Guest Author - Rebecca Graf
Manifest Destiny in essence was the destiny and calling of America to extend its borders and take up as much of the North American continent that it could. As the ever growing population saw the open land west of the Eastern seaboard, they saw a chance to make an even bigger nation out of the new nation. Potential was seen and grasped as masses picked up all they owned and took a chance in the unknown territories. Many who had the courage to venture into new lands “believed that America had a divine obligation to stretch the boundaries of their noble republic to the Pacific Ocean.” (1) Manifest Destiny gave Americans purpose and a challenge: a feeling of “national destiny for many Americans.” (2)
For politicians, Manifest Destiny gave them a platform to push for their own agendas including opening the door to the slave issue. As America gained new land, the opportunity for the South/North to grow and increase influence also was present. Politicians saw this as a chance to beat the other party and come out on top. New land meant new opportunities in a different sense for them.
Culturally, it created new cultures within America. Pioneers set out from the East and discovered new lands with new treasures and new hazards. They developed their own cultures to survive. It also influenced the treatment of the native tribes as America was destined to conquer the land and all those within it. That included the Native Americans. The mindset that the natives needed civilizing set the stage for society’s treatment of the races they encountered.
Manifest Destiny gave America hope while also creating fuel for the politicians to use in their battles. In addition to that, it gave the pioneers the feeling of superiority over the native tribes and the obligation to civilize them.
(1) “29. Manifest Destiny,” U.S. History.org, http://www.ushistory.org/us/29.asp.
(2) “Manifest Destiny Overview,” PBS.org, http://www.pbs.org/kera/usmexicanwar/prelude/manifest_destiny_overview.html.