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Missouri Senator Thomas Hart Benton in this speech expresses the theme of Manifest Destiny. Delivered before the Senate May 28, 1846 in his appeal for the annexation of Oregon. . . . Since the dispersion of man upon earth, I know of no human event, past or present, which promises a greater, and more beneficent change upon earth than the arrival of the van of the Caucasian race (the Celtic-Anglo-Saxon division) upon the border of the sea which washes the shore of the eastern Asia . . . It would seem that the white race alone received the divine command, to subdue and replenish the earth! for it is the only race that has obeyed it—the only one that hunts out new and distant lands, and even a New world, to subdue and replenish.... Three and a half centuries ago, this race, in obedience to the great command, arrived in the New world, and found new lands to subdue and replenish.... The van of the Caucasian race now top the Rocky Mountains, and spread down to the shores of the Pacific. In a few years a great population will grow up there, luminous with the accumulated lights of European and American civilization.... The Red race has disappeared from the Atlantic coast: the tribes that resisted civilization met extinction. This is a cause of lamentation with many. For my part, I cannot murmur at what seems to be the effect of divine law. I cannot repine that this Capitol has replaced the wigwam- this Christian people, replaced the savages—white matrons, the red squaws and such men as Washington, Franklin, and Jefferson, have taken the place of Powhattan, Opechonecanough, and other red men, howsoever respectable they may have been as savages. Civilization, or extinction, has been the fate of all people who have found themselves in the track of the advancing Whites, and civilization, always the preference of the Whites, has been pressed as an object, while extinction has followed as a consequence of its resistance. (Source: Congressional Globe, May 28, 1846)

1. What is the main theme of Benton's speech? What reasons does he give to justify the destruction of the "savages?"
2. How would you answer his assertions?
3. Do Americans still feel this way today? Why or why not? Give examples to support
your conclusions.


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