A newspaper editor popularized the phrase "manifest destiny," which justified American expansion throughout the continent. The expression "manifest destiny" implied that the United States' expansion over the American continent was apparent, unavoidable, and a divine prerogative.
American expansion into the western hemisphere was first suggested by Sir Walter Raleigh in a letter to King James I of England in 1624. The king responded by granting a royal charter for a colony that would be called Virginia. In 1803, President Thomas Jefferson wrote to French diplomat Louis Pierre Manuel de Montigny, then serving as American minister to France, asking him to propose the establishment of more colonies in North America.
When Jefferson took office in 1801, the United States had possession of only the territory between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River. During his second term, he sent Lewis and Clark on an expedition up the Missouri River to explore parts of what is now Montana and Wyoming. When they returned home, they gave a speech in which they described many beautiful places with abundant wildlife that needed to be colonized. This led to the establishment of several new states: Oregon in 1846, Nevada in 1864, and Colorado in 1861.
In 1823, Congress authorized the president to negotiate treaties with other countries for the purpose of establishing trade relations with them.
In 1845, John L. O'Sullivan created the phrase "manifest destiny" to describe a set of values prevalent in the United States at the time. These ideas included a belief in American exceptionality, a sense of right to the North American continent, and a religious/moral imperative to propagate American democracy. The concept was popularized in the 1840s and 1850s by writers such as Henry David Thoreau, Walt Whitman, and Mark Twain.
Thoreau used manifest destiny in a July 4, 1846 essay called "Resistance to Civil Government." He argued that just as God has given certain people responsibility over land, so too have these people the right to rebel against oppressive governments: "The divine right of kings has no part in our system of government. The idea is revolting to every principle of justice, liberty, and humanity."
Whitman used the term in many of his poems, including "Song of Myself," which was published in 1855. There he calls America "the great manifest destiny" and claims that this country was meant to be "a place of refuge for the oppressed of all nations."
Manifest destiny also appears in novels by Herman Melville and William Gilmore Simms. In Moby-Dick (1851), Melville uses the term to describe the desire of Americans to expand westward into empty territory.
Manifest Destiny, a term established in 1845, refers to the belief that the United States is predestined by God to expand its rule and spread democracy and capitalism throughout the whole North American continent. The concept was popular among politicians and settlers who wanted to justify the annexation of foreign countries in order to gain access to their resources.
The term is also used to describe the idea that America must conquer new territory to fulfill this destiny. Critics argue that this view ignores the need to develop domestic industry and discourage mass immigration.
The original source of power behind Manifest Destiny is disputed by scholars. Some believe it comes from within the United States through the force of ideas while others believe it comes from outside the country in response to the need of other nations to escape from monarchy and aristocracy. However, there is general agreement that by the mid-19th century, economic factors are more important than ideology in motivating Americans to annex foreign territories.
After the Louisiana Purchase, Americans felt they needed land of their own to settle down. They also wanted to be able to sell goods across the ocean that were made with American products. Finally, politicians wanted to show the world that America was capable of anything when it came to expanding its territory. They believed that by saying that the United States was destined to dominate North America would help them get approval for their actions.
The phrase "Manifest Destiny" was invented by newspaper editor John O'Sullivan in 1845 to express the concept of continental expansionism. Though the name was new, the principles it represented were far older, extending back to the first European-Native American encounter. The idea that Europe should explore the world and bring back goods that are useful to people has been around for quite some time.
In reference to America, this old idea found its expression in the words of President Thomas Jefferson: "We shall be able to say with Mackenzie, 'the continent is ours.' " He was speaking of Sir Alexander Mackenzie, who had claimed Greenland for Britain in 1789.
So the principle of Manifest Destiny was not a new one. But what was new was its expression in terms of government policy. Before this time, governments had encouraged colonization because it provided jobs for soldiers and sailors - both important parts of their economy at the time. But now there was talk of making these new countries into nations, with their own governments and laws they could control themselves. It was this change in attitude that made the difference between an idea and a reality. Without these new countries being part of some sort of organization, such as NATO or the EU, they would have no way to defend themselves against invasion from outside or unrest within.