Manifest Destiny facts for kids
Manifest Destiny was the idea that the United States had a God-given right to take over every part of North America. The phrase "Manifest Destiny" was created in 1845 by a newspaper writer named John L. O'Sullivan. Quickly, the idea became very popular.
The idea of Manifest Destiny told Americans that they had a mission – a special job given only to Americans. This mission was to make the United States bigger so the "borders of freedom" could be open to even more people. Only they could make sure that people living in un-free countries across the world could learn how to govern themselves and live freely in America.
Use by President James Polk
The Mexican-American War
In June 1845, the United States decided to add Texas to the United States. President Polk sent the United States military to take over the area. The two sides fought for two years. Finally, Mexico surrendered. On February 2, 1848, it signed the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ended the war. It also gave the United States all of the land above the Rio Grande. This meant the United States had gained all of Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico; parts of Utah, Nevada, and Colorado; and northern California.
A belief in Manifest Destiny helped convince Americans to support the war. It told them it was all right to fight, kill, and take land from Mexicans or other non-Americans. This was all right because they were only doing what God wanted. They were doing what they were destined to do.
Settlement of the west
Growth of the country
Of course, there were many other reasons, besides Manifest Destiny, that people wanted the United States to grow. More and more people were coming to America, especially to the cities, which were getting crowded. People wanted land of their own, instead of having to work for other people. The more land a person had, the more money they could make. If a person had their own land, they were working for themselves, and they were free.
If was a mixture of all these things, and many more, along with Manifest Destiny that caused the United States to grow this quickly in just 40 years:
The United States was very determined to take control of all of North America. Unfortunately, the parts of North America they wanted were not empty. They were places that Native Americans had always lived.
The United States government wanted these tribes to move outside the United States, to what is now Oklahoma. The government was able to convince some of these Native American tribes to sign treaties saying they would leave their lands.
When some tribes refused to leave their lands, the United States government committed an ethnic cleansing against them. In an ethnic cleansing, ethnic or religious groups are forced to leave an area by a more powerful ethnic group. When the Cherokee Nation refused to leave their homes, United States President Martin van Buren ordered the military to make them leave.
About 15,000 Cherokee were forced to walk to Oklahoma and Arkansas. Most historians think that about 4,000 of them died on the way. This was one out of every four people in the Cherokee population. Because so many people died, this forced migration is now called the Trail of Tears, and it is considered an ethnic cleansing.
Images for kids
American Progress, (1872) by John Gast, is an allegorical representation of the modernization of the new west. Columbia, a personification of the United States, is shown leading civilization westward with the American settlers. She is shown bringing light from the East into the West, stringing telegraph wire, holding a school textbook that will instill knowledge, and highlights different stages of economic activity and evolving forms of transportation.
The first Fort Laramie as it looked prior to 1840. Painting from memory by Alfred Jacob Miller
American westward expansion is idealized in Emanuel Leutze's famous painting Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way (1861). The title of the painting, from a 1726 poem by Bishop Berkeley, was a phrase often quoted in the era of manifest destiny, expressing a widely held belief that civilization had steadily moved westward throughout history. (more)
Norwegian settlers in North Dakota in front of their homestead, a sod hut
Annexation of the Republic of Hawaii in 1898
A cartoon of Uncle Sam seated in restaurant looking at the bill of fare containing "Cuba steak", "Porto Rico pig", the "Philippine Islands" and the "Sandwich Islands" (Hawaii).
The U.S.'s intentions to influence the area (especially the Panama Canal construction and control) led to the separation of Panama from Colombia in 1903
Manifest Destiny Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.