Reginald Horsman’s Race And Manifest Destiny

2927 words - 12 pages


Reginald Horsman’s Race and Manifest Destiny: The Orgins of American Racial Anglo-Saxonism explores the evidence and reasons of racial prejudices in America and discusses one of the most controversial topics in American history. The book also navigates the subjects of white superiority, and the creation of Anglo-Saxonism.
Manifest Destiny was the belief that the United States was destined to expand from the Atlantic seaboard to the Pacific Ocean; it has also been used to advocate for or justify other territorial acquisitions. Advocates of Manifest Destiny believed that expansion was not only good, but that it was obvious and certain. Originally a political catch phrase of the 19th century, "Manifest Destiny" eventually became a standard historical term, often used as a synonym for the expansion of the United States across the North American continent.In the early 1840s John L. O’Sullivan, editor of the Democratic Review, inaugurated the expression Manifest Destiny to depict American expansionism. O’Sullivan described the nation’s extension as inevitable and criticized those that delayed that progression "for the avowed object of thwarting our policy, limiting our greatness and checking the fulfillment of our manifest destiny to overspread the continent allotted by Providence for the free development of our yearly multiplying millions."(Horsman 219) Horsman notes that even though O’Sullivan laid claim to the phrase manifest destiny, the idea was embedded in Anglo-Saxon heritage. In chapter one of Horsman the concept of a chosen people on a westward mission derived when the English traced their roots to an Anglo-Saxon people who in the fifth century is introduced, along with the fact that other Germanic tribes, invaded England (Horsman 11). English scholars proudly wrote how these Germanic people introduced the concepts of freedom, natural law, and popular sovereignty to England. Later, scholars classified these Anglo-Saxons as part of the Caucasian race and linguistically linked them to the family of Indo-European languages. In chapter two “Aryans Follow the Sun,” Horsman explains another myth of greatness, Anglo-Saxons conjured another falsehood that claimed they were descendants of a great Aryan nation who fled across the mountains of Asia and settled in northern Europe (Horsman 25-41). Just as their descendant’s centuries later, the Aryan nation, in its westward trek, also spread its civilization across Europe, and by the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the English laid claim to a superb racial heritage. Chapters three and four deal with British colonists in America that also succumbed to the great myths. Scientists, scholars, historians, philosophers, poets, and writers on both sides of the Atlantic exacerbated these myths of...

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