Manifest destiny is often associated with US expansionism so that the country could stretch from coast to coast, but it is a concept that dates back as far as the Ancient Egyptians – and perhaps even further than we realize. It’s the idea that a certain population has a God-given right to certain things: land, for example. The reason why this right exists is because one culture is superior in some way to another culture. For the US colonists, they viewed themselves as superior to the native populations on the continent already.
There are some advantages that come from a perspective of Manifest Destiny, but there are some serious disadvantages as well. Here is a look at the pros and cons of this subject.
The Pros of Manifest Destiny
1. It allows a nation to be able to expand their territory.
For the United States, land associated with the nation expanded the country’s size by over 60% because of Manifest Destiny. This allowed more people to immigrate to the US and find a new life for themselves so that they could remove themselves from poverty. Without the extra land space, this would not have been possible.
2. It creates more land that can be dedicated to crop development.
A bigger population size requires more food. You’ve got to have land available in order to grow food. Manifest Destiny allowed homesteaders to go forth and claim land so that they could improve it and grow crops that could be used to feed themselves and the local population. The expansion of food allowed for the expansion of adventure.
3. It gives people the chance to explore.
Manifest Destiny ultimately gets people into a comfortable pair of boots or shoes and out into the environment around them. Instead of resting on their laurels and being satisfied with a life that may be mediocre at best, there is inspiration available for someone to actually pursue their dreams and carve out a nice life for themselves.
4. It gives all population groups the chance to experience freedom.
From the US perspective, the goal of Manifest Destiny was to provide everyone with the American sense of freedom. During the Colonial Age, dissenting minorities could establish colonies outside of their home nation so that they could worship their gods more freely or escape the confines of persecution, poverty, or other political issues.
5. There is wealth to be gained in the concept of Manifest Destiny.
There are many forms of value that can be located during the exploration process that comes from this philosophy. The gold rush of 1849 is a classic example of this. It’s one of the reasons why the Colonial Age was founded in the first place. Even the Ancient Egyptians looked to expand in their region to gain extra riches or supplies, depending on the quality of the Nile flooding season.
The Cons of Manifest Destiny
1. Property is taken from one group of people so that it can be given to another group of people.
Imagine owning a home for 40 years. You’ve paid off the mortgage, raised your kids, and are ready to settle down for a comfortable retirement. One day there’s a knock on your door and a group of people comes into your home, kicks you out, and then changes the locks. They arm themselves in case you try to claim your home back. That’s the definition of Manifest Destiny in modern terms.
2. It creates dissension within a population base.
No one likes to have things taken from them. The fact that people use God as an excuse to take things makes the process even less palatable. The act of Manifest Destiny ultimately creates negativity within the affected population base and this can lead to terrorism, a full-blown war, and casualties on both sides of the issue.
3. It manipulates the idea of religion for personal gain.
Using God, as many Americans did and still do to some extent, to justify arrogance, piety, and an overall lack of love means that religion is just being manipulated to serve a personal person. This is done because at the very core of the person who is taking action using Manifest Destiny is a perception that what they are doing is morally wrong. By convincing themselves that God would justify their actions, they can settle they moral argument they are having for themselves.
4. It’s a “Do as I say, not as I do” type of philosophy.
The idea that God would support the taking of land or starting a war to take land is not something that would be supported if the roles were reversed. Imagine another nation starting a war with the United States because they felt it was their Manifest Destiny to occupy Florida? Or what if the entire population of Baltimore were forced to relocate to a different city so that natural resources could be “liberated?” Because it cannot be implemented in reverse, the concept of Manifest Destiny is often seen as a negative by its critics.
5. Does religion require death and subjugation?
Using the US expansionism to the West as an example, would the Bible declare it righteous to kill someone so that their land could be taken? The only way to justify such as action would be to manipulate the words that are attributed to God and then convince the general population that the manipulated words are the actual truth. The fact that manipulation must occur shows that the concepts of Manifest Destiny are of man and not of God.
Manifest Destiny helped to create the world as we see it today. For the United States, it allowed a coast-to-coast country that has become one of the wealthiest in the world. Has it all been worth it? By weighing the pros and cons of Manifest Destiny against each other, each person has the opportunity to decide that on their own.