Write a letter to the editor stating why in the year 1845 you are for or against the pursuit of Manifest Destiny including the pursuit of Texas.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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[Enotes does not permit the composition of assignments, but editors eagerly offer helpful suggestions and points to consider]

Points to consider

In 1989 Scottish political scientist Richard Rose wrote of the penchant of American historians to endorse exceptionalism suggesting that historians reason that

America marches to a different drummer. Its uniqueness is explained by any or all of a variety of reasons: history, size, geography, political institutions, and culture. Explanations of the growth of government in Europe are not expected to fit American experience, and vice versa.

This twientieth-century opinion is contrary to the popular notion of "manifest destiny" propounded in 1845, however. The term "manifest destiny," coined by journalist John L. O'Sullivan, who wrote in the 1845 Democratic Review an argument for the annexation of Texas, proposed the view that God was somehow on the side of the United States in its acquisition of property for all the new immigrants and for the greater expansion of agriculture and good of the country

....which Providence has given us for the development of the great experiment of liberty and federated self-government entrusted to us.

This subjective view, of course, seems to justify imperialism, a condition that America, ironically, fought against in a revolution in 1776. Moreover, "manifest destiny" was never established as a specific policy; it was simply a notion, albeit charged by strong feelings and convictions.

Despite the flaws in the emotional concept of "manifest destiny," there were some reasonable arguments for "manifest destiny" and the annexation of Texas into the U.S. For one thing, using a moral idea, O'Sullivan argued that Britain would not support democracy, so the U.S. needed to annex Oregon completely and not allow it to be split.  But,opponents countered that O'Sullivan used a type of "divine right" thinking, condoning "the right of conquest."

Perhaps, however, the division of ideals was not as clear-cut as thought. For, O'Sullivan, although not a proponent of war, predicted that not only Texas, but California would request annexation, too. The problem also was one of Mexican politics. Originally, immigrants were invited by Mexico into the territory to become a "buffer" between the Tejano residents and the marauding Comanches. Later, after the American immigrants came to outnumber the Mexicans, Mexico's government decided to increase tariffs on the U.S. shipments, reinstate the property tax, and prohibit slavery, even though there were peasants not much better off than slaves. When Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna became dictator in Mexico, he nullified the semi-independence of Texas. This action brought about the battle at the Alamo which killed many Texans, a battle which led to the Mexican-American War, after which Texas consolidated its status as an independent republic and was afforded official recognition from Britain, France, as well as the U.S. The quandary, then, became whether to keep Texas as an independent republic or to incorporate it into the United States.

The writer, then, must consider what has happened in the past with Mexico, and ask if Texas remains separate as other states form around it, will the United States become again involved? Would it not, then, be better if Texas were a part of the Union? And, if Mexico has broken so many agreements before, what other agreements in trade, etc. would be broken and how would this action affect the U.S.?

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