Manifest Destiny

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From Colonial times through the 19th century, European Americans advanced toward the west. This book explains the origins of territorial expansion and traces the course of Manifest Destiny to its culminating moment, the conquest of Mexico and the acquisition of the western territories. It also weighs major historical interpretations that have evolved over the years, from those praising expansionism to those condemning it as imperialistic and racist. A mixture of essays, biographical portraits, primary documents, a timeline, and an annotated bibliography gives students and researchers everything they need to begin their examination of this prominent and oft-disputed concept in American history. Manifest Destiny opens with an overview that traces the causes and consequences of American expansionism. Six subsequent chapters cover topics varying from Andrew Jackson's invasion of Spanish Florida and Indian removal to the settlement of Texas and the Oregon Question. Biographical portraits of Stephen Austin, James K. Polk, Osceola, Santa Ana, John O'Sullivan--the coiner of the phrase Manifest Destiny--and others provide personal glimpses of some of the era's major players. Primary documents such as the Oregon Treaty of 1846, the Indian Removal Act of 1830, and the Polk's declaration of war against Mexico enable students to see actual historical evidence from the time period. A chronology, a glossary, and an index make this the most well-rounded and recent reference source on the topic.

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Excerpt

Consequences of American Expansion

Indeed, efforts to create support for a northern transcontinental railroad would result in plans to organize the large, under-populated Nebraska region of the Louisiana Purchase. The Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854 was the ill-fated product of those efforts, and it so animated the sectional argument that northerners and southerners afterward found themselves on an irreversible collision course, becoming so disagreeable that Lincoln would describe the country as "a house divided." The quarrel was about land and liberty, the tangible core of the American dream. The pioneers who carved out forest clearings, the politicians and dragoons who drove Indians from their homelands, the Conestoga teamsters who pointed their oxen toward the passes of the Rockies, and the soldiers who brawled their way into Mexico City, all in some way had been impelled by that dream, certain its fulfillment was predestined. Tragically, their very triumph would finally force them to confront that destiny’s momentous consequences. From Manifest Destiny, 2003

David S. Heidler 2017