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Introduction

O’Sullivan is one of the most famous journalist in American history. He is the one who coined the expression “Manifest Destiny”. He was a democrat and the official spokesman for American expansion (we should remember that Democrats standed for expansion whereas Republicans were against). O’Sullivan wrote two important articles: “the Great Nation of Futurity” in 1839 and “Annexation” in 1845, where he added a justification to American expansion.

For O’Sullivan, the two major words were “manifest destiny” and “justification”. That theme of destiny is not new: since the beginning of American history, the Puritans have always emphasized the special destiny of America. That conception, based on exceptionalism, was essentially religious and lasted for two centuries. In the 19th century, the theme of destiny becomes a political ambition, an official policy led by President Polk, who was elected on a manifest destiny platform. The 19th century was basically more down-to-earth.

But how could O’Sullivan justify what could not be justified ?

Because it was “manifest”, it became merely ideological. Besides, 1839-1845 was the period during which expansion quickened: gradually, one after the other, all states were indexed by the Americans (Texas was surely the most difficult indexation). In 1845, the Americans were confronted to a double problem:

  • there was a fight against the Mexicans on the American continent.
  • there was another fight with foreign nations: Britain and France.

The Frontier and the settlers went West on Mexican territories and annexed them one after the other. That is all the history of America: the history of gradual indexation of foreign lands.

The journalist was instrumental in the American expansion. 1845 knew the birth of the United States. O’Sullivan found the argument to justify the future expansion of the United States on the American continent: it is “manifest”. Indeed, look at the map: it is manifest that Americans should own the whole territory. Thus, expansion justifies expansion (autojustification). It is like a wave: nobody can resist America.

A westward expansion

Expansion is both commercial and territorial. American expansion was always as sort of global attitude involving territorial growth and commercial expansion, exactly like a body that grows. America has always been perceived as a body. The growth is so huge that nobody can do anything about it: unlimited development, though only extending to the West.

In 1800, the Western Boundary/Border was the Mississippi River. Beyond it, standed great areas of land, not very known: 600 miles to the Rocky Mountains. Louisiana was still a French territory (and France was then ruled by Napoleon). Napoleon sold Louisiana to the Americans for 15 million dollars to make war in Europe with Britain. As Louisiana was a huge territory, the American territories doubled over the night. Thanks Napoleon !

Jefferson had sent explorers to the West to find an easy way to the Pacific. Louis and Clark left in 1804 and set off up the Missouri River. They marched for 10 weeks in the Rocky Mountains and ate their horses. They finally reached the Columbia River, on which they floated down to the Pacific. In December 1805, they reached the Pacific, after 4 000 miles. They failed to find an easy way but they showed the journey was possible and indirectly favored expansion thanks to the useful information they brought back.

Oregon was a territory stretching from Alaska to California and to the Rocky Mountains to Louisiana. In 1804, it was claimed by 4 countries: US, Britain, Spain (owning California) and Russia (owning Alaska). The US and Britain had the strongest positions because they had sent people scout to recognize the land and to settle trading posts. Among those people, there were trappers (called “mountain men”) who spent their lives wandering for furs. In the 1830″s, Britain had more settlements than the Americans:

  • FEAR !
  • American politicians made great effort to persuade Americans to start farms in Oregon.

The journey was terrible, expensive and lasted for months. In 1832, settlers began travelling by land. The route was called the “Oregon Trail”, the first overland route to the Pacific and to the American expansion.

It was not an easy journey because of the many dangers: floods, blizzards, prairie fires, accidents, diseases and starvation took many lives. But settlers continued.

In 1843, the Oregon Fever came to many parts of the US and contaminated thousands of people who set off in the West with wagons. Gradually, they grew and outnumbered the British. It is typical of the process the Americans are going to use to claim that the territories are potentially theirs:

  1. settling down
  2. outnumbering the opponents
  3. indexing territories

Manifest destiny

“Manifest Destiny” was an expression coined by O”Sullivan in 1845. It will become the motto of the American expansion. The idea existed before the phrase was coined: it expressed the fundamental belief in America that the destiny of America was special because of the overruling Providence. The fate of America is planned by God: it consists in expanding naturally. The first stage of this ideology is religious, Calvinistic (chosenness and election). Then it is a secular ideal: instead of being divine, it becomes manifest so that everybody can see it.

Manifest Destiny became the natural ideology of the expansionists, demanding that the US should take the whole of Oregon to Alaska (54° 40″). Another motto was “54-40 or fight!”.

In 1844, James K. Polk was elected President on a Manifest Destiny platform. In his inaugural address, he said that “the American claim of the whole of Oregon is clear an unquestionable”.

At war with Mexico and Britain

As a result, a double war with Mexico and Britain broke out. In June, Polk agreed to divide Oregon in 2 parts on the 49th parallel of latitude. In 1846, the Americans were at war with Mexico. That was the first real colonial war and it grew out of events having taken place in Texas. Thousands of Americans had settled in Texas, which was ruled by Mexico since the 1830″s. Texan Americans gradually opposed the Mexican rules and rebelled in October 1835. The Texans won against the Mexicans in 1836 at the Battle of San Jacinto. Texas became an independent republic. Most Texans did not want their independence to last too long: they wanted to join the American territories. In 1845, Texas is part of the US.

In April 1846, there are some fights between American and Mexican soldiers along the Southern border between Texas and Mexico. American soldiers invaded Mexico and defeated the Mexican army and occupied Mexico City in September 1847. That Tex-Mex war ended in February 1848. Mexico lost big stretches of territory: California, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, Utah and Arizona.

This indexation completed the Manifest Destiny of the US and the process of continentalization. The result is the USA but the process is not yet completed.

La révolution transforme profondément le monde occidental entraînant une croissance économique jusque là inconnue. La croissance économique peut aussi s’accompagner de développement.

I – La croissance économique

A – Qu’est-ce que la croissance économique ?

La croissance économique est une notion quantitative et économique. C’est un phénomène mesurable dans le temps et dans l’espace (exemple : la France en 1998).

C’est l’accroissement des richesses d’un pays, mesuré par le Produit Intérieur Brut (l’agrégat PIB). Le PIB peut être exprimé en valeur ou en volume.

Taux de croissance = ( (PIB T2 – PIB T1) / PIB T1 ) * 100

Le PIB marchand est évalué au prix du marché. Le PIB non-marchand est évalué au coût des facteurs (salaires, impôts, amortissements…). Le PIB est la somme des valeurs ajoutées.

Produit National Brut (PNB) = PIB + Revenus reçus de l’extérieur – Revenus versés à l’extérieur.

Croissance extensive : hausse des quantités des facteurs de production (plus de main d’oeuvre, plus de facteur capital, plus de matières premières).

Croissance intensive : hausse de la productivité (meilleure organisation du travail).

B – Les limites du PIB comme indicateur de la croissance

1 – Certains éléments ne sont pas pris en compte dans le calcul du PIB :

  • travail domestique
  • économie souterraine = économie informelle
  • bénévolat
  • troc

Note : l’économie informelle est très importante dans les Pays en Développement (PED), le PIB est donc sous-évalué.

2 – Le calcul du PIB est équivoque

Pour le PIB, un mal et son remède équivaut à 2 biens (double progrès).
Exemples : pollution, voitures…