Discuss the impact the idea of Manifest Destiny has on our nation.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that one element of how Manifest Destiny has impacted our nation is the development of American Exceptionalism as part of its narrative.  The idea that America was a chosen nation, selected to embody liberal principles better than most, if not all others, is enhanced by the idea that "providence" played a role in enabling the nation to spread from coast to coast.  Manifest Destiny is rooted in the belief that there is something distinctive and exceptional about what it means to be "American."  The belief that what America does is sanctioned by the powers of the divine has played a large role in who we are as  a nation and how we are perceived today.  In this light, I think Manifest Destiny is a reflection of such a belief.  Such an idea has transformed how Americans view themselves and how others view the nation.  Certainly, an argument can be made that a positive element from this is the power with which America helps to shape the world and its interests.  A discussion of world power cannot go very far without the inclusion of the United States, and this is due to the spirit and beliefs that ended up motivating the concept of Manifest Destiny.  The greatness and perceived exceptionalism that was a part of this idea helped to establish where this is seen today.  On another end of the spectrum, the relegation and silencing of voices as part of this process is something that has to be acknowledged, something that makes the reality of American exceptionalism and Manifest Destiny something worthy of reflection as to potential costs and dangers intrinsic to it.


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