Manifest Destiny and Mission in American History: A Reinterpretation

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Harvard University Press, 1995 - History - 278 pages

Before this book first appeared in 1963, most historians wrote as if the continental expansion of the United States were inevitable. "What is most impressive," Henry Steele Commager and Richard Morris declared in 1956, "is the ease, the simplicity, and seeming inevitability of the whole process." The notion of inevitability, however, is perhaps only a secular variation on the theme of the expansionist editor John L. O'Sullivan, who in 1845 coined one of the most famous phrases in American history when he wrote of "our manifest destiny to overspread the continent allotted by Providence for the free development of our yearly multiplying millions." Frederick Merk rejected inevitability in favor of a more contingent interpretation of American expansionism in the 1840s. As his student Henry May later recalled, Merk "loved to get the facts straight."
--From the Foreword by John Mack Faragher

 

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Contents

I Prologue
3
II Manifest Destiny
24
Polk
61
War and the Opposition
89
V All Mexico
107
VI Sectional and Party A ttitudes
144
Problems
157
vni The Demise of All Mexico
180
IX A Caribbeanized Manifest Destiny
202
The Demise of Continentalism
215
XI The Rise and Fall of Insular Imperialism
228
xn Mission
261
Index
267
Copyright

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About the author (1995)

Frederick Merk was Gurney Professor of American History, Harvard University.

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