What impact did manifest destiny and westward expansion have on Mexicans and Native Americans during the early 1800s?



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pohnpei397's profile pic

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As long as we define “early 1800s” to include the entire first half of the 19th century, the idea of manifest destiny had a huge impact on Mexicans and Native Americans.  In both cases, it deprived them of their land and, to some degree, their independence.

During much of the early 1800s (and even after the Civil War), the idea of manifest destiny was used to justify clearing the Native Americans from everywhere that white Americans wanted to be.  The idea was that the Americans were racially and culturally superior to the Native Americans.  Therefore, they deserved the land more than the Natives did and they had the right to take it.  The same logic applied to taking land from Mexico, as was done in the Mexican-American War.

Once the lands were taken from these groups, their independence was compromised.  The Native Americans were pushed onto reservations where they were essentially wards of the federal government.  Mexicans who remained on what was now US soil often lost their land and were treated as second class citizens in their new country. 

In these ways, both Mexicans and Native Americans were harmed by the ideology of manifest destiny.

thetall's profile pic

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Westward Expansion began with the purchase of new territory by President Thomas Jefferson from the French administration. This territory stretched from Canada to New Orleans and from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains. The point of this purchase, according to the President’s belief, was that in order to protect their liberty the American people had to acquire land to enhance farming and to sustain their population they had to continue expanding their territory. However, through his purchase the Native Americans lost their protection and their rights to the property were infringed on by the new owners. In 1829 President Andrew Jackson established a policy that would forcibly evict the Indian Natives, furthering the Westward Expansion. In 1845, John O’Sullivan came up with “Manifest destiny”, an ideology that supported the Westward Expansion. Continued expansion and Manifest destiny led to the American-Mexican war and eventually Americans annexed Texas and established boundaries on Mexican territory.


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