Convention of 1818 had provided for the joint occupation of the Oregon Country
Oregon Country
The Oregon Country was a predominantly American term referring to a disputed ownership region of the Pacific Northwest of North America. The region was occupied by British and French Canadian fur traders from before 1810, and American settlers from the mid-1830s, with its coastal areas north from...

, and thousands of Americans migrated there in the 1840s over the Oregon Trail
Oregon Trail
The Oregon Trail is a historic east-west wagon route that connected the Missouri River to valleys in Oregon and locations in between.After 1840 steam-powered riverboats and steamboats traversing up and down the Ohio, Mississippi and Missouri rivers sped settlement and development in the flat...

. The British rejected a proposal by President John Tyler
John Tyler
John Tyler was the tenth President of the United States . A native of Virginia, Tyler served as a state legislator, governor, U.S. representative, and U.S. senator before being elected Vice President . He was the first to succeed to the office of President following the death of a predecessor...

 to divide the region along the 49th parallel
49th parallel north
The 49th parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 49 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Europe, Asia, the Pacific Ocean, North America, and the Atlantic Ocean....

, and instead proposed a boundary line further south along the Columbia River
Columbia River
The Columbia River is the largest river in the Pacific Northwest region of North America. The river rises in the Rocky Mountains of British Columbia, Canada, flows northwest and then south into the U.S. state of Washington, then turns west to form most of the border between Washington and the state...

, which would have made what is now the state of Washington part of British North America. Advocates of Manifest Destiny protested and called for the annexation of the entire Oregon Country up to the Alaska line (54°40ʹ N). Presidential candidate James K. Polk
James K. Polk
James Knox Polk was the 11th President of the United States . Polk was born in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. He later lived in and represented Tennessee. A Democrat, Polk served as the 17th Speaker of the House of Representatives and the 12th Governor of Tennessee...

 used this popular outcry to his advantage, and the Democrats called for the annexation of "All Oregon" in the 1844 U.S. Presidential election.

As president, however, Polk sought compromise and renewed the earlier offer to divide the territory in half along the 49th parallel, to the dismay of the most ardent advocates of Manifest Destiny. When the British refused the offer, American expansionists responded with slogans such as "The Whole of Oregon or None!" and "Fifty-Four Forty or Fight!", referring to the northern border of the region. (The latter slogan is often mistakenly described as having been a part of the 1844 presidential campaign.) When Polk moved to terminate the joint occupation agreement, the British finally agreed to divide the region along the 49th parallel in early 1846, keeping the lower Columbia basin as part of the United States, and the dispute was settled by the Oregon Treaty
Oregon Treaty
The Oregon Treaty is a treaty between the United Kingdom and the United States that was signed on June 15, 1846, in Washington, D.C. The treaty brought an end to the Oregon boundary dispute by settling competing American and British claims to the Oregon Country, which had been jointly occupied by...

 of 1846, which the administration was able to sell to congress because the United States was about to begin the Mexican-American war, and the president and others argued it would be foolish to also fight the British Empire.

Despite the earlier clamor for "All Oregon," the treaty was popular in the U.S. and was easily ratified by the Senate. The most fervent advocates of Manifest Destiny had not prevailed along the northern border because, according to Reginald Stuart, "the compass of Manifest Destiny pointed west and southwest, not north, despite the use of the term 'continentalism'."

Mexico and Texas

Manifest Destiny played an important role in the expansion of Texas and American relationship with Mexico
History of Mexico
The history of Mexico, a country located in the southern portion of North America, covers a period of more than two millennia. First populated more than 13,000 years ago, the country produced complex indigenous civilizations before being conquered by the Spanish in the 16th Century.Since the...

. In 1836, the Republic of Texas
Republic of Texas
The Republic of Texas was an independent nation in North America, bordering the United States and Mexico, that existed from 1836 to 1846.Formed as a break-away republic from Mexico by the Texas Revolution, the state claimed borders that encompassed an area that included all of the present U.S...

 declared independence
Texas Declaration of Independence
The Texas Declaration of Independence was the formal declaration of independence of the Republic of Texas from Mexico in the Texas Revolution. It was adopted at the Convention of 1836 at Washington-on-the-Brazos on March 2, 1836, and formally signed the following day after errors were noted in the...

 from Mexico and, after the Texas Revolution
Texas Revolution
The Texas Revolution or Texas War of Independence was an armed conflict between Mexico and settlers in the Texas portion of the Mexican state Coahuila y Tejas. The war lasted from October 2, 1835 to April 21, 1836...

