How did the belief in “Manifest Destiny” come to divide the nation?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The belief in Manifest Destiny was only an incidental cause of the division of the nation.  The real cause of the division was the issue of slavery and the differences it caused between North and South.

Manifest Destiny was the idea that the United States was destined by God to enlarge its territory to a significant degree.  The idea did not explicitly state how much territory the US deserved to have.  However, it did state that the country deserved to be larger because it was superior to other countries.  It was superior in its religion because it was a Protestant country.  It was superior in its politics because it was a democracy.  It was superior racially to any country not made up of “Anglo-Saxons.”

This idea in itself did not really divide the nation.  The vast majority of people believed in it.  It did cause problems, however, when combined with the issue of slavery.  The belief in Manifest Destiny caused the US to expand.  For example, it brought about the war with Mexico that got the entire Southwest for the US.  This caused problems because it led North and South to disagree over whether the new territory should be free or slave.  This disagreement is what really helped bring about the division of the nation and the Civil War.

Thus, the idea of Manifest Destiny facilitated the division of the nation but did not cause it.

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