Manifest Destiny

Manifest destiny was the 19th century U.S. Id that the nation had a magnificent right to expand across and take end the continent.

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Key Takeaways

Key PointsThe principle of manifest destiny, coined by a newspaper editor, justification American expansion across the continent.The expression “manifest destiny” said that expansion throughout the American continent to be obvious, inevitable, and a divine right of the unified States.Manifest destiny was provided by democracy in the 1840s to justification the war through Mexico.While many writers emphasis primarily on U.S. Expansionism when stating manifest destiny, others view a broader expression of id in the country’s “mission” in the world.Key Termsexpansionism: A nation’s plan of widening its region or financial influence.manifest destiny: The political doctrine or belief held through the united States, specifically during that expansion, that the nation had a special function and divine right to broaden westward and gain control over the continent.exceptionalism: In the united States, the id that the nation does no conform to an developed norm, and also instead has actually a special and divine role to play.

American Expansionism

Manifest destiny was the 19th century U.S. Belief that the nation (and an ext specifically, the white Anglo-Saxon race within it) was destined to expand across the continent. Democrats used the term in the 1840s to justify the war with Mexico. The principle was mostly denounced by Whigs and also fell into disuse after the mid-19th century. Supporters of manifest destiny thought that expansion was not only wise, however that it to be readily obvious (manifest) and could no be impede (destiny).

The concept of U.S. Expansionism is in reality much older. It is rooted in european nations’ early emigration of the Americas, the establishment of the United says by white Anglo-Saxons indigenous England, and the continued wars against and compelled removal of the American Indians native to the lands. In 1845, john L. O’Sullivan, a brand-new York newspaper editor, presented the concept of “manifest destiny” in the July/August worry of the United claims Magazine and also Democratic Review, in an article titled, “Annexation.” The term defined the really popular idea that the special duty of the United claims in overcome the continent—the divine right and also duty that white american to seize and also settle the continent’s west territory, for this reason spreading Protestant, democratic values.

Manifest Destiny and also Politics

In this climate the opinion, voter in 1844 elected into the presidency James K. Polk, a slaveholder native Tennessee, because he vowed come annex Texas as a new slave state, and also to take Oregon. “Manifest destiny” was a ax Democrats mainly used to support the Polk Administration’s growth plans. The idea of growth was also supported through Whigs choose Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, and also Abraham Lincoln, that wanted to broaden the nation’s economy. John C. Calhoun to be a significant Democrat who typically opposed his party on the issue, which dropped out of donate by 1860.

Manifest destiny was a basic notion rather than a details policy. The term an unified a id in expansionism with other popular concepts of the era, including US exceptionalism and Romantic nationalism. While numerous writers have concentrated on united state expansionism when stating manifest destiny, others watch in the term a more comprehensive expression the a belief in the united States’ “mission” in the world, which has actually meant various things come different people over the years. For example, the id in an U.S. Mission come promote and also defend democracy throughout the world, as expounded through Lincoln and also Woodrow Wilson, continues to affect US political ideology to this day.

The point of view Columbia was photo commonly provided at the moment to personify the united States. Originating from the name of Christopher Columbus, it to be originally offered for the 13 colonies and remained the dominant image because that the woman personification that the United claims until the Statue of Liberty displaced it in the 1920s. Throughout the era of manifest destiny, plenty of images were developed of Columbia spreading democracy and also other United says values across the west lands.


Key Takeaways

Key PointsThe Oregon follow covered roughly 2,000 miles from Missouri, Iowa, or Nebraska, finishing in the Oregon Territory.The Oregon Trail’s initial course was scouted by hair traders and also trappers. Each year, as much more settlers lugged wagon trains follow me the trail, new cutoff courses were found that make the route shorter and safer.The Overland Stage company used the Overland trail to operation mail and passengers come Salt Lake City, Utah.Both the Oregon and also Overland Trail ended up being obsolete once the perfect of the Transcontinental railroad made traveling west safer, easier, and cheaper.The original wave of west settler-invaders along the Oregon and also Overland Trails included moderately prosperous, white, US-born farming family members from the east.More recent immigrants additionally migrated west, with the biggest numbers coming from north Europe and also Canada. Several thousand african Americans also migrated west complying with the polite War.Key TermsOregon Trail: A 2,000-mile (3,200 km), historic east-west wagon course that associated the Missouri river to valleys in Oregon and also locations in between.Overland Trail: A stagecoach and also wagon follow in the American west throughout the 19th century.Transcontinental Railroad: A constant train line in the United claims that traveled across the country and connected the Pacific coastline to the Atlantic coast.

