What is Manifest Destiny? Page 2
The phrase carried Christian religious implications. Proponents of Manifest Destiny felt that westward expansion had been ordained by God, and that American Christians, especially the white portion of that group, were God’s chosen people.
They felt it was their “destiny” to spread their civilization from sea to shining sea, and convert any non-Christian they would encounter in their quest. The still new United States would spread its boundaries to have more land to create its utopia, or at least its interpretation of a perfect society.
Historians have different explanations for what the term Manifest Destiny means. Frederick Merck was a well known scholar of American expansion in the first half of the twentieth century. According to Merk:
"The term was not wholly new. Phrases like it had been used before, but this precise combination of words was novel and right for a mood, and it became part of the language. It meant expansion, prearranged by heaven, over an area not clearly defined. In some minds, it meant expansion over the region to the Pacific; in others, over the North American continent; in others, over the hemisphere.”
Amy S. Greenberg is a noted scholar of present time whose work is centered in the antebellum period. According to Greenberg:
"The roots of the concept [of Manifest Destiny] emerged from the Puritan vision that the American settlement would be a ‘city upon a hill’ and beacon of light for less blessed people elsewhere. The triumph of the American Revolution…was seen as providential by the American people, and republican ideology provided secular support to the sacred notion that Americans were a people apart. Even in the early years of the republic, many Americans accepted continental expansion as both natural, and inevitable.” 
Greenberg argues that it did not matter who said it, the authorship of the phrase is simply one of those interesting moments in history. Regardless of who said Manifest Destiny, the idea was formed, and there were consequences that came with it.