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Unit 5

5.2 Manifest Destiny

2 min readmay 30, 2020

caleb-lagerwey

Caleb Lagerwey


Origins

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/fd/American_Progress_%28John_Gast_painting%29.jpg/1920px-American_Progress_%28John_Gast_painting%29.jpg

Image Courtesy of Wikimedia

John L. O’Sullivan coined the term Manifest Destiny in 1845 while advocating for the annexation of Texas. It came to be defined as the belief that God had given the US the special calling and privilege of spreading its civilization and Christianity across the whole of the North American continent, moving westward from the Atlantic to the Pacific. 
It quickly gained advocates throughout the US, especially among Democrats who were pro-expansion and hoped to gain additional territory to expand Jefferson’s Empire of Liberty so that more American citizens could be yeoman farmers and plantation owners. 

Resources:

Areas & Impacts

You should know a few areas out west and what drew settlers there during the time of Manifest Destiny:
  • Texas for cotton cultivation and cattle ranching🐂
  • Oregon (and its famous Oregon Trail path to get there) for farming
    • British claimed this territory too
    • James K. Polk gets elected in 1844 with his promise of “54° 40' or fight!”
    • Peacefully resolved by Polk to focus on Mexico (see 5.3)
    • California for gold after 1849
  • Utah (Deseret) for Mormons seeking religious liberty and polygamy
You should also know some of the impacts of Manifest Destiny on the people out west and the US as a whole:
  • Manifest Destiny leads to conflicts over the spread of slavery to the Western territories
    • (This is a BIG deal in APUSH and is almost always on the exam in May)
  • Native Americans continued to resist losing land to White American settlers who moved West.
  • Led to the Mexican-American War (see 5.3)
  • The US begins to seek greater access to Asian markets (🇯🇵 & 🇨🇳)
    • The US begins to expand into places like Alaska & Hawaii
    • The US signs treaties like the Treaty of Kanagawa in which Commodore Matthew Perry sailed into Edo Bay with steamships⚓️ armed with cannons and forced the Japanese to allow Americans to trade with them
While Manifest Destiny is mostly associated with the westward expansion of the US in the antebellum (pre-Civil War) era, the term also applies to later westward expansion efforts such as the Homestead Act of 1862 that gave away land out west to American settlers. It also later fueled the US overseas expansion during the 1890s (see Period 7) and beyond. 
🎥 Watch: AP US History - Manifest Destiny

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