Free «Nineteenth Century» Essay
Nineteenth century resulted in significant changes within the American society due to the movement of thousands of individuals to the West and Southwest. Manifest Destiny is related to the gradual territorial expansion which was based on the feeling of national superiority and conviction that this expansion is inevitable.
Manifest Destiny is a concept which was perceived differently by various people. It was derived from the notion that there is an essential need to leave the Old World behind while aiming at building a new one, which will set an example to the rest of the world. However, it mainly concerned and justified the necessity to expand the boundaries of the country vastly. Furthermore, one of the missions of this vast expansion was spreading the democracy throughout the continent. Thus, it was perceived not just as a mission, but also a destiny imposed upon Americans.
The impact of Manifest Destiny on public thought of those times was significant. The concept was mainly based on popular trends of Romanticism which merged with the overall positive attitude towards the dynamic political, social and economic changes. Therefore, Manifest Destiny marked the apogee of American Romanticism since the aspirations of acquiring the whole territory of the continent from one ocean to another have been finally implemented in 1840s.
However, Manifest Destiny cannot be considered a peaceful initiative, whereas Democrats used it in their own interests. Consequently, in terms of inevitable expansion, it justified the war with Mexico which was initiated with the purpose of acquiring new territories. Manifest Destiny had a crucial impact on Native Americans. They were encouraged to sell their tribal lands which were nominally purchased by the U.S. government. The purchase was usually conducted under conditions of not knowing the peculiarities of the treaty or even without any expression of the will. The indigenous people were supposed to become civilized, abandon their traditions and merge with the society. Furthermore, there was initiated a migration of Indians across the Mississippi River in order to separate them since most people perceived Native Americans as savages who were standing on the way of national expansion.
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The concept of Manifest Destiny has its impact even on the contemporary international affairs, which is mainly based on perception of America as a defender and propagator of democracy throughout the world.