Manifest Destiny and Empire: American Antebellum Expansionism

Manifest Destiny and Empire: American Antebellum Expansionism

Manifest Destiny and Empire: American Antebellum Expansionism

Manifest Destiny and Empire: American Antebellum Expansionism

Synopsis

"These six studies from the Walter Prescott Webb Memorial Lectures offer specific treatments of American antebellum expansionism." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

Although destiny and mission have a pedigree that predates the nation itself, it was not until the early nineteenth century that profound changes in American life were combined with the idealism of the nation's revolutionary beginnings and with currents of European Romanticism to produce a popular romantic nationalism that gave new meaning to the idea of progress. Fundamental to the feelings of national superiority generated by romantic nationalism was the conviction that American territorial expansion was inevitable, that the nation's providential destiny--its Manifest Destiny--decreed an extension of the ideals of its founding charter throughout the entire continent. The notion was all the more credible because American settlers, traders, and missionaries were already on the move to far distant areas of North America. John L. O'Sullivan's first uses of the phrase Manifest Destiny were in response to population movements that were already underway in Texas and in the Oregon Country. Thus, Manifest Destiny became and has remained virtually synonymous with territorial expansion.

American territorial expansion before the Civil War is the theme of the essays which follow, comprising (with two exceptions) the Thirty-First Annual Walter Prescott Webb Memorial Lectures, sponsored by the University of Texas at Arlington. Five scholars whose work has been devoted to the study of national expansion, have each examined Manifest Destiny from a different perspective. The result is a perceptive and authoritative portrayal of the uses to which Manifest Destiny has been put and of the meanings the concept has had to past and present generations since O'Sullivan first penned the words. O'Sullivan's own meaning, however, is too often forgot-

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