Published Date

January 1, 2016

Resource Type

AHA Resource, For the Classroom


Indigenous, Migration, Immigration, & Diaspora, Political

AHA Topics

Teaching & Learning, Undergraduate Education


Latin America/Caribbean, United States

This resource was developed as part of the AHA’s Globalizing the US History Survey project


By Carlos Contreras

Institution: Grossmont College

Location: El Cajon, CA

Year: 2016


  • Chasteen, ch. 4 “Post-Colonial Blues”



  • To Conquer or Redeem: Manifest Destiny, Act II: “An Empire of Liberty” (26:09-58:52, middle portion, a Films on Demand Film) AND readings.

Readings questions: You’ll finish these first at home before we see our film clips and discuss.

  1. From Chasteen’s ch. 4, “Post-Colonial Blues.” Discuss in detail all of the difficulties most of the Latin American countries had economically and politically during the 1820s to 1850s. This is also a midterm essay question. Be expansive.
  2. Chasteen, ch. 4, pp. 144–47, section “Countercurrents: The Power of Outsiders”: Discuss in detail the significance of the Monroe Doctrine, “gunboat diplomacy” and the consequences of the US War on Mexico. Be expansive.

Film questions: Take copious notes on this very important film, especially on the territorial expansion of the US during the course of the 19th century and the ways that US policymakers and the US public have justified the US becoming an empire by 1898. Then give detailed answers to the following questions. Be expansive.

  1. Describe the ways that the early US colonists expanded and how they viewed the native peoples who lived there. In what ways are the seeds of Manifest Destiny laid during the early republic?
  2. Discuss Jefferson’s idea of an “Empire of Liberty” and how that played itself out in the early 19th century. Discuss how the US comes to control Georgia and Mississippi under Jackson.
  3. Discuss the emergence of “Manifest Destiny” by 1845. Now discuss some consequences of Manifest Destiny.
  4. Describe in detail the ways that California and the rest of Mexico’s north (Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, Colorado) came to be part of the US.
  5. How do US policymakers at the time rationalize the contradiction between empire and democracy? In other words, how does a democracy justify the taking of the territories of others by force?
  6. Discuss John Gast’s painting entitled American Progress and how it illustrates Manifest Destiny. What does it include? What does it exclude? What difference does that make?