The purpose of this paper is to inform and discuss American Imperialism in the United States. This paper will discuss topics such as the reasoning why the policy was adopted and how it was rationalized, major events that occurred during the time that Imperialism had taken over, and which countries were affected or became involved with the United States due to American Imperialism. By the conclusion of this paper the following topics will be discussed explaining the diverse reasons for adopting the policy American Imperialism. American Imperialism began in the early 1890’s, to improve the economic status of the U.
S. and for economic benefits. This era brought about the first widespread protest against American imperialism. Imperialism is the “acquisition of control over the government and the economy of another nation, usually by victory. The impression that I received from American Imperialism was that the progressive movement was brought about to initially improve America. However, there was a diverse opinion from many people, they believed that this movement was enforced to gain more control over different colonies or to “micro-manage” the neighboring nations that were involved.
The population was divided between those that saw the economic and strategic benefits of colonies and those that felt it was counter to America’s founding ideas and goals. The United States adopted the policy of imperialism because they saw the potential to control foreign markets and earn vast amounts of money. “The speed and efficiency with which Europeans expanded prompted many Americans to argue for this European-style imperialism of conquest and possession” (2008, p. 611). The United States was never completely isolated from the rest of the world. Trade made them an active member of world affairs.
It was during the period of the 1890s that the U. S. foreign policy became influenced by imperialism. During that decade, the U. S. became the most important industrial power in the world. That meant we had to find markets and areas overseas to provide a cheap labor force and plenty of natural resources with which to fuel the U. S. economy. Business was also looking at other areas in the world as potential customers for our products. The U. S. business wanted new markets to sell and trade our products and gain resources that we did not have in America.
The thirst for new markets was one reason for the imperialistic era. We bought Alaska for 7. 2 Million from the Russians, which provided us with oil, timber, and minerals. “Critics called Alaska “Seward’s Folly,” but he paid only about 2 cents an acre for a mineral-rich territory twice the size of Texas” (2008, p. 615). “The battle of the Pacific highlighted the need for naval bases and coaling stations. On July 7, McKinley signed a joint congressional resolution annexing Hawaii, as planters wanted for nearly a decade” (2008, p. 622).
This lead to the annex of Hawaii, Pearl Harbor naval base being built and after the Spanish-American War we received Guam and Puerto Rico. During this period, we gained territories, resources and our military was expanding forces in areas of the world where we had not gone in force before. The main reason this policy was adopted was because the U. S. industrial economy was growing so fast that they were producing more goods than they could consume. This abundance of goods forced the U. S. to look for new markets to sell their goods.
The events of the Spanish-American War, was mainly the reasoning why American Imperialism began. The U. S. forces defeated the Spanish forces which caused Spain to lose Cuba, Guam and Puerto Rico. The U. S. also gained control of the Philippines during this time. “Had the Spanish-American War depended largely on ground forces, the ill-prepared U. S. Army might have fared poorly. But the key to success, in both Cuba and the Philippines, was naval warfare, in which the recently modernized American fleet had a critical edge” (2008, p. 621m).
The Spanish American War also made the U. S.want a canal to have better access for trade and military support. The event of Spain’s crisis made American’s turn the focus of expanding abroad and overseas. This brought American imperialism to influence political and military contention creating a strong naval force, economic competition with other industrial nations (Great Britain Belgium, & France) and lastly, acceptance in the cultural prestige for the people of Anglo-Saxon decent. Although industrialization, brought forth the expansion of railroads and irrigation systems it also had negative effects- disease, famine and war.
Trading with international events had its advantages but it also inflicted pressure for undeveloped countries. After World War II, the country seemed to operate as an Imperialistic country even more. The war actions were implemented as the result of Cold War policy and anti-Communism feelings, which were the basis of the United States foreign policy. During this period the United States actively intervened in the politics of many nations, usually on the stated grounds to prevent the expansion of the influences of the Soviet Union, which displayed and showed evidence of an Imperialistic operating nation.
There were critics that alleged that the United States’ adversary to the Soviet Union and anti-Communist paranoia was causing the American government to become needlessly imperialistic, and was overthrowing foreign regimes on often questionable grounds or suspicions. Other critics, especially those on the far left went even farther, alleging that the threat of Communist / Soviet expansion was a largely non-existent, and that the United States was simply meddling in the affairs of other states for more openly imperialistic purposes, such as gaining control of resources, land, or military bases.
I felt as though the United States wanted to ensure that the other countries weren’t doing anything major without them. The Imperialistic tendencies seemed to be more about keeping a close eye on the other nations so that there would not be any major or drastic exchanges, etc taking place without the U. S. knowing about it. Imperialism in my opinion imperialism was all about gaining more control , regardless of the point for enforcing it, the actual movement is about micro-managing the other countries to ensure that were are not missing out on the chance to Progress in materials, currency, etc.
Such actions caused the need for the Anti-Imperialist League. The American Anti-Imperialist League, was founded in 1899, after the U. S. occupied Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippine Islands” (Halsall, 1997, paragraph 1). “They founded the American Anti-Imperialist League in order to campaign, unsuccessfully as it turned out, against the annexation of the Philippines” (1997, paragraph 1). The anti-imperialists were rooted in an earlier era, and opposed the expansion because they believed imperialism violated the principles of republicanism.
They did not oppose expansion on commercial, constitutional, religious, or humanitarian grounds. The Anti-imperialist league made a bold statement in what they hold as their platform. “We hold that the policy known as imperialism is hostile to liberty and tends toward militarism, an evil from which it has been our glory to be free. We regret that it has become necessary in the land of Washington and Lincoln to reaffirm that all men, of whatever race or color, are entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.
The policy, known as Imperialism, began to dominate American interactions with foreign nations as the 20th century began. However it was justified, American Imperialism took the form of direct military intervention, indirect manipulation and overtaking local commerce. The ancestors and people of the U. S. had to be very strong-willed and determined to make it in a world that was so closely controlled.
This paper explained the reasons why American Imperialism was brought about or adopted, major events that occurred during the time that Imperialism had taken over, and which countries were affected or became involved with the United States due to American Imperialism. References: Davison, J. W. , Delay, B. , Heyrman, C. L. , Lytle, M. , Stoff, M. B. (2008). Nation of Nations: “A narrative History of the American Republic Volume II: Since 1865”, Chapters 17-32 (Sixth Edition). Boston, MA: McGraw Hill Publishing Company. Internet Modern History Sourcebook http://www. fordham. edu/halsall/mod/1899antiimp. html.