1845 - 1906 Manifest Destiny

Painting by artist Thomas Gast depicting the divine right ascribed to Manifest Destiny by American citizens and politicians in the 19th century

         By the mid-1840s, the secular machinery of the U.S. Constitution, and the nuts and bolts of the laws that held the machinery together -- were all but officially replaced as an expansionist tool by a new set of unofficial principles known as Manifest Destiny. (click here for more on Manifest Destiny)


         As a shotgun wedding of theology and political economy, Manifest Destiny, a term coined by essayist John O'Sullivan (right), arrived in the nick of time for President James K. Polk to justify the provocation of an illegal war with Mexico in order to fulfill the nation's expansionist dreams in Texas and California as a divinely ordained right.  This was the same rationale used by popes in the Middle Ages to justify launching crusades against 'saracens and infidels.'  

        As a theosophical political creed, Manifest Destiny asserted that Americans were distinguished as a morally superior race of people by a God who had chosen them to go forth and vanquish heathen races for the divinely   ordained purpose of bringing civilization to thewilderness homeland occupied by "the wild and savage tribes."                                                                                                            

          Through the legitimizing mechanism of Manifest Destiny, westward expansion now enjoyed the same theocratic footing that energized the Euro-Americans' crusading ancestors in their quest to conqueror the Holy Lands five centuries earlier.