Manifest Destiny reflected the desire to grow and expand quickly. It also demonstrated the idealistic vision of social perfection that fueled so much of the reform energy of the time. All this rested on the idea that America was destined-by god and by history- to expand its boundaries over a vast area.
The idea of Manifest Destiny had spread throughout the nation in the 1840’s. It was heavily publicized by the new “penny express” which made newspapers available to a far greater proportion of the population than ever before. Some supporters of Manifest Destiny had relatively limited territorial goals; others envisioned a vast new “empire of liberty” that would include Canada, Mexico, Caribbean and Pacific islands, and ultimately, a few dreamed, much of the rest of the world. There was great enthusiasm over expansion in the 1840’s and it all began with the issues of Texas and Oregon.
There are several reasons why Americans embraced manifest destiny. Some reasons include European and colonial experience of Christianizing, European background and colonial background of racism, the rise of nationalism and ideals of nation-building, socioeconomic problems of mass urban population dynamics and the need for resources caused by capitalism and industrialization.
Westward expansion began with territorial acquisitions that began in 1783. The first was acquired as a result of the American Revolution.
The Treaty of Paris allotted the United States lands between the Appalachians and Mississippi River.These acquisitions doubled the size of the U.S. In 1803, Napoleon and the Louisiana purchase granted the U.S. that territory for $15 million. Napoleon struck a desperate deal with the U.S. in desperation for money to finance the costly wars in Europe. This again doubled the size of the United States.
The Rush-Bagot Agreement, witch was signed in 1818, set the border of Canada at the 49 parallel. The U.S. also acquired part of N. Dakota and Minnesota.
In 1819 the United States acquired Florida from Spain for $5 million in the treaty of Adams-0nis. The need for money in Spain and the belief that Florida was unprofitable due to its negative topography and Indian problem encouraged the Spanish to sell.
The annexation of Texas, which was signed in 1845 was at the request of the Texas Republic and granted this territory to the United States. Texas had been its own country between 1836 and 1845.
In 1846 the Oregon Compromise was signed. To avoid conflict, the U.S. and Britain established the boundary of the disputed territory at the 49 Parallel.
With the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo the United States acquired the states of California and New Mexico. This cost the U.S. a total of $15 million and was a result of the Mexican War in 1846.
The final acquisition took place in 1853. The Gadsen Purchase allotted the U.S. a strip of Arizona and New Mexico. This land, which was purchased from Mexico for $15 million, was greatly needed for a transcontinental railroad. This final acquisition completed manifest destiny.