The Top 173 Things in History: #155. Manifest Destiny

Note the Native Americans and buffalo fleeing the “Westerners.”

Let’s call a spade a spade: Manifest Destiny was a pretty scumbag thing to do.

—Hey, this land you’re on, we’re gonna have to take it.

—But we were here first.

—Yeah, we know that. The thing is, and I know this kind of sucks, but it’s our destiny to have it.

—Your destiny?

—I know, man. We wish it were different, too. But yeah, this is our land now.

This was imperialism at its most boldfaced. Come on, like we even tried to come up with a valid justification? Because let’s be honest: Divine Providence isn’t a valid justification for anything.* This was nothing more than an older brother deciding he wanted the couch AND the remote control. And that’s when being there first or even “calling” it go out the window.

*And I’m the religious one in this group.

And here’s my biggest problem with Manifest Destiny: the syntax. It’s a verb with a direct object, so it sounds ridiculous in sentences. It’s not even like, “Mission: Manifesr Destiny” or “Operation: Manifest Destiny.” Think of it in candid terms by replacing “Manifest Destiny” with “Take Land.” Now try to respect this sentence in a history textbook: “The United States, under the direction of Take Land, expanded westward to the Pacific Ocean.” Impossible.*

*You can make the argument that “manifest” is meant as an adjective, meaning something akin to “evident.” Fine: “The United States, under the direction of Evident Destiny, expanded westward to the Pacific Ocean.” It still sounds terrible.

And I, for one, would never trade proper syntax for Texas.

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3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by John S on August 4, 2009 at 1:51 PM

    I, for one, always interpreted it as “Evident Destiny.” Like, if the Native Americans were ever like, “Dude, you can’t just take our land. What do you mean it’s your ‘destiny’?” We would just reply, “From where we’re sitting, it’s pretty manifest.”

    Reply

  2. Posted by Tim on August 4, 2009 at 6:51 PM

    One of the things that prevented me from seeing “manifest” as an adjective is that, usually when it’s used that way, it comes after what it modifies (as in your example). It’s rarer, I think, to hear about a “manifest solution” than a “solution that is manifest” or “manifests itself.”

    Either way, though, it’s a crummy syntactical term.

    Reply

  3. I agree, It was a shity thing to do… but it happens all the time. We (humans) use “faith” for everything… It pushes us, and it hurts us… I just did a post on “Manifest Destiny on my site and that is what everybody is talking about… Check it out… http://www.WhatMakesUsAmericans.com

    Reply

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