Can you explain the spirit of manifest destiny that inspired American expansion in the 1840's?

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saintfester | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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Manifest Destiny was a term coined by newspaper reporter James O’ Sullivan to explain the westward movement of America during the 1840’s. He coined the term, “manifest destiny” to describe what he viewed as our obvious fate as a nation. O’Sullivan’s belief that the U.S. was destined to stretch from Atlantic to Pacific was one that was shared by many people, and the more and more the concept was repeated by newspapers or politicians, it grew more ingrained in our national psyche. The fact that the language also seemed to be spiritual and religious in nature put an even more emphatic tone on the entire idea.

This idea also helped spur a resurgence of interest in annexing the Republic of Texas, which had gained its independence from Mexico in 1835. There was a significant amount of controversy around this idea due to Texas’ border disputes with the U.S. as well as the issue of Texas’ $10 million dollar debt. These issues became moot points when James K. Polk, a strong expansionist Democrat, came into office with a national mandate and made annexation a priority. The deal was finally sealed in 1845.


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