FDR - Document: The Great Nation of Futurity (1845) Author:...

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Document: “The Great Nation of Futurity” (1845) Author: John L. O’Sullivan John L. O’Sullivan glorified America and proclaimed its destiny to spread its civilization. Sullivan demands that it is America’s destiny to expand its civilization. He argues that we have no relationship with the nation from which we came (Britain) and of their lack of principles of human equality as evidence. He argues that for the sake of the natural rights of man, America is “destined to be the great nation of futurity” (180). The irony of Sullivan’s argument lies in its disregard for America’s history of human inequality . He describes nations that have fallen solely because “the equal rights of the minority were trampled on by the despotism of the majority.” He is of course referring to the aristocracy of the few who rule in many nations. All of these nations, he argues, have fallen because human inequality is “destructive to society” and “unnatural and wrong.” Sullivan claims that American is different because we are not ruled by a monarchy, yet he fails to see the connection between these fallen nations to which he refers and his America. He argues that the Civil War, a war “in the defense of humanity,” is evidence enough of our unparalleled pursuit for human equality. He states that “the American people [have never] suffered themselves to be led on by wicked ambition to depopulate the land, to spread desolation far and wide, that a human being might be placed on seat of supremacy.” Yet, does this not sound like a description of our annihilation of the Native American people. A single human being was not “placed on a seat of supremacy,” a whole race was. The white race depopulated the land to build their homes. Sullivan goes on to state that the future will be the era of American greatness with no masters. Is he forgetting the brutal slavery conditions still rampant in America? He claims that equality of rights is the backbone of our country, but it is evident that he is referring to the equality of rights, for whites . Throughout this essay, Sullivan speaks of America’s greatness and need to expand because of our principles of human equality, but this argument in itself is controversial. He claims superiority over anybody not American. He claims that the American people are superior because of what their nation was founded on. Sullivan ends by asking, “Who, then, can doubt that our country is destined to be the great nation of futurity?” Although many would agree that Sullivan is ultimately correct, that America is the country many strive to become, he is not correct in his principles. We have come to this point by displaying a lack of the traits we claim to be founded on. Whether it’s
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industrializing and giving workers almost no rights, owning slaves, or wiping out Native Americans, America has spread its ideals of human equality by conquering anything that stands in its way as it reigns superior. Sometimes, as presented throughout our history, we become so fixed on
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This note was uploaded on 09/27/2008 for the course HIST 200gm taught by Professor Shammas during the Spring '05 term at USC.

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FDR - Document: The Great Nation of Futurity (1845) Author:...

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