, sought to join the United States as a new state. This was an idealized process of expansion which had been advocated from Jefferson to O'Sullivan:: newly democratic and independent states would request entry into the United States, rather than the United States extending its government over people who did not want it. The annexation of Texas was controversial as it would add another slave state to the Union. Presidents Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren declined Texas's offer to join the United States in part because the slavery issue threatened to divide the Democratic Party.

Before the election of 1844, Whig candidate Henry Clay
Henry Clay
Henry Clay, Sr. , was a lawyer, politician and skilled orator who represented Kentucky separately in both the Senate and in the House of Representatives...

 and the presumed Democratic candidate, former President Van Buren, both declared themselves opposed to the annexation of Texas, each hoping to keep the troublesome topic from becoming a campaign issue. This unexpectedly led to Van Buren being dropped by the Democrats in favor of Polk, who favored annexation. Polk tied the Texas annexation question with the Oregon dispute, thus providing a sort of regional compromise on expansion. (Expansionists in the North were more inclined to promote the occupation of Oregon, while Southern expansionists focused primarily on the annexation of Texas.) Although elected by a very slim margin, Polk proceeded as if his victory had been a mandate for expansion.

All Mexico

After the election of Polk, but before he took office, Congress approved the annexation of Texas
Texas Annexation
In 1845, 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's border dispute with Mexico; this quickly led to the Mexican-American War, during which the U.S. captured additional territory , extending the nation's...

. Polk moved to occupy a portion of Texas which had declared independence from Mexico
Texas Declaration of Independence
The Texas Declaration of Independence was the formal declaration of independence of the Republic of Texas from Mexico in the Texas Revolution. It was adopted at the Convention of 1836 at Washington-on-the-Brazos on March 2, 1836, and formally signed the following day after errors were noted in the...

 in 1836, but was still claimed by Mexico. This paved the way for the outbreak of the Mexican-American War on April 24, 1846. With American successes on the battlefield, by the summer of 1847 there were calls for the annexation of "All Mexico," particularly among Eastern Democrats, who argued that bringing Mexico into the Union was the best way to ensure future peace in the region.

This was a controversial proposition for two reasons. First, idealistic advocates of Manifest Destiny like John L. O'Sullivan had always maintained that the laws of the United States should not be imposed on people against their will. The annexation of "All Mexico" would be a violation of this principle. And secondly, the annexation of Mexico was controversial because it would mean extending U.S. citizenship to millions of Mexicans. Senator John C. Calhoun
John C. Calhoun
John Caldwell Calhoun was a leading politician and political theorist from South Carolina during the first half of the 19th century. Calhoun eloquently spoke out on every issue of his day, but often changed positions. Calhoun began his political career as a nationalist, modernizer, and proponent...

 of South Carolina
South Carolina
South Carolina is a state in the Deep South of the United States that borders Georgia to the south, North Carolina to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Originally part of the Province of Carolina, the Province of South Carolina was one of the 13 colonies that declared independence...

, who had approved of the annexation of Texas, was opposed to the annexation of Mexico, as well as the "mission" aspect of Manifest Destiny, for racial reasons. He made these views clear in a speech to Congress on January 4, 1848:

[W]e have never dreamt of incorporating into our Union any but the Caucasian race—the free white race. To incorporate Mexico, would be the very first instance of the kind, of incorporating an Indian race; for more than half of the Mexicans are Indians, and the other is composed chiefly of mixed tribes. I protest against such a union as that! Ours, sir, is the Government of a white race.... We are anxious to force free government on all; and I see that it has been urged ... that it is the mission of this country to spread civil and religious liberty over all the world, and especially over this continent. It is a great mistake.


This debate brought to the forefront one of the contradictions of Manifest Destiny: on the one hand, while racist
Racism
Racism is the belief that inherent different traits in human racial groups justify discrimination. In the modern English language, the term "racism" is used predominantly as a pejorative epithet. It is applied especially to the practice or advocacy of racial discrimination of a pernicious nature...

 ideas inherent in Manifest Destiny suggested that Mexicans, as non-whites, were a lesser race and thus not qualified to become Americans, the "mission" component of Manifest Destiny suggested that Mexicans would be improved (or "regenerated," as it was then described) by bringing them into American democracy. Racism was used to promote Manifest Destiny, but, as in the case of Calhoun and the resistance to the "All Mexico" movement, racism was also used to oppose Manifest Destiny. Conversely, proponents of annexation of "All Mexico" regarded it as an anti-slavery measure.

