Although Americans perceived Manifest Destiny as a benevolent movement, it was in fact an aggressive imperialism pursued at the expense of others. 

Assess the validity of this statement with specific reference to American expansionism in the 1840’s.

Tessa Goodine
12/24/2012 03:19:08 am

Expansionism in the 1840's was good for absolutely no one but the Americans. There were many Native American populations in the Mid-West that would be uprooted and forced to leave their homes, and there was conflict started with the Mexican government. Manifest Destiny was responsible for the Mexican War, which Abraham Lincoln believes to be one of the most pointless wars in history. The bigger United States Army bullied the smaller, recently independent Mexican army that they knew had weaker guns and smaller numbers, in a battle for land. The U.S. swindled Mexico out of probably half their land. Westward Expansion was also used as an attempted tool by the South to gain more influence in government. With expansion West, there could be new slave states created, giving more weight in congress and the senate. Americans in general just wanted more land, and more power. They completely disregarded everyone else, and expanded at the expense of many.

Kevin Napier
12/27/2012 12:04:01 am

Manifest destiny was, in fact, an aggressive imperialism pursued at the expense of others. Though expansionism was extremely beneficial to America in the long run, it devastated other North American societies. Native Americans had been displaced time and time again by Americans as we expanded. As we continued to expand to the Pacific Ocean, we began to run out of places to put them. Ultimately, we stripped away most Native American lands, leaving them with relatively small reservations. In the late 1840s, American imperialism in the Southwest led to the Mexican War, which both Lincoln and Grant considered to be unjust nonsense. In the 1860s, Manifest Destiny was a leading factor in the Civil War, which nearly ripped the nation apart permanently. Though Manifest Destiny was a nice idea and remains beneficial to America today, it came at the expense of other North American peoples. The people whose land we took did not perceive Manifest Destiny as a benevolent movement at all.

James Gurney
12/28/2012 11:53:57 pm

Manifest Destiny is honestly my favourite subject. Of course it was not benevolent it was violent in every sense of the word we thought, even though we may not have, had rights to this land and we were going to get it what ever the cost. Granted it was beneficial too our government it nearly tore it apart in the process. I with both Tessa and Kevin but one of the main causes of the violence of Manifest Destiny was the institution of slavery. You had Southerners who believed the whole west and everything south of the Mason-Dixon line was to be a slaveocracy. Northerners were not necessarily abolitionist but they wanted to stop the spread of slavery. This and other conflicts would eventually lead to a civil war.

Blake Basmajian
12/29/2012 06:24:50 am

Manifest Destiny was in nature a benevolent movement. However, a showing of American's arrogant aura was prevalent during this movement as seen in the forced migration of Natives into reservations, a fraction of the size in comparison to their original lands. Also, westward expansion lead to more conflicts over free and slave states as James stated with disputes over the Mason Dixon Line and the spread of slavery. Lastly, as Tessa said the Mexican war was a result of expansion which obviously was not benevolent. The intentions of Manifest Destiny was to make American great, a harmless goal in itself, but the road to get their was far from a kind and peaceful expansion.

Alex Piper
12/30/2012 12:33:37 am

America's strive to move westward wass a thought since the very beginning and the Americans saw it as their time to finally see what this country has the potential to be. Yes it was a violent pursuit made of greed. But, what other civilization did not have a violent conquest to expand its borders. To defend the Americans, this was their chance to expand imperialistically just like the rest of the European societies, although they were decades later than the rest of the societies. The only difference is that the Americans did not eventually release the lands to the natives. Most imperial colonies were freed after some point or another. Although the people only wanted to reach the Pacific Ocean, they did so with extreme greed and violence. There could've been many other ways to recieve western lands and not eradicate the Native cultures.

Chelsea Landor
1/1/2013 03:07:42 am

I agree with Tessa that the American's did just want to expand westward because with more land that they aquired the more power they would gain.Westward Expansion was achieved primarily through the Mexican American War.The war endind with an american win and the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo which caused the nations size to increase even more.Even with the controversy over the Oregon territory added more land to the nation state.Becasue of the expansion of the western lands this caused the issue between the north and south over slavery.

