[FOUNTAIN]U.S. doctrine of expansion resurrectedDuring the 19th century, a main objective of the United States was to expand its territory. In 1803, the United States paid $15 million to France for a huge swath of land in what is now Louisiana, Mississippi, Minnesota and Kansas. France sold the land in order to raise money for its war with England. The Louisiana Purchase doubled the size of the United States.
Following the Louisiana Purchase, the United States began eyeing what is now Texas. The region was under Mexican control at the time, but as America’s population increased in the area, Texas began fighting for independence. In 1836, 186 Texan independence fighters were killed at the Alamo while defending a chapel for 13 days against the Mexican army.
California came after Texas, also Mexican territory at the time. The concept of “manifest destiny,” a philosophy justifying American expansionism, was born around this time. John O’Sullivan, the editor of the influential Democratic Review, first used the phrase in an editorial envisioning America’s expansion. In the editorial, he wrote that America was “destined to manifest to mankind the excellence of divine principles.” He basically argued that Americans were granted the right to take over the territories of other nations in order to realize “divine principles.” The United States started the Mexican War in 1847. The following year, the United States paid $15 million to Mexico for California.
The vision of “manifest destiny” re-emerged in 1889 when the United States fought against Spain over Cuba. The same rhetoric was used when Americans took over Indian territories. Which God had called upon Americans? As Chief Seattle, after whom the city, Seattle, in Washington has been named, handed over the territory of his tribe in 1855, he said, “If we have a common Heavenly Father, He must be partial.” He lamented, “He came to his pale face children. We never saw Him.”
A few days ago, the Advance Democracy Act was introduced in both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives. According to the bill, the United States can use all its power aside from its military to democratize nations that are non democratic. Manifest destiny might be making a comeback in the United States. This time, the justification is not “divine principles” but democracy, the grand cause of mankind.
by Lee Se-jung
The writer is an editorial writer for the JoongAng Ilbo.