A History of the Manifest Destiny

For the duration of the voyage to the elusive California coast, Richard Henry Dana was nineteen years old working as a sailor aboard the Pilgram, engaged in the hide and tallow trade, Dana was an elite member of the upper class. As a student at Han/ard. he became infected with a case of measles that left him. With a painful eye condition, dana then began his career at sea as a sailor and set off from Boston around Cape Horn to the coast of California. Throughout his voyage, Dana kept a journal of his sixteen-month adventure. In 1840, Dana‘s Two Years Before the Mast was published, based on his diaries. It contains an in depth account of life on the California coast, the territory of the Mexican government, a decade before the Gold Rush had struck dana’s documents stops at the ports of Monterey San Pedro, San Diego, Santa Barbara and Santa Clara.

He describes the sailor’s life at the ports, at the beaches where they cured hides, and the cruelty on the ship. Furthermore, he describes the daily life of the diverse Californians of Hipic, Native American and European descent and the land itself. Two Years Before the Mast depicts a multicultural society living in an environment of natural beauty and ideal climate, a paradise somehow yearning to be improved by American ingenuity. Dana’s Two Years Before the Mast became a worldwide bestseller in 1849 when the discovery of gold hit California, Dana’s book described California, the country that appealed to the entire world. Two Years Before the Mast was an important element in the process of reform and the beginning of Manifest Destiny.

Manifest Destiny is a phrase that describes the belief in which the United States had a “dwine right” to the westward exoansmn of North America. This “dwine right” suggested that the United States were chosen by God to expand their democracy westward to the people who were perceived as being uncivilized. John Sullivan stated, “it is our manifest destiny to overspread and to possess the whole of this continent, which Providence has given us.” America was consumed with the desire to gain power. There were economic, social and political pressures that were also encouraging expansion. The US had suffered two economic depressions and with an increasing population, the westward expansion would open many opportunities for the nation‘s progression. Land ownership was associated with wealth, power and independence. Therefore. America saw conquering new territory as gaining those desired qualities.

The concept of Manifest Destiny was used to justify their greed. cruel and prejudice actions. The American objective was similar to that of the Spaniards In the sense of forcing one‘s ideology on others. Their inhumane and Violent treatment of the natives is hardly dwined. The greed for power and wealth was the motive behind westward expansmn, not because America was chosen by God to do so. The rise of Manifest Destiny was encouraged by several factors, one of them being literature. Dana’s Two Years Before Mast is a prime example. Dana’s book illustrates an alluring California and focuses on its riches of prosperous and exploitable resources. He also contrasts its assets With the Californians. who he ignorantly portrays as lazy. unintelligent and unworthy of their thriving surroundings. The United States was aware of California’s potential, and it was the desire of power and wealth that led to Manifest Destiny, not because it was God’s mission.

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