America’s destiny is to expand to the west! Manifest Destiny, colonization throughout the North American continent. How did the government help push the idea of Manifest Destiny? Was it really what God wanted or was it just America wanting power?
John O’Sullivan a democrat leader and editor of the New York Newspaper “The Mormon Post” wrote “Our manifest destiny to over spread and to possess the whole of the continent which providence has given us for the development of the great experiment of liberty.” Once the concept had been given a name ‘Manifest Destiny’ the idea took off and appeared all around America, newspapers, paintings, debates, and advertisements, the people of America saw Manifest Destiny everyday and everywhere. The idea grew and grew. Especially since all the people who lived in the east were crowded. These people were lured West with the promise of open, and expensive land. The promises were kept and the government of America passed the Homestead Act. An act that allowed people to purchase 160 acres of land for a very small price. In 1862 another act was passed that divided 2.5 million acres into section of 160 acres. The only requirement was that they paid a small administration charge, built a house and lived on the land for at least five yrs.
People saw Manifest Destiny where ever their day took them. The idea of Manifest Destiny was burrowed into their minds. The message was that it was their God given right and their destiny. There was no down side for the people of the East. Escape crowds and start over with a mouthful of land. Great upside for a nine month journey, but the people were hesitant at first to the idea of Manifest Destiny. The very first idea of Manifest Destiny influenced the people of America in a negative way. It did grow rapidly but only after the government and the advertisements came into play. The sound of a nine month travel by wagon, leaving everything behind and risking it all sounded terrifying. Then the government created the Homestead Act. It gave Americans hope to a promise life once the journey was completed. They also turned heads by putting out success stories of people who claimed land under the terms of the Homestead Act. only the positive outcome of Manifest Destiny was shown to the people. Just what the government had wanted. Soon people traveled West because of the big dreams installed into their minds.
The government used advertising and stories to plea the people to expand:
Adeline Hornbek A Colorado Success Story
Colorado's Florissant Valley lies 35 miles west of Colorado Springs on the flanks of Pikes Peak. To the north and east, the Rocky Mountains dominate the skyline. To the west lies high meadow land with large expanses of undulating native grasses so beautiful that early fur trappers to the area referred to it as a park. In the summer the grassy meadows are filled with the colored mists of thousands of wild flowers.
In the center of this lush valley stands the Hornbek homestead complex, the home of a strong, determined woman who came to the area with her four children in the 1870s. Claiming land under the Homestead Act, Adeline Hornbek defied traditional gender roles to become the owner of a prosperous ranch.
“It was great, God gave us the right to do this. We will go and create a greater life. Land is cheap and much of it!” This was the mindset of the people from the east who lived in crowds. It was stories like Adeline Hornbek that gave much hope for the people who haven’t yet left for the west. The government let the people see what they wanted them to see, the positive and the prosperous. Some unsettling truth was that the Oregon Trail was a hard and grueling travel. Most the travelers were livestock and their belongings that were carried on their wagon. Some people walked the entire trip without shoes. People passed away while on the trail from diseases, wearing out and loss of food or water. Imagine a nine month voyage of “roughing it,” eating barely enough to keep you from starving, and drinking straight from rivers that you pass to keep the lips from ripping open and bleeding. Weather was also severe, that ranged from hail to tornados to thunderstorms. One out of ten who set out on the trail do not make it. The main causes of death are diseases and accidents.
"First of all I would mention the sickness we have had and I am sorry to say the deaths. First of all Francis Freel died June 4, 1852, and Maria Freel followed the 6th, next came Polly Casner who died the 9th and LaFayette Freel soon followed, he died the 10th, Elizabeth Freel, wife of Amos [and Martha's mother] died the 11th, and her baby died the 17th. You see we have lost 7 persons in a few short days, all died of Cholera."
- Martha Freel, June 23, 1852
This was a letter sent home to inform of the tragedies that befell while on the trial. All from Cholera which is the disease with the worst reputation was Asiatic cholera, known as the "unseen destroyer." Cholera crept silently, caused by unsanitary conditions: people camped amid garbage left by previous parties, picked up the disease, and then went about spreading it, themselves. People in good spirits in the morning could be in agony by noon and dead by evening. Symptoms started with a stomach ache that grew to intense pain within minutes. Then came diarrhea and vomiting that quickly dehydrated the victim. Within hours the skin was wrinkling and turning blue. If death did not occur within the first 12 to 24 hours, the victim usually recovered. Death from the common disease came swift and ended quicker than it came but the death is harsh and cruel.
The trail was soon better set for travelers, meaning that at the forts along the trail would offer repairs, new supplies, fresh teams and help from fort-trading posts such as Fort Kearny and Fort Laramie. Jim Bridger's Fort Bridger and Hudson's Bay Company-owned Fort Hall and Fort Boise in Idaho. Trail travelers had to band together and create laws and rules to follow while on the voyage. They even appointed officers. Without this the tension and arguments of the trial would eventually tear the team apart and death would most certainly follow.
The main problem that I have with Manifest Destiny is that in order to gain power the American government had to slaughter and remove the Native Americans. Who were the inhabitants of America long before it was called America. I do not like how Native Americans had to lose for America to win. I do not agree with killing and I do not agree with manipulation. The government manipulated the American people that only good would come from Manifest Destiny and they told them that it was “their God given right to push west.” God didn’t put others on earth for others to kill. I strongly believe that the term Manifest Destiny is a word the government created for the word murder.
How did the government help push the idea of Manifest Destiny? Was it really what God wanted or was it just America wanting power? The government did their job perfectly and they expanded west with the help of their tools. Their advertisements worked like a charm and the people were fooled by their manipulation that nothing bad would happen and it was their god given right. The Native Americans suffered as a whole for America to gain power! There were other options to handle this situation that all parties could be happy. A compromise of sorts. Manifest Destiny is a very powerful tool and America used it to its best ability. The only problem is that America used it with the wrong morals. If one gains at the expense of the other, then truly we all fail.