Free Nineteenth Century America and Manifest Destiny Essay Sample

In the early nineteenth century as more and more settlers made their way west, Manifest Destiny was the term to express how European Americans felt it was their God given right to expand the frontier. The European Americans felt superior to the Native Americans and they despised their culture and the way in which they lived. And more expressly, their views of the savagery of the Indians were widely shared, hence their conviction that the “American values and way of life were superior to those of the Native Americans and Mexicans who occupied the lands” (Nash et al. 375). The concept of Manifest Destiny provided the confidence for European Americans to believe that they had every right to do what they were doing. This is probably why none gave a second thought to what would become of the natives, as long as the Indians didn’t stand in the way of progress and “many predicted that the Indians would soon disappear from the continent” (Nash et al. 398). Native Americans were not too happy about the European Americans. As more and more of them arrived in America and moved westward laying waste to Indian tribal lands, and killing the buffalo for sport, the Indians feelings about them changed from despair to anger. European Americans also brought with them liquor and Cholera “Cholera spread from whites to Indians, killing thousands” (Nash et al. 400).

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Social and Economic Benefits

President Thomas Jefferson viewed the westward expansion as an opportunity to “access international markets for American farm products” (US History). His vision was threatened by France who controlled Louisiana, thus blocking Americans access to the port on the Mississippi river. Jefferson faced with a dilemma, bargained with France. France was at war with Britain and this was a major reason that Napoleon sold the United States all of Louisiana for the sum of $15 million dollars, thus doubling America’s size. Jefferson poised to purchase Louisiana was met with opposition from the federalist critics who advised for the government to purchase land went against the Constitution. Jefferson went around this by using the Constitutions treaty-making provisions in which to do so (US History).

Social and Political Costs

In the early nineteenth century, slavery and politics went hand in hand. Jefferson was a staunch advocate against slavery. He used his political career to further arguments against slavery, calling for its abolition. In 1778, Jefferson “drafted the Virginia law prohibiting the importation of enslaved Africans. In 1784, he proposed an ordinance banning slavery in the new territories of the Northwest” He also “advocated” for the emancipation of slaves by a plan that would entitle “slaves born into slavery after a certain date would be declared free” (Stanton). However, between Jefferson’s words and actions there appeared to be contradiction. The drive with which Jefferson started out soon grew silent by 1814, his views were more on thoughts that slaves were inferior to, and resentful of whites. He felt they should be emancipated and sent away from America. Although he embraced the idea that they had minds like those of children and needed to be taken care of. He saw himself as responsible for their care. With the westward expansion and the “political crisis” that resulted in the Missouri Compromise, Jefferson saw a way out for slaves in heading west and felt that slavery would dissipate, thus coming to a swift end. If it did not he predicted there would be a civil war. His prediction came true almost forty years after his death (Stanton). Social movements included reforms such as the Great Awakening, Education, and Temperance.The Abolition movement and Women’s rights were also social groups who established reform movements. As the slave reform came together, many women were alerted to the fact that women were treated the same as slaves, if not worse. Thus, came the movement for women’s rights. These reform movements set a new precedence for American Democracy (Feldmeth).


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