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Manifest Destiny

Smithsonian Institution: Emmanuel Leutze, Westward the Course of Empire Taken its Way

Territorial expansion marked the first century of the American republic, and its ideology was captured in the words of John O' Sullivan, credited with coining the phrase "Manifest Destiny." In the view of O'Sullivan, the United States was a nation set apart from all other nations. He declared in 1939 that America had "little connection with the past history of any of them, and still less with all antiquity, its glories, or its crimes," and he continues, "America is destined for better deeds."

"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."

Yet it was this belief that the United States was destined to power that goaded the country forward in expansion, and into conflict with countries both in and out of our hemisphere.

Anti-Federalist Papers #1
"I had rather be a free citizen of the small republic of Massachusetts, than an oppressed subject of the great American empire."

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