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Imperialism vs. Manifest DestinyCompare and contrast European Imperialism with the...

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larrygates | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted March 3, 2011 at 9:08 AM via web

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Imperialism vs. Manifest Destiny

Compare and contrast European Imperialism with the American concept of Manifest Destiny. What are the similarities and what are the differences.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted March 3, 2011 at 9:33 AM (Answer #2)

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I think there are a lot of similarities and few (if any) real differences.

In both cases, the real point was to take new territories and, thereby, to gain power.  In both cases, there was talk of civilization and superiority (racial and cultural) as justification for aggressive actions towards those who got in the way.

As far as differences:

  • In the original Manifest Destiny (the part limited to the continental US) there was no real sense of wanting to do anything for the people already living there.  The Indians were to be pushed off the land or killed.  There was not really any rhetoric (during that time) of civilizing them -- of taking up the white man's burden.
  • If you're taking Manifest Destiny to apply to the taking of the Philippines, etc, then the US was truly more of a "civilizer" than the Europeans.  Americans treated the Filipinos much better than the Europeans treated the Vietnamese and Indonesians and such.  There was truly an attempt to get them ready for self-government.

Beyond that, I think that Manifest Destiny was just an Americanized version of imperialism and was similar to imperialism in all important ways.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted March 3, 2011 at 12:35 PM (Answer #3)

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Both of these views argue that the dominance by Europe and then by the US over other nations is "divinely ordained." The one biggest difference, that is going to be very contraversial, is that I do believe that manifest destiny is a belief still clung onto by many Americans whereas imperialism has died out in its original form. Of course, many argue that there are new forms of neo-imperialism that exist, but they are slightly different, and basically relate to the way that European powers still maintain power to a limited extent over their former colonies that are now supposedly independent countries.

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catd1115 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Assistant Educator

Posted March 3, 2011 at 2:11 PM (Answer #4)

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I have to agree with #3 that Manifest Destiny is a belief that, I think, most Americans still subscribe too, while many of the same people would be horrified by the type of imperialism that went on in Africa and other places during the 17th and 18th centuries.

It is definitely key that both Manifest Destiny and imperialism are founded in the desire for more land and more power, and both are rationalized by the idea of "destiny". England was destined to have an empire that covered the globe (the sun never sets on the British Empire) just as America was destined to extend from coast to coast (from sea to shining sea). Interesting that both ideas existed for the same reasons, but also used the same excuse to rationalize their actions.

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kapokkid | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted March 3, 2011 at 3:43 PM (Answer #5)

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I also tend to think that the two are closely linked, one just uses a slightly different justification for their empire building.  I also was surprised at the idea of Americans treating the Filipinos well, I've read a good bit that points out some of the very ugly atrocities the Americans carried out against the Filipinos.  In fact, "Fly Boys" by James Bradley does a great job discussing some of the policies that the US pursued in their colonial efforts there.

 

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted March 4, 2011 at 4:49 PM (Answer #6)

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I also tend to think that the two are closely linked, one just uses a slightly different justification for their empire building.  I also was surprised at the idea of Americans treating the Filipinos well, I've read a good bit that points out some of the very ugly atrocities the Americans carried out against the Filipinos.  In fact, "Fly Boys" by James Bradley does a great job discussing some of the policies that the US pursued in their colonial efforts there.

 

The atrocities were during the initial fighting against Aguinaldo.  I was talking about things that were done later on, after we had colonized them.  My sources for that are A) Karnow's In Our Image and B) the impressions passed down to me by my father who is a native Filipino born in 1936.  He was too young to remember much, but he has told me about the attitudes of his parents and neighbors...  (those might have been colored by the war, though).

Also, we had already promised independence to the Philippines even before the war.  None of the European countries did that for their colonies.

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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 10, 2011 at 9:14 AM (Answer #7)

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The similarity is that in each case the country wanted to expand its land holdings, and did so by offering cheap or free land to ambitious settlers who were so desperate to get out of where they were that they took on this incredible gamble. In each case, the expanding country felt it was entitled to the land and the natives on it had to go.
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brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted September 5, 2011 at 6:25 AM (Answer #8)

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Both movements were seeking economic expansion, pursuing the obvious opportunities in the west and the New World, although Manifest Destiny was a more vague social notion, held loosely by individuals who wanted to move west for the chance at land or success, while European imperialism was a much more well-defined and directed set of policies put forth by royalty.  Manifest Destiny also dd not include so much nationalist pride and competition as imperialism did.

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