The controversy was eventually ended by the Mexican Cession
Mexican Cession
The Mexican Cession of 1848 is a historical name in the United States for the region of the present day southwestern United States that Mexico ceded to the U.S...

, which added the territories of
Alta California
Alta California
Alta California was a province and territory in the Viceroyalty of New Spain and later a territory and department in independent Mexico. The territory was created in 1769 out of the northern part of the former province of Las Californias, and consisted of the modern American states of California,...

 and Nuevo México
Santa Fe de Nuevo México
Santa Fe de Nuevo México was a province of New Spain and later Mexico that existed from the late 16th century up through the mid-19th century. It was centered on the upper valley of the Rio Grande , in an area that included most of the present-day U.S. state of New Mexico...

 to the United States, both more sparsely populated than the rest of Mexico. Like the All Oregon movement, the All Mexico movement quickly abated. Historian Frederick Merk, in Manifest Destiny and Mission in American History: A Reinterpretation (1963), argued that the failure of the All Oregon and All Mexico movements indicates that Manifest Destiny had not been as popular as historians have traditionally portrayed it to have been. Merk wrote that, while belief in the beneficent mission of democracy was central to American history, aggressive "continentalism" were aberrations supported by only a very small (but influential) minority of Americans. Merk's interpretation is probably still a minority opinion; scholars generally see Manifest Destiny, at least in the 1840s, as a popular belief among Democrats and an unpopular one among Whigs.

Filibustering in the South

After the Mexican-American War ended in 1848, disagreements over the expansion of slavery made further territorial annexation too divisive to be official government policy. Many Northerners were increasingly opposed to what they believed to be efforts by Southern slave owners—and their friends in the North—to expand slavery at any cost. The proposal of the Wilmot Proviso
Wilmot Proviso
The Wilmot Proviso, one of the major events leading to the Civil War, would have banned slavery in any territory to be acquired from Mexico in the Mexican War or in the future, including the area later known as the Mexican Cession, but which some proponents construed to also include the disputed...

 during the war, and the emergence of various "Slave Power
Slave power
The Slave Power was a term used in the Northern United States to characterize the political power of the slaveholding class of the South....

" conspiracy theories thereafter, indicated the degree to which Manifest Destiny had become controversial.

Without official government support, the most radical advocates of Manifest Destiny increasingly turned to military filibustering
Filibuster (military)
A filibuster, or freebooter, is someone who engages in an unauthorized military expedition into a foreign country to foment or support a revolution...

. While there had been some filibustering expeditions into Canada in the late 1830s, the primary target of Manifest Destiny’s filibusters was Latin America, particularly Mexico and Cuba. Though illegal, the filibustering operations in the late 1840s and early 1850s were romanticized in the U.S. press. Wealthy American expansionists financed dozens of expeditions, usually based out of New Orleans.

The United States had long been interested in acquiring Cuba from the declining Spanish Empire
Spanish Empire
The Spanish Empire comprised territories and colonies administered directly by Spain in Europe, in America, Africa, Asia and Oceania. It originated during the Age of Exploration and was therefore one of the first global empires. At the time of Habsburgs, Spain reached the peak of its world power....

. As with Texas, Oregon, and California, American policy makers were concerned that Cuba would fall into British hands, which, according to the thinking of the Monroe Doctrine, would constitute a threat to the interests of the United States. Prompted by John L. O'Sullivan, in 1848 President Polk offered to buy Cuba from Spain for $100 million. Polk feared that filibustering would hurt his effort to buy the island, and so he informed the Spanish of an attempt by the Cuban filibuster Narciso López
Narciso López
Narciso López was a Venezuelan adventurer and soldier, best known for an expedition aimed at liberating Cuba from Spain in the 1850s..- Life in Venezuela, Cuba, and Spain:...

 to seize Cuba by force and annex it to the U.S., and the plot was foiled. Nevertheless, Spain declined to sell the island, which ended Polk's efforts to acquire Cuba. O'Sullivan, on the other hand, continued to steal money for filibustering expeditions, eventually landing him in legal trouble.

Filibustering continued to be a major concern for presidents after Polk. Whigs presidents Zachary Taylor
Zachary Taylor
Zachary Taylor was the 12th President of the United States and an American military leader. Initially uninterested in politics, Taylor nonetheless ran as a Whig in the 1848 presidential election, defeating Lewis Cass...

 and Millard Fillmore
Millard Fillmore
Millard Fillmore was the 13th President of the United States and the last member of the Whig Party to hold the office of president...

 tried to suppress the expeditions. When the Democrats recaptured the White House in 1852 with the election of Franklin Pierce
Franklin Pierce
Franklin Pierce was the 14th President of the United States and is the only President from New Hampshire. Pierce was a Democrat and a "doughface" who served in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate. Pierce took part in the Mexican-American War and became a brigadier general in the Army...

