"(It is) ..our manifest destiny to over spread and to possess the whole of the continent which Providence has given us for the development of the great experiment of liberty"
In 1845 these words were written by John O'Sullivan, a democrat leader and editor of the New York newspaper 'The Morning Post'.
What is Manifest Destiny?
O'Sullivan was expressing the long held belief that white Americans had a God-given right to occupy the entire North American continent. It was not a new idea, nor was it historically confined to America. Manifest Destiny as a concept was exercised in 1492 by Christopher Columbus and the Spanish monarchs who initially sanctioned the colonisation of South America. It was also exercised by the Pilgrim Fathers when they landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620, by the British when they colonised Australia and India. Indeed, any act of colonisation and settlement at the expense of another race can be said to be an expression of Manifest Destiny.
Manifest Destiny in 1840s America
Once the concept had been given the name 'Manifest Destiny' it became widely used, appearing in newspapers, debates, paintings and advertisements. It became the leading light for westward expansion.