Manifest Destiny & the Mexican-American War Essay

2207 Words Apr 1st, 2012 9 Pages
Discuss the motivations from both sides for the Mexican-American war of 1846-1848? Was Manifest Destiny the driving factor or was it something else?

The Mexican-American war fought between 1846 and 1848 remains a topic of much contention amongst modern historians. Differing accounts and conclusions of the war are often presented and one must remain pragmatic when analysing both primary and secondary sources regarding the war. There is a clear time line of events that led to the outbreak of the war, but there is one major event, and one minor action, which directly resulted in the declarations of war on both sides of the conflict between Mexico and the United States. Most scholars agree that the annexation of the Republic of Texas by
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It was an instance of a republic following the bad example of European monarchies, in not considering justice in their desire to acquire additional territory." Yet there are other factors that must be considered before blaming this war solely on the United States.

The term “Manifest Destiny” was coined by John O’Sullivan in 1845, and was used on occasion during the 1840’s to justify the American expansionist policy in the West and beyond. The term was actually used much more widely by historians in the two decades following the Second World War. The idea was that the United States had a “Manifest Destiny” given by God, to expand across the Western Hemisphere, a mission to spread the American ideals of freedom and democracy to the supposedly inferior and uncivilized peoples of the American West and Latin America.

An associated idea is that of a land hunger, as this period is characterized by the acquisition and colonization of territories by Europeans across the world. To the expansionists who believed in Manifest Design, the expansion of the United States is described not so much in terms of what the territorial acquisitions would do for the country but what the country would do for those new territories.

As Thomas Hietala notices, the expansionists relied on other self-serving beliefs to explain and justify territorial acquisitions. They perpetrated the convenient myth of a vacant continent,

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