How does GAP seriously think it is okay to create and promote “Manifest Destiny” t-shirts? (Thanks to Aaron Paquette for posting this on Facebook.)
Manifest Destiny had serious consequences for Native Americans, since continental expansion implicitly meant the occupation and annexation of Native American land, sometimes to expand slavery. The United States continued the European practice of recognizing only limited land rights of indigenous peoples.
In a policy formulated largely by Henry Knox, Secretary of War in the Washington Administration, the U.S. government sought to expand into the west through the nominally legal (by United States law) purchase of Native American land in treaties.
Indians would be better off moving away from whites, an increasing number of Americans regarded the natives as nothing more than savages who stood in the way of American expansion.
As historian Reginald Horsman argued in his influential study Race and Manifest Destiny, racial rhetoric increased during the era of Manifest Destiny. Americans increasingly believed that Native Americans would fade away as the United States expanded. As an example, this idea was reflected in the work of one of America’s first great historians, Francis Parkman, whose landmark book The Conspiracy of Pontiac was published in 1851. Parkman wrote that Indians were “destined to melt and vanish before the advancing waves of Anglo-American power, which now rolled westward unchecked and unopposed”.