Manifest Destiny is a popular expression that is used to justify United States expansionism. This concept involves the U.S. image as a bastion of true Christian values and the messianic role in their global approval.
Thus, this paper introduces and defines the phrase “Manifest Destiny.” It presents and describes the explanation how this belief came to divide the nation.
To start with, this term was first used by John O’Sullivan in 1845 in the article that is called “Annexation” with a hint of what that the United States should stretch from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. Supporting this statement, Youngberg (2005) confirmed that “The nineteenth-century manifestation of this fundamentalist Christian discourse was given the sobriquet Manifest Destiny by the Democratic statesman, John L. O’Sullivan” (p. 317).
During the Mexican-American War and later this term was used to justify the annexation of the western territories of the United States (Oregon, Texas, California, etc.). On the eve of the Spanish-American War, the term has been revived by Republicans to give a theoretical basis for the U.S. overseas expansion.
Furthermore, such a doctrine has become a distinctive feature of American politics. Its origins are contained in the worldview of the early settlers of Puritan colonies who were considered themselves to be the chosen of God in the development of New Canaan. The successful creation of this prosperous state was perceived as the embodiment of divine destiny. The national ideology of the providential mission of the United States was developed on this basis. The motives of such an ideology permeate all spheres of spiritual and socio-political life, exceed the limits of Protestant and even Christian frameworks, and encourage the development of the so-called civil religion in the USA.
This belief came to divide the nation because it implemented religion and its doctrines into government and a lot of Americans, including our forefathers, firmly stated that religion should not interfere in the government affairs.
Taking everything into account, it is possible to draw a conclusion that this term is no longer extensively used in politics since the beginning of the XX century, but in the journalistic literature, it continues to be widely used to refer to the American “mission” to promote democracy all over the world.
Hietala, T. R. (2003). Manifest Design: American Exceptionalism and Empire. New York: Cornell University Press.
Youngberg, Q. (2005). Morphology of Manifest Destiny: The Justified Violence of John O’Sullivan, Hank Morgan, and George W. Bush. Canadian Review of American Studies, 35 (3), 315-333.