Since the first Puritan settlement of America by the Massachusetts Bay Colony (“City on a Hill”) to the United States’ current involvement in the affairs of foreign countries, it is clear that Americans find a need to spread their democratic ideals abroad. The idea of Manifest Destiny, which was prevalent in pre-Civil War America, expressed the belief that Americans should expand their republican ideals of freedom, liberty, and democracy to the whole world. The process of Manifest Destiny was hastened by political pressure between the pro-slavery and anti-slavery factions and fear of foreign threats; these factors motivated the nation to expand to the Pacific by annexing large territories and negotiating treaties during the period 1783-1853.
One of the most important factors that motivated Americans to migrate and settle new territories was political pressure and controversy regarding the issue of slavery. Southern congressmen wanted to annex the Republic of Texas to the Union because slavery was well-established there, and it would most likely be admitted as a slave state. This would give the pro-slavery southerners two more votes in the Senate and might tip the scale in their favor. In response, the anti-slavery faction rapidly settled the Oregon Country and called for annexation of the region. Both Texas and the Oregon County were eventually annexed to the U.S. in the Texas Annexation of 1845 and the Oregon Treaty of 1846, respectively. These annexations quelled fears that one side might take control over the other; however, there was always new land to be settled nearby. In this manner, Western lands continued to be settled in order to maintain the fragile balance between the opposing factions. This cat-and-mouse game demonstrated the urgency that the Americans felt while migrating to these new areas; they felt that in order to protect their beliefs regarding the institution of slavery, they must migrate west and spread their beliefs as extensively as possible. Clearly, political pressures about slavery were a main factor which motivated the rapid settlement of Western lands during this time period.
Another important factor that helped to jumpstart westward migration was American fear of foreign threats—especially France. Before 1803, France claimed ownership to a vast territory to the west of the Mississippi, later known as the Louisiana Territory, which was sparsely settled with French inhabitants. Although the French could never hope to conquer the U.S. with their meager population, many Americans feared that France had secret plans to eventually dominate the North American continent. This constant fear of foreign attack motivated the Americans to travel west and claim the foreign territory as their own. The Americans took the future of the country into their hands by following the ideals of Manifest Destiny and spreading westward. Eventually, Americans became so populous in the Louisiana Territory that Napoleon of France decided to sell the territory to the United States in the Louisiana Purchase before they took it from France anyway. The Americans’ fears of being conquered by France motivated them to expand further into the French territory to claim it as their own. This situation demonstrated that, when pressured, Americans could rise to the occasion and achieve their desires.
There were many instances in history when Americans acted out Manifest Destiny, and spread American beliefs across the continent. Americans were motivated by a number of factors, including political pressure between the pro-slavery and anti-slavery factions and fear of foreign threats, to expand west and acquire new land for their country. During this process Americans spread their ideals of freedom, liberty, and democracy to the whole North American continent and made a lasting impact on history.
Aboukhadijeh, Feross. "The United States: A Date with Manifest Destiny" StudyNotes.org. Study Notes, LLC., 05 Jan. 2014. Web. 10 Mar. 2018. <https://www.apstudynotes.org/us-history/sample-essays/the-united-states-a-date-with-manifest/>.
Manifest Destiny Essay
Manifest Destiny is a historic duty, in the 1800's the Americans believed that the manifest destiny of the United States was to expand to the pacific ocean. The United States started as costal colonies but eventually the fulfilled their manifest destiny and expanded buy conquering and purchasing land. The Americans gained more land by buying it from France in the Louisiana Purchase and they also acquired land by cession as they did in the Mexican Cession. Other ways of expanded their land was to take it by force, many settlers killed the Indians and stole their land from them.
The Americans in the 1800's believed that it was the historic duty of their nation to expand to the pacific ocean. They believed that the land was rightfully theirs. They ignored the fact that the land was already occupied and began to move west. They did not recognize the Indians as people, they saw them as potential slaves, so they simply killed them and took their land. Much of the land was bought from France in the Louisiana Purchase, but other lands such as Texas, California and Oregon was not theirs. Using both military strength and negotiations, the US was determined to fulfill their historic duty.
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The main difference between the border issues of Oregon and Texas is the way these issues were settled. The Texas issue resulted in a war with Mexico, which gained land and lost soldiers. However, this did allow the US to gain more land than just Texas. The Oregon issue, on the other hand, was more peaceful. The US negotiated and made a treaty with Britain instead of going to war with them. However, both these issues were different ways the US gained land and expanded their nation.
James K. Polk and Franklin Pierce were both former presidents of the United States and were both known as "dark horse" presidents. Both Polk and Pierce studied law. Polk later became Governor of Tennessee. Polk, although unknown, linked the Texas and Oregon issues to gain favor in both the North and the South and become president. During his presidency, Polk gained California and New Mexico after a victory in the Mexican War. Pierce, on the other hand served in the Mexican War and was nominated for president in 1852. The slightest hint of expansion set off the wrath of the North. After events like the Kansas-Nebraska Act, the Gadsden Purchase and Bleeding Kansas, the democratic party refused to renominate him.
The two viewpoints on the issue of Texas would be the American viewpoint and the Mexican viewpoint. The Americans believed that the land west of them should belong to them, they had no respect for others. They simply moved in and declared it their land. From the Mexican viewpoint, this was stealing the land, the Americans did not think the same way, so that brought up a conflict. The Mexicans saw the Americans as the enemy, and vice versa, so they started fighting. Finally, after a bloody war, the Americans won and got to keep Texas.
The US Government used both negotiation and military strength to gain territory. The addition of Oregon was an example of the US government using negotiation. Most of the time, the US used peaceful means to acquire land, they bought or traded land from other countries that occupied the surrounding area such as Britain and France, this is how the US gained the Oregon Territory. However, when a country was not willing to give up its land, they would take it by force, the Mexican War is an example of this. After their defeat, the Mexicans gave up the California region in the Mexican Cession. These means were successful and the US expanded to the pacific ocean.
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