Manifest Destiny was a 19th-century belief that the United States had a mission to expand, spreading its form of democracy and freedom. Advocates of Manifest Destiny believed that expansion was not only good, but that it was obvious ("manifest") and certain ("destiny").
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- The untransacted destiny of the American people is to subdue the continent — to rush over this vast field to the Pacific Ocean — to animate the many hundred millions of its people, and to cheer them upward — to set the principle of self-government at work — to agitate these herculean masses — to establish a new order in human affairs — to set free the enslaved — to regenerate superannuated nations — to change darkness into light — to stir up the sleep of a hundred centuries — to teach old nations a new civilization — to confirm the destiny of the human race — to carry the career of mankind to its culminating point — to cause stagnant people to be re-born — to perfect science — to emblazon history with the conquest of peace — to shed a new and resplendent glory upon mankind — to unite the world in one social family — to dissolve the spell of tyranny and exalt charity — to absolve the curse that weighs down humanity, and to shed blessings round the world!
Divine task! immortal mission! Let us tread fast and joyfully the open trail before us! Let every American heart open wide for patriotism to glow undimmed, and confide with religious faith in the sublime and prodigious destiny of his well-loved country.
- William Gilpin, address to the U.S. Senate (2 March 1846); as quoted in Mission of the North American People, Geographical, Social, and Political (1873), by William Gilpin, p. 124