Manifest Destiny Essay

This essay has a total of 664 words and 4 pages.

Manifest Destiny



During the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries the United States saw many
problems come and go. Some problems were more important than others, however all led to
further division of American politics. The most divisive issue in American politics
during this time frame was the idea of Manifest Destiny, or territorial expansion.

Manifest Destiny was the idea that it was the United States’ destiny to take over all of
North America from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Most of the public was in favor of
territorial expansion, though some politicians felt it contradicted the constitution.

Strict constructionists were against territorial expansion, while loose constructionists
felt expansion was the United States’ destiny. Strict constructionists centered their
platform around the fact that the constitution never directly states that the federal
government has the right to acquire land. Those that view the constitution liberally, or
loose constructionists, counter that stand by claiming the right of expansion falls under
the government’s implied powers. Loose constructionists and strict constructionists are
the main divisive factor for the United States political parties: the democrats and the
whigs. One of the supporters of Manifest Destiny was, democrat, James Polk who served as
president from 1844 to 1848.

Polk was strongly in favor of expanding the United States to the Pacific. This opinion
won him the election of 1844. That year Henry Clay, a well known and loved figure in
American politics, ran and was expected to blow, little known, Polk of the charts. The
only problem was Clay was nervous about territorial expansion. He did not want was with
Mexico and was unsure of the constitutionality of expanding. Polk won because the
majority of the public believed in Manifest Destiny.

Along with influencing presidential elections, Manifest Destiny played a role in the
slavery issue. Entering the mid eighteen hundreds slavery was a very sensitive subject,
and some of the bad feelings that caused this sensitivity were caused by territorial
expansion. With more lands being acquired the number of slave state and free state
representatives in Congress became unbalanced. This caused great distress among the
senators and representatives. For instance, free state members of Congress began accusing
the slave state members of conspiracies. One such accusation was made by Charles Sumner.
He proposed the idea that southerners wanted to acquire more land so they could implant
slavery in the territories. With more slave oriented territories that would eventually
became slave states, the South would have control of Congress. This is what Sumner called
the “Slave Power Conspiracy.”

Slavery stirred up a lot of hard feelings though the slavery issue was not the hottest of
the problems associated with territorial expansion. War with Mexico and Great Britain
worried many of the people who were against expansion. James Polk had been elected when
Continues for 2 more pages >>