The story of Manifest Destiny and the role of expansion in American slavery is dominated by the history of Western migration. In A Different Manifest Destiny: U.S. Southern Identity and Citizenship in Nineteenth-Century South America (University of Nebraska Press, 2020), Claire M. Wolnisty shows that the South had a long history of looking not just West, but South to protect the future of a proslavery southern system. In the antebellum era, multiple groups of southerners built connections in Latin America to establish an empire rooted in slavery and promote their vision of southern identity. They positioned slave labor as not just compatible but key to creating a modern society and economy. Dr. Wolnisty, an assistant professor at Austin College, discusses how these ideas played out among three main groups--filibusters, commercial expansionists, and postwar southern emigrants--explaining how their efforts at expansion played important roles in defining Southern identity and the limits of their efforts. This history helps us broaden our understanding of expansion, southern identity, and Manifest Destiny.
Christine Lamberson is a historian. Her research and teaching focuses on 20th century U.S. political and cultural history. She’s currently working on a book manuscript about the role of violence in shaping U.S. political culture in the 1960s and 1970s.
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