Manifest Destiny was the widely held belief that American settlers were destined to expand throughout the continent. In part, the stage was first set in 1803 when President Thomas Jefferson negotiated the 828,000-square mile Louisiana Purchase from France.
Journalist John L O’Sullivan wrote an article in 1839 and predicted a “divine destiny” for the US, “This is our high destiny, and in nature’s eternal, inevitable decree of cause and effect we must accomplish it. All this will be our future history, to establish on earth the moral dignity and salvation of man.”
Later, ‘Young America’ was the name adopted by the liberal, expansionist movement within the Democratic party that was sympathetic to nationalist and republican movements in Europe. (LOC)
The phrase ‘Young America’ connoted territorial and commercial expansion of the US. During the years leading up to the Civil War, it permeated various parts of the Democratic party, producing new perspectives in the realms of economics, foreign policy, and constitutionalism.
“Historians have used the catchphrase “Young America” in several murky contexts, generating confusion about whether the name refers to a faction or a movement, a fad or a rhetorical device, or a general label for the times. The term “Young America” in fact stood for all of these things.” (Eyal)
Loosely united by a generational affiliation, New Democrats referred to themselves as “young Democrats,” “progressive Democrats,” or simply as “Young America.”
Led by figures such as Senator Stephen A Douglas of Illinois and editor John L O’Sullivan of New York, Young America Democrats gained power during the late 1840s and early 1850s.
They challenged a variety of orthodox Jacksonian assumptions, influencing both the nation’s foreign policy and its domestic politics. (Eyal)
Franklin Pierce, US President from 1853-1857, was in line with the Young America agenda, emphasizing expansion. He signed the Gadsden Purchase in December 30 1853, adding about 30,000-acres of land (of what is now the southern boundary of Arizona). (Berkin, Miller & Cherny)
By one means or another, Pierce also sought to acquire Hawaii, Santo Domingo, and Alaska. (NPS) Young America and Pierce’s expansion thought came to the Islands. It was a time other countries were causing concern of takeover in the Islands.
In February 6, 1854, an order of the King to Wyllie noted, “that plans are on foot inimical (unfavorable) to the peace of Our Kingdom and the welfare of our people, and such as if carried out would be wholly subversive of Our Sovereignty, and would reduce Us to the most deplorable of all states, a state of anarchy …”
“Whereas, exigencies (emergencies) may arise of such a nature as to render it imperative upon Us, for the security of the just rights of Our chiefs and people, that We should seek the alliance of the United States of America.”
“We Do Hereby command you, Our Minister of Foreign Relations, to take such immediate steps as may be necessary and proper, by negotiation or otherwise, to ascertain the views of the United States in relation to the Annexation thereto of these Islands …”
“… and also the terms and conditions upon which the same can be affected, with the object of being fully prepared to meet any sudden danger that may arise, threatening the existence or independence of Our Kingdom.” (Signed by the King and Keoni Ana (Kuhina Nui))
Subsequent instructions from the King to Wyllie (February 21, 1854) noted, “You will immediately enter upon a negotiation ad referendum with the Commissioners of the United States of America, in case of necessity, and which shall fully secure Our rights and the rights of Our chiefs and people …”
“When the treaty ad referendum as aforesaid, is completed, you will submit the same to Us, which will be subject to Our approval, modification or rejection; and in case We shall deem it wise and necessary, to submit it to the Representatives of Our people, subject also to their approval.” (Signed by King Kamehameha III, and approved by Prince Liholiho, Keoni Ana and all the Ministers)
“On the 4th of July, 1854, the foreign community expressed their hopes of annexation by a grand celebration of the day. A car, decorated with evergreens, in which were seated thirty-two girls of American parentage, dressed in white, wreathed in flowers, each bearing the name of a State on her sash, in large gold letters, was drawn by a power unseen.”
“Next followed ‘Young America,’ a company of very young men in uniform, with another triumphal chariot, on which was placed a beautiful boy, the very personification of health, strength, and beauty. ‘Young Hawaii’ was in tow, and represented by a boat gaily trimmed, in which were eight young native lads, fancifully dressed, and carelessly eating sugar-cane.”
“The procession marched through the principal streets to the stone church, where an eloquent address was delivered by the American Commissioner, in which it was more than hinted that a new star was about to be added to the glorious constellation.” (Judd)
As noted above, “a Treaty is about concluded … (for Hawaiʻi’s) annexation to the United States … The only unsettled question in relation to the annexation is, whether the Islands shall come in as a Territory or a State.” (New York Daily Tribune, July 20, 1854)
The Annexation Treaty was never finalized, “The signatures were yet wanting; His Majesty (Kamehameha III) more determined and impatient than ever, when he was taken suddenly ill, and died in three weeks (December 15, 1854.)” (Judd)
His adopted son and heir, Alexander Liholiho, was immediately proclaimed king, under the title of Kamehameha IV. Soon afterwards he expressed his wish that the negotiations that had been begun with Mr Gregg should be broken off, which was done. (Alexander)
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Helen von Tempsky says
Is this photo above Mr Gregg? First time I have heard of him.
Kiana Pauda says
Have you written anything touching on Kipling’s “White Man’s Burden” of 1899 vis-à-vis internal and/or external non-native Hawaiian attitudes influencing a transition to governance which is neither a monarchy nor of “brown” complexion? Your fine monograph on Young America’s embryo ideas do seem to — after so very much time — find foothold within the sentiments of this poem.