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Manifest Destiny Essay

Essay by   •  June 6, 2015  •  Exam  •  4,173 Words (17 Pages)  •  931 Views

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        America is a great superpower and has been a world power for centuries now. But, the question we always ask is how did this come to be? How is it that America dominates our global endeavors? We can see this through expansionism and urbanization as American imperialism began to rise. American imperialism came to be from the mid 1800s to the 1930s and within American imperialism there was a certain mindset throughout the Americans. There are lots of specific reasons for and even a debate over if imperialism is good or bad or even if it is peaceful or not so peaceful. American imperialism was also a lot different than European imperialism in lots of different ways.  

        Imperialism is driven by an ideology known as Manifest Destiny.Manifest destiny is the American belief in a cultural and racial superiority. America wants to move forward in the world as a country. The idea of manifest destiny drove imperialism around that time because America in 1930-1945s was one of the main superpowers among the global powers. The United States wanted to keep that rise to themselves and keep going up as the other countries stayed where they were. The United States didnt want to show other countries how they were moving upward and how the other countries were staying where they were and not moving up. The United States wanted to move forward as a country and leave the other countries behind them to show their power throughout the eighteenth century. The intention behind the idea to rise upward was because the people thought that the will was beyond human control. A lot of people in America were saying things like we will advancethe will of the human race to expand their country and move it forward and develop it as a whole.

        The idea behind manifest destiny also had a religious context. The idea that God intended the Americans to advance and lead the country to become a bigger and greater country. They tended to think that God was preparing to give the lead to a certain group of people and was training them to become the leaders of the United States. God had sent them a blessing to give them such a gift and a huge role in making the Americans the master organizers of the world(Reading 25). They stated that God has marked the American people as His chosen nation to finally lead,(Reading 25) which is telling us that they see them as the chosen ones and the ones that God is training and guiding to become leaders of the world. The people of America saw this as a missions from God to make America a greater nation and rise as one.

        In a painting from 1861 called Westward The Course of Empire Taken Its Way (Slideshow 8:9) you can see the religious attributes of manifest destiny that appeared during this time. As you can see in the painting people are motioning out to the light coming down upon them and the light seems to be coming down from the heavens, therefore telling us that it is coming from God. People aren't only motioning to the heavens above but just looking up to the heavens asking for help and praying to God that he help them through the times that they are going through now. In the painting you can also see the strength of God behind them from the mountains and the birds and the land that God has created for them. This painting shows all images of Gods strength and power upon them and what He can do. In this painting you can see that Gods grace is with them and that religion has become to play a big role during the eighteenth century and during manifest destiny.

        In Francis Palmers illustration from 1868 called Across The Continent, Palmer depicts the beginning of American imperialism and expansionism during that time (Slideshow 8:13). Manifest destiny is seen through this moving forwardmentality where the settlers continue to build on the land and clear it out. As you can see from the image, on the right side of the train it looks like there are Indians riding on horses looking over at the expansionism on the other side of the train. There are Americans on the left making the land more urbanized and more populated with American people. The train going through the middle of the image showing that the people are moving towards technology and a more advanced America. The train depicts imperialism and how that came to be, but also, how the Americans were leaving the Indians behind as they wanted to keep living naturally, while the Americans wanted to settle the land and become more technologically advanced. On the left side of the image you can also see the Americans building houses and towns and expanding westward. Therefore showing us that they are trying to settle and become more urbanized with houses, families, and cities. You can also see a cabin that says schoolon the top, therefore showing us that public schools and children are there and they are looking towards the future to become more civilized and get a good education. It also looks like they have a lot of confidence moving westward and they arent afraid to see what America has for them in the future.

        In addition to this ideal for manifest destiny, imperialism originated for three other main reasons; economic, cultural, and military. Economically, trade played a huge role in giving America the opportunity for the American economy to expand. Culturally, there were ideological reasons for manifest destiny. Finally, militarily it was given the opportunity for America to expand.

        Economically trade became huge for America with foreign powers especially with Asia. As Albert Beveridge said our largest trade [in the future will] be with Asia(Reading 25). Beveridge, also stated that the Pacific is our oceanChina is our natural customer,(Reading 25) telling us that they knew that China being closer to America rather than other Asia countries will help America make more money and are going to be their consumers. In this reading, it talks about how whoever rules the pacific, therefore, is the power that rules the world,(Reading 25) telling us that the Pacific Ocean was going to be a powerhouse and hence be the most powerful trading industry in the world. During the Civil War the United States had greatly increased its production of manufactured products, dictating a desire to find new markets abroad and a need for more raw materials. The drive for this economic importance was that it meant more land, which meant more space, which meant more trade, and most importantly it meant more money. The further they get with trading with other countries the further they can trade and the more people they can trade with. John Hay, then United States Secretary of State, sent letters to all the foreign powers suggesting an open doorpolicy in China. This policy helped United States businesses equal trading rights for all. Preventing one nation from discriminating against another. This helped countries trade with each other and make a lot of money by having the open door policy.  

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