Expansionism in America during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century shared many similarities and differences to that of previous American expansionist ideals. In both cases of American expansionism, the Americans believed that we must expand our borders in order to keep the country running upright. Also, the Americans believed that the United States was the strongest of nations, and that they could take any land they pleased. This is shown in the "manifest destiny" of the 1840's and the "Darwinism" of the late 1800's and early 1900's. Apart from the similarities, there were also several differences that included the American attempt to stretch their empire across the seas and into other parts of the world.
During the years surrounding James K. Polk's presidency, the United States of America grew economically, socially, and most noticeably geographically. In this time period, the western boundaries of the Untied States would be expanded all the way to the Pacific Ocean. Many Americans in the 19th century believed that the acquisition of this territory to the west was their right and embraced the concept of "Manifest Destiny". This concept was the belief that America should stretch from sea to shining sea and it was all but inevitable. Under the cover of "Manifest Destiny", President Polk imposed his views of an aggressive imperialistic nation. Imperialism is the practice of extending the power and dominion of a nation by direct territorial acquisitions over others, and clearly America took much of this land by force rather than peaceful negotiations with other nations. Polk acquired three huge areas of land to include: the Republic of Texas, the Oregon Territory, and the states of California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico under the Mexican Cession.
Americans’ idea of expansion was one of the most controversial topics of the 1800’s. Naturally, there were two sides to this argument and they were both strongly defended. Those who were for expansion expressed the hopes of spreading the riches of religion to different territories in the country. Opponents desired for the country to be left alone following the theory of, “if its not broken don’t fix it”. Thus, the government had their hands full with the ongoing debate of territorial expansion.
Rodolfo Acuña and Norman A. Graebner take opposing standpoints on this topic. Acuña takes the standpoint that the Americans took advantage of the Mexican government, which was young and unstable at the time. He argued that the United States waged an unjust war solely for the acquisition of new lands. His excerpt from Occupied America: A History of Chicanos, 3rd Edition provided the basis for his argument. On the other hand, Graebner took the standpoint that President James Polk pushed a policy, enforced by a stronger nation, to force Mexico to sell New Mexico and California and recognize the annexation of Texas to the United States without starting a war. His argument was taken from his article “The Mexican War: A Study in Causation”. Both sides of the American Imperialism argument contain their own strengths. However, after the examination of the articles, Graebner proposes a more convincing
The major American aspiration during the 1790s through the 1860s was westward expansion. Americans looked to the western lands as an opportunity for large amounts of free land, for growth of industry, and manifest destiny. This hunger for more wealth and property, led Americans conquer lands that were rightfully someone else's. Manifest destiny and westward expansion brought many problematic issues to the Unites States verses the Indians that took the Americans to the