The modern connotations of the concept of Manifest Destiny are generally of two diverging camps; One is a romanticized image of devout pilgrims, such as the Mormons, who left the crowded and sinful cities of the East for the freedom of the West, hoping to find a new promised land, or of prospectors who began life with barely enough money to keep themselves fed seeking the freedom and gold that lay in the far reaches of the frontier, gold that in later times would become a metaphor for the conceptual American dream and the promise of wealth for those industrious enough to look for it. Another school of thought is more closely rooted in the political realities of it, though admittedly has become somewhat of a mythology in itself in often wrongly discounting the earnest actions of some individuals, lumping everyone involved with the administrative and economic powers that motivated the Westward expansion.
[...] It is certainly a valid point that white disdain for African-Americans was one of the factors that allowed slavery to continue, though this disdain could be as much an effect as a cause of the perpetuation of the institution, for it may have been born out of a need to rationalize and justify the uncivil treatment of African-Americans as a means of legitimizing the economically vital institution of slavery. Regardless, although it is clear that slavery was an issue that contributed to the catalytic revolt in Texas, there is little reason to say that stereotypes of blacks were necessarily an underpinning for the concept of Manifest Destiny. [...]
[...] From the year 1681 when William Penn's “Holy Experiment” attempted to establish a community where the Quakers, a group who had been very much at odds with the Church of England, could worship and prosper2, to the aforementioned mass exodus of the Mormons in 1846 in hopes of finding their own Promised Land, a sort of pseudo-Zionism has pervaded the American psyche as a whole. Although these ideologies may have begun as both earnest and sectarian convictions, they soon pervaded a much wider scope of the American 1 from Jones, p From Jones, p public. [...]
[...] In discussing the role of race and racial stereotypes in the concept of Manifest Destiny, some subjective terminology, whether to emphasize the fallacy involved or else to limit one from becoming distracted from the subject at hand by trying to make absolute objective sense of a time when objectivity was of no consequence in the minds of those involved. Two races warrant the most discussion, as being the most often invoked as the obstacles to a continental United States. Although these races (such that they were, for among them were in fact many population groups) were not the only groups of people involved, they were two minorities (again, a subjective and rather silly term in this instance) who were most associated with this period in history: the American Indians and the Mexican Chicanos. [...]
[...] This is further complicated by the fact that the people we now call Mexicans, those of mixed Spanish and Indian blood, simply didn't exist at all before 1500, and even well into the colonization of Mexico by Spain there was very limited mixing. Mexico as a nation did not exist until the 1820's, and, as we shall see, there is no coincidence whatsoever that this corresponds roughly with the earliest stages of the Manifest Destiny movement. We do know, however, that racial mixing has long been, particularly in European cultures, a social taboo, and though it is one that is oft ignored by individuals and even discarded by large groups in specific times, places, and circumstances. [...]
[...] Rather, it seems the word “colored” is, in this case, employed to describe the Mestizo soldiers of the Mexican army, and is not so much to delineate a specific race as to polarize the conflict along racial lines. The addition of the word “faithless” to the above phrase further underscores the direction in which popular rhetoric was heading: It was fast becoming, in their minds, not a conflict of settlers versus a foreign government over laws they did not agree with, but nothing short of the epic struggle between black and white, American and foreign, the faithful and the heathens, and, in short, an extension of the age-old struggle of good and evil. [...]
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