Ulimate Resource Guide to American Manifest Destiny

    The American ideal always included change, growth, and conquering new frontiers. In 1845, an editor of the United States Magazine and Democratic Review, John L. O’Sullivan created the 2-word phrase, “manifest destiny.” He used it in an editorial piece to address the annexation of Texas with the subsequent migration across the whole of the continent. He felt that it was our right as a nation to expand. The Democratic Republicans and President James K. Polk played strong roles in politicizing “manifest destiny” for the increased development of the United States. California and Oregon were particularly coveted, not only by the United States, but by Spain, Great Britain, and to a lesser extent, France. The annexation of Texas was the beginning of this expansion, which led to the Mexican-American War, displacement of Native Americans, and ending finally with the realization of manifest destiny, of westward expansion.

John L. O’Sullivan - John L. O’Sullivan’s original editorial.

Broad Overview - Broad overview of Manifest Destiny. 

General Information – General information.

Specialty Definition - Advanced definition of Manifest Destiny

Philosophical View – Philosophical viewpoint with reference to Manifest Destiny.

Congressional Address - President James K. Polk’s impassioned address to Congress asking to declare war (abridged version).

Native American Displacement

    Native American displacement began almost as soon as the first settlers arrived to the Americas. Native Americans were seen as savages, humans only in the lowest sense of the word. In the quest for evermore land, they were also considered obstacles that needed to be eradicated through whatever means possible. President Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act of 1830, which relocated the Five Tribes – Cherokee, Choctaw, Creek, Chickasaw, and Seminole tribal nations. The Cherokee were relocated to Oklahoma through a forced march known as the Trail of Tears. Each of the tribes signed removal treaties but were quickly cheated out of their lands. Manifest Destiny propaganda, leading all white Americans to believe nothing should get in the way of westward expansion, led to more war and forcible expulsions of Native Americans from their lands. Tens of thousands of Native Americans suffered terribly and died due to the ambitious westward expansion of the United States.

Indian Removal Act of 1830 – Original law signed by President Andrew Jackson

Indian Removal 1814-1858 – Comprehensive guide to the removal of Native Americans.

Indian Lands – Reviews the belief in the sovereignty the Indian nations and the role Manifest Destiny played in removing them from their lands.

Native American Displacement – Site that shows how the Native Americans were deprived not of their lands.


    Starting out as a call to increase the land holdings of the United States further west, Manifest Destiny became a national slogan. Indeed to many Americans, this was their right as the decidedly superior, Christian, civilized race. Hopeful settlers traveled en masse seeking new opportunities. The number increased exponentially when gold was discovered by James Marshall in 1848. Trade was also a motivating factor as Europeans dominated the fur trade thus far, and Americans were anxious to challenge them on this front. Religious fervor was taken to new heights with the expansion westward. The ability to convert “heathen” Native Americans to Christianity was thought to be a moral obligation leading to even greater superiority of the white citizens and control of the other nationalities within the territories.

Factors for Westward Expansion – The economic and religious factors leading to westward expansion.

Puritan Beliefs - Puritan beliefs with reference to Manifest Destiny. 

Expansion and Exploration – Map of westward expansion.

Original boundary – Map of the original boundary lines.

Gold Rush Timeline – Timeline from the first discovery of gold in California.

Gold Rush – Further information of the implications of the discovery of gold.

Reform - Expansion and reform.

Fur Trading – Information regarding the fur trade in the West.

The Mexican-American War

    The appropriation of the state of Texas has always been thought of as the direct cause of the war with Mexico. Texas gained independence from Mexico some 10 years earlier. However, Mexico held onto the belief that Texas was still part of their territory. From a Mexican standpoint, this was an illegal invasion that revolved around Texas’ separation from Mexico and the subsequent annexation to the United States. To Americans, the cause was just, hopefully leading to greener pastures and fresh new prospects.

    The first battle was an ambush by Mexican forces on April 25, 1846 that killed 16 soldiers with Mexico taking the rest as prisoners. President James L. Polk used this battle to convince Congress to declare war, which it did on May 13, 1846. There were two other clashes with Mexican troops prior to this declaration. The Battle of Palo Alto is officially the first real battle. After the Mexicans retreat, General Zachary Taylor, also known as “Old Rough and Ready” declared victory. The Battle at Resaca de la Palma occurred the day after Palo Alto, with Taylor’s troops again chasing the retreating Mexicans to this locale and claiming victory. The Mexican-American War lasted from May 13, 1846 until February 2, 1848 when the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was finally negotiated and signed. The terms of the treaty guaranteed Mexico $15,000,000 for the purchase of California and New Mexico and to make the Rio Grande River the official border of Texas. It also granted rights for Mexicans who lived in those territories to become US citizens. Americans considered this a triumph for Manifest Destiny, reinforcing the belief of supremacy and domination of the American people.

Annexation of Texas – Texas’ war for independence and subsequent annexation to the United States.

Mexican-American War – Frequently asked questions.

Prelude to War – Political, social, and economic factors leading to the war.
History of the war – Overview of the origins and military campaigns.

Descendants of Mexican War Veterans – Complete information about the war complete with pictures, maps and a reading list.

American Viewpoint – American view of the annexation of Texas.

Mexican Viewpoint – Mexican viewpoint and legacy.

Mexican-American Map – Battle maps.

Major Battles – Descriptions of the defining battles of the war.

Timeline of the Mexican-American War – Chronology of the war with interactive map.

Major Events/Players – Website that contains information about the history, timeline, main battles, opposing viewpoints, and influential characters.

Capture of Mexico City – General Persifor Smith’s firsthand account of the capture of Mexico City.

Politics – United States policy versus Mexican politics.

President James K. Polk – Reasoning behind blaming him for the outbreak of the war.

The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo - The treaty that officially ended the war.


    What started out as a call to arms for the annexation of Texas became the national symbol for blinding ambition and hope for a better life. The ideology of Manifest Destiny was realized to a greater extent than thought possible - anything can be accomplished if it’s wanted badly enough, to let nothing stand in the way of progress. There were great sacrifices made in the name of progress, much more than anyone thought. That, however, did not impede the march to the Pacific coast for more land and even greater opportunities. Manifest Destiny has impacted America not just by expansion west but with an entrenched belief system that has come to be the core of every American citizen.