Manifest Destiny was a widely held American imperialist cultural belief in the 19th-century United States that American settlers were destined to expand across North America. In contemporary culture many have condemned manifest destiny as an ideology that was used to justify genocide against Native Americans.
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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
- In reaffirming our heritage as a free nation, we must remember that America has always been a frontier nation. Now we must embrace the next frontier, America’s manifest destiny in the stars.
- In 1845, John O’Sullivan coined the phrase “Manifest Destiny” to justify and celebrate America’s violent annexation of North America. “All this will be our future history,” he wrote in 1839, “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...”
On the basis of such exalted views of its own beneficence, the US engaged in mass enslavement until the Civil War and mass apartheid thereafter; slaughtered Native Americans throughout the nineteenth century and subjugated them thereafter; and, with the closure of the Western frontier, extended Manifest Destiny overseas. Later, with the onset of the Cold War, anti-communist fervor led the US to fight disastrous wars in Southeast Asia (Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia) in the 1960s and 1970s, and brutal wars in Central America in the 1980s.
After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the evangelical ardor was directed against “radical Islam” or “Islamic fascism,” with four US wars of choice – in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Libya – all of which remain debacles to this day. Suddenly, the supposed existential threat of radical Islam has been forgotten, and the new crusade targets the CPC.
- American exceptionalism
- American benevolence
- American imperialism
- Genocide of indigenous peoples
- Rule of law
- United States