The Many Shades of Manifest Destiny

Manifest Destiny had its share of promoters. But, rather promote the Doctrine under its real name, several aliases were used.


If God and mission were the road to Manifest Destiny, imperialism was the light that lit the way. Between the late 1800 early 1900, the American business man fueled the notion of International Destiny. This group strongly believed in America extending its authority over other lands. This authority can be done by either political, military or economical means. But, no matter what the method, imperialism was the reason to extend Americas interest beyond the Pacific.
"One popular way of thinking, however, was to attribute imperialism to a determinism of some sort: the hand of God, the instinct of race, the laws of Darwinism, the force of Economics and trade - anything but reasonable decision. Though many Americans deemed willing to surrender to imperialist policies, few would admit that they did so because they wanted to" (Blum 536).
As a result of imperialism, the US took control of the Philippines, Guam, and Puerto Rico via the Spanish-American War.

Although there was still an abundant amount of land throughout the world that applied to the Manifest Destiny ideology, acquiring land on opposite sides of the globe required new methods. It would not be as easy as building roads and displacing a few thousand American Indians. Controlling colonial possession thousands of miles away required a new military commitment. This commitment came by way of a modern Navy. The US steamed into oversees expansion when the Federal Government commissioned the building of several cruisers and battleships between 1883 to 1890. It was clear to the US that those countries who controlled the seas, controlled their own destiny.

Yellow Journalism

Yellow Journalism served as an influential means to get those Americans on the cusp, to join the Manifest Destiny movement. Nowhere was Yellow Journalism more effective then with Cuba's war with Spain. At the time, William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Politzer were in fierce competition for readers of their respective newspapers. In an attempt to gain distribution, they sent correspondents to Cuba to cover the fighting between Cuba and Spain. The field journalist's over exaggerations of events, sensationalism reporting and graphic details of the brutality and atrocities being committed by the Spanish, created a new form of journalism. It also helped aroused popular sentiment of the American people. Yellow Journalism coaxed the American public to rally behind Cuba and America's involvement. When president McKinley asked for a declaration of war against Spain in April 1898, he had the majority backing of the American public.

White Mans Burden

Another way to disguise Manifest Destiny was to promote the philosophy of White Man's Burden. Rodyard Kipling made this philosophy famous in his poem of the same name. In his poem Kipling urged the United States to follow in the footsteps of Great Britain. He stated that, as a world power, the US had the burden to help the inferior people of the world adjust to Christianity. He also warned the United Sates that it would not be an easy task to take on the role of a world leader but, the rewards will outweigh the trouble. (Demkin Chapter 11). In addition to Kipling influencing the masses, president McKinley also took up the notion of White Man's Burden. In defense of America's presence in the Philippines he said, "Duty determines destiny."

Monroe Doctrine / The Roosevelt Corollary

The greatest promotion for Manifest Destiny came from a passing reference made by President Monroe in 1822. This passing reference became known as the Monroe Doctrine. During one of his political speeches he warned Europe to "Stay out of the Western Hemisphere" (Demkin Chapter 8). This simple statement established the US as the protector of all the lands in the Western hemisphere. With the Monroe Doctrine blazed on its chest, America could expand its involvement and control in foreign affairs throughout the Western Hemisphere. Manifest Destiny received an additional promotion when President Theodore Roosevelt added to the Roosevelt Corollary. In addition to being the military protector of the Western Hemisphere, Roosevelt wanted the US to be the Business protector as well. The Roosevelt Corollary stated that even if a country had a legal contract agreement with a smaller, uncivilized country of the Western Hemisphere, the US could step in and interrupt that contract if the US thought the deal was not in the best interest of the smaller countries. This "Iron Fisted Neighbor" mentality was yet another example of manifest destiny. By the US controlling its neighboring countries it controlled its own destiny.