Manifest destiny is a term used during the nineteenth century and it is based on the belief that American settlers in the US held the destiny to expand to the rest of the continent. Historians are in agreement that 3 basic themes exist in regard to Manifest Destiny they include:
- Special virtues of American people as well as their institutions
- The mission of America aimed at remaking and redeeming the image of the west in agrarian America.
- The alluring destiny driven at accomplishing this duty.
The term was first used in print in the year 1845 in the Democratic Review and US Magazine, August issue. Fredrick Merk, a historian states the origin of the concept was born from the sense of redeeming the Old World. Historians have however emphasized that the term was the source of great contest with the democrats endorsing the idea but majority of the prominent Americans like Abraham Lincoln, majority of Whigs, and Ulysses S. Grant rejecting the idea. Daniel Walker Howe writes that American imperialism was not a representation of American consensus and that it provoked a sense of bitter dissent and that Whigs saw the moral mission of the Americas as a democratic example and not a conquest one.
Manifest destiny also presented a rhetorical tone leading to the largest United States territory acquisition. During the 1840s the term was applied by Democrats to justify war with Mexico and it was additionally used for purposes of dividing part of Oregon from Great Britain. Merk however says that Manifest Destiny limped along due to internal limitations as well as slavery issues. At no point did it become a matter of national priority. John Quincy Adams by the year 1843 and who was a main supporter had a change of mind and repudiated the context as it meant slavery expansion in Texas.
The notion of Manifest Destiny was always a general one and not specific as such, there was no set principles defining the term. It was keenly ill defined and its conviction laid in the sense of value and morality expansionism which complicated others ideas of that era that were popular such as Romantic nationalism and that of American exceptionalism.
President Andrew Jackson spoke of freedom extension that reflected the conflation of American potential and the budding Romantic self-identity in the nation as well as expansion. However, Jackson wasn’t the only president to make an elaboration on principles of Manifest Destiny. Conflicting viewpoints were expressed by proponents regarding the concept since there was no definitive narrative that outlined the rationale behind the term. Manifest Destiny was not just a term that was easily understood but one that was popular as well as such, political parties adopted it successively.
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