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Published by: Alain Le Clere on 22-May-20
Manifest Destiny

Manifest Destiny


Manifest Destiny

In the mid-nineteenth century, newspaper editor John O'Sullivan coined the term 'manifest destiny' to describe the belief that God intended for the United States to occupy North America from Atlantic to Pacific. 



  • Manifest Destiny was the idea that white Americans were divinely ordained to settle the entire continent of North America.
  • The ideology of Manifest Destiny inspired a variety of measures designed to remove or destroy the native population.
  • US President James K. Polk (1845-1849) is the leader most associated with Manifest Destiny.
  • Manifest Destiny inflamed sectional tensions over slavery, which ultimately led to the Civil War.

From sea to shining sea

In 1845, newspaper editor John O’Sullivan coined the term “Manifest Destiny” to describe the ideology of continental expansionism.

Though the term was new, the ideas underlying it were much older, dating back to the first colonial contact between Europeans and Native Americans. The ideology that became known as Manifest Destiny included a belief in the inherent superiority of white Americans, as well as the conviction that they were destined by God to conquer the territories of North America, from sea to shining sea.

The ideology of Manifest Destiny justified extreme measures to clear the native population from the land, including forced removal and violent extermination. For proponents of Manifest Destiny, the American Indians were mere impediments to the forward march of racial and technological progress, and they advocated pursuing a policy of Indian Removal.

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