Manifest Destiny

Manifest destiny to be the 19th century U.S. Belief that the country had a magnificent right come expand throughout and take end the continent.

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Key Takeaways

Key PointsThe ide of manifest destiny, coined by a newspaper editor, justified American expansion throughout the continent.The phrase “manifest destiny” argued that expansion across the American continent was obvious, inevitable, and also a magnificent right that the unified States.Manifest destiny was offered by democracy in the 1840s to justification the war v Mexico.While many writers focus primarily ~ above U.S. Expansionism when discussing manifest destiny, others see a broader expression of id in the country’s “mission” in the world.Key Termsexpansionism: A nation’s plan of broadening its are or financial influence.manifest destiny: The political theory or belief held by the joined States, particularly during that is expansion, that the country had a special role and divine right to broaden westward and gain manage over the continent.exceptionalism: In the joined States, the id that the nation does no conform to an established norm, and also instead has a special and divine function to play.

American Expansionism

Manifest destiny was the 19th century U.S. Id that the country (and an ext specifically, the white Anglo-Saxon race within it) to be destined come expand across the continent. Democrats supplied the term in the 1840s to justify the war through Mexico. The ide was largely denounced through Whigs and also fell right into disuse after the mid-19th century. Proponents of manifest destiny thought that development was not just wise, but that it was readily apparent (manifest) and could no be prevent (destiny).

The concept of U.S. Expansionism is in truth much older. The is rooted in european nations’ early colonization of the Americas, the facility of the United claims by white Anglo-Saxons from England, and the ongoing wars against and compelled removal the the American Indians native to the lands. In 1845, john L. O’Sullivan, a brand-new York newspaper editor, introduced the ide of “manifest destiny” in the July/August concern of the United claims Magazine and Democratic Review, in an post titled, “Annexation.” The term described the really popular idea the the special role of the United claims in overtaking the continent—the divine right and also duty the white americans to seize and settle the continent’s west territory, hence spreading Protestant, autonomous values.

Manifest Destiny and also Politics

In this climate of opinion, voters in 1844 chosen into the presidency James K. Polk, a slaveholder from Tennessee, due to the fact that he vowed come annex Texas together a brand-new slave state, and also to take it Oregon. “Manifest destiny” to be a hatchet Democrats generally used to support the Polk Administration’s expansion plans. The idea of development was likewise supported by Whigs choose Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, and also Abraham Lincoln, who wanted to broaden the nation’s economy. Man C. Calhoun to be a noteworthy Democrat who usually opposed his party top top the issue, which dropped out of favor by 1860.

Manifest destiny was a general notion quite than a certain policy. The term merged a id in expansionism with various other popular concepts of the era, including US exceptionalism and Romantic nationalism. While many writers have concentrated on us expansionism when pointing out manifest destiny, others watch in the term a broader expression that a belief in the joined States’ “mission” in the world, which has actually meant various things to different people over the years. For example, the belief in an U.S. Mission come promote and defend democracy throughout the world, together expounded through Lincoln and Woodrow Wilson, proceeds to affect US political ideology to this day.

The point of view Columbia was photo commonly offered at the moment to personify the joined States. Originating native the name of Christopher Columbus, it to be originally used for the 13 colonies and also remained the dominant image for the female personification that the United states until the Statue that Liberty displaced that in the 1920s. During the era the manifest destiny, plenty of images were produced of Columbia spreading democracy and also other United states values across the western lands.


Key Takeaways

Key PointsThe Oregon trail covered approximately 2,000 mile from Missouri, Iowa, or Nebraska, ending in the Oregon Territory.The Oregon Trail’s initial path was scouted by hair traders and trappers. Every year, as more settlers carried wagon trains along the trail, new cutoff routes were uncovered that do the route much shorter and safer.The Overland Stage company used the Overland trace to run mail and passengers to Salt Lake City, Utah.Both the Oregon and also Overland Trail came to be obsolete when the completion of the Transcontinental railroad made traveling west safer, easier, and cheaper.The initial wave of west settler-invaders along the Oregon and Overland Trails contained moderately prosperous, white, US-born farming households from the east.More current immigrants also migrated west, v the biggest numbers comes from north Europe and Canada. Numerous thousand african Americans additionally migrated west adhering to the polite War.Key TermsOregon Trail: A 2,000-mile (3,200 km), historical east-west wagon path that associated the Missouri flow to valleys in Oregon and also locations in between.Overland Trail: A stagecoach and wagon follow in the American west throughout the 19th century.Transcontinental Railroad: A continuous train line in the United says that traveled throughout the country and also connected the Pacific coastline to the Atlantic coast.

