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Manifest Destiny was a phrase that expressed the belief that the United States was destined to expand from the Atlantic seaboard to the Pacific Ocean; it has also been used to advocate for or justify other territorial acquisitions. Advocates of Manifest Destiny believed that expansion was not only good, but that it was obvious (“manifest”) and certain (“destiny”). It was originally a political catch phrase or slogan used by Democrats in the 1845-1855 period, and rejected by Whigs and Republicans of that era. Manifest Destiny was an explanation or justification for that expansion and westward movement, or, in some interpretations, an ideology or doctrine which helped to promote the process. This article is a history of Manifest Destiny as an idea, and the influence of that idea upon American expansion.
The phrase “Manifest Destiny” was first used primarily by Jackson Democrats after 1845 to promote the annexation of much of what is now the Western United States (the Oregon Territory, the Texas Annexation, and the Mexican Cession). The term was partly revived in the 1890s, this time with Republican supporters, as a theoretical justification for U.S. expansion outside of North America. Opponents such as Abraham Lincoln wanted vertical modernization with greater complexity and specialization, instead of the horizontal expansion of simple farms. As Lincoln explained, he “did not believe in enlarging our field, but in keeping our fences where they are and cultivating our present possession, making it a garden, improving the morals and education of the people.” Nonetheless, Lincoln passed a law known as the “Homestead Acts” that became vital to westward expansion by offering free land in the west to those willing to farm it. Historian David M. Potter concludes that in 1854 the Ostend Manifesto and the Kansas-Nebraska Act were “the two great calamities of the Franklin Pierce administration…. Both brought down an avalanche of public criticism.” More importantly, says Potter, they permanently discredited Manifest Destiny and popular sovereignty. 
The term fell out of usage by U.S. policy makers early in the 20th century, but some commentators believe that aspects of Manifest Destiny, particularly the belief in an American “mission” to promote and defend democracy throughout the world, continued to have an influence on American political ideology.
Context and interpretations
Manifest Destiny was always a general notion rather than a specific policy. The term combined a belief in expansionism with other popular ideas of the era, including American exceptionalism, Romantic nationalism, and a belief in the natural superiority of what was then called the “Anglo-Saxon race,” i.e., whites of English heritage. While many writers focus primarily upon American expansionism when discussing Manifest Destiny, others see in the term a broader expression of a belief in America’s “mission” in the world, which has meant different things to different people over the years. This variety of possible meanings was summed up by Ernest Lee Tuveson, who wrote:
A vast complex of ideas, policies, and actions is comprehended under the phrase ‘Manifest Destiny’. They are not, as we should expect, all compatible, nor do they come from any one source.
The concept of Manifest Destiny has acquired a variety of meanings over the years, and its inherent ambiguity has been part of its power. Because it can mean almost whatever someone wants it to mean, it is readily used by anyone. In the generic political sense, however, it was usually used to refer to the idea that the American government was “destined” to establish uninterrupted political authority across the entire North American continent, from one ocean to the other.
Origin of phrase
The phrase was coined in 1845 by journalist John L. O’Sullivan, then an influential advocate for the Democratic Party. In an essay entitled “Annexation” published in the Democratic Review, O’Sullivan urged the United States to annex the Republic of Texas, not only because Texas desired this, but because it was America’s “manifest destiny to overspread the continent”. Amid much controversy, Texas was annexed shortly thereafter, but O’Sullivan’s first usage of the phrase “Manifest Destiny” attracted little attention.
O’Sullivan’s second use of the phrase became extremely influential. On December 27, 1845 in his newspaper the New York Morning News, O’Sullivan addressed the ongoing boundary dispute with Great Britain in the Oregon Country. O’Sullivan argued that the United States had the right to claim “the whole of Oregon”:
And that claim is by the right of our manifest destiny to overspread and to possess the whole of the continent which Providence has given us for the development of the great experiment of liberty and federated self-government entrusted to us.
That is, O’Sullivan believed that God (“Providence”) had given the United States a mission to spread republican democracy (“the great experiment of liberty”) throughout North America. Because Britain would not use Oregon for the purposes of spreading democracy, thought O’Sullivan, British claims to the territory should be overruled. O’Sullivan believed that Manifest Destiny was a moral ideal (a “higher law”) that superseded other considerations. 