Oregon Trail

The Oregon Trail was a 2,000-mile, historical east-west wagon route and also emigrant trace that linked the Missouri flow to valleys in Oregon and locations in between. The eastern component of the follow spanned part of the future state the Kansas and nearly every one of what are now the says of Nebraska and Wyoming. The western fifty percent of the follow spanned many of then future says of Idaho and also Oregon.


The beginnings of the Oregon Trail to be laid by hair trappers and traders from about 1811 to 1840; these early on trails were only passable on foot or by horseback. By 1836, when the very first migrant wagon train was organized in Independence, Missouri, a wagon trail had actually been cleared to ft Hall, Idaho. Wagon trails to be cleared increasingly further west, at some point reaching the Willamette sink in Oregon. Each year, as much more settlers carried wagon trains follow me the trail, brand-new cutoff paths were uncovered that make the route shorter and safer. Improved roads, ferries, and bridges additionally improved the trip. Over there were miscellaneous offshoots in Missouri, Iowa, and the Nebraska Territory; the routes converged follow me the reduced Platte river Valley near ft Kearny, Nebraska Territory and led to well-off farmlands west that the Rocky Mountains.

From the beforehand to mid-1830s, and particularly through the epochal year of 1846–1869, about 400,000 settlers, ranchers, farmers, miners, and also businessmen and also their families used the Oregon Trail and its plenty of offshoots. The eastern fifty percent of the trail was also used through travelers top top the California trail (from 1843), Bozeman follow (from 1863), and also Mormon trail (from 1847), who used numerous of the exact same trails before transforming off come their different destinations. Usage of the trail declined as the first transcontinental railroad to be completed in 1869, do the expedition west substantially faster, cheaper, and also safer. Today, modern-day highways such as Interstate 80 monitor the exact same course westward and also pass v towns originally created to business the Oregon Trail.

Overland Trail

The Overland follow (also recognized as the Overland phase Line) was a stagecoach and wagon trail in the American west throughout the 19th century. When explorers and also trappers had actually used sections of the route due to the fact that the 1820s, the Overland Trail was most greatly used in the 1860s together an alternative route to the Oregon, California, and Mormon Trails through central Wyoming. The Overland Stage firm owned by Ben Holladay famously offered the Overland trace to operation mail and passengers come Salt Lake City, Utah, via stagecoaches in the early on 1860s. Starting from Atchison, Kansas, the trace descended into Colorado prior to looping earlier up to southern Wyoming and also rejoining the Oregon trail at fort Bridger. The stage line operated until 1869, when completion the the first Transcontinental Railroad eliminated the need for mail business via stagecoach.

Who were the Settlers?

In the 19th century, together today, relocating and starting a new life take it money. Because of the initial price of relocation, land, and also supplies, and months of preparing the soil, planting, and subsequent harvesting before any type of produce was all set for market, the initial wave of western settler-invaders along the Oregon follow in the 1840s and also 1850s contained moderately prosperous, white, native-born farming family members from the east. More recent immigrants additionally migrated west, with the biggest numbers coming from north Europe and Canada. Germans, Scandinavians, and Irish were among the many common. Compared with european immigrants, those from China were much less numerous, yet still significant.

In enhancement to a far-reaching European migrate westward, several thousand african Americans moved west adhering to the polite War, as much to escape the racism and violence the the Old South as to find brand-new economic opportunities. The last were were recognized as exodusters, to express the biblical flight from Egypt, because they fled the racism that the South, with many headed to Kansas from Kentucky, Tennessee, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. By 1890, over 500,000 afri Americans live west the the Mississippi River.

The west Frontier

As the nation expanded westward, settlers were urged by avenues to farm the floor or “make it rich” through cattle or gold.

Learning Objectives

Describe the conditions common in west frontier towns

Key Takeaways

Key PointsWhile the motivation for exclusive profit conquered much that the movement westward, the federal federal government played a supporting duty in securing land and also maintaining law and order.The rigors of life in the West gift many challenges to homesteaders, such as dry and also barren land, droughts, insect swarms, shortages the materials, and lost crops.Although homestead farming was the major goal of most western settlers in the latter fifty percent of the 19th century, a little minority search to make fortunes conveniently through various other means, such together gold or cattle.The American West came to be notorious for its tough mining towns, such together Deadwood, south Dakota and also Tombstone, Arizona, and also entrepreneurs in these and other towns set up stores and businesses to cater to the miners.Key TermsHomesteading: A way of life of self-sufficiency identified by subsistence farming and house preservation that foodstuffs; it might or might not also involve the small-scale production of textiles, clothing, and also craftwork for family members use or sale.

