Learn American History through 50 pop songs

Manifest Destiny

Synopsis

Manifest Destiny is a term that was used to describe the 19th century belief of many that the United States was destined, even divinely ordained, to expand across North America, from the Atlantic coast to the Pacific Ocean, by force if necessary.

Lyrics

© Copyright 2010 by Mr. and Mrs. Gillenwater

400 years ago
Fleeing European persecution
To this wild shore they came
In epic mass migration

Our bloodlines sweat and toiled
Built metal cities up the eastern sands
The urban centers thrived
In this greatest of all lands

We came, we tamed a savage land
We cut trees down and tilled the ground
To build up towns to settle in
And raised our kin to forsake all sin
Now our path we plainly see
Is every inch of land must be
Our manifest destiny

Now bursting at the seams
With a divinely scribed constitution
We’ve an undying westward drive
For Godly blessed expansion

Democracy on our side
Our charge is to stretch from sea to sea
Our duty to spread virtue
Our manifest destiny!

We came, we tamed a savage land
We cut trees down and tilled the ground
To build up towns to settle in
And raised our kin to forsake all sin
Now our path we plainly see
Is every inch of land must be
Our manifest destiny

They came one day, the old stories say
They slipped onto our shores
Then came more and more and more

Something was wrong, screamed ancient songs
We started running
And they kept coming and coming and coming

Now four centuries have passed
And my people are so few
We are Creek and Choctaw
Cherokee and Chickasaw
too

Our elders are long dead
And they saw the writing on the wall
They saw what was to be
Their manifest destiny!

We came we tamed a savage land
We cut trees down and tilled the ground
To build up towns to settle in
And raised our kin to forsake all sin
Now our path we plainly see
Is every inch of land must be
Our manifest destiny

Vocabulary

Manifest Destiny— In the 19th century many believed America had a divine right to expand westward across the North American continent. This term was used to justify the treatment of Native Americans who lived upon the land that was expanded into.

migration— The movement of people from one place to another on a large scale.

Constitution— Referring to the United States Constitution, the law of the land.

Democracy— A system of government either carried out directly by the people, a direct democracy, or by elected representatives, a representative democracy. The United States is a representative democracy.

Creek, Choctaw, Cherokee, Chickasaw— These are Native American tribes who, along with many others, were greatly affected by the concept of Manifest Destiny and the Westward Expansion which followed.

Tiered Questions

Tier 1 Questions

Describe what Manifest Destiny means.

Tier 2 Questions

Compare and contrast the European American’s feelings about Manifest Destiny and the Native American’s feelings about Manifest Destiny.

Tier 3 Questions

Consider the world today. Can you think of any actions around the globe that may be the result of ideas similar to Manifest Destiny?

Test Prep Questions

1) Manifest Destiny was used to justify an American desire to

  • (1) limit the number of immigrants entering the country
  • (2) control the area located east of the Appalachian Mountains
  • (3) expand the United States to the Pacific Ocean
  • (4) warn European countries against colonizing Latin America

2) The foreign policies of President James Polk involving Texas, California, and the Oregon Territory were all efforts to

  • (1) remain neutral toward western territories
  • (2) continue traditional American isolationism
  • (3) weaken the Monroe Doctrine
  • (4) fulfill the goal of Manifest Destiny

3) The slogan “Fifty-four forty or fight!,” the annexation of Texas, and the Mexican War all relate to the

  • (1) theory of nullification
  • (2) practice of secession
  • (3) belief in Manifest Destiny
  • (4) idea of due process

4) In which war was Manifest Destiny used to justify United States government actions?

  • (1) Revolutionary War
  • (2) Mexican War
  • (3) Civil War
  • (4) Vietnam War