Manifest Destiny

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Manifest Destiny

John L. O’Sullivan

  • November 15, 1813-March 24, 1895

Historical Context

  • He was born on the North Atlantic Ocean during the War of 1812.
  • His father, John, was a naturalized American citizen of Irish ancestry.
  • His mother, Mary Rowly was English.
  • He attended Columbia College in New York City, where he excelled.

Biography continued..

  • In 1841 O’Sullivan was elected to New York
  • State Assembly at the age of 27.
  • In 1846 he married Susan Kearny Rodgers.
  • After a honeymoon in Cuba, he became involved
  • to win Cuba independence from Spanish rule.


  • He eventually returned to New York in the late 1870s, where he unsuccessfully tried to use his democratic contacts to get appointed to an office.
  • O’Sullivan suffered a stroke in 1889. He died from influenza in a residential hotel in New York City in 1895. He was buried in the Moravian Cemetery on Staten Island.

O’Sullivan’s Views

  • He had a reputation as an advocate for the elimination of the death penalty. He was also as advocate for rights for women and working people.
  • He proposed creating a “Congress of Nations”, which would mediate international disputes.
  • O’Sullivan was opposed to the American Civil War.

Manifest Destiny

  • In the July-August 1845 issue the Democratic Review , O’Sullivan published an essay titled “Annexation”.
  • The essay was calling for the U.S. to admit Texas into the Union
  • This had been a controversial issue over the expansion of slavery and possibly war with Mexico.

Manifest Destiny

  • His audience was the American public.

Main Points

  • Westward Expansion “Our Manifest destiny is to overspread the continent allotted by Providence for the free development of our yearly multiplying millions.”

Sub-Main Points

  • “Texas is now ours.” Texas has no obligation to Mexico and the United States needs welcome the annexation of Texas.
  • “There is a great deal of Annexation yet to take place, within the life of the present generation, along the whole line of our northern border.”

Historical Significance

  • Prompted argument for and against westward expansion.
  • As Americans moved west they trampled tribal lands, trespassed over territorial boundaries, and ignored international agreements.
  • Those confronting the Americans were seen as objects to be removed.

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