Paper: A History of the Manifest Destiny

Manifest Destiny is a phrase that describes the belief in which the United States had a “divine right" to the westward expansion of North America. This “divine right" suggested that the United States were chosen by God to expand their democracy westward to the people who were perceived as being uncivilized. John Sullivan stated, “It is our manifest destiny to overspread and to possess the whole of this continent, which Providence has given us." America was consumed with the desire to gain power. There were economic, social and political pressures that were also encouraging expansion. The U.S. had suffered two economic depressions and with an increasing population, westward expansion would open many opportunities for the nation's progression. Land ownership was associated with wealth, power and independence. Therefore, America saw conquering new territory as gaining those desired qualities. The concept of Manifest Destiny was used to justify their greedy, cruel and prejudice actions. The American objective was similar to that of the Spaniards in the sense of forcing one's ideology on others. Their inhumane and violent treatment of the natives is hardly divine. The greed for power and wealth was the motive behind westward expansion, not because America was chosen by God to do so. The rise of Manifest Destiny was encouraged by several factors, one of them being literature. Dana's Two Years Before Mast is a prime example. Dana's book illustrates an alluring California, and focuses on its riches of prosperous and exploitable resources. He also contrasts its assets with the Californians, who he ignorantly portrays as lazy, unintelligent and unworthy of their thriving surroundings. The United States was aware of California's potential, and it was the desire of power and wealth that led to the Manifest Destiny, not because it was God's mission....