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In his book, Frederick Merk considers and rejects a comparison between the Mexican-American and the Spanish-American Wars in order to demonstrate the role of two different themes in foreign policy, expansionism and exceptionalism. Merk's concept of Mission is essentially what diplomatic historians today would call exceptionalism. It is described by Merk as an unselfish desire to spread the benefits of American-style democracy to the benighted peoples of the globe, a time-honored American princip ...more
Nov 19, 2017 Brady Postma rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Americans, historians, history buffs
Recommended to Brady by: Max Ravenwood
This survey of public opinion of the US territorial expansion of the 1840s and 1850s contrasts that era's territorial expansion and the rationale behind it with the imperialism of the 1890s and the broader American mission of exemplifying and spreading good governance as a foreign policy objective. A good three quarters of the book offers the story of Manifest Destiny's appearance, meaning to its advocates, faults as seen by its critics, its fading from prominence, and its interrelations with re ...more
This is one of those well-written treasures with prose that is easy to follow underpinning the ideas it attempts to express. Merk explained how many leaders in American history saw America's government and rule as the will of God and that the task of spreading our ideas and principles was the divinely assigned duty of the United States. America's conquest of Mexican territory under false pretenses was merely the removal of land from, "unhallowed hands," for use by the American people. Merk's tho ...more
Merk has done us a service by tracing the origins of our hubris. "Manifest destiny" or "natural dominion" or "rapid expansion" or such phrases become jingoist tags to fly on banners of hegemony over the cultural, political steamroller. He traces the Divine Wind of the European expansion that consumed and assimilated (or placed on reservations) any peoples or cultures in its path: Mexico, Great Britain, and Russia for other Empire building nations, but also the Indigenous Peoples. Sometimes the e ...more