O’Sullivan’s original conception of Manifest Destiny was not a call for territorial expansion by force. He believed that the expansion of the United States would happen without the direction of the U.S. government or the involvement of the military. After “Anglo-Saxons” emigrated to new regions, they would set up new democratic governments, and then seek admission to the United States, as Texas had done. In 1845, O’Sullivan predicted that California would follow this pattern next, and that Canada would eventually request annexation as well. He disapproved of the outbreak of the Mexican-American War in 1846, although he came to believe that the outcome would be beneficial to both countries.
O’Sullivan did not originate the idea of Manifest Destiny: while his phrase provided a useful label for sentiments which had become particularly popular during the 1840s, the ideas themselves were not new.
Ironically, O’Sullivan’s term became popular only after it was criticized by Whig opponents of the Polk administration. On January 3, 1846, Representative Robert Winthrop ridiculed the concept in Congress, saying “I suppose the right of a manifest destiny to spread will not be admitted to exist in any nation except the universal Yankee nation.” Winthrop was the first in a long line of critics who suggested that advocates of Manifest Destiny were citing “Divine Providence” for justification of actions that were motivated by chauvinism and self-interest. Despite this criticism, expansionists embraced the phrase, which caught on so quickly that its origin was soon forgotten. O’Sullivan died in obscurity in 1895, just as his phrase was being revived. In 1927, a historian determined that the phrase had originated with him.
Themes and influences
Historian Beshoy Shaker has noted that three key themes were usually touched upon by advocates of Manifest Destiny:
- the virtue of the American people and their institutions;
- the mission to spread these institutions, thereby redeeming and remaking the world in the image of the U.S.; and
- the destiny under God to accomplish this work.
The origin of the first theme, later known as American Exceptionalism, was often traced to America’s Puritan heritage, particularly John Winthrop’s famous “City upon a Hill” sermon of 1630, in which he called for the establishment of a virtuous community that would be a shining example to the Old World. In his influential 1776 pamphlet Common Sense, Thomas Paine echoed this notion, arguing that the American Revolution provided an opportunity to create a new, better society:
We have it in our power to begin the world over again. A situation, similar to the present, hath not happened since the days of Noah until now. The birthday of a new world is at hand….
Many Americans agreed with Paine, and came to believe that the United States had embarked upon a special experiment in freedom and democracy—and a rejection of Old World monarchy in favor of republicanism—an innovation of world historical importance. President Abraham Lincoln’s description of the United States as “the last, best hope of Earth” is a well-known expression of this idea. Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, in which he interpreted the Civil War as a struggle to determine if any nation with America’s ideals could survive, has been called by historian Robert Johannsen “the most enduring statement of America’s Manifest Destiny and mission”.
Not all Americans who believed that the United States was a divinely favored nation thought that it ought to expand. Whigs especially argued that the “mission” of the United States was only to serve as virtuous example to the rest of the world. If the United States was successful as a shining “city on a hill,” people in other countries would seek to establish their own democratic republics. Thomas Jefferson initially did not believe it necessary that the United States should grow in size, since he predicted that other, similar republics would be founded in North America, forming what he called an “empire for liberty.” However, with the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, which doubled the size of the United States, Jefferson set the stage for the continental expansion of the United States. Many began to see this as the beginning of a new “mission”—what Andrew Jackson in 1843 famously described as “extending the area of freedom.” As more territory was added to the United States in the following decades, whether or not “extending the area of freedom” also meant extending the institution of slavery became a central issue in a growing divide over the interpretation of America’s “mission.”
Effect on continental expansion
The phrase “Manifest Destiny” is most often associated with the territorial expansion of the United States from 1815 to 1860. This era, from the end of the War of 1812 to the beginning of the American Civil War, has been called the “Age of Manifest Destiny.” During this time, the United States expanded to the Pacific Ocean—”from sea to shining sea”—largely defining the borders of the continental United States as they are today.
The nineteenth century belief that the United States would eventually encompass all of North America is known as “continentalism”. An early proponent of this idea was John Quincy Adams, a leading figure in U.S. expansion between the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 and the Polk administration in the 1840s. In 1811, Adams wrote to his father:
The whole continent of North America appears to be destined by Divine Providence to be peopled by one nation, speaking one language, professing one general system of religious and political principles, and accustomed to one general tenor of social usages and customs. For the common happiness of them all, for their peace and prosperity, I believe it is indispensable that they should be associated in one federal Union.
