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American Exceptionalism and Manifest Destiny

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American Exceptionalism:
Belief that U.S.A. is historically and politicaly a completely unique nation and therefor superior to other nations (Hebel 2008)

Rhethorical origins:
– especially John Winthrop´s ”A Model of Christian Charity” – sermon by Puritan layman and leader John Winthrop, who delivered on board the ship Arbella while on route to the Massachusetts Bay Colony – biblical aproach

– Puritan colonists are god’s ”chosen people”
– New England is also referred to as ”New Jerusalem” and as ”city upon a hill” (biblical metaphor) – god himself dwells in New England and shows Puritans the way – Winthrop’s view: New England Puritans were not refugees fleeing to avoid persecution; they were missionaries intent on guiding other nations. – Puritans themselves are supposed to be a shining example for other nations

Own additions:
A City upon a Hill is a phrase from the parable of Salt and Light in Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew 5:14-16, he tells his listeners, ” “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

The Lord will be our God, and delight to dwell among us, as His owne people, and will commaund a blessing upon us in all our ways, soe that we shall see much more of his wisdome, goodness and truthe, than formerly we have been acquainted with. We shall find that the God of Israell is among us, when tenn of us will be able to resist a thousand of our enemies; when hee shall make us a prayse and glory that men shall say of succeeding plantations: the lord make it like that of New England: for wee must Consider that wee shall be as a City upon a Hill, the eies of all people are upon us. (John Winthrop 1630)

Manifest Destiny:
– Origin in the 19th century
– territorial expansion, belief in progress and ethnocentric feeling of superiority mend together – John O’ Sullivan and William Gilpin postulate concept of Manifest Destiny – Manifest Destiny seen as a divine task to expand America, to liberate others and to bring progress – Definition legitimated territorial expansion

– USA lost static component (city upon a hill) changed to aggressive dynamic imperialism – legitimation expansion war against mexico- 1846-48
– Mexican-American war followed in the wake of the 1845 U.S. annexation of Texas – U.S. senate was concerned about expansion of slave states and possible war with mexico – annexation controversial

– John Louis O’Sullivan (influential political writer) urged U.S.A to admit Texas into the Union -“our manifest destiny to overspread the continent allotted by Providence for the free development of our yearly multiplying millions.” (O’Sullivan 1845) – Mexico ”enslaved” Texas and is not able to ”exert any real governmental authority”- Texas needed to be freed.

justified demands of territory towards GB

John L. O´Sullivan: ´´to manifest to mankind the excellence of divine principles, to establish on earth the noblest temple ever dedicated to the workship of the Most High – The Sacred and the True.´´

judgemental role in latin-amerikan quarrels

picture American Progress http://2012english120.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/american_progress.jpg
access: Tuesday 12.02.2014 7:02 p.m.

The untransacted destiny of the American people is to subdue the continent — to rush over this vast field to the Pacific Ocean — to animate the many hundred millions of its people, and to cheer them upward — to set the principle of self-government at work — to agitate these herculean masses — to establish a new order in human affairs — to set free the enslaved — to regenerate superannuated nations — to change darkness into light — to stir up the sleep of a hundred centuries — to teach old nations a new civilization — to confirm the destiny of the human race — to carry the career of mankind to its culminating point — to cause stagnant people to be re-born — to perfect science — to emblazon history with the conquest of peace — to shed a new and resplendent glory upon mankind — to unite the world in one social family — to dissolve the spell of tyranny and exalt charity — to absolve the curse that weighs down humanity, and to shed blessings round the world! Divine task! immortal mission! Let us tread fast and joyfully the open trail before us! Let every American heart open wide for patriotism to glow undimmed, and confide with religious faith in the sublime and prodigious destiny of his well-loved country. (Gilpin 1873)

Video South Park: s07e04 I´m A Little Bit Country Air Date: April 9 2003 16:30
Iraq war may 2003
how do americans justify war against iraq?
New Form of Sense of mission/ Manifest Destiny? Hidden?

Sources:

Boller, Paul, and Ronald Story. A More Perfect Union: Documents in U.S. History – Vol. I & II. Boston: Houghton & Mifflin, 2004. Print.

Engler, Bernd, and Oliver Scheiding. Key Concepts in American Cultural History – From the Colonial Period to the End of the 19thCentury.Trier: wvt, 2007. Print.

Gilpin, William. Mission of the North American People, Geographical, Social,
and Political. Philadelphia : J. B. Lippincott&co. 1873. Print

Hebel, Udo. Einführung in die Amerikanistik/American Studies. Stuttgart: Metzler, 2008. Print.

South Park. Dir. Parker Trey, and Stone Matt. Screenplay by Parker Trey and Stone Matt. 2003. Comedy Central. DVD.

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