, a filibustering effort by John A. Quitman
John A. Quitman
John Anthony Quitman was an American politician and soldier. He served as Governor of Mississippi from 1835 to 1836 as a Whig and again from 1850 to 1851 as a Democrat and one of the leading Fire-Eaters.-Early life:John A. Quitman studied Classics at Hartwick Seminary, graduating in 1816...

 to acquire Cuba received the tentative support of the president. Pierce backed off, however, and instead renewed the offer to buy the island, this time for $130 million. When the public learned of the Ostend Manifesto
Ostend Manifesto
The Ostend Manifesto was a document written in 1854 that described the rationale for the United States to purchase Cuba from Spain and implied the U.S. should declare war if Spain refused. Cuba's annexation had long been a goal of U.S. expansionists, particularly as the U.S. set its sights...

 in 1854, which argued that the United States could seize Cuba by force if Spain refused to sell, this effectively killed the effort to acquire the island. The public now linked expansion with slavery; if Manifest Destiny had once enjoyed widespread popular approval, this was no longer true.

Filibusters like William Walker continued to garner headlines in the late 1850s, but with the outbreak of the American Civil War in 1860, the "Age of Manifest Destiny" came to an end. Expansionism was among the various issues that played a role
Origins of the American Civil War
The main explanation for the origins of the American Civil War is slavery, especially Southern anger at the attempts by Northern antislavery political forces to block the expansion of slavery into the western territories...

 in the coming of the war. With the divisive question of the expansion of slavery, Northerners and Southerners, in effect, were coming to define Manifest Destiny in different ways, undermining nationalism as a unifying force. According to Frederick Merk, "The doctrine of Manifest Destiny, which in the 1840s had seemed Heaven-sent, proved to have been a bomb wrapped up in idealism."

Native Americans

Manifest Destiny had serious consequences for Native Americans
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

, since continental expansion implicitly meant the occupation and annexation of Native American land, sometimes to expand slavery. The United States continued the European practice of recognizing only limited land rights of indigenous peoples
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...

. In a policy formulated largely by Henry Knox
Henry Knox
Henry Knox was a military officer of the Continental Army and later the United States Army, and also served as the first United States Secretary of War....

, Secretary of War in the Washington Administration, the U.S. government sought to expand into the west through the nominally legal (by United States law) purchase of Native American land in treaties. Indians were encouraged to sell their vast tribal lands and become "civilized", which meant (among other things) for Native American men to abandon hunting and become farmers, and for their society to reorganize around the family unit rather than the clan or tribe. The United States therefore acquired lands by treaty from Indian nations, usually under circumstances which suggest a lack of voluntary and knowing consent by the native signers, and in many cases a lack of authority by the signers to make any such transaction.

Advocates of civilization programs believed that the process of settling native tribes would greatly reduce the amount of land needed by the Native Americans, making more land available for homesteading by white Americans. Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom , the third President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia...

 believed that while American Indians were the intellectual equals of whites, they had to live like the whites or inevitably be pushed aside by them. Jefferson's belief, rooted in Enlightenment
Age of Enlightenment
The Age of Enlightenment was an elite cultural movement of intellectuals in 18th century Europe that sought to mobilize the power of reason in order to reform society and advance knowledge. It promoted intellectual interchange and opposed intolerance and abuses in church and state...

 thinking, that whites and Native Americans would merge to create a single nation did not last his lifetime, and he began to believe that the natives should emigrate across the Mississippi River
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

 and maintain a separate society, an idea made possible by the Louisiana Purchase
Louisiana Purchase
The Louisiana Purchase was the acquisition by the United States of America of of France's claim to the territory of Louisiana in 1803. The U.S...

 of 1803.

In the age of Manifest Destiny, this idea, which came to be known as "Indian Removal
Indian Removal
Indian removal was a nineteenth century policy of the government of the United States to relocate Native American tribes living east of the Mississippi River to lands west of the river...

