Introduction

American Progress

This photo entitled "American Progress" by George Crofutt in 1873 depicts the religious ideology behind United States expansion as an angel guides settlers to the west.

The most influential ideology in our nation’s history is manifest destiny. The ideology of manifest destiny dates itself back to colonialism when Americans believed they would be the example for the rest of the world. Americans believed they were destined by God to remake the world. This ideal of American exceptionalism has fueled American expansion westward through the ideology of manifest destiny. A majority of Americans consider the ideology to represent expansion and the building of an empire. However, the ideology of manifest destiny represents more than that it is a culmination of American perspectives about how they view the United States in the world. It was not until 1839 when John O’Sullivan published in The United States Democratic Review, the meaning behind the ideology of manifest destiny. Prior to this publication the ideology of manifest destiny was simply an aspect of American culture that all Americans believed in but was never defined. O’Sullivan claimed that the ideology grew from “our national birth was the beginning of a new history, the formation and progress of an untried political system, which separates us from the past and connects us with the future only” (“The Great”). Since the United States government was different than any other nations it would have to create their own path to destiny. In 1845 the phrase ‘manifest destiny’ was coined by John O’Sullivan. Manifest destiny would continue to represent American ideals for years to come.