Manifest Destiny

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

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Key Takeaways

Key PointsThe concept 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 was obvious, inevitable, and also a magnificent right of the joined States.Manifest destiny was used by democrats in the 1840s to justify the war with Mexico.While countless writers emphasis primarily top top U.S. Expansionism when discussing manifest destiny, others watch a wider expression of id in the country’s “mission” in the world.Key Termsexpansionism: A nation’s plan of widening its territory or financial influence.manifest destiny: The political theory or id held through the united States, an especially during that is expansion, that the nation had a special role and magnificent right to broaden westward and gain regulate over the continent.exceptionalism: In the unified States, the belief that the nation does no conform come an established norm, and also instead has actually a special and divine function to play.

American Expansionism

Manifest destiny was the 19th century U.S. Id that the nation (and much more specifically, the white Anglo-Saxon race within it) was destined come expand across the continent. Democrats provided the term in the 1840s to justify the war with Mexico. The ide was greatly denounced by Whigs and fell into disuse ~ the mid-19th century. Supporters of manifest destiny believed that development was not just wise, but that it was readily apparent (manifest) and could no be impede (destiny).

The ide of U.S. Expansionism is in fact much older. The is rooted in europe nations’ early colonization of the Americas, the establishment of the United claims by white Anglo-Saxons native England, and also the ongoing wars versus and compelled removal the the American Indians indigenous to the lands. In 1845, john L. O’Sullivan, a new York newspaper editor, introduced the ide of “manifest destiny” in the July/August issue of the United claims Magazine and also Democratic Review, in an post titled, “Annexation.” The term described the an extremely popular idea of the special duty of the United claims in overcome the continent—the divine right and also duty the white american to seize and settle the continent’s western territory, thus spreading Protestant, democratic values.

Manifest Destiny and Politics

In this climate that opinion, voter in 1844 chosen into the presidency James K. Polk, a slaveholder native Tennessee, because he vowed to annex Texas as a brand-new slave state, and also to take Oregon. “Manifest destiny” was a term Democrats mostly used to support the Polk Administration’s growth plans. The idea of growth was additionally supported by Whigs prefer Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, and also Abraham Lincoln, who wanted to increase the nation’s economy. Man C. Calhoun was a notable Democrat who usually opposed his party ~ above the issue, which dropped out of donate by 1860.

Manifest destiny to be a basic notion quite than a specific policy. The term merged a belief in expansionism with other popular ideas of the era, consisting of US exceptionalism and also Romantic nationalism. While countless writers have focused on united state expansionism when discussing manifest destiny, others check out in the hatchet a more comprehensive expression the a id in the unified States’ “mission” in the world, which has actually meant different things to different civilization over the years. For example, the id in one U.S. Mission come promote and defend democracy throughout the world, as expounded by Lincoln and Woodrow Wilson, proceeds to affect US political belief to this day.

The angel Columbia was photo commonly provided at the moment to personify the joined States. Originating from the name of Christopher Columbus, it was originally used for the 13 colonies and remained the leading image for the female personification of the United states until the Statue the Liberty displaced that in the 1920s. During the era the manifest destiny, many images were developed of Columbia spreading democracy and other United claims values across the west lands.


Key Takeaways

Key PointsThe Oregon trail covered roughly 2,000 miles from Missouri, Iowa, or Nebraska, ending in the Oregon Territory.The Oregon Trail’s initial route was scouted by fur traders and trappers. Each year, as more settlers lugged wagon trains along the trail, brand-new cutoff routes were found that do the route shorter and safer.The Overland Stage firm used the Overland follow to operation mail and also passengers come Salt Lake City, Utah.Both the Oregon and Overland Trail became obsolete once the completion of the Transcontinental rail made traveling west safer, easier, and also cheaper.The original wave of western settler-invaders follow me the Oregon and also Overland Trails included moderately prosperous, white, US-born farming family members from the east.More recent immigrants also migrated west, v the biggest numbers coming from north Europe and also Canada. Number of thousand afri Americans additionally migrated west following the polite War.Key TermsOregon Trail: A 2,000-mile (3,200 km), historic east-west wagon course that connected the Missouri flow 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 consistent train heat in the United says that traveled throughout the country and connected the Pacific shore to the Atlantic coast.

