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Every successful movement throughout world history was built upon the continuous efforts of those who believed in them. Ideologies passed from one generation to another to keep them alive, or its sole purpose was constantly redefined to grow support consistently. In America’s case, all it took were two words in a magazine editorial, and the nation’s reputation of being a global superpower was born. “Manifest Destiny”, a phrase coined by journalist John L. O’Sullivan, pointed to the belief that God destined America to expand its territory westward and spread democracy.
See the fact file below for more information on the Manifest Destiny or alternatively, you can download our 24-page Manifest Destiny worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
ORIGINS AND BEGINNINGS
- When the United States of America’s (U.S.A.) population boomed from 5 million in 1800 to 23 million in 1850, it wasn’t long until the people were driven to look for new lands.
- Thomas Jefferson, one of America’s Founding Fathers and its third president (1801-1809), began the westward expansion by purchasing Louisiana from France.
- Originally commenced by Jefferson, Spanish Florida also became an American territory in 1819 under President James Monroe.
- Monroe’s assertion with the “American continents” was emphasized when he spoke before Congress in 1823, saying that any European intervention with their expansion would be considered an act of war (This non-intervention was later branded as an actual policy called the “Monroe Doctrine”).
- Texas, as a region, became part of Mexico, which had just achieved independence from Spanish rule in 1821, until the North Americans fought for its freedom from Mexico starting in 1836.
- The fight for Texas’ independence ended in December 1845, making it the 28th state of America.
- In the July-August 1845 issue of the Democratic Review (magazine), its co-founder and editor, John L. O’Sullivan, wrote an editorial article advocating for America’s takeover of Texas and defending its claim to new territories.
- O’Sullivan’s first usage of the term was written as follows, “…the right of our manifest destiny to overspread and to possess the whole of the continent which Providence has given us for the development of the great experiment of liberty and federative development of self-government entrusted to us. It is right such as that of the tree to the space of air and the earth suitable for the full expansion of its principle and destiny of growth.”
- Hence, Manifest Destiny is the belief that white Americans’ rights to new settlements in the entirety of North America were God-given and therefore infallible. It became the term that describes the ideology of continental expansionism. It also hinted at the superiority of white Americans.
- In the same month that the U.S. won Texas, O’Sullivan wrote that they also had the right to the whole of Oregon, which was initially claimed by Spain, Great Britain, Russia, and the U.S. altogether.
- 1803 – The largest peacefully acquired land was received through the Louisiana Purchase. This Thomas Jefferson-led mission was the beginning of the Westward Expansion, granting America 828,000 square miles of new territory west of the Mississippi River. The land was purchased for $15,000,000.
- 1811 – Thomas Jefferson’s successors followed up on the expansionist visions of Manifest Destiny. Right after acquiring Louisiana, Jefferson had his eyes set on Spanish-ruled Florida. After his presidential term ended, James Madison, the succeeding president, asserted U.S. rule over Florida.
- 1812 – In the same year that France sold Louisiana, the War of 1812 between France and Great Britain started. The U.S., albeit neutral, got caught up in between as a primary supplier of goods to both nations.
- The battles intensified to the point of American trade being interfered with and blocked.
- The declaration of war by James Madison against Great Britain was thought by some Americans as just another means to expand American territory.
- 1818 – Formerly Great Britain territory, the Anglo-American Convention of 1818 formally handed the Red River Valley to the U.S.
- 1819 – Now under President James Monroe, America finally acquired Florida through the Transcontinental Treaty. This was after he tasked General Andrew Jackson with invading and occupying it, forcing Spain to negotiate with them for its ownership.
- 1845 – The U.S. took over Texas the same year John L. O’Sullivan coined “Manifest Destiny” in an opinion piece. This takeover, in turn, added 389,000 square miles of new American land.
- 1846 – Another former Great Britain territory, Oregon’s 286,000 square miles, was granted to America through the Oregon Treaty.
- 1848 – America emerged victorious in the Mexican-American War. Hence, they absorbed Mexican territory.
- Driven by Manifest Destiny’s assumed God-given right to territorial expansion, the U.S. entered an all-out war with Mexico to completely take hold of the North American Continent. The Mexican-American War, which lasted from 1846 to 1848, ended up adding 525,000 square miles of U.S. territory.
- This war eventually led to the Wilmot Proviso proposal that sought to prohibit the extension of slavery to the new territories.
- The debates over Wilmot Proviso and Native American slavery was the primary factor that drove the Civil War.
- 1853 – For $10,000,000, America obtained another 29,640 square miles through the Gadsden Purchase from Mexico.
- 1861 – The Civil War between Northern and Southern America started at Fort Sumter, Charleston Bay, due to the issue of Native American slavery.
- 1865 – The Civil War ended after Robert E. Lee, the Confederate general, surrendered the last major army to Ulysses S. Grant, the Union’s general.
- The end of the Civil War brought about significant socio-political changes that put slaves on equal footing with other Americans.
- 1867 – The U.S. purchased Alaska from Russia for $7,200,000. Initially, Russia did not want to surrender Alaska, but they thought that it would have been better to have it taken from them from an allied country than through enemy invasion.
IMPACT AND SIGNIFICANCE
- According to historians, Manifest Destiny justified the future violent means of American territorial expansion dealing with slavery and states’ rights.
- Given that Manifest Destiny promoted white American superiority, the regional growth of America birthed a widespread economic inequality between the country’s northern and southern regions.
- The northern regions had a well-established means of industry and manufacturing, while the southern economy relied on wide-scale farming, which relied on black American slaves.
- Overall, the belief in Manifest Destiny paved the way for money, land, resources, and economic growth to America, but this was at the expense of violence, black American slavery, wars, cultural divide, and the disappearance of many Native American tribes.
- While the end of the Civil War forced the redefinition of Manifest Destiny as an ideology, its ideas were still part of what eventually sparked World War I.
- Its usage has declined and is mostly used now as a way of denouncing what critics call “American Imperialism”. The positive-sounding phrase used by scholars at the end of the 20th century, however, is “nation-building”.
Manifest Destiny Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the Manifest Destiny across 24 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Manifest Destiny worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the “Manifest Destiny”, a phrase coined by journalist John L. O’Sullivan, which pointed to the belief that God destined America to expand its territory westward and spread democracy.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Manifest Destiny Facts
- Mapping Expansion
- Men of the White House
- Monroe Doctrine
- Missing Piece
- American Indian Lands
- Slavery: A Manifest Destiny
- Events Catalog
- Gateway to the Past
- American Imperialism
- Art Interpretation
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Link will appear as Manifest Destiny Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, June 16, 2020
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.