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American Exceptionalism Essay

1004 words - 5 pages

During the early stages of the United States of America in the nineteenth an idea known as manifest destiny was very popular. Manifest destiny is the name of the time period where Americans believed that it is their mission to overspread over the continent beginning with the Western territories of the frontier and then to export the nations ideals of democracy and enlighten the entire world. Manifest destiny played a major role in the creation of the theory of American exceptionalism. According to Loch K. Johnson, exceptionalism is a “belief in a mission to disperse this nations value around the world.” During this time many people in America thought that their country was looked on by God and was chosen to save humanity by spreading their ideals across the world. Many of our political leaders at the time believed that America’s ideals of democracy were truly exceptional and decided to make it their mission to help other countries to make them better and make them conform to the same democratic ideals that the United States of America follows.
One example of America trying to fulfill the “national mission” is during the Spanish-American War. The Spanish–American War emerged between Spain and the United States during the months of April and August of 1898 over Cuba’s liberation. The war began when Spain rejected American demands for the Cuban independence. The United States got involved in the war because they had economic interest in Cuba and also because they had reason to believe that Spain had caused the explosion of the USS Maine. Congress passed the Teller Amendment in May 1898, in which the US promised not to annex Cuba, but to liberate it as an independent state. Thus, the US claimed to be fighting the war not for selfish gain, but to liberate an oppressed people and promote justice in the world. The war ended with the signing of the Treaty of Paris on December 10, 1898. As a result Spain lost its control over the remains of its overseas empire -- Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines Islands, Guam, and other islands. With this victory the United States was able to purchase the Philippines Islands from Spain for $20 million. The war had cost the United States $250 million and 3,000 lives.
Another clear example of this mission is America’s role in the Vietnam War.
Vietnam was the longest war and most unpopular war in the 20th century. Between 1945 and 1954, the Vietnamese waged an anti-colonial war against France and and even with some financial backing from the United States the French were defeated. In 1956, South Vietnam, with American backing, refused to hold unification elections. By 1958, Communist-led guerrillas had begun to battle the South Vietnamese government. In order to help support South Vietnams government the United States sent in 2000 military troops, which later grew to about 16,300 in 1963. President Johnson saw the “sending of US troops to South Vietnam as an antidote to a...

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