", gained ground. Although some humanitarian advocates of removal believed that American Indians would be better off moving away from whites, an increasing number of Americans regarded the natives as nothing more than savages who stood in the way of American expansion. As historian Reginald Horsman argued in his influential study Race and Manifest Destiny, racial rhetoric increased during the era of Manifest Destiny. Americans increasingly believed that Native Americans would fade away as the United States expanded. As an example, this idea was reflected in the work of one of America's first great historians, Francis Parkman
Francis Parkman
Francis Parkman was an American historian, best known as author of The Oregon Trail: Sketches of Prairie and Rocky-Mountain Life and his monumental seven-volume France and England in North America. These works are still valued as history and especially as literature, although the biases of his...

, whose landmark book The Conspiracy of Pontiac
Pontiac's Rebellion
Pontiac's War, Pontiac's Conspiracy, or Pontiac's Rebellion was a war that was launched in 1763 by a loose confederation of elements of Native American tribes primarily from the Great Lakes region, the Illinois Country, and Ohio Country who were dissatisfied with British postwar policies in the...

was published in 1851. Parkman wrote that Indians were "destined to melt and vanish before the advancing waves of Anglo-American power, which now rolled westward unchecked and unopposed."

Beyond North America

As the Civil War faded into history, the term Manifest Destiny experienced a brief revival. In the 1892 U.S. presidential election, the Republican Party platform proclaimed: "We reaffirm our approval of the Monroe doctrine
Monroe Doctrine
The Monroe Doctrine is a policy of the United States introduced on December 2, 1823. It stated that further efforts by European nations to colonize land or interfere with states in North or South America would be viewed as acts of aggression requiring U.S. intervention...

 and believe in the achievement of the manifest destiny of the Republic in its broadest sense." What was meant by "manifest destiny" in this context was not clearly defined, particularly since the Republicans lost the election. In the 1896 election, however, the Republicans recaptured the White House and held on to it for the next 16 years. During that time, Manifest Destiny was cited to promote overseas expansion. Whether or not this version of Manifest Destiny was consistent with the continental expansionism of the 1840s was debated at the time, and long afterwards.

For example, when President William McKinley
William McKinley
William McKinley, Jr. was the 25th President of the United States . He is best known for winning fiercely fought elections, while supporting the gold standard and high tariffs; he succeeded in forging a Republican coalition that for the most part dominated national politics until the 1930s...

 advocated annexation of the Territory of Hawaii
Territory of Hawaii
The Territory of Hawaii or Hawaii Territory was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from July 7, 1898, until August 21, 1959, when its territory, with the exception of Johnston Atoll, was admitted to the Union as the fiftieth U.S. state, the State of Hawaii.The U.S...

 in 1898, he said that "We need Hawaii as much and a good deal more than we did California. It is manifest destiny." On the other hand, former President Grover Cleveland
Grover Cleveland
Stephen Grover Cleveland was the 22nd and 24th president of the United States. Cleveland is the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms and therefore is the only individual to be counted twice in the numbering of the presidents...

, a Democrat who had blocked the annexation of Hawaii during his administration, wrote that McKinley's annexation of the territory was a "perversion of our national destiny." Historians continued that debate; some have interpreted the overseas expansion of the 1890s of other Pacific island groups as an extension of Manifest Destiny across the Pacific Ocean
Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east.At 165.2 million square kilometres in area, this largest division of the World...

. Others have regarded it as the antithesis of Manifest Destiny and merely imperialism
Imperialism
Imperialism, as defined by Dictionary of Human Geography, is "the creation and/or maintenance of an unequal economic, cultural, and territorial relationships, usually between states and often in the form of an empire, based on domination and subordination." The imperialism of the last 500 years,...

.

Spanish–American War and the Philippines

In 1898, after the sinking of the USS Maine
USS Maine (ACR-1)
USS Maine was the United States Navy's second commissioned pre-dreadnought battleship, although she was originally classified as an armored cruiser. She is best known for her catastrophic loss in Havana harbor. Maine had been sent to Havana, Cuba to protect U.S. interests during the Cuban revolt...

 in the harbor at Havana
Havana
Havana is the capital city, province, major port, and leading commercial centre of Cuba. The city proper has a population of 2.1 million inhabitants, and it spans a total of — making it the largest city in the Caribbean region, and the most populous...

, Cuba
Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

, the United States intervened on the side of Cuban rebels who were fighting the Spanish Empire, beginning the Spanish–American War. Although advocates of Manifest Destiny in the 1840s had called for the annexation of Cuba, the Teller Amendment
Teller Amendment
The Teller Amendment was an amendment to a joint resolution of the United States Congress, enacted on April 20, 1898, in reply to President William McKinley's War Message. It placed a condition of the United States military in Cuba. According to the clause, the U.S...

