Young American Males and Filibustering in the Age of Manifest Destiny by Robert May

The author, May has tried to convince his readers about the effects ‘filibustering’ had on the American citizens. In his article “Young American males and filibustering in the age of Manifest Destiny: the United States Army as a cultural mirror” in The Journal of American History, published in 1991, May has tried to show up the negative aspect of filibustering in a critical manner.

While critics is not what is only elaborated throughout his article, what is highlighted is the political significance that today modern Americans connote to filibustering when they refer to it as ‘long-winded speeches’.

His article is all about how these speeches that today are meant to buy time to avoid certain legislation, have changed the whole course of American history in the wake of various wars that have been fought under annexation, nationalism and activism leading to civil war.

The manner in which filibustering has been perceived by the reader tells the whole story of how America start waging into trouble, and the usage of this single word has cost American public a new era of oratory, where it is used, misused, and utilized fully by American military.

The idea of Manifest Destiny is not new, except that its usage. Initially it was used in the 1840s by Democrats, to prove it this way or the other that Mexican war was right. This pro-war stance was just a step to justify nationalist cause. And this is what American military is good at. This stance in the form of critic has been explored in this article, in which May has tried to defend American public and has blamed military for using and misusing filibustering on various occasions.

These occasions have been during war times, whenever military felt there is a need to take action upon any decision, whether or not political, it has used innocent American public to filibuster and penetrate the hearts and minds of a common American. It all started with a heated debate on political party campaign when Congress was trying to set foothold in the cross sectional politics.

When May claims that filibustering has altered the course of American culture, he merely does not mean that youth culture is reshaped or that something new has been added into the dictionary of American youth. By American culture, he meant a whole new cultural innovation composed of emotional filibustering, in which the trend to use filibustering in various ways have been highlighted.

Political norms have utilized filibustering by taking American military as role model that since 1840s have not only used filibustering techniques to spoil or reconstruct relations with other neighboring countries, but it also has managed to sparked a sense of Americanism in a common man.

By using military, the government also at times used long-winded speeches to ignite people to breakout riots whenever required. Especially in Central America where many times it has realized that invoking anti-Americanism would be more suitable in state legislations. Thence, government, in the wake of oratory speeches and patriotic songs is responsible for perpetuating American Civil War.

Filibustering unions too have been misused. Slavery has been first allowed through filibustering, later it was condemned through the same mode. This is illustrated when May on pg 859 says , “Filibustering provided the nation with heroes, martyrs and villains”. First people were fostered in the wake of a revolutionary quest, resulting in the Manifest Destiny. This, when fulfilled, they were turned into villains by assigning them anti-filibustering responsibilities.

Filibustering was also done through violence, when weapons and rifles were assigned to them. This was what made them terrorists. So, the main point May has ended up with is how filibustering has helped making terrorists. Elaborated on pg 862, he writes, “Antebellum youths, particularly rural youths, were accustomed to the use of muskets and rifles”.

The violent tradition fostered filibustering, filibustering in turn gave rise to weapons, and weapons ignited terrorism. History proves it, that American military has long ago created terror, and filibustering was the cause, the reason too. May, on the same page proves this notion when he says, “Many Americans simply assumed that the superiority of their race and governmental institutions gave them the moral right to filibuster abroad”.

When filibustering was the mode and cause for indoctrination, and when military found it an effective method of provoking American public domestically, it also started to give it a try internationally. Filibustering then turned out to be the best means of spreading terror through terrorism and violence.


The crux of the filibustering essay goes with terrorism. May wants the reader to acknowledge in the light of historical facts and invasions, that American political platform and the military was never sincere to the Americans. Even when they used the dark-skinned public, not only they exploited the innocent civilians, but also they spread this filibustering approach on the global political milieu.

Later, it was named by the American politicians and the military as ‘terrorism’. This, in the light of facts is proved through the ‘war on terror’ as it was initiated by the American government through intense usage of weapons against their own people. It ended up on American military, thanks to filibustering!

Work Cited

May, Robert E. December 1991. Young American Males and Filibustering in the age of Manifest Destiny: The United States Army as a Cultural Mirror. The Journal of American History.

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