Moving West

The commonwealth Role

While the an ideas for exclusive profit dominated much that the activity westward, the federal federal government played a supporting function in securing land and maintaining law and also order. In spite of the Jeffersonian aversion to, and also mistrust of, federal power, the federal government bore more heavily into the West than any type of other region, sustained by the principles of manifest destiny. Since local federal governments in western frontier communities were regularly nonexistent or weak, westerners relied on the federal government to protect them and their rights.

The federal government developed a sequence of actions related to manage over west lands. First, it sent surveyors and explorers come map and document the land and ultimately gain western territory from other countries or American Indian tribes by contract or force. Next, that ordered federal troops to clear out and subdue any kind of resistance native American Indians. The subsidized the building and construction of rail lines to facilitate westward migration, and also finally, it established bureaucracies to regulate the land (such as the bureau of Indian Affairs, soil Office, us Geological Survey, and Forest Service). By the end of the 19th century, the federal federal government had amassed an excellent size, power, and also influence in nationwide affairs.


Transportation to be a an essential issue in westward expansion. The military (especially the army Corps of Engineers) to be given complete responsibility for facilitating navigation on the rivers. The steamboat, first used ~ above the Ohio river in 1811, made inexpensive take trip using the river equipment possible. The Mississippi and Missouri Rivers and their tributaries were specifically used for this purpose. Military expeditions up the Missouri flow from 1818 come 1825 allowed engineers to enhance the technology. Because that example, the Army’s steamboat, the west Engineer, the 1819 combined a really shallow draft with among the earliest stern wheels. During this period, Colonel Henry Atkinson occurred keelboats with hand-powered paddle wheels.

In enhancement to river travel, the Oregon and Overland Trails enabled for raised travel and migration to the West. The perfect of the an initial transcontinental railroad in 1869 dramatically changed the pace of take trip in the country, as human being were may be to complete in a mainly a path that had actually previously bring away months.

Life in the West


The rigors the life in the West presented countless challenges and also difficulties to homesteaders. The land was dry and also barren, and homesteaders lost plants to hail, droughts, insect swarms, and other challenges. There were few materials with which to build, and also early houses were made of mud, which did not stand up to the elements. Money was a continuous concern, as the expense of rail freight to be exorbitant, and also banks were unforgiving of negative harvests. Because that women, life was especially difficult; farm yard wives worked at the very least 11 hours a day on chores and had limited access to physicians or midwives. Still, many women were an ext independent 보다 their eastern counterparts and worked in partnership v their husbands.

As the railroad expanded and much better farm equipment ended up being available, by the 1870s, big farms began to success through economic climates of scale. Yet little farms still struggled to continue to be afloat, resulting in rising discontent amongst the farmers, who functioned so tough for so tiny success.

Western Frontier Towns

Although homestead farming was the primary goal of most western inhabitants in the latter half of the 19th century, a tiny minority sought to make their fortunes easily through various other means. Specifically, gold (and ultimately silver and copper) prospecting attracted countless miners looking to gain rich quickly prior to returning East. In addition, ranchers capitalized on newly available railroad lines to relocate longhorn steers that inhabited southern and also western Texas. This meat was highly sought after in eastern markets, and also the demand produced not just wealthy ranchers yet an era that cowboys and cattle drives that in numerous ways defines how us think the the West today. Although no miners no one ranchers to plan to stay permanently in the West, plenty of individuals native both groups at some point stayed and settled there.

The American West ended up being notorious because that its hard mining towns. Deadwood, southern Dakota, in the black Hills, was an archetypal so late gold town established in 1875. Back the city was far from any kind of railroad, 20,000 civilization lived there as of 1876. Tombstone, Arizona to be a well known mining city that prospered longer 보다 most, indigenous 1877 come 1929. Silver- was uncovered there in 1877, and also by 1881 the town had actually a populace of over 10,000. Business man in these and other towns set up stores and businesses come cater to the miners. Gambling and also prostitution were main to life in these western towns, and only later―as the female population increased and also reformers moved in―did prostitution come to be somewhat much less common.

The well-known image that the Wild West illustrated in books, television, and also film has been just one of violence and also mayhem. The entice of quick riches through mining or driving livestock meant that lot of the West indeed consisted of rough men living a unstable life, return the violence to be exaggerated and also even glorified in the dime-store novels that the day. The exploits of Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, and also others do for good stories, yet the reality was that western violence was much more isolated 보다 the stories could suggest. This clashes often emerged as human being struggled because that the scarce resources that might make or rest their possibility at riches, or together they dealt with the sudden riches or poverty the prospecting provided.

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As well-off men lugged their family members west, the lawless landscape slowly started to change. Abilene, Kansas is one example of a lawless town, replete v prostitutes, gambling, and other vices, that transformed as soon as middle-class women arrived in the 1880s through their husbands. These women started to to organize churches, schools, public clubs, and also other community programs come promote household values.