The Way West

A) Review the image, American Progress, 1872 by John Gast. The center figure is ‘Lady Liberty’ stringing telegraph wire. The assignment is to analyze the connection between American ideals, expansion and progress as suggested here. Give specific examples from the painting to explain these concepts. This will require two well-developed paragraphs. You aren’t finished, however, You will want to provide a third, concluding paragraph in which you will summarize your thoughts on Manifest Destiny and American Foreign Policy, p. 360.B) John L. O’Sullivan, The Great Nation of Futurity, 1845.. Also review the textbook, Manifest Destiny, pp 359-361. 1. What connections does O’Sullivan see between the history of Europe and the history of the United States?2. According to O’Sullivan, what is the most important principle that guides America?3. Use your textbook’s analysis to discuss how these words will be used to justify territorial expansion and the suppression of native peoples. Direct quotations always help clarify. . The special feature on p. 360, From Then To Now, Manifest Destiny and American Foreign Policy offers good insights as well. C) Web Destination: www.pbs.org/weta/thewestThis site represents the PBS Series The West. Click on “events’ on the tool bar above text. For the date, click on 1840-1850. After perusing the chronology of events for that decade, you choose the most important five events listed. Prepare your list, defending your choices in 2-3 sentences.
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The Great Nation of Futurity (1839)
John L. O’Sullivan
[This essay appeared in the Democratic Review and presents a theme eagerly taken up in Congress in the 1840s. It
reflects a religious impulse as well as a nationalist one—a sense that “God, the republic, and democracy alike
demanded that Americans press on west, to settle and civilize, republicanize and democratize.” (Johnson, A History
of the American People, 1997: 371). In a newspaper editorial about the annexation of Texas in 1845, O’Sullivan, a
journalist, focused this religious-nationalist impulse in the memorable phrase “Manifest Destiny.” In the editorial he
wrote of America’s “manifest destiny to overspread the continent allotted by Providence for the free development of
our multiplying millions.” The term was used throughout the second half of the 19th century as justification for the
acquisition of territory all the way to the Pacific Ocean and beyond, including Alaska, Hawaii, and the Phillipines.]
The American people having derived their origin from many other nations, and the
Declaration of National Independence being entirely based on the great principle of human
equality, these facts demonstrate at once our disconnected position as regards any other nation;
that we have, in reality, but little connection with the past history of any of them, and still less
with all antiquity, its glories, or its crimes. On the contrary, our national birth was the beginning
of a new history, the formation and progress of an untried political system, which separates us
from the past and connects us with the future only; and so far as regards the entire development
of the natural rights of man, in moral, political, and national life, we may confidently assume that
our country is destined to be the great nation of futurity.
It is so destined, because the principle upon which a nation is organized fixes its destiny,
and that of equality is perfect, is universal. It presides in all the operations of the physical world,
and it is also the conscious law of the soul — the self-evident dictates of morality, which
accurately defines the duty of man to man, and consequently man’s rights as man. Besides, the
truthful annals of any nation furnish abundant evidence, that its happiness, its greatness, its
duration, were always proportionate to the democratic equality in its system of government. . . .
What friend of human liberty, civilization, and refinement, can cast his view over the past
history of the monarchies and aristocracies of antiquity, and not deplore that they ever existed?
What philanthropist can contemplate the oppressions, the cruelties, and injustice inflicted by
them on the masses of mankind, and not turn with moral horror from the retrospect?
America is destined for better deeds. It is our unparalleled glory that we have no
reminiscences of battle fields, but in defence of humanity, of the oppressed of all nations, of the
rights of conscience, the rights of personal enfranchisement. Our annals describe no scenes of
horrid carnage, where men were led on by hundreds of thousands to slay one another, dupes and
victims to emperors, kings, nobles, demons in the human form called heroes. We have had
patriots to defend our homes, our liberties, but no aspirants to crowns or thrones; nor have the
American people ever suffered themselves to be led on by wicked ambition to depopulate the
land, to spread desolation far and wide, that a human being might be placed on a seat of
supremacy.
We have no interest in the scenes of antiquity, only as lessons of avoidance of nearly all
their examples. The expansive future is our arena, and for our history. We are entering on its
untrodden space, with the truths of God in our minds, beneficent objects in our hearts, and with a
clear conscience unsullied by the past. We are the nation of human progress, and who will, what
can, set limits to our onward march? Providence is with us, and no earthly power can. We point
to the everlasting truth on the first page of our national declaration, and we proclaim to the
millions of other lands, that “the gates of hell” — the powers of aristocracy and monarchy -“shall not prevail against it.”
The far-reaching, the boundless future will be the era of American greatness. In its
magnificent domain of space and time, the nation of many nations is destined to manifest to
mankind the excellence of divine principles; to establish on earth the noblest temple ever
dedicated to the worship of the Most High — the Sacred and the True. Its floor shall be a
hemisphere — its roof the firmament of the star-studded heavens, and its congregation an Union
of many Republics, comprising hundreds of happy millions, calling, owning no man master, but
governed by God’s natural and moral law of equality, the law of brotherhood — of “peace and
good will amongst men.”. . .
Yes, we are the nation of progress, of individual freedom, of universal enfranchisement.
Equality of rights is the cynosure of our union of States, the grand exemplar of the correlative
equality of individuals; and while truth sheds its effulgence, we cannot retrograde, without
dissolving the one and subverting the other. We must onward to the fulfilment of our mission -to the entire development of the principle of our organization — freedom of conscience, freedom
of person, freedom of trade and business pursuits, universality of freedom and equality. This is
our high destiny, and in nature’s eternal, inevitable decree of cause and effect we must
accomplish it. All this will be our future history, to establish on earth the moral dignity and
salvation of man — the immutable truth and beneficence of God. For this blessed mission to the
nations of the world, which are shut out from the life-giving light of truth, has America been
chosen; and her high example shall smite unto death the tyranny of kings, hierarchs, and
oligarchs, and carry the glad tidings of peace and good will where myriads now endure an
existence scarcely more enviable than that of beasts of the field. Who, then, can doubt that our
country is destined to be the great nation of futurity?

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