Tanner Flint
1/1/2013 06:04:00 am

This statement is valid. Expansionist Americans had to think of Manifest Destiny as a benevolent movement because to them their were only benefits to expansion. There would be more space for agricultural growth, for cities, business, the benefits are seemingly infinite and it was at little cost. They already felt the Native Americans were savages and unimportant and the Mexicans had far less superior weaponry which made it easy to beat them in the Mexican-American War. The indigenous and Mexicans lost what once had, but unfortunately for them, the Americans didn't view that as a bad thing.

Ian Nolan
1/1/2013 07:04:19 am

It is true that manifest destiny was imperialism at the cost of others. Imperialism of the southwestern United states was acquired from the mexican war. America sent troops into disputed territories to provoke a fight with the mexicans and since the mexicans were in political turmoil and their weapons were inferior the U.S. seized the opportunity to lay siege to the Northern part of Mexico. So the American soldiers died and Mexicans soldiers died so the fire eaters wanted more land to farm.

Coleman Reardon
1/1/2013 07:48:24 am

The general American population thought of Manifest Destiny as a benevolent movement because the country would benefit more with the gaining of land. Political leaders were willing to do anything in their power to fulfill the "destiny" of America which was to be able to govern from sea to sea. In the process of doing so, wars were waged and many innocent people displaced from their home. For Americans to be able to gain the land, people such as members of Native American tribes were forced to uproot their lives and move elsewhere and (as previously stated) the Mexican-American War began in an attempt to gain what is now the Southwest portion of the U.S. which was once occupied by Mexico. What the U.S. thought would be a benevolent movement turned out to be a malicious undertaking.

Nate Woodcock
1/1/2013 08:40:47 am

For the most part, the general American population believed Manifest Destiny was a benevolent movement because it did not harm the United States. Manifest Destiny was totally beneficial to the United States and the United States only. The arrogance of the United States led them to gain as much land as possible because it was of course their "destiny" to do so. A prime example is the terrible treatment of the Native Americans, which were looked at as savages so it didn't really matter where they went as long as they stayed out of the way of our expanding nation. Also, the Mexican-American war was triggered due to the fact that the United States wanted to gain the Southwest of North America which was in control of Mexico. The United States went to war with Mexico over this land which is now the Southwestern United States where many Mexicans and Americans were killed so this was American imperialism. This was only seen as a Benevolent Movement by the U.S. even though this taking of land was obviously not benevolent.

Gaanploo Somboon
1/1/2013 10:13:24 am

The domination of and disregard for the many Native American and Mexican populations by the Americans in the 1840's harks back to the rampant imperialism during age of exploration in which the Europeans did the very same thing to natives in South America and the Caribbean. However this time, the Americans desired to extend their own empire to the Pacific Ocean, slaughtering and uprooting any Native American tribes that stood in their path of their "righteous mission." Manifest Destiny was an aggressive movement and in every way the opposite of benevolence. Within imperialism lies the deeply rooted belief that the larger, more powerful, and "more civilized" nation of people were meant to take the land of the people they considered "savage" as it was their divine and God-given right to do so. With this belief came a disregard, that created the manipulative American mindset that led to the covetous claim of Mexico's territory, leading to the avoidable Mexican-American War. These claims led to the deaths of millions, all of whom lost their land to the gilded benevolence of the Americans.

Ivana Cooke
1/1/2013 11:36:05 am

Manifest Destiny was only perceived as benevolent to the Americans of that time period. They were all land hungry and did not see the bigger picture. They didn't think about or they didn't care about how their selfish actions affected others like the Native Americans and Mexicans. The Native Americans from the very beginning of our country's history were constantly uprooted and kicked out of their lands. Eventually they were left on small reservations. Also during the 1840's America waged the Mexican war, which was considered unjust by Lincoln and Grant, as a means to obtain a great amount of their land. In the end manifest destiny was a huge part of the civil war beginning and almost tore apart our country.

Paige Hawkins
1/1/2013 11:55:44 am

I agree with Gurney that Manifest destiny was not in fact benevolent but in the same sense I agree with Tessa that Expansionism was for the benefit of Americans Alone. People of the U.S sought the need to expand boundaries of Freedom, expansion into frontier territories brought wealth independence and Political power. At all cause Americans used their power and force against the minorities such as the Natives by running them off their own land. Manifest Destiny played a great role in the start of the Civil War .

Admiral Ackbar
12/16/2013 08:53:45 am

It's a trap!

Osama Bin Laden
12/21/2016 10:15:46 am

Allahu Akbar


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