Wikiquote:Transwiki/American History Primary Sources Expansion and Manifest Destiny


Texan Independence from Mexico

1827 “The North Americans have conquered whatever territory adjoins them. In less than half a century, they have become masters of extensive colonies which formerly belonged to Spain and France, and of even more spacious territories from which have disappeared the former owners, the Indian tribes.” General Manuel Mier y Terán, hero of Mexico’s war for independence against Spain, following an inspection tour of Mexico’s northeastern border.


“I am besieged by a thousand or more of the Mexicans under Santa Anna. I have sustained a continued bombardment for twenty-four hours and have not lost a man. The enemy have demanded a surrender... otherwise the garrison is to be put to the sword if the place is taken. I have answered the summons with a cannon shot, and our flag still waves proudly from the walls.

“I shall never surrender or retreat.

“Then, I all on you in the name of liberty, of patriotism, and of everything dear to the American character to come to our aid with all dispatch.... Though this call may be neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible and die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor and that of his country.

“Victory or death!”

William B. Travis, lieutenant colonel, commanding Texan forces at the Alamo.

1836. “Remember the Alamo!” Popular slogan following the Battle of the Alamo, where all Texan defenders were killed by Gen. Santa Anna’s Mexican Army.

The Panic of 1837 and Depression

1837. “Matters worse and worse in Wall Street as far as I can learn; everyone discouraged; prospect of universal ruin and general insolvency of the banks, which will be terrible indeed if it takes place. Workmen thrown out of employ by the hundreds daily.” George Templeton Strong, Diary entry for May 2.



“The far-reaching, the boundless future will be the era of American greatness. In its magnificent domain of space and time, the nation of many nations is destined to manifest to mankind the excellence of divine principles; to establish on earth the noblest temple ever dedicated to the worship of the Most High....

“For this blessed mission... has America been chosen ; and her high example shall smite unto death the tyranny of kings, hierarchs, and oligarchs, and carry the glad tidings of peace and good will where myriads now endure an existence scarcely more enviable than that of beasts of the field. Who, then, can doubt that our country is destined to be the great nation of futurity?”

John L. O’Sullivan, call for America’s Manifest Destiny in United States Magazine and Democratic Review


1844 “Fifty-four forty or fight!” Democrats’ presidential election campaign slogan, demanding that the U.S. get all of the Oregon Territory from the British (with its northern boundary at 54°40' N Latitude) rather than the compromise line at 49° N.


“Our title to the country of the Oregon is ‘clear and unquestionable,’ and already our people are preparing to perfect that title by occupying it with their lives and children.

“But eighty years ago our population was confined on the west by the ridge of the Alleghenies. Within that period — within the lifetime, I might say, of some of my hearers — our people, increasing to many millions, have filled the eastern valley of the Mississippi, adventurously ascended the Missouri to its headsprings, and are already engaged in establishing the blessings of self-government in valleys of which the rivers flow to the Pacific.” James K. Polk, Inaugural Address

1846 “The best business you can go into you will find on your father’s farm or in his workshop. If you have no family or friends to aid you, and no prospect open to you there, turn your face to the great West and there build up your home and fortune.” Horace Greeley, “To Aspiring Young Men”

1846 “I remember how filled with terror I was when we experienced the violent thunderstorms.... Our oxen would try to stampede, our tents would be blown down, and everybody and everything would be soaked with the driving rains....

“We had to cross a desert that took two days’ and one night’s travel. There was no water at all, so we filled every keg and dish with water so the cattle should have water as well as ourselves.”

Lucy Deady, recalling her experience with her family on the Oregon Trail from Missouri to the Pacific Coast when she was age 11.

c. 1846 “The Indian is a financier of no mean ability, and invariably comes out A-1 in a bargain.” A woman who negotiated with Indians in her travels to the West.