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John L. O'Sullivan

Died when: 81 years 129 days
Star Sign: Scorpio


John L. O'Sullivan 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), but he largely faded from prominence soon thereafter. He was rescued from obscurity in the twentieth century after the famous phrase "manifest destiny" was traced back to him. He was born at sea, the son of John Thomas O'Sullivan, an American diplomat and sea captain, and Mary Rowly. He descended from a long line of colorful Irish expatriates and soldiers of fortune, and had a strong sense of personal destiny. His father, John Thomas O'Sullivan, third O'Sullivan in the Jacobite Peerage of the name, had been naturalized a US citizen and had served as US Consul to the Barbary States. His grandfather, John William O'Sullivan, was an Irish professional soldier who spent most of his career in French service. John Louis O'Sullivan graduated from Columbia College (1831) and became a lawyer. His most successful venture came in 1837 when 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.
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