The towering figure in the American myth is the frontiersman making his way out west with little but a few dollars in his pocket, a rifle and the hope for a better life. That better life has been achieved for his ancestors, but at the cost of genocide of those who stood in his way. Nevertheless, the frontiersman-and especially the iconic image of the cowboy-is the ultimate embodiment of the American myth and and so it should come as little surprise that farther we move away from the reality of that time, the more Americas leaders co-opt the romantic imagery associated with the westward expansion.
The central determining term to suggest that Americans had not only the right, but the moral imperative to run roughshod over the native peoples of the west was the idea of Manifest Destiny. John L. O'Sullivan is credited with coining this phrase as well as defining the concept. O'Sullivan was the editor of the Democratic Review and took advantage of every opportunity to establish the proposal that American conquest of the continent was inevitable and necessary. O'Sullivan was convinced of the greatness of America and saw the enormous bounty of untrammeled land in th west as the key to creating everlasting prosperity (Weinberg, 1935, p. 62). ...Show more