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IN 1845, JOHN L. O'SULLIVAN argued persuasively for the acquisition of the Oregon Territory under the right of what he termed “our Manifest Destiny.” Invoking predominant legacies of American religious providence and secular expansionism, O'Sullivan's phrase has resonated for some 150 years in the national spirit of continental expansionism and global influence. Although explicit political invocation has ebbed and waned throughout times of crisis and conflict, Manifest Destiny cannot be understood merely as a political doctrine. Rather the ideological, cultural, and social values embedded in the belief of American providence and territorial expansion comprise an important and central narrative regarding the origins, history, and purpose of America as a nation. These values, if not the doctrine itself, remain constant today, as they have throughout much ...

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