Adams did much to further this idea. He orchestrated the Treaty of 1818, which established the United States-Canada border as far west as the Rocky Mountains, and provided for the joint occupation of the Oregon Country. He negotiated the Transcontinental Treaty in 1819, purchasing Florida from Spain and extending the U.S. border with Spanish Mexico all the way to the Pacific Ocean. And he formulated the Monroe Doctrine of 1823, which warned Europe that the Western Hemisphere was no longer open for European colonization.
The Monroe Doctrine and Manifest Destiny were closely related ideas: historian Walter McDougall calls Manifest Destiny a “corollary” of the Monroe Doctrine, because while the Monroe Doctrine did not specify expansion, expansion was necessary in order to enforce the Doctrine. Concerns in the United States that European powers (especially Great Britain) were seeking to acquire colonies or greater influence in North America led to calls for expansion in order to prevent this. In his influential 1935 study of Manifest Destiny, Albert Weinberg wrote that “the expansionism of the [1840s] arose as a defensive effort to forestall the encroachment of Europe in North America.”
British North America
Although Manifest Destiny was primarily directed at territory inhabited by Mexicans and American Indians, the concept played a role in U.S. relations with British North America (later Canada) to the north. From the time of the American Revolution, the United States had expressed an interest in expelling the British Empire from North America. Failing to do that in both the American Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, Americans came to accept the British presence on their northern border, but fears of possible British expansion elsewhere in North America were a recurrent theme of Manifest Destiny.
During the American Revolution and the early years of independence there were both peaceful and violent attempts to include Canada in the United States. The Revolutionaries hoped French Canadians would join the Thirteen Colonies in the effort to throw off the rule of the British Empire. Canada was invited to send representatives to the Continental Congress, and was pre-approved for joining the United States in the Articles of Confederation. In the Paris peace negotiations, Benjamin Franklin attempted to persuade Britain to cede Canada to the United States. Canada was invaded during the War of Independence, and again during the War of 1812. None of these measures proved successful in bringing Canada onto the side of the Thirteen Colonies.
These attempts to expel the British Empire from North America are sometimes cited as early examples of Manifest Destiny in action. Some scholars, however, including Canadian historian Reginald Stuart, argue that these events were different in character from those during the “Era of Manifest Destiny.” Before 1815, writes Stuart, “what seemed like territorial expansionism actually arose from a defensive mentality, not from ambitions for conquest and annexation.” From this point of view, Manifest Destiny was not a factor in the outbreak of the War of 1812, but rather emerged as a popular belief in the years after the war.
Filibustering in Canada
Americans became increasingly accepting of the presence of British colonies to the north after the War of 1812, although Anglophobia continued to be widespread in the United States. Many Americans, especially those along the border, were hopeful that the Rebellions of 1837 would bring an end to the British Empire in North America and the establishment of a republican government in Canada. Of those events John O’Sullivan wrote: “If freedom is the best of national blessings, if self-government is the first of national rights, … then we are bound to sympathise with the cause of the Canadian rebellion.” Americans like O’Sullivan viewed the Rebellions as a reprise of the American Revolution, and—unlike most Canadians at the time—considered Canadians to be living under oppressive foreign rule.
Despite this sympathy with the cause of the rebels, belief in Manifest Destiny did not result in widespread American reaction to the Rebellions, in part because the Rebellions were over so quickly. O’Sullivan, for his part, advised against U.S. intervention. Some American “filibusters”—unauthorized volunteer soldiers often motivated by a belief in Manifest Destiny—went to Canada to lend aid to the rebels, but President Martin Van Buren sent General Winfield Scott to arrest the filibusters and keep peace on the border. Some filibusters persisted in secretive groups known as the Hunters’ Lodges, and tried to stir up war in order to “liberate” Canada—the so-called “Patriot War” was one such event—but American sentiment and official government policy were against these actions. The Fenian raids after the American Civil War shared some resemblances to the actions of the Hunters, but were otherwise unrelated to the idea of Manifest Destiny or any policy of American expansionism.
Manifest Destiny played its most important role in the Oregon boundary dispute with Great Britain. The Anglo-American Convention of 1818 had provided for the joint occupation of the Oregon Country, and thousands of Americans migrated there in the 1840s over the Oregon Trail. The British rejected a proposal by President John Tyler to divide the region along 49th parallel, and instead proposed a boundary line further south along the Columbia River, which would have made what is now the state of Washington part of British North America. Advocates of Manifest Destiny protested and called for the annexation of the entire Oregon Country up to the Alaska line (54°40ʹ N). Presidential candidate James K. Polk used this popular outcry to his advantage, and the Democrats called for the annexation of “All Oregon” in the 1844 U.S. Presidential election.
