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14.10: Conclusion

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    264165
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    The debates over expansion, economics, diplomacy, and manifest destiny in the antebellum decades exposed some of the weaknesses of the American system. Despite a perceived American chauvinism in policies of Native American removal, the Mexican war, and filibustering, the bombast of the period belied a growing malaise among citizens in a society struggling to understand its past and deal with its present concerns. Manifest destiny attempted to make a virtue of America’s lack of history and turn it into the very a basis of nationhood. To locate such origins, John O’Sullivan and other champions of manifest destiny grafted biological and territorial imperatives–common among European definitions of nationalism–onto American political culture. The United States was the embodiment of the democratic ideal, they said. Democracy had to be timeless, boundless, and portable. New methods of transportation and communication, the rapidity of the railroad and the telegraph, the rise of the international market economy, and the growth of the American frontier provided shared platforms to help Americans think across local identities and reaffirm a national character.

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