Oregon Trail

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


The starts of the Oregon Trail to be laid by fur trappers and also traders from around 1811 to 1840; these early trails were only passable ~ above foot or by horseback. By 1836, when the an initial migrant wagon train was arranged in Independence, Missouri, a wagon trail had been cleared to ft Hall, Idaho. Wagon trails were cleared increasingly additional west, at some point reaching the Willamette sink in Oregon. Each year, as more settlers carried wagon trains follow me the trail, new cutoff courses were uncovered that made the route much shorter and safer. Improved roads, ferries, and bridges additionally improved the trip. Over there were assorted offshoots in Missouri, Iowa, and the Nebraska Territory; the routes converged along the lower Platte river Valley near ft Kearny, Nebraska Territory and also led to affluent farmlands west of the Rocky Mountains.

From the at an early stage to mid-1830s, and an especially through the epochal years of 1846–1869, around 400,000 settlers, ranchers, farmers, miners, and also businessmen and also their family members used the Oregon Trail and its numerous offshoots. The eastern fifty percent of the trail was additionally used by travelers top top the California trace (from 1843), Bozeman follow (from 1863), and Mormon trail (from 1847), that used countless of the exact same trails before transforming off to their different destinations. Usage of the trail declined as the an initial transcontinental railroad was completed in 1869, make the trip west considerably faster, cheaper, and safer. Today, modern highways such together Interstate 80 follow the exact same course westward and pass with towns originally created to service the Oregon Trail.

Overland Trail

The Overland trail (also known as the Overland stage Line) to be a stagecoach and also wagon follow in the American west during the 19th century. If explorers and trappers had actually used portions of the route due to the fact that the 1820s, the Overland Trail to be most heavily used in the 1860s as an alternate route come the Oregon, California, and also Mormon Trails through main Wyoming. The Overland Stage agency owned by Ben Holladay famously supplied the Overland trace to run mail and also passengers come Salt Lake City, Utah, via stagecoaches in the early on 1860s. Beginning from Atchison, Kansas, the follow descended into Colorado prior to looping ago up to southerly Wyoming and rejoining the Oregon trail at ft Bridger. The phase line operated until 1869, when completion that the very first Transcontinental Railroad eliminated the require for mail service via stagecoach.

Who to be the Settlers?

In the 19th century, together today, relocating and starting a brand-new life take it money. Because of the initial price of relocation, land, and supplies, and also months of preparing the soil, planting, and subsequent harvest before any type of produce was prepared for market, the initial wave of western settler-invaders along the Oregon trace in the 1840s and also 1850s had moderately prosperous, white, native-born farming households from the east. Much more recent immigrants also migrated west, with the biggest numbers comes from north Europe and also Canada. Germans, Scandinavians, and Irish were amongst the many common. Compared with european immigrants, those from China to be much less numerous, however still significant.

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

The west Frontier

As the nation expanded westward, settlers were encouraged by avenues to farm the land or “make that rich” through cattle or gold.

Learning Objectives

Describe the conditions usual in western frontier towns

Key Takeaways

Key PointsWhile the motivation for private profit overcame much the the motion 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 obstacles to homesteaders, such together dry and barren land, droughts, insect swarms, shortages the materials, and lost crops.Although homestead farming was the main goal of many western settlers in the latter half of the 19th century, a tiny minority search to do fortunes conveniently through other means, such together gold or cattle.The American West came to be notorious because that its difficult mining towns, such as Deadwood, southern Dakota and also Tombstone, Arizona, and also entrepreneurs in these and other towns set up stores and also businesses to cater to the miners.Key TermsHomesteading: A way of living of self-sufficiency identified by subsistence farming and residence preservation the foodstuffs; it may or might not additionally involve the small-scale production of textiles, clothing, and craftwork for family members use or sale.

Moving West

The commonwealth Role

While the an ideas for personal profit dominated much that the activity westward, the federal federal government played a supporting function in securing land and maintaining law and order. Regardless of the Jeffersonian aversion to, and also mistrust of, federal power, the federal government bore an ext heavily right into the West than any other region, fueled by the principles of manifest destiny. Because local governments in west frontier communities were frequently nonexistent or weak, westerners depended on the federal government to defend them and also their rights.

