ManifestDestiny is an important part of American history. It is what brought us towhere we are today. Whether it was religious, economic, or even political, thereasons for expansions all reflected the changes that were coming in theAmerican peoples’ lives.
The Mexican American war and the Compromise of 1850were only some of the major consequences of westward expansion. The nation’sfuture would be drastically changed after the course of these events. One ofthe major consequences of westward expansion was the Mexican American war in1847. Since the US annexed Texas in 1845, most of that land belonged to the US.However, there was a conflict on where that territory ended. The US claimed itwas the Rio Grande and Mexico claimed it was the Nueces River. The US gained500,000 square miles from the Rio Grande up until the Pacific Ocean. Mexico’sloss only helped promote more westward expansion.
Another consequence was adisruption in the way of life of both the Native Americans and the people whomoved west. The Native Americans had constant invasion of their lands and mostof their food sources would get scared off by the constant flow of wagontrains. As for the families that would move west, many didn’t know how to run afarm or grow crops. This drastic change in their lives meant no future forsome. No profit would be made from their farm and they would be forced back towhere they came from. The Compromise of 1850 was yet another consequence of westwardexpansion. The compromise consisted of 5 things: the admission of California asfree state, the organization of southwest territories without regards toslavery, adjustment of border with Texas and New Mexico, abolish the slavetrade in DC, and a tougher Fugitive Slave Law.
The most important part is, ofcourse, the Fugitive Slave Law. The changes made to it allowed slaveowners tomore easily get their slaves back. So in regards to abolishing slavery, thiswas a step back, even though without it, American history would have been verydifferent. Themain motivations of Manifest Destiny were religious, economic, and political.Because religion was a huge part of American life, it was believed that “aquasi-religious call to spread democracy… would save the world” (AmericanYawp). Many believed that it was their God-given right to move west and that Goddictated that that was the right thing to do for the future. Along withreligion, many people wanted to move west for economic reasons as well. Therewas plenty of land for the taking which meant that there was ample opportunity.
Many took their families for hope that there would be a better future. This wasalso a chance to grow the country and the national government. Increasing theamount of land had its political value as well. The larger America got, thecloser it got to its goal of being regarded as a global empire. However, thisglobal empire did come without consequences. Westernexpansion is better known as Manifest Destiny.
This major idea and the eventsfollowing were major in paving the course of the nation’s future. Motivationsfor westward expansion were religious, economic, and political and some of theconsequences include the Mexican American War, a disrupted way of life, and theCompromise of 1850.4. All in all, there were manyarguments for the proslavery argument such as the Mudsill theory, the Bible,false science and paternalism. These allowed for the justification of slaveryin many slaveholder’s eyes.
Even those who were less okay with it found ways tojustify that their actions were humane.Paternalism was a way that slaverycould be shown as a positive for those slaveowners who were more doubtful thanthe rest. Paternalism is the idea that slavery had a family-like structure,where the slaveowner was the head of that family and the slaves were hisdependents. The slaves were thought not to be able to take care of themselveson their own so this was a very kind and nice way to help them out. In exchangefor safety, security, and care, the slaveowners or fathers expected theirdependents to behave. By keeping the African Americans off the streets, slaverywas thought to be a good Samaritan act. Thisfalse science can also be called scientific racism.
Essentially, scientificracism is a way to explain social inequalities. During this time period, thatrace was African. It said that slaves had lesser mental faculties than whites,that slaves were capable of less understanding, that slaves were made to becontrolled. Sentiments like these got passed on verbally and were also printed.Many people heard or read these ideas and agreed with them, furthering theirbelief that slavery was right. Along with this scientific racism, we also see asomewhat emotional response towards slavery. Anotherargument for proslavery was the Bible. The story of Ham was the main basis.
Hamwas cursed for having sinned and for many years, this was taken as the reasonthat some had black skin. Since religion was very important in Southernsociety, this theory had caught on. Many figured that if all the persons withblack skin had sinned, then there was no redemption for them and slavery wastheir fate forever. Everyone and everything sinful needed to be banished andrid from this earth, according to them. However, it was figured that slaverywas just fine for sinners like the African Americans. No one ever thought toquestion that African Americans were people too, capable both physically andmentally. Mostly it was due to the false science spread about the AfricanAmericans.
TheMudsill Theory states that there must be a lower class for the upper classes torest on. Since most slaveowners were at least middle class, this theory provedthat there had to be a class below them. Slaves were then put into this class.
Nobody would have stood up for them and they most definitely were unable to havestood up for themselves. The need by the elites for this class was one of thearguments for pro-slavery. Whitesoutherners found any and all explanations as to why slavery should be kept.Some did it purely because their livelihood depended on it while othersactually believed the lies.
Some of the ideas used to form the proslaveryideology were the Mudsill Theory, biblical proofs, false science, andpaternalism.3.The change from anti-slavery toabolition probably saved the movement. New beliefs like immediatism governedthe new movement and they found new ways to influence people.
William LloydGarrison were only a few of the sparks to ignite the flame that became theabolitionist movement.Originally, the anti-slaverymovement opted for gradualism. This method was practiced popularly as trying toshow slaveowners that what they were doing was not right. According to thegradualist thought, this should have made the slaveowners release their slavesimmediately, however that’s not how it was. Around the 1830s is when theanti-colonization movement started, which harbored the idea that colonizationwas a racist project. People like William Lloyd Garrison harbored this belief.Garrison started fighting slavery at a young age in the 1820s, starting withthe gradualism state of mind.
According to the American Yawp, after readingworks by David Walker, a black abolitionist in the north, Garrison became afirm believer in immediatism. From more and more people like Garrison, we seethe rise of the abolitionist movement. However, Nat Turner’s rebellion almostput an end to the abolitionist movement. A slave uprising, the rebellion wasbelieved to be the doing of the abolitionists. Violence against abolitionistsincreased and almost led to its demise. However, a new idea trickled throughthe community that the new way to go about abolition is through politics.
Thebelief that the Constitution was an anti-slavery document gave physical proofand new meaning to the movement.Starting in the 1830s, theanti-slavery movement had started to change into the abolitionist movement. Therealization that their slow progress was lending them no advancements startedthe change in tactic. An anti-colonization mindset led to the change in themovement, along with people like William Lloyd Garrison and Nat Turner.