Articles tagged with: Jefferson

The Ostend Manifesto and the Dark Side of Manifest Destiny

Manifest DestinyManifest Destiny is the idea that a higher power ordained the expansion of American republican government over the North American continent. Rooted in the idea of American Exceptionalism, Manifest Destiny was a rallying point for expansionists in the 19th century as many sought to expand the borders of the United States for political, religious, and commercial reasons.

Any fair consideration of Manifest Destiny recognizes that it was not a benign expansion of American institutions over an empty land. At the very least, the westward movement of Americans displaced Indian tribes and disrupted their ways of life. Additionally, Manifest Destiny has inherent racist undertones focusing on the promulgation of ideas of American government and custom as a way of life. While many writings and events of the period demonstrate the belief in the superiority of American ideals idolized by the political majority, the drafting of the Ostend Manifesto in 1854 serves as a useful tool in recognizing the darker side of Manifest Destiny within the scope of Cuban annexation.

Meriwether Lewis and the Location of Camp Dubois

Meriwether Lewis

Meriwether Lewis

During Meriwether Lewis and William Clark’s journey exploring territory gained through the Louisiana Purchase, they made three winter camps: Camp Dubois near St. Louis, Fort Mandan in present-day North Dakota, and Fort Clatsop on the Pacific Ocean. Showcasing Lewis’ steadfastness of mind that would ultimately guide the Corps of Discovery through countless interactions with Native Americans, the events leading to the location of Camp Dubois sits as an interesting portal into Lewis’ mind.

Zebulon Pike’s Instructions

Zebulon Pike in 1810.

Zebulon Pike in 1810.

President Thomas Jefferson’s June 20, 1803 instructions to Meriwether Lewis ranks among the most famous instructions given to an explorer in American history. Not only do Jefferson’s instructions showcase the personal interests of the third president of the United States, they demonstrate the national purpose of the Corps of Discovery. Significantly, Jefferson’s instructions also serve as a model for subsequent explorations of the American West.

William Clark’s Promotion

One of the many amazing aspects of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark’s journey across the continental United States is their shared command of the Corps of Discovery. On this topic, Stephen Ambrose noted that “[d]ivided command almost never works and is the bane of all military men, to whom the sanctity of the chain of command is basic and the idea of two disagreeing commanders in a critical situation is anathema.”


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