Why or how is Manifest Destiny an issue greater than just the annexation of Texas?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that the issue of Manifest Destiny can be seen as larger than the annexation of Texas. To a certain extent, this can be seen in the development of the term. "Manifest Destiny" carries with it a significant religious context.  This can be seen when O'Sullivan "proclaimed that it was the manifest destiny of the United States to overspread the continent allotted by Providence for the free development of our yearly multiplying millions. Historians have understood the direct implications of this:  "Any genealogy" [of the term Manifest Destiny] must begin with the "biblical notions . . . of the predestined, redemptive role of God's chosen people in the Promised Land: providential destiny revealed."  The divine notion of American identity is of significant importance within Manifest Destiny.  

There is an affirmation that the divine forces "chose" America as an exceptional nation.  This helps to convey an issue larger than the annexation of Texas.  It is a philosophical approach that asserts a clear paradigm: America was chosen by God.  Conversely, this means that other nations have to be seen in a secondary light. At the same time, this spiritual invocation within Manifest Destiny creates a potential disparity with the Constitution of the nation.  The Constitution is rooted in the idea that secularism guides the affairs of the states.  The Establishment Clause as well as the institutional framework of the document both help to keep religion and spiritual identity apart from the affairs of government.  Manifest Destiny challenges this notion in its suggestion that since Providence chose America, it must act accordingly. Such a realization is a statement of consciousness and thus larger than the annexation of Texas.

There is a practical implication to Manifest Destiny that is also larger than the annexation of Texas.  If the assertion of Providence is a part of Manifest Destiny, then it stands to reason that the divine forces themselves have chosen America in an infallible lights.  Once again, this provides a sense of challenge to the Constitutional foundations of the nation.  These elements are rooted in "forming a more perfect union," almost conceding a lack of perfection, as well as a resounding faith in checks and balances and limited government.  This means that America itself can be perceived as infallible in the design of Manifest Destiny, providing a distinct counterpoint to the Constitution of the nation.  The progression of a nation in both domestic and foreign affairs which sees itself as divinely chosen and thus incapable of making mistakes is profound.  It catapults America into a different domain that is larger than the annexation of Texas.  In defining America through actions reflective of a nation chosen by the forces of Providential design, one sees the implications of Manifest Destiny.