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Manifest Destiny and American Territorial Expansion A Brief History with Documents



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Bedford/St. Martin's
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Manifest Destiny has been one of the most influential ideologies in American history, serving as the justification for the nation's territorial expansion in the antebellum era. In this compelling collection, Amy Greenberg focuses on the social, cultural and political context that gave rise to Manifest Destiny. She explores how American expansionism evolved from its colonial roots and accompanying notions of exceptionalism to become a fully articulated rationale in the 1840s for expanding the nation's borders and seizing lands from Native Americans and Mexico and later from Cuba and Central America. Documents including diary and personal narratives, letters, political speeches, contemporary illustrations, newspaper accounts, essays, appeals, and a song highlight the origin of the term itself, ideological support and rejection of Manifest Destiny, and the voices of those most painfully affected by American expansion. Headnotes, a chronology and bibliography further support students in their study of this development in American foreign policy.

Author Biography

Amy Greenberg (Ph.D., Harvard University) is a professor of American history and women’s studies at Pennsylvania State University. A historian of antebellum America, Dr. Greenberg has focused her research and teaching on the politics, culture and gender history of the era, as well the role of the U.S. in the world. She is the author of Manifest Manhood and the Antebellum American Empire and Cause for Alarm: The Volunteer Fire Department in the Nineteenth-Century City.

Table of Contents

List of Maps
The Ideological Origins of Manifest Destiny       
Territorial Expansion in the Early Republic       
Factors driving Early Expansionism        Where do Indian People fit into the Narrative of Manifest Destiny?    Social Transformations and the Birth of Aggressive Expansionism    Opposing Voices          Andrew Jackson and the March to the Southwest 
The Overland Trail          Annexation and War with Mexico        Taking Matters into Their Own Hands: Filibustering      Sectionalism checks Expansionism        After the Civil War: Manifest Destiny Reevaluated and Redeemed    
1. Ideological Origins          
1. William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation, 1650     
2. John Winthrop, A Model of Christian Charity, 1630   
3. Benjamin Franklin, Letter to Lord Kames, April 11, 1767   
2. Expansion in the Early Republic
4. Richard Butler, A Commissioner’s View of the Ohio River Valley, 1785  
5. Council of 1793, To the Commissioners of the United States, August 16, 1793
6. Jedidiah Morse, The American Geography, 1792     
7. Fisher Ames, Letter to Thomas Dwight, October 31, 1803    
8. Thomas Jefferson, Second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1805
9. Tecumseh, Appeal to the Osages, 1811    
3. Pushing West          
10. Andrew Jackson, State of the Union Address, December 6, 1830  
11. Black Hawk, Encroachment by White Settlers, 1832  
12. Memorial and Protest of the Cherokee Nation, June 22, 1836   
13. Lyman Beecher, A Plea for the West, 1835
14. Harriet Martineau, On Land-Lust in America, 1837 
15. Pathiñ-nañpaji, An Encounter Between Omaha Hunters and Squatters in Iowa, 1853
 16. Zenas Leonard, A Fur Trapper’s View of Manifest Destiny, 1839
17. United States Democratic Review, The Great Nation of Futurity, November 1839
18. Richard Henry Dana, Two Years before the Mast, 1840
19. Ralph Waldo Emerson, The Young American, 1844
4.  Texas and Oregon          
20. Manuel Mier y Terán, Letter to President Guadalupe Victoria, June 30, 1828
21. Robert Walker, Letter in Favor of the Reannexation of Texas, January 8, 1844
22. Daniel Webster, Letter to the Citizens of Worcester County, MA, Jan 23, 1844
23. James K. Polk, Inaugural Address, March 4, 1845
24. Uncle Sam’s Song to Miss Texas, 1845
25. United States Democratic Review, Annexation, July-August 1845
26. Robert Winthrop, Arbitration of the Oregon Question, January 3, 1846
5. War for Empire
27. James K. Polk, Diary Entry, June 30, 1846
28. Jane Swisshelm, Protesting the Mexican War, 1880
29. Godey’s Lady’s Book, Life on the Rio Grande, April 1847
30. Walt Whitman, American Workingmen, Versus Slavery, September 1, 1847  
31. Henry Clay, Speech at Lexington, November 13, 1847
32.  New York Herald, Public Meeting in Favor of Annexing All of Mexico, January 30, 1848 
33. Ramón Alcaraz et. al, Origin of the War with the United States, 1848
6. Expanded Horizons: Cuba, Hawaii, and Central America
34. La Verdad, Appeal to the Inhabitants of Cuba, April 27, 1848
35. Cora Montgomery, The Benefits of Annexing Cuba, 1850
36. Buchanan, Soulé, and Mason, The Ostend Manifesto, 1854
37. Currier and Ives, The ‘Ostend Doctrine,’ Practical Democrats Carrying Out the Principle, 1856      
38. T. Robinson Warren, Traveling Through the Pacific, 1859
39. Young Sam, Nicaragua Ho!, January 1856     
40. Martin Delany, Political Destiny of the Colored Race on the American
Continent, 1854
41. Mary Seacole, A Jamaican’s View of Americans in Panama, 1857    
7. Sectionalism trumps Expansionism        
42. William Walker, The War in Nicaragua, 1860
43. George Sydney Hawkins, Hostility to Southern Interests, May 31, 1858   
44. William Waters Boyce, Why Southerners Should Oppose Territorial Expansion, January 15, 1855        
8. Manifest Destiny Reevaluated and Redeemed
45. George Crofutt, American Progress, 1873       
46. Sarah Winnemucca Hopkins, Trouble on the Paiute Reservation, 1865  
47. Albert J. Beveridge, March of the Flag, 1898      
A Chronology of Manifest Destiny and American Territorial Expansion (1630-2008)  
Questions for Consideration 
Selected Bibliography 

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