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Polk and Manifest Destiny. The Politics of Expansion. John Sullivan on Manifest Destiny. John Sulllivan , a newspaper editor, describes why so many Americans were driven to settle the West.

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polk and manifest destiny

Polk and Manifest Destiny

The Politics of Expansion

john sullivan on manifest destiny
John Sullivan on Manifest Destiny

John Sulllivan, a newspaper editor, describes why so many Americans were driven to settle the West.

His terminology became how Americans referred to this desire to settle the land from Atlantic to Pacific Oceans.

“Yes, we are the nation of progress, of individual freedom, of universal enfranchisement. Equality of rights is the cynosure of our union of States, the grand exemplar of the correlative equality of individuals; and while truth sheds its effulgence, we cannot retrograde, without dissolving the one and subverting the other. We must onward to the fulfillment of our mission -- to the entire development of the principle of our organization -- freedom of conscience, freedom of person, freedom of trade and business pursuits, universality of freedom and equality. This is our high destiny, and in nature's eternal, inevitable decree of cause and effect we must accomplish it. All this will be our future history, to establish on earth the moral dignity and salvation of man -- the immutable truth and beneficence of God. For this blessed mission to the nations of the world, which are shut out from the life-giving light of truth, has America been chosen; and her high example shall smite unto death the tyranny of kings, hierarchs, and oligarchs, and carry the glad tidings of peace and good will where myriads now endure an existence scarcely more enviable than that of beasts of the field. Who, then, can doubt that our country is destined to be the great nation of futurity?”

Excerpted from "The Great Nation of Futurity," The United States Democratic Review, Volume 6, Issue 23, pp. 426-430. The complete article can be found in The Making of America Series at Cornell University

manifest destiny
Manifest Destiny
  • Causes
    • Nationalism
      • Spurred by the War of 1812
    • Religious fervor
      • Convert the Indian, heathens
      • Spread reforms sparked by the Second Great Awakening
    • Economic motives
      • Fur trade
      • Homesteads
      • Gold Rush
territories in dispute in 1845
Territories in Dispute in 1845
  • Polk wanted to settle border issues regarding Oregon and Texas
  • According to Treaty of 1818 with England the administration of Oregon was to be shared between the 2 countries
  • By 1845 there were Americans greatly outnumbered British settlers
  • Polk offers to split the territory at the 49th parallel
  • At first England hesitates, but later gives in when Polk talks about abrogating the Treaty of 1818 at the end of one year’s time
  • British gain Vancouver Island
texas war with mexico
Texas: War with Mexico
  • Mexico owed United States money
  • Polk wanted the Rio Grande to be the border between Texas and Mexico
  • Mexico claimed the Nueces River (150 miles north of the Rio Grande) as the border
  • Sent John Slidell to negotiate (secretly)
  • Mexicans refused to accept him
  • Polk orders army to the Rio Grande
  • Mexicans conduct an ambush of Americans
    • 11 American dead, 52 captured
  • Congress declares war
the peace
The Peace
  • America gains the lands to the Pacific
  • Zachary Taylor (general during the Mexican American War) elected in 1848
  • Gold discovered in California in 1848
  • By 1849 80,000 Americans had come to California (Gold Rush of 1849)
    • Mostly males
    • In need of a government
    • Taylor suggests admitting California to the union immediately