Manifest Destiny: Modernizing the Chosen People Mindset

John L. O'Sullivan

July 15, 2011

Doctrine of Discovery continued…

Two events occur and come together in the first half of the 1800’s that helps embed a core aspect of the Doctrine into the public’s mindset.  First, the iron printing press arrives in the early 1800’s, which in turn allows for the development of the steam-operated press.  The steam-operated press changed the ease by which the public would access information, as it would occur in another generation with the radio, another with the television, and another with the internet.  The steam press gives the public the daily newspaper.  Such accessibility ratchets up the influence and authority of the newspaper reporter.  Second, in 1845 President James Polk’s administration pushes to expand U.S. territorial borders.  Butting heads with Great Britain the administration supports pushing northern Oregon territory border to 54°40′ north latitude.  Congress and the press widely argue this dispute.  John L. O’Sullivan, a newspaper reporter, jumps into the middle of the dispute—supporting the northern 54°40′ line—on December 27, 1845 saying,

We have a still better title than any that can ever be constructed out of all these antiquated materials of old black-letter international law…And that claim is by the right of our manifest destiny to overspread and to possess the whole of the continent which Providence has given us for the development of the great experiment of liberty and federative self-government entrusted to us.

O’Sullivan modernizes and gives a U.S. spin to Santander’s chosen people mindset by saying Providence (God) has ordained (manifest destiny) U.S. white citizens to possess the whole of the continent.  From this point forward, manifest destiny becomes the idea and the term that not only drives U.S. expansionist efforts, but also becomes embedded in U.S. politics, business, education, and American Christianity.  An example of how this spin occurs in U.S. politics transpires a year later when

Senator Thomas Hart Benton speaks to Congress saying white Americans, “’had alone received the divine command to subdue and replenish the earth,’ and indigenous people had no right to the land of the Americas because this land had been created for use…by the white races…according to the intentions of the Creator.’”

Thanks to Marshal’s opinion creating U.S. land law which subjugates American Tribal land and O’Sullivan’s writing in which God endorses this subjugation (overspread and to possess the whole of the continent) to be completed by white folk, the European Christian Doctrine of Discovery becomes an American Christian Doctrine of Discovery.

© David B. Bell 2011

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