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Oregon Parade celebrating admission of Oregon to the union, 1859.Library of Congress,Washington, D.C.Mexican-American War Soldier's Adieu, an 1847 lithograph depicting public enthusiasm for the Mexican-American War. Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
Yet in a story as old as ancient Rome’s transformation from republic to empire, not allAmericans, like the doubters of Rome, found it encouraging. Those dissenters saw rapidexpansion as contrary to the principles of a true republic and predicted that the cost of empirewould be high and its consequences perilous.The End Of Manifest DestinyRealizing its Manifest Destiny with triumph over Mexico in 1848 gave the United States animmense domain that came with spectacular abundance and potential. (Under the Treaty ofGuadalupe Hidalgo, which ended the war, the United States acquired more than 525,000 squaremiles [1,360,000 square km] of land, including present-day Arizona, California,western Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, and Utah.) California’s climate made much of ita natural garden, and its gold would finance decades of impressive growth. Burgeoning Pacifictrade required opening diplomatic relations with heretofore isolationist Japan and createdAmerican trade in places that before had always been European commercial preserves. Yet thedispute over the status of the new western territories regarding slavery disrupted theAmerican political system by reviving arguments that shattered fragile compromises andinflamed sectional discord.In fact, those disputes brought the era of Manifest Destiny to an abrupt close. Plans to tie theeastern United States to the Pacific Coast with a transcontinental railroad led to the country’sfinal land acquisition before the Civil War when U.S. Minister to Mexico James Gadsdenpurchased a small parcel of land in 1853 to facilitate a southern route. For that reason alone,the Gadsden Purchase provoked the North, and Americans soon found themselves embroiled inadditional arguments that foiled the railroad while killing any possible consensus for furtherexpansion.The New Manifest DestinyAfter the Civil War, reconstructing the Union and promoting the industrial surge that made theUnited States a premier economic power preoccupied the country. In the 1890s, however, theUnited States and other great powers embraced geopolitical doctrines stemming from thewritings of naval officer and historian Alfred Thayer Mahan, who posited that national greatnessin a competitive world derived from the ability to control navigation of the seas. Thecoincidence of Mahanian doctrine emerging in tandem with Herbert Spencer’s belief thatunfettered competition promoted progress led to a naval arms race that revolutionized seagoingarchitecture and hastened the replacement of sail with steam. Although they accommodatedbigger guns and could meet schedules regardless of weather, fuel-hungry steamships requiredfar-flung coaling stations, which encouraged naval powers to plant their flags on remote