, passed unanimously by the U.S. Senate before the war, proclaimed Cuba "free and independent" and disclaimed any U.S. intention to annex the island. After the war, the Platt Amendment
Platt Amendment
The Platt Amendment of 1901 was a rider appended to the Army Appropriations Act presented to the U.S. Senate by Connecticut Republican Senator Orville H. Platt replacing the earlier Teller Amendment. Approved on May 22, 1903, it stipulated the conditions for the withdrawal of United States troops...

 (1902) established Cuba as a virtual protectorate
Protectorate
In history, the term protectorate has two different meanings. In its earliest inception, which has been adopted by modern international law, it is an autonomous territory that is protected diplomatically or militarily against third parties by a stronger state or entity...

 of the United States. If Manifest Destiny meant the outright annexation of territory, it no longer applied to Cuba, since Cuba was never annexed.

Unlike Cuba, the United States did annex Guam
Guam
Guam is an organized, unincorporated territory of the United States located in the western Pacific Ocean. It is one of five U.S. territories with an established civilian government. Guam is listed as one of 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories by the Special Committee on Decolonization of the United...

, Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico , officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico , is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of both the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.Puerto Rico comprises an...

, and the Philippines
Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

 after the war with Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

. The acquisition of these islands marked a new chapter in U.S. history. Traditionally, territories were acquired by the United States for the purpose of becoming new states, on equal footing with already existing states. These islands, however, were acquired as colonies
Colonialism
Colonialism is the establishment, maintenance, acquisition and expansion of colonies in one territory by people from another territory. It is a process whereby the metropole claims sovereignty over the colony and the social structure, government, and economics of the colony are changed by...

 rather than prospective states, a process validated by the Insular Cases
Insular Cases
The Insular Cases are several U.S. Supreme Court cases concerning the status of territories acquired by the U.S. in the Spanish-American War . The name "insular" derives from the fact that these territories are islands and were administered by the War Department's Bureau of Insular Affairs...

, in which the U.S. Supreme Court
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

 ruled that full constitutional rights did not automatically extend to all areas under American control. In this sense, annexation was a violation of traditional Manifest Destiny. According to Frederick Merk, "Manifest Destiny had contained a principle so fundamental that a Calhoun and an O'Sullivan could agree on it—that a people not capable of rising to statehood should never be annexed. That was the principle thrown overboard by the imperialism of 1899." (The Philippines was eventually given its independence in 1946; Guam and Puerto Rico have special status to this day, but all their people are full citizens of the United States.)

Rudyard Kipling
Rudyard Kipling
Joseph Rudyard Kipling was an English poet, short-story writer, and novelist chiefly remembered for his celebration of British imperialism, tales and poems of British soldiers in India, and his tales for children. Kipling received the 1907 Nobel Prize for Literature...

's poem "The White Man's Burden
The White Man's Burden
"The White Man's Burden" is a poem by the English poet Rudyard Kipling. It was originally published in the popular magazine McClure's in 1899, with the subtitle The United States and the Philippine Islands...

", which was subtitled "The United States and the Philippine Islands", was a famous expression of imperialist sentiments, which were common at the time. The nascent revolutionary government
First Philippine Republic
The Philippine Republic , more commonly known as the First Philippine Republic or the Malolos Republic was a short-lived insurgent revolutionary government in the Philippines...

 desirous of independence, however, resisted the U.S. in the outbreak of the Philippine-American War
Philippine-American War
The Philippine–American War, also known as the Philippine War of Independence or the Philippine Insurrection , was an armed conflict between a group of Filipino revolutionaries and the United States which arose from the struggle of the First Philippine Republic to gain independence following...

 in 1899. After the war began, William Jennings Bryan
William Jennings Bryan
William Jennings Bryan was an American politician in the late-19th and early-20th centuries. He was a dominant force in the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, standing three times as its candidate for President of the United States...

, an opponent of overseas expansion, wrote that "‘Destiny’ is not as manifest as it was a few weeks ago."

