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Manifest Destiny

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Manifest Destiny was the belief that the United States was destined or endowed by God with the mission of expanding across the continent, from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Many people believed that it was the obvious destiny or America, which was “chosen” by God as a superior nations, to expand, as it is said, “from sea to shining sea.” The phrase was first coined in 1845 by journalist John L. O’Sullivan. He believed that the United States had been given a mission by God to spread democracy, not by force, but simply by spreading across the continent. Obscure at first, the phrase only became popular when Whig Robert Winthrop, who opposed manifest destiny, ridiculed the idea in public. There were many interpretations of manifest destiny, but most reflected the widespread feeling of Nationalism that was sparked by the conclusion of and victory in the War of 1812.

The term manifest destiny was widely used and interpreted, but it always seemed to outline three basic themes. Those themes were virtue, mission, and destiny.
Manifest destiny focused on virtue of America’s people and government. American Exceptionalism was the belief that America’s history was above the norm and uncommonly “good”. Exceptionalism showed in the beliefs of people who thought that God had selected America as a “City on a Hill”; a role model and an ideal for the rest of the world, especially still-developing areas. Also, many people believed that America’s people, the “Anglo-Saxon race” were, in terms of morality, intelligence, et cetra, naturally superior to other peoples.
Supporters of manifest destiny believed not only that they could expand and dominate, but that they also should. They believed it was the mission of the United States to spread democracy, creating a world in the image of America. Others disagreed; they thought that the United States should just remain a role model for other...

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