Market Revolution And Westward Expansion

Decent Essays
By the 1830s and 1840s, the market revolution and westward expansion had profoundly affected all Americans’ lives, reinforcing older ideas of freedom and creating new ones. American freedom had long been linked with available land in the West. In this period was coined the phrase “manifest destiny,” referring to the divine mission of the United States to occupy all of North America and extend freedom, despite any costs to peoples and nations already there. But an old idea connecting freedom and a divine mission to move west and settle land had its origins in colonial times.
In national myth and ideology, the West would long remain a sanctuary for the free American. To many, the settlement and exploitation of the West offered America a chance
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Opportunities for personal growth presented a new definition of Jefferson’s pursuit of happiness that well fitted a new America in which westward expansion and market relations shattered old spatial and social boundaries. A group of New England intellectuals, called “transcendentalists,” reflected this national mood in their writings and activities. Together they insisted that individual judgment should take precedence over existing social traditions and institutions. Ralph Waldo Emerson defined freedom as an open-ended process of self-realization, in which individuals could remake themselves and their own lives. Henry David Thoreau called for individuals to rely on themselves.
In this era, the term “individualism” was first used. Unlike in the colonial period, many Americans now believed individuals should pursue their own self-interest, no matter what the cost to the public good, and that they should and could depend only on themselves. Americans more and more saw the realm of the private self as one in which other individuals and government should not
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