Later usage

After the turn of the nineteenth century to the twentieth, the phrase Manifest Destiny declined in usage, as territorial expansion ceased to be promoted as being a part of America's "destiny." Under President Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt was the 26th President of the United States . He is noted for his exuberant personality, range of interests and achievements, and his leadership of the Progressive Movement, as well as his "cowboy" persona and robust masculinity...

 the role of the United States in the New World was defined, in the 1904 Roosevelt Corollary
Roosevelt Corollary
-Background:In late 1902, Britain, Germany, and Italy implemented a naval blockade of several months against Venezuela because of President Cipriano Castro's refusal to pay foreign debts and damages suffered by European citizens in a recent Venezuelan civil war. The incident was called the...

 to the Monroe Doctrine
Monroe Doctrine
The Monroe Doctrine is a policy of the United States introduced on December 2, 1823. It stated that further efforts by European nations to colonize land or interfere with states in North or South America would be viewed as acts of aggression requiring U.S. intervention...

, as being an "international police power" to secure American interests in the Western Hemisphere. Roosevelt's corollary contained an explicit rejection of territorial expansion. In the past, Manifest Destiny had been seen as necessary to enforce the Monroe Doctrine in the Western Hemisphere, but now expansionism had been replaced by interventionism
Interventionism (politics)
Interventionism is a term for a policy of non-defensive activity undertaken by a nation-state, or other geo-political jurisdiction of a lesser or greater nature, to manipulate an economy or society...

 as a means of upholding the doctrine.

President Woodrow Wilson
Woodrow Wilson
Thomas Woodrow Wilson was the 28th President of the United States, from 1913 to 1921. A leader of the Progressive Movement, he served as President of Princeton University from 1902 to 1910, and then as the Governor of New Jersey from 1911 to 1913...

 continued the policy of interventionism in the Americas, and attempted to redefine both Manifest Destiny and America's "mission" on a broader, worldwide scale. Wilson led the United States into World War I with the argument that "The world must be made safe for democracy." In his 1920 message to Congress after the war, Wilson stated:

...I think we all realize that the day has come when Democracy is being put upon its final test. The Old World is just now suffering from a wanton rejection of the principle of democracy and a substitution of the principle of autocracy as asserted in the name, but without the authority and sanction, of the multitude. This is the time of all others when Democracy should prove its purity and its spiritual power to prevail. It is surely the manifest destiny of the United States to lead in the attempt to make this spirit prevail.


This was the only time a president had used the phrase "Manifest Destiny" in his annual address. Wilson's version of Manifest Destiny was a rejection of expansionism and an endorsement (in principle) of self-determination
Self-determination
Self-determination is the principle in international law that nations have the right to freely choose their sovereignty and international political status with no external compulsion or external interference...

, emphasizing that the United States had a mission to be a world leader for the cause of democracy. This U.S. vision of itself as the leader of the "Free World
Free World
The Free World is a Cold War-era term often used to describe states not under the rule of the Soviet Union, its Eastern European allies, China, Vietnam, Cuba, and other communist nations. The term often referred to states such as the United States, Canada, and Western European states such as the...

" would grow stronger in the 20th century after World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, although rarely would it be described as "Manifest Destiny", as Wilson had done.

Today, in standard scholarly usage, Manifest Destiny describes a past era in American history, particularly the 1840s. However, the term is sometimes used by the political left and by critics of U.S. foreign policy to characterize interventions in the Middle East and elsewhere. In this usage, Manifest Destiny is interpreted as the underlying cause of what is perceived by some as "American imperialism."

German Lebensraum

German geographer Friedrich Ratzel
Friedrich Ratzel
Friedrich Ratzel was a German geographer and ethnographer, notable for first using the term Lebensraum in the sense that the National Socialists later would.-Life:...

 visited North America beginning in 1873 and saw the effects of American manifest destiny. Ratzel sympathized with the results of "manifest destiny", but he never used the term. Instead he relied on the Frontier Thesis
Frontier Thesis
The Frontier Thesis, also referred to as the Turner Thesis, is the argument advanced by historian Frederick Jackson Turner in 1893 that the origin of the distinctive egalitarian, democratic, aggressive, and innovative features of the American character has been the American frontier experience...

 of Frederick Jackson Turner
Frederick Jackson Turner
Frederick Jackson Turner was an American historian in the early 20th century. He is best known for his essay "The Significance of the Frontier in American History", whose ideas are referred to as the Frontier Thesis. He is also known for his theories of geographical sectionalism...

. Ratzel promoted overseas colonies for Germany in Asia and Africa, but not an expansion into Slavic lands. Later German publicists misinterpreted Ratzel to argue for the right of the German race to expand within Europe; that notion was later incorporated into Nazi ideology, as Lebensraum
Lebensraum
was one of the major political ideas of Adolf Hitler, and an important component of Nazi ideology. It served as the motivation for the expansionist policies of Nazi Germany, aiming to provide extra space for the growth of the German population, for a Greater Germany...

