John L. O'Sullivan
John L. O'Sullivan
|United States Minister to Portugal|
June 16, 1854 – July 15, 1858
|Preceded by||Charles Brickett Haddock|
|Succeeded by||George W. Morgan|
|Born||November 15, 1813|
|Died||March 24, 1895 (aged 81)|
New York City
|Spouse(s)||Susan Kearny Rodgers|
|Known for||Coined phrase manifest destiny|
John Louis O'Sullivan (November 15, 1813 – March 24, 1895) was an American columnist and editor who used the term "manifest destiny" in 1845 to promote the annexation of Texas and the Oregon Country to the United States. O'Sullivan was an influential political writer and advocate for the Democratic Party at that time and served as US Minister to Portugal during the administration of President Franklin Pierce (1853–1857).
John Louis O'Sullivan, born on November 15, 1813, was the son of John Thomas O'Sullivan, an American diplomat and sea captain, and Mary Rowly, a genteel Englishwoman. According to legend, he was born at sea on the British warship off of the coast of Gibraltar. O'Sullivan's father was a naturalized US citizen, and had served as US Consul to the Barbary States.
In 1837, he founded and edited The United States Magazine and Democratic Review, based in Washington. It espoused the more radical forms of Jacksonian Democracy and published essays by the most prominent writers in America, including and the cause of a democratic, American literature. Contributors included Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, John Greenleaf Whittier, William Cullen Bryant, and Walt Whitman. O'Sullivan was an aggressive reformer in the New York State Legislature, where he led the unsuccessful movement to abolish capital punishment. By 1846, investors were dissatisfied with his poor management, and he lost control of his magazine.
O'Sullivan opposed the coming of the American Civil War, hoping that a peaceful solution—or a peaceful separation of North and South—could be worked out. In Europe when the war began, O'Sullivan became an active supporter of the Confederate States of America; he may have been on the Confederate payroll at some point. O'Sullivan wrote a number of pamphlets promoting the Confederate cause, arguing that the presidency had become too powerful and that states' rights needed to be protected against encroachment by the central government. Although he had earlier supported the "free soil" movement, he now defended the institution of slavery, writing that blacks and whites could not live together in harmony without it. His activities greatly disappointed some of his old friends, including Hawthorne. Towards the end of the Civil War, O'Sullivan appealed to his southern "comrades in arms" to burn Richmond, stating "let every man set fire to his own house".
- Johannsen, Robert W. "The Meaning of Manifest Destiny", in Sam W. Hayes and Christopher Morris, eds., Manifest Destiny and Empire: American Antebellum Expansionism. College Station, Texas: Texas A&M University Press, 1997. ISBN 0-89096-756-3.
- Widmer, Edward L. "Young America". Retrieved July 22, 2021.
- The Jacobite Peerage, Baronetage, Knightage, and Grants of Honour. 2003. ISBN 9780806317168.
- Robert D. Sampson. "O'Sullivan, John Louis" American National Biography Online Feb. 2000
- Baker, Jean H. (1998). The Political Culture of Northern Democrats in the Mid-Nineteenth Century. p.337. ISBN 9780823218653.
- Sampson, Robert D. "O'Sullivan, John Louis" American National Biography Online Feb. 2000. Access Oct 12 2015
- Sampson, Robert D. John L. O'Sullivan and His Times. (Kent State University Press, 2003) online
- Scholnick, Robert J, "Extermination and Democracy: O'Sullivan, the Democratic Review, and Empire, 1837—1840." American Periodicals (2005) 15#2: 123–141.online
- Widmer, Edward L. Young America: The Flowering of Democracy in New York City. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. (excerpt)
- Letters and Literary Memorials of Samuel J. Tilden – Volume 1 – Edited by John Bigelow
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John L. O'Sullivan
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- "The Democratic Principle", mission statement from the first issue (1837) of the Democratic Review, called by Robert D. Sampson "a classic statement of romantic Jacksonian Democracy"
- "The Great Nation of Futurity": November 1839 editorial in which O'Sullivan touched upon many themes of manifest destiny.
- "Annexation": The July–August 1845 editorial in which the phrase "Manifest Destiny" first appeared
- John L. O'Sullivan at Find a Grave