The commonwealth government created a sequence of actions related to control over west lands. First, it sent surveyors and also explorers come map and paper the land and also ultimately get western are from other nations or American Indian tribes by contract or force. Next, it ordered commonwealth troops to clear out and subdue any type of resistance indigenous American Indians. That subsidized the building and construction of railroad lines come facilitate westward migration, and finally, that established bureaucracies to control the land (such as the bureau of Indian Affairs, floor Office, united state Geological Survey, and Forest Service). By the end of the 19th century, the federal federal government had amassed good size, power, and also influence in nationwide affairs.


Transportation to be a key issue in westward expansion. The military (especially the military Corps of Engineers) was given complete responsibility because that facilitating navigation on the rivers. The steamboat, first used on the Ohio river in 1811, do inexpensive take trip using the river solution possible. The Mississippi and also Missouri Rivers and also their tributaries were particularly used because that this purpose. Army expeditions up the Missouri flow from 1818 come 1825 permitted engineers to enhance the technology. Because that example, the Army’s steamboat, the west Engineer, the 1819 an unified a an extremely shallow breeze with one of the faster stern wheels. Throughout this period, Colonel Henry Atkinson emerged keelboats v hand-powered paddle wheels.

In addition to river travel, the Oregon and also Overland Trails allowed for increased travel and also migration come the West. The completion of the very first transcontinental rail in 1869 dramatically adjusted the pace of take trip in the country, as civilization were able to finish in a week a route that had previously taken months.

Life in the West


The rigors the life in the West presented many challenges and difficulties come homesteaders. The land was dry and barren, and also homesteaders lost plants to hail, droughts, insect swarms, and also other challenges. There were couple of materials with which to build, and also early homes were made of mud, which did not stand approximately the elements. Money to be a constant concern, as the expense of railroad freight was exorbitant, and banks to be unforgiving of negative harvests. For women, life was particularly difficult; farm yard wives worked at least 11 hrs a job on chores and had minimal access to physicians or midwives. Still, plenty of women were an ext independent than their eastern counterparts and also worked in partnership with their husbands.

As the railroad increased and much better farm equipment ended up being available, by the 1870s, large farms began to success through economic situations of scale. Yet tiny farms still struggled to continue to be afloat, leading to rising discontent among the farmers, who functioned so hard for so small success.

Western Frontier Towns

Although house farming was the major goal of many western settlers in the latter half of the 19th century, a little minority sought to make their fortunes quickly through various other means. Specifically, yellow (and consequently silver and copper) prospecting attracted countless miners feather to get rich quickly before returning East. In addition, ranchers capitalized top top newly obtainable railroad lines to relocate longhorn steers that occupied southern and western Texas. This meat was highly sought after in eastern markets, and also the demand produced not only wealthy ranchers yet an era that cowboys and cattle drives that in countless ways specifies how us think of the West today. Although no miners no one ranchers to plan to continue to be permanently in the West, numerous individuals from both groups eventually stayed and cleared up there.

The American West became notorious because that its difficult mining towns. Deadwood, southern Dakota, in the black color Hills, to be an archetypal late gold town started in 1875. Back the city was much from any type of railroad, 20,000 human being lived there together of 1876. Tombstone, Arizona to be a notorious mining town that thrived longer 보다 most, from 1877 to 1929. Silver- was uncovered there in 1877, and by 1881 the town had actually a populace of end 10,000. Business man in these and also other towns collection up stores and businesses to cater to the miners. Gambling and also prostitution were central to life in this western towns, and also only later―as the female population increased and reformers relocated in―did prostitution come to be somewhat less common.

The well-known image of the Wild West portrayed in books, television, and film has been among violence and also mayhem. The attract of fast riches v mining or driving livestock meant that lot of the West indeed had rough men living a rough life, return the violence to be exaggerated and even glorified in the dime-store novels that the day. The exploits the Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, and also others make for good stories, however the fact was that western violence was an ext isolated 보다 the stories could suggest. This clashes often arisen as world struggled for the scarce sources that might make or rest their opportunity at riches, or together they encountered the sudden wealth or poverty the prospecting provided.

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As wealthy men brought their family members west, the lawless see slowly began to change. Abilene, Kansas is one instance of a lawless town, replete with prostitutes, gambling, and also other vices, that transformed as soon as middle-class females arrived in the 1880s with their husbands. These women started to to organize churches, schools, public clubs, and also other neighborhood programs to promote family values.