What historic song refers to America as having achieved its "manifest destiny"?

1 Answer | Add Yours

lhc's profile pic

lhc | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted on

"America the Beautiful" by Katherine Lee Bates (lyrics) and Samuel A. Ward (music) captures the essence of the concept of American expansionism; the term "manifest destiny" to describe this idea was coined by a gentleman named John O'Sullivan in an 1845 article about annexing the Republic of Texas to the United States.  Democracts would also use this idea to advocate and/or justify war with Mexico.  "Manifest Destiny" was also an important idea as the North and South marched closer to the brink of an American Civil War, and Southerners held that as the nation expanded to the Pacific Ocean, slavery must expand as well to protect Southern interests.  The expansion of slavery was a point of contention among Northerners, even those who were content to let slavery continue to exist were it already did, but could not stomach the idea of seeing it expand.  The concept of "manifest destiny" seemed to embrace the ideas that American people and institutions were moral and virtuous and should spread in all directions possible, remaking the world, more or less, or at least the continent, in the American image, and that this mission was one sanctioned by God.  The lyrics to "American the Beautiful", particularly the second stanza reflect this idea:  "America! America!God shed His grace on thee/And crown thy good with brotherhood/From sea to shining sea!"

Although the term "manifest destiny" fell into disuse in the 1900's, the concept of a divine right to expansionism clearly had a less than happy effect on Native Americans, who acre by tragic acre lost their land and their lifestyles to the Anglo-Saxon march across the continent. 




We’ve answered 317,752 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question