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The idea of Manifest Destiny was based on the idea that America had a divine providence. It had a future that was destined by God to expand its borders, with no limit to area or country. All the traveling and expansion were part of the spirit of Manifest Destiny, a belief that it was God’s will that Americans spread over the entire continent, and to control and populate the country as they see fit. Many expansionists conceived God as having the power to sustain and guide human destiny. “It was white man’s burden to conquer and Christianize the land”
Though the idea was revolutionary for the US, it was nothing new for the world. The idea of conquering other lands in the name if Christ was easily seen in Europe with the Crusades. Thousands of natives died and many countries captured by people who claimed that this was the divine work of God. Anyone who did not convert or stood in their way was killed, much like the Americans did to Native Americans while conquering the west.
Manifest Destiny was the reason for the great interest in territorial expansion. With a sense of a ?holy mission,? people were encouraged to travel because of the great amounts of untouched land lying just beyond the borders of the declared territories. There was also the growing desire to develop trade with Asia. Taking over the western lands would eventually open new trade routes with China and Japan who offered rare items such as silk and unique spices. (Quick note from the student: Spices? Isn?t that what started the whole thing in the first place? I guess that there is always a hungry man in the history books!)
There was also a fear that the land the United States would seek might be taken by foreign invaders. – Namely Russia who was rumored to be planning to take the area of that would later be California for itself. The easiest way to keep others from encroaching on the American?s divinely ?Promised Land? was to conquer the land first.
Manifest Destiny also created a brutal consequences from the eagerness of the land hungry Americans. While conquering the new and untouched lands, in the process the Native Americans were either moved to other territories so that they were not in the way, or killed. Their deaths were justified by the reasoning that it was their duty to Christianize the savages. (This was all in favor of the advancement of the white civilization.) With such a divine right from God, anything that stood in the way of their right was a threat that simply had to be ridded from on the earth. The government even put their supposed justification in writing with the Manifest Destiny Doctrine, where they intended to break up all tribal governments.
Even in modern times, the idea of manifest destiny still flowed through the veins of American government. The most blatant example is the United States burning urge to have Hawaii as the 50 state and a military out post. This was a prime example of Manifest Destiny when in 1898 the US military went into Hawaii and quickly, and simply, took it. The task was completed in 1959 when Hawaii was still unwillingly made the 50th state of the US.
Though the idea of manifest destiny in general had been around since the beginning of religion itself, American took it in whole-heartedly and so quickly went to claim their providence from God. Though many believed that it was the holy thing to do, most of their morals were shot to the ground when their greed for land took over. Whoever started the American Manifest Destiny probably had no idea what they had begun. He probably did not have the slightest intellect of how much land there was to conquer, nor how many there were to see slaughtered in the name of God.
May all God?s children rest in peace?
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