Oregon Trail

The Oregon Trail to be a 2,000-mile, historic east-west wagon route and emigrant trace that associated the Missouri flow to valleys in Oregon and locations in between. The eastern component of the trace spanned part of the future state that Kansas and also nearly all of what are now the states of Nebraska and also Wyoming. The western half of the follow spanned many of then future says of Idaho and also Oregon.


The starts of the Oregon Trail to be laid by hair trappers and also traders from about 1811 come 1840; these at an early stage trails were only passable on foot or through horseback. By 1836, when the first migrant wagon train was organized in Independence, Missouri, a wagon trail had been cleared to fort Hall, Idaho. Wagon trails were cleared increasingly further west, at some point reaching the Willamette valley in Oregon. Each year, as an ext settlers brought wagon trains along the trail, brand-new cutoff routes were uncovered that made the route much shorter and safer. Boosted roads, ferries, and bridges additionally improved the trip. There were various offshoots in Missouri, Iowa, and the Nebraska Territory; the paths converged follow me the reduced Platte flow Valley near fort Kearny, Nebraska Territory and also led to well-off farmlands west of the Rocky Mountains.

From the beforehand to mid-1830s, and an especially through the epochal year of 1846–1869, around 400,000 settlers, ranchers, farmers, miners, and also businessmen and their family members used the Oregon Trail and also its many offshoots. The eastern half of the trail was additionally used through travelers on the California trace (from 1843), Bozeman follow (from 1863), and Mormon follow (from 1847), that used numerous of the exact same trails before turning off come their different destinations. Use of the trail decreased as the first transcontinental railroad was completed in 1869, make the expedition west considerably faster, cheaper, and safer. Today, modern-day highways such together Interstate 80 monitor the same course westward and also pass with towns originally established to company the Oregon Trail.

Overland Trail

The Overland trail (also recognized as the Overland phase Line) was a stagecoach and also wagon trace in the American west during the 19th century. While explorers and trappers had actually used parts of the route due to the fact that the 1820s, the Overland Trail to be most greatly used in the 1860s as an alternative route come the Oregon, California, and Mormon Trails through central Wyoming. The Overland Stage agency owned by Ben Holladay famously provided the Overland follow to run mail and passengers come Salt Lake City, Utah, via stagecoaches in the early 1860s. Starting from Atchison, Kansas, the trace descended right into Colorado before looping ago up to southern Wyoming and also rejoining the Oregon follow at ft Bridger. The phase line operated until 1869, once completion the the an initial Transcontinental Railroad removed the require for mail service via stagecoach.

Who to be the Settlers?

In the 19th century, together today, relocating and beginning a new life took money. Due to the fact that of the initial cost of relocation, land, and also supplies, and months of preparing the soil, planting, and subsequent harvest before any type of produce was prepared for market, the original wave of west settler-invaders follow me the Oregon follow in the 1840s and 1850s included moderately prosperous, white, native-born farming households from the east. An ext recent immigrants additionally migrated west, through the largest numbers coming from northern Europe and also Canada. Germans, Scandinavians, and Irish were among the most common. Contrasted with europe immigrants, those from China to be much much less numerous, yet still significant.

In addition to a far-ranging European migration westward, numerous thousand afri Americans moved west complying with the polite War, as much to escape the racism and violence of the Old South regarding find brand-new economic opportunities. The latter were were known as exodusters, referencing the biblical trip from Egypt, since they fled the racism that the South, with most headed come Kansas indigenous Kentucky, Tennessee, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. By 1890, end 500,000 african Americans live west the the Mississippi River.

The west Frontier

As the nation expanded westward, inhabitants were urged by methods to farm yard the land or “make that rich” through cattle or gold.

Learning Objectives

Describe the conditions common in west frontier towns

Key Takeaways

Key PointsWhile the an inspiration for private profit conquered much of the activity westward, the federal government played a supporting function in securing land and maintaining law and order.The rigors that life in the West gift many obstacles to homesteaders, such together dry and also barren land, droughts, insect swarms, shortages of materials, and lost crops.Although house farming to be the primary goal of many western settlers in the latter half of the 19th century, a little minority search to do fortunes easily through various other means, such together gold or cattle.The American West came to be notorious for its hard mining towns, such together Deadwood, southern Dakota and Tombstone, Arizona, and also entrepreneurs in these and other towns collection up stores and also businesses come cater to the miners.Key TermsHomesteading: A lifestyle of self-sufficiency identified by subsistence farming and home preservation of foodstuffs; it might or may not likewise involve the small-scale manufacturing of textiles, clothing, and also craftwork for household use or sale.

