"A People's History of the United States" Ch. 8 Reflection

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A People’s History of the United States: Reflection Chapter 8 We Take Nothing by Conquest, Thank God This chapter gives a summary of the events that centered around America’s newfound greed for land. It details James J. Polk’s leadership as president of a nation that was quickly expanding, yet expanding at a cost. President Polk wants to annex Texas and, in general, gain more land, but he does so without concern for the native people already living there. Zinn gives a quote from the diary of Colonel Ethan Allen Hitchcock, who opposed measures taken by General Taylor (under Polk) to annex Texas. Hitchcock explains, “He seems to have lost all respect for Mexican rights and is willing to be an instrument of Mr. Polk for pushing our boundary as far west as possible,” (Zinn 150). The feelings for this burst of expansion were varied; some believed it unnecessary to different degrees, while others strongly favored the extra land. In fact, a new attitude was developed during this time, the one of “manifest destiny”. Manifest destiny was a term first coined by John O’Sullivan, editor of the Democratic Review, in 1845. He said it was “Our manifest destiny to overspread the continent allotted by Providence for the free development of our yearly multiplying millions,” (Zinn 151). From the moment that phrase was first imagined, it has applied to many occasions since. When I read this chapter, a part of me was shocked while another part of me knew that these actions were not uncommon. While it is hard for me to determine what the United States’ goal is right now (perhaps stability) it’s easy to see what kind of mindset these powerful leaders back then had. It was all about Manifest Destiny and the idea that Americans were entitled to the land they set their eyes on. So my reaction is one of part disgust, knowing that my country used to be so grossly land-obsessed. Then
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