Between the years of 1820-1850 a tremendous amount of change occurred in the U. S. , thousands of people started to move to and populate the western territories of the United States in order to start a new life there. “Manifest Destiny” was a phrase coined by John L. O’Sullivan, which was the belief that Americans had the god given right to expand westward and spread their democratic ideals. Many believe Manifest Destiny was a positive movement that had many benefits, but it can be argued that it was a destructive act of greed that resulted in the causality of others.
The expansion of the United States involved many aggressive moves made by the U. S. , and overall caused more problems than solutions, politically and socially, but did hail some benefits. In 1820 Austin Moses asked Mexico’s permission to set up a colony with 300 families in Texas, but the Americans had to convert to Catholicism, to become Mexican citizens. By 1835 there were 30,000 Americans and a majority of them owned slaves, which was abolished in Mexico in 1830, therefore many of the slaveholders had brought their slaves to Texas illegally.
Since the land Americans had settled on was still owned by Mexico, Texans asked for “home rule”, but Mexico’s president Santa Anna refused the proposition and put Austin in jail. Texans than declare their independence and have a Declaration signed by many, including president Sam Houston and Vice President Lorenzo de Zavala. Santa Anna wins the battle of the Alamo against the Texans, but General Sam Houston defeats Santa Anna at the battle of San Jacinto, and force Santa Anna to sign the the treaty at gunpoint to acknowledge the Rio Grande as a boundary line.
This was a very aggressive act by the Texans, because they not only declared the land as their own even hough it wasn’t, and then forced the president of mexico to sign the treaty at gunpoint. The land was owned by Mexico and Santa Anna simply allowed the Americans to use the land, they had no right to the land and took it without consent. Although the Americans thought the rules were unfair, the land wasn’t theirs, therefore they couldn’t change the rules set upon them.
In 1846 Mexico claims Nueces river as the boundary line of America and Mexico, but America wants it to be the Rio Grande, therefore Polk’s cabinet members preferred it if the Mexican oldiers fired at American Soldiers near the boundary line, thus giving America the excuse to engage war with Mexico. Polk responds to this by ordering General Zachary Taylor to cross to cross the Nueces and approach the borderline but not cross it, this provoked the Mexican soldiers into firing at the Americans first, as planned. Overall, due to the expansion west, America engaged in this conflict with Mexico and effectively started a war.
This changed things political because, there were new borders, now that Texas was a state, as well as the relationship ith Mexico, Although Texas was an addition to the U. S. , it could have been obtained by less forceful means, and this aggressive act could have been avoided, but the Americans decided to act as a steamroller and take everyone down that was standing in their way. During the 19th century more than 350,00 people used the Oregon Trail, Santa Fe, and California trail, to travel from the East to West, and would eventually settle on the west coast.
California wouldn’t become a state until 1850, but it people would still trek there in order to start their new life. In 1849 here would be a dramatic changes socially, because of the large amount colonization from “Gold Rush”. California became a more attractive place to settle once people found out it was rich with gold, which was very valuable at the time; Many people took their chances moving out there in hopes of finding their riches, but with all of this promise came a cost.
Between 1849-1853, 50,000 immigrants had arrived, but were very diverse, since only one-third were Americans, and the rest came from China, Mexico, Chile, South American Countries, Great Britain, France and Australia. The westward expansion caused many social issues, because it was not safe place live, A Chilean migrant explained this: “We had no friends or relatives to lend a hand, personal safety could be found only at the barrel of a gun or the point of a dagger”.
The expansion west proved to be a very dangerous venture, as it did not guarantee financial stability, because only a small percentage of Americans were able to make their fortune. Westward expansion caused many social issues to occur, because of the lack of government, it was nearly lawless, which made very risky to live in such a place, it idn’t guarantee there would be financial stability which was one of the prime motives of moving to the west in the first place, and overall lacked a lot of the benefit that was anticipated.
The Expansion of the U. S. did not only have negative effects; Many of the people who moved out west were working class, white men, and free blacks. Many people wanted to start a new life and felt that moving west was the way to do so; the west provided a place for regeneration. The west had its own distinct culture for instance, the Mormons were able to settle in Utah nd 30,000 were there by 1860, and there were mountain men who lived with Native Americans and Mexicans, and they were able to marry and combine cultures.
The U. S. also acquires Maine, but not without conflict known as “The Aroostook War”, which was fought with the lumberjacks and militia of Maine, and the Canadian militia, but Lord Ashburn of Britain is able to settle peace terms with Daniel Webster who was secretary of state at the time, and declared the Maine-Canada boundary and the boundary line between Canada and New Hampshire, Michigan and Minnesota as well. Although the war ended on peaceful terms, it was the craving for more land that started the dispute.
Western expansion yielded many benefits for the United States, but Manifest Destiny as whole was an aggressive movement that used force and violence to satisfy the United States’ hunger for more land. Many of the political and social conflicts were caused by Manifest Destiny, and could have been avoided if the Americans were less imperialistic. Overall Manifest Destiny was a savage operation that was intrusive to the inhabitants that were present at the time.