Moving West

The federal Role

While the motivation for personal profit overcame much that the activity westward, the federal government played a supporting role in securing land and also maintaining law and order. Despite the Jeffersonian aversion to, and mistrust of, commonwealth power, the federal government bore more heavily into the West than any type of other region, fueled by the ideas of manifest destiny. Because local governments in western frontier communities were frequently nonexistent or weak, westerners relied on the federal federal government to defend them and their rights.

The commonwealth government developed a succession of actions connected to manage over west lands. First, it sent surveyors and explorers to map and paper the land and also ultimately gain western territory from other nations or American Indian tribes by treaty or force. Next, the ordered federal troops to clean out and subdue any kind of resistance native American Indians. The subsidized the building of railroad lines come facilitate from the west migration, and also finally, that established administrations to manage the soil (such as the office of Indian Affairs, land Office, us Geological Survey, and also Forest Service). Through the end of the 19th century, the federal government had amassed great size, power, and influence in national affairs.


Transportation was a an essential issue in from the west expansion. The military (especially the military Corps the Engineers) was given full responsibility for facilitating navigation on the rivers. The steamboat, an initial used ~ above the Ohio river in 1811, do inexpensive travel using the river systems possible. The Mississippi and Missouri Rivers and their tributaries were particularly used because that this purpose. Army expeditions increase the Missouri river from 1818 come 1825 enabled engineers to boost the technology. Because that example, the Army’s steamboat, the west Engineer, that 1819 merged a really shallow breeze with one of the earliest stern wheels. Throughout this period, Colonel Henry Atkinson arisen keelboats through hand-powered paddle wheels.

In addition to river travel, the Oregon and also Overland Trails enabled for raised travel and migration come the West. The perfect of the first transcontinental railroad in 1869 dramatically readjusted the speed of take trip in the country, as human being were maybe to complete in a main a path that had previously take away months.

Life in the West


The rigors the life in the West presented numerous challenges and difficulties come homesteaders. The land to be dry and barren, and homesteaders lost crops to hail, droughts, insect swarms, and also other challenges. Over there were couple of materials v which to build, and early residences were do of mud, i m sorry did no stand up to the elements. Money was a consistent concern, together the cost of rail freight was exorbitant, and banks to be unforgiving of poor harvests. For women, life was specifically difficult; farm yard wives operated at the very least 11 hours a job on chores and had restricted access to doctors or midwives. Still, many women were more independent 보다 their east counterparts and also worked in partnership through their husbands.

As the railroad increased and better farm equipment ended up being available, by the 1870s, big farms began to success through economic situations of scale. Yet tiny farms quiet struggled to stay afloat, bring about rising discontent among the farmers, who operated so hard for so little success.

Western Frontier Towns

Although house farming was the main goal of most western settlers in the latter half of the 19th century, a tiny minority search to make their fortunes easily through other means. Specifically, gold (and consequently silver and copper) prospecting attracted countless miners spring to acquire rich quickly before returning East. In addition, ranchers capitalized ~ above newly easily accessible railroad present to relocate longhorn steers that lived in southern and western Texas. This meat was extremely sought ~ in east markets, and also the demand produced not only wealthy ranchers yet an era the cowboys and cattle drives the in countless ways specifies how we think of the West today. Although neither miners no one ranchers to plan to remain permanently in the West, many individuals native both groups eventually stayed and worked out there.

The American West became notorious because that its hard mining towns. Deadwood, south Dakota, in the black color Hills, to be an archetypal so late gold town established in 1875. Return the town was far from any railroad, 20,000 civilization lived there together of 1876. Tombstone, Arizona was a well known mining city that grew longer 보다 most, from 1877 come 1929. Silver- was found there in 1877, and by 1881 the town had actually a populace of over 10,000. Businessman in these and other towns collection up stores and also businesses come cater to the miners. Gambling and also prostitution were main to life in these western towns, and also only later―as the female populace increased and also reformers moved in―did prostitution become somewhat less common.

The well-known image that the Wild West shown in books, television, and also film has been among violence and also mayhem. The attract of quick riches through mining or driving livestock meant that lot of the West indeed consisted of rough guys living a rough life, back the violence to be exaggerated and even glorified in the dime-store novels that the day. The exploits of Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, and others make for great stories, however the reality was the western violence was an ext isolated than the stories could suggest. This clashes often arisen as people struggled for the scarce sources that could make or rest their chance at riches, or as they faced the sudden wide range or poverty the prospecting provided.

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As wealthy men lugged their households west, the lawless landscape slowly started to change. Abilene, Kansas is one instance of a lawless town, replete v prostitutes, gambling, and also other vices, the transformed as soon as middle-class ladies arrived in the 1880s v their husbands. These women began to organize churches, schools, civic clubs, and also other ar programs come promote family members values.