John L. O’Sullivan • November 15, 1813-March 24, 1895
Historical Context He was born on the North Atlantic Ocean during the War of 1812. His father, John, was a naturalized American citizen of Irish ancestry. His mother, Mary Rowly was English. He attended Columbia College in New York City, where he excelled. O’Sullivan’s Biography In 1837 he co-founded and served as editor for the United States Magazine and Democratic Review. The Democratic Review was a highly regarded journal. It featured many political essays, many penned by O’Sullivan himself. The Democratic Review was also a literary magazine, promoting the Development of American literature. It published works of authors such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Walt Whitman, and Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Biography continued.. In 1841 O’Sullivan was elected to New York State Assembly at the age of 27. In 1846 he married Susan Kearny Rodgers. After a honeymoon in Cuba, he became involved to win Cuba independence from Spanish rule.
Continued.. He eventually returned to New York in the late 1870s, where he unsuccessfully tried to use his democratic contacts to get appointed to an office. O’Sullivan suffered a stroke in 1889. He died from influenza in a residential hotel in New York City in 1895. He was buried in the Moravian Cemetery on Staten Island.
O’Sullivan’s Views • He had a reputation as an advocate for the elimination of the death penalty. He was also as advocate for rights for women and working people. • He proposed creating a “Congress of Nations”, which would mediate international disputes. • O’Sullivan was opposed to the American Civil War.
Manifest Destiny • In the July-August 1845 issue the Democratic Review , O’Sullivan published an essay titled “Annexation”. • The essay was calling for the U.S. to admit Texas into the Union • This had been a controversial issue over the expansion of slavery and possibly war with Mexico.
Manifest Destiny • His audience was the American public.
Main Points Westward Expansion“Our Manifest destiny is to overspread the continent allotted by Providence for the free development of our yearly multiplying millions.”
Sub-Main Points • “Texas is now ours.” Texas has no obligation to Mexico and the United States needs welcome the annexation of Texas. • “There is a great deal of Annexation yet to take place, within the life of the present generation, along the whole line of our northern border.”
Historical Significance • Prompted argument for and against westward expansion. • As Americans moved west they trampled tribal lands, trespassed over territorial boundaries, and ignored international agreements. • Those confronting the Americans were seen as objects to be removed.