. Harriet Wanklyn, (1961) argues that Ratzel's theory was designed to advance science, and that politicians distorted it for political goals.

See also

  • Colonialism
    Colonialism
    Colonialism is the establishment, maintenance, acquisition and expansion of colonies in one territory by people from another territory. It is a process whereby the metropole claims sovereignty over the colony and the social structure, government, and economics of the colony are changed by...

  • Frontier Thesis
    Frontier Thesis
    The Frontier Thesis, also referred to as the Turner Thesis, is the argument advanced by historian Frederick Jackson Turner in 1893 that the origin of the distinctive egalitarian, democratic, aggressive, and innovative features of the American character has been the American frontier experience...

     — Frederick Jackson Turner
    Frederick Jackson Turner
    Frederick Jackson Turner was an American historian in the early 20th century. He is best known for his essay "The Significance of the Frontier in American History", whose ideas are referred to as the Frontier Thesis. He is also known for his theories of geographical sectionalism...

     conclusion that the wellsprings of American exceptionalism
    American exceptionalism
    American exceptionalism refers to the theory that the United States is qualitatively different from other countries. In this view, America's exceptionalism stems from its emergence from a revolution, becoming "the first new nation," and developing a uniquely American ideology, based on liberty,...

     and vitality have always been the American frontier.
  • The White Man's Burden
    The White Man's Burden
    "The White Man's Burden" is a poem by the English poet Rudyard Kipling. It was originally published in the popular magazine McClure's in 1899, with the subtitle The United States and the Philippine Islands...

     — an influential poem by Rudyard Kipling
    Rudyard Kipling
    Joseph Rudyard Kipling was an English poet, short-story writer, and novelist chiefly remembered for his celebration of British imperialism, tales and poems of British soldiers in India, and his tales for children. Kipling received the 1907 Nobel Prize for Literature...

     advocating colonization by the United States
  • Young America movement
    Young America movement
    The Young America Movement was an American political and cultural attitude in the mid-nineteenth century. Inspired by European reform movements of the 1830s , the American group was formed as a political organization in 1845 by Edwin de Leon and George H. Evans...

     — a political and literary movement with connections to Manifest Destiny
  • Expansionism
    Expansionism
    In general, expansionism consists of expansionist policies of governments and states. While some have linked the term to promoting economic growth , more commonly expansionism refers to the doctrine of a state expanding its territorial base usually, though not necessarily, by means of military...

     — for expansionist ideas in other countries
  • Frances Fuller Victor
    Frances Fuller Victor
    - External links :...

     — prominent western historian and fiction writer who captured the spirit of western expansion
  • Thomas Hart Benton
    Thomas Hart Benton (senator)
    Thomas Hart Benton , nicknamed "Old Bullion", was a U.S. Senator from Missouri and a staunch advocate of westward expansion of the United States. He served in the Senate from 1821 to 1851, becoming the first member of that body to serve five terms...

     — Missouri senator, proponent of western expansion
  • Stephen A. Douglas
    Stephen A. Douglas
    Stephen Arnold Douglas was an American politician from the western state of Illinois, and was the Northern Democratic Party nominee for President in 1860. He lost to the Republican Party's candidate, Abraham Lincoln, whom he had defeated two years earlier in a Senate contest following a famed...

     — prominent spokesman of "Young America"
  • Horace Greeley
    Horace Greeley
    Horace Greeley was an American newspaper editor, a founder of the Liberal Republican Party, a reformer, a politician, and an outspoken opponent of slavery...

     — helped popularize the phrase "Go West, young man."
  • Duff Green
    Duff Green
    Duff Green , American politician and journalist, was born in Woodford County, Kentucky.He was a school teacher in his native state, served during the War of 1812 in the Kentucky militia, and then settled in Missouri, where he worked as a schoolmaster and practiced law...

     — writer, politician, and prominent Manifest Destiny advocate
  • American imperialism
  • American exceptionalism
    American exceptionalism
    American exceptionalism refers to the theory that the United States is qualitatively different from other countries. In this view, America's exceptionalism stems from its emergence from a revolution, becoming "the first new nation," and developing a uniquely American ideology, based on liberty,...

  • Lebensraum
    Lebensraum
    was one of the major political ideas of Adolf Hitler, and an important component of Nazi ideology. It served as the motivation for the expansionist policies of Nazi Germany, aiming to provide extra space for the growth of the German population, for a Greater Germany...


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