As president, however, Polk renewed the earlier offer to divide the territory along the 49th parallel, to the dismay of the most ardent advocates of Manifest Destiny. When the British refused the offer, American expansionists responded with slogans such as “The Whole of Oregon or None!” and “Fifty-Four Forty or Fight!”, referring to the northern border of the region. (The latter slogan is often mistakenly described as having been a part of the 1844 presidential campaign.) When Polk moved to terminate the joint occupation agreement, the British finally agreed to divide the region along the 49th parallel, and the dispute was settled diplomatically with the Oregon Treaty of 1846.
Despite the earlier clamor for “All Oregon,” the treaty was popular in the U.S. and was easily ratified by the Senate, particularly because the United States was by that time at war with Mexico. Many Americans believed that the Canadian provinces would eventually merge with the United States anyway, and that war was unnecessary—and counterproductive—in fulfilling that destiny. The most fervent advocates of Manifest Destiny had not prevailed along the northern border because, according to Reginald Stuart, “the compass of Manifest Destiny pointed west and southwest, not north, despite the use of the term ‘continentalism’.”
Mexico and Texas
Manifest Destiny proved to be more consequential in U.S. relations with Mexico. In 1836, the Republic of Texas declared independence from Mexico and, after the Texas Revolution, sought to join the United States as a new state. This was an idealized process of expansion which had been advocated from Jefferson to O’Sullivan: newly democratic and independent states would request entry into the United States, rather than the United States extending its government over people who did not want it. The annexation of Texas was controversial, however, since it would add another slave state to the Union. Presidents Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren declined Texas’s offer to join the United States in part because the slavery issue threatened to divide the Democratic Party.
Before the election of 1844, Whig candidate Henry Clay and the presumed Democratic candidate, ex-President Van Buren, both declared themselves opposed to the annexation of Texas, each hoping to keep the troublesome topic from becoming a campaign issue. This unexpectedly led to Van Buren being dropped by the Democrats in favor of Polk, who favored annexation. Polk tied the Texas annexation question with the Oregon dispute, thus providing a sort of regional compromise on expansion. (Expansionists in the North were more inclined to promote the occupation of Oregon, while Southern expansionists focused primarily on the annexation of Texas.) Although elected by a very slim margin, Polk proceeded as if his victory had been a mandate for expansion.
After the election of Polk, but before he took office, Congress approved the annexation of Texas. Polk moved to occupy a portion of Texas which was also claimed by Mexico, paving the way for the outbreak of the Mexican-American War on April 24, 1846. With American successes on the battlefield, by the summer of 1847 there were calls for the annexation of “All Mexico,” particularly among Eastern Democrats, who argued that bringing Mexico into the Union was the best way to ensure future peace in the region.
This was a controversial proposition for two reasons. First, idealistic advocates of Manifest Destiny like John L. O’Sullivan had always maintained that the laws of the United States should not be imposed on people against their will. The annexation of “All Mexico” would be a violation of this principle. And secondly, the annexation of Mexico was controversial because it would mean extending U.S. citizenship to millions of Mexicans. Senator John C. Calhoun of South Carolina, who had approved of the annexation of Texas, was opposed to the annexation of Mexico, as well as the “mission” aspect of Manifest Destiny, for racial reasons. He made these views clear in a speech to Congress on 4 January 1848:
[W]e have never dreamt of incorporating into our Union any but the Caucasian race—the free white race. To incorporate Mexico, would be the very first instance of the kind, of incorporating an Indian race; for more than half of the Mexicans are Indians, and the other is composed chiefly of mixed tribes. I protest against such a union as that! Ours, sir, is the Government of a white race…. We are anxious to force free government on all; and I see that it has been urged … that it is the mission of this country to spread civil and religious liberty over all the world, and especially over this continent. It is a great mistake.
This debate brought to the forefront one of the contradictions of Manifest Destiny: on the one hand, while racist ideas inherent in Manifest Destiny suggested that Mexicans, as non-Anglo-Saxons, were a lesser race and thus not qualified to become Americans, the “mission” component of Manifest Destiny suggested that Mexicans would be improved (or “regenerated,” as it was then described) by bringing them into American democracy. Racism was used to promote Manifest Destiny, but, as in the case of Calhoun and the resistance to the “All Mexico” movement, racism was also used to oppose Manifest Destiny.
The controversy was eventually ended by the Mexican Cession, which added the territories of California and New Mexico to the United States, both more sparsely populated than the rest of Mexico. Like the “All Oregon” movement, the “All Mexico” movement quickly abated. Historian Frederick Merk, in Manifest Destiny and Mission in American History: A Reinterpretation (1963), argued that the failure of the “All Oregon” and “All Mexico” movements indicates that Manifest Destiny had not been as popular as historians have traditionally portrayed it to have been. Merk wrote that, while belief in the beneficent “mission” of democracy was central to American history, aggressive “continentalism” were aberrations supported by only a very small (but influential) minority of Americans. Merk’s interpretation is probably still a minority opinion; scholars generally see Manifest Destiny, at least in the 1840s, as a popular belief among Democrats and an unpopular one among Whigs.
Filibustering in the South
After the Mexican-American War ended in 1848, disagreements over the expansion of slavery made further territorial annexation too divisive to be official government policy. Many Northerners were increasingly opposed to what they believed to be efforts by Southern slave owners—and their friends in the North—to expand slavery at any cost. The proposal of the Wilmot Proviso during the war, and the emergence of various “Slave Power” conspiracy theories thereafter, indicated the degree to which Manifest Destiny had become controversial.
Without official government support, the most radical advocates of Manifest Destiny increasingly turned to military filibustering. While there had been some filibustering expeditions into Canada in the late 1830s, the primary target of Manifest Destiny’s filibusters was Latin America, particularly Mexico and Cuba. Though illegal, the filibustering operations in the late 1840s and early 1850s were romanticized in the U.S. press. Wealthy American expansionists financed dozens of expeditions, usually based out of New Orleans.
The United States had long been interested in acquiring Cuba from the declining Spanish Empire. As with Texas, Oregon, and California, American policy makers were concerned that Cuba would fall into British hands, which, according to the thinking of the Monroe Doctrine, would constitute a threat to the interests of the United States. Prompted by John L. O’Sullivan, in 1848 President Polk offered to buy Cuba from Spain for $100 million. Polk feared that filibustering would hurt his effort to buy the island, and so he informed the Spanish of an attempt by the Cuban filibuster Narcisco Lopez to seize Cuba by force and annex it to the U.S., and the plot was foiled. Nevertheless, Spain declined to sell the island, which ended Polk’s efforts to acquire Cuba. O’Sullivan, on the other hand, continued to raise money for filibustering expeditions, eventually landing him in legal trouble.
Filibustering continued to be a major concern for presidents after Polk. Whigs presidents Zachary Taylor and Millard Fillmore tried to suppress the expeditions. When the Democrats recaptured the White House in 1852 with the election of Franklin Pierce, a filibustering effort by John A. Quitman to acquire Cuba received the tentative support of the president. Pierce backed off, however, and instead renewed the offer to buy the island, this time for $130 million. When the public learned of the Ostend Manifesto in 1854, which argued that the United States could seize Cuba by force if Spain refused to sell, this effectively killed the effort to acquire the island. The public now linked expansion with slavery; if Manifest Destiny had once had widespread popular approval, this was no longer true.
Filibusters like William Walker continued to garner headlines in the late 1850s, but with the outbreak of the American Civil War in 1860, the “Age of Manifest Destiny” came to an end. Expansionism was among the various issues that played a role in the coming of the war. With the divisive question of the expansion of slavery, Northerners and Southerners, in effect, were coming to define Manifest Destiny in different ways, undermining nationalism as a unifying force. According to Frederick Merk, “The doctrine of Manifest Destiny, which in the 1840’s had seemed Heaven-sent, proved to have been a bomb wrapped up in idealism.”
Manifest Destiny had serious consequences for American Indians. The United States purchased land rights by treaty from the Indian tribes. National policy was that Indians had to become “civilized” and abandon hunting and become farmers. Advocates of “civilization” programs believed that the process would greatly reduce the amount of land needed by the Indians, thereby making more land available for purchase by white Americans. Thomas Jefferson believed that while American Indians were the intellectual equals of whites, they had to live like the whites or inevitably be pushed aside by them. Jefferson’s belief, rooted in Enlightenment thinking, that whites and Native Americans would merge to create a single nation did not last his lifetime, and he began to believe that the natives should emigrate across the Mississippi River and maintain a separate society, an idea made possible by the Louisiana Purchase of 1803.
- ^ Speech Sept 12, 1848, in David Donald, Lincoln (1995) 122
- ^ David M. Potter, The Impending Crisis, 1848 – 1861. (1976) p 193
- ^ Stephanson’s Manifest Destiny: American Expansionism and the Empire of Right examines the influence of Manifest Destiny in the 20th century, particularly as articulated by Woodrow Wilson and Ronald Reagan.
- ^ Tuveson quote, p. 91.
- ^ Robert W. Johannsen, “The Meaning of Manifest Destiny”, in Hayes.
- ^ Weinberg, p. 145; Johannsen, p. 9.
- ^ Johannsen, p. 10.
- ^ Winthrop quote: Weinberg, p. 143; O’Sullivan’s death, later discovery of phrase’s origin: Stephanson, p. xii.
- ^ Weeks, p. 61.
- ^ Haynes, pp. 18–19.
- ^ Stuart and Weeks call this period the “Era of Manifest Destiny” and the “Age of Manifest Destiny,” respectively.
- ^ Adams quoted in McDougall, p. 78.
- ^ McDougall, p. 74; Weinberg, p. 109.
- ^ Stuart, p. 76.
- ^ O’Sullivan and the U.S. view of the uprisings: Stuart, pp. 128-46.
- ^ O’Sullivan against intervention: Stuart p. 86; Filibusters: Stuart, ch. 6; Fenians unrelated: Stuart 249.
- ^ Treaty popular: Stuart, p. 104; compass quote p. 84.
- ^ Merk, pp. 144–47.
- ^ McDougall, pp. 87–95.
- ^ Weeks, pp. 144–52.
- ^ Merk, p. 214.
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- Greenberg, Amy S. Manifest Manhood and the Antebellum American Empire. Cambridge U. Press, 2005. 323 pp.
- Hayes, Sam W. and Christopher Morris, eds. Manifest Destiny and Empire: American Antebellum Expansionism. College Station, Texas: Texas A&M University Press, 1997. ISBN 0-89096-756-3.
- Hofstadter, Richard. “Cuba, the Philippines, and Manifest Destiny” in The Paranoid Style in American Politics and Other Essays. New York: Knopf, 1965.
- Horsman, Reginald. Race and Manifest Destiny: The Origins of American Racial Anglo-Saxonism. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1981.
- McDougall, Walter A. Promised Land, Crusader State: The American Encounter with the World Since 1776. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
- May, Robert E. Manifest Destiny’s Underworld: Filibustering in Antebellum America. U. of North Carolina Press, 2002. 426 pp.
- Merk, Frederick. Manifest Destiny and Mission in American History: A Reinterpretation. New York, Knopf, 1963.
- Pinheiro, John C. “‘Religion Without Restriction’: Anti-catholicism, All Mexico, and the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.” Journal of the Early Republic 2003 23(1): 69-96. ISSN 0275-1275
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- Smith, Gene A. Thomas ap Catesby Jones: Commodore of Manifest Destiny (Library of Naval Biography Series.) Annapolis: Naval Inst. Press, 2000. 223 pp.
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- Stuart, Reginald C. United States Expansionism and British North America, 1775–1871. Chapel Hill, N.C.: University of North Carolina Press, 1988. ISBN 0-8078-1767-8
- Tuveson, Ernest Lee. Redeemer Nation: The Idea of America’s Millennial Role. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1968.
- Weeks, William Earl. Building the Continental Empire: American Expansion from the Revolution to the Civil War. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 1996. ISBN 1-56663-135-1.
- Weinberg, Albert K. Manifest Destiny: A Study of Nationalist Expansionism in American History. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 1935. Cited by many scholars.
- Brown, Charles H. Agents of Manifest Destiny: The Lives and Times of the Filibusters. University of North Carolina Press, 1980. ISBN 0-8078-1361-3.
- Burns, Edward McNall. The American Idea of Mission: Concepts of National Purpose and Destiny. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1957.
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- Heidler, David S. and Jeanne T. Heidler. Manifest Destiny. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2003.
- Hietala, Thomas. Manifest Design: American Exceptionalism and Empire, 2003. Previously published as Manifest Design: Anxious Aggrandizement in Late Jacksonian America, 1985.
- May, Robert E. Manifest Destiny’s Underworld: Filibustering in Antebellum America. University of North Carolina Press, 2002. ISBN 0-8078-2703-7.
- Morrison; Michael A. Slavery and the American West: The Eclipse of Manifest Destiny and the Coming of the Civil War University of North Carolina Press. 1997.
- Sampson; Robert D. John L. O’Sullivan and His Times Ohio: Kent State University Press, 2003.