Thursday October 23, 2014
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16-047 HD: Manifest Destiny II

Thursday Oct 23, 2014

Lead: One hundred and fifty years ago the Republic was facing its greatest crisis. This continuing series examines the American Civil War. It is "A House Divided."

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Manifest destiny was the idea that it was the birthright of the United States to stretch unimpeded from coast to coast. Abolitionists, those opposed to slavery, were generally supported of this expansion, but also had nagging doubts that the whole enterprise was a conspiracy to expand slavery and continue the South’s domination over the Federal Union it had maintained since the Revolution. And they had a point. Through the 1840s expansion had tended to benefit the slave interest. In the years following 1800 many more slave states had entered the Union than free ones. Future expansion, because it would come largely in the southwest, would simply confirm this trend.

Southerners dismissed this as unsubstantiated fear, but perhaps they were protesting a tad too much. Referring to New Mexico and California, Senator John J. Crittenden of Kentucky wrote, “no sensible man would carry his slaves there if he could.” Nevertheless, Northerners worried. Cotton was being grown in the river bottoms of New Mexico and slaves had been driven as mineworkers for centuries. These fears were not assuaged by the Georgia editorialist who wrote that manifest destiny would, “secure to the south the balance of power…, and for all coming time,… give to her the control in the operations of the government.” Like all the major issues that faced the United States prior to the Civil War, slavery, how it could be repressed or secured, intruded into debate and policy making. Those who sought to expand the nation, to realize its manifest destiny, could not be allowed anything approaching neutrality on that universal subject.

From Richmond Virginia, this is Dan Roberts.


Catton, Bruce. The American Heritage Picture History of the Civil War. New York: American Heritage Publishing Company, 1960, 1988.

Holt, Michael F. The Political Crisis of the 1850s. New York: Norton, 1983.

Howe, Daniel Walker. The Political Culture of the American Whigs. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979,

Ingraham, Joseph Holt. The Southwest, by a Yankee. (New York, 1935).

McClelland, Peter D. and Richard J. Zeckhauser, Demographic Dimensions of the New Republic. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1982.

McPherson, James M. Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988.

Merk, Frederick. Manifest Destiny and Mission in American History: A Reinterpretation. New York: Knopf Publishing, 1963.

Schroeder, John H. Mr. Polk’s War: American Opposition and Dissent. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1973.

Copyright 2014 by Dan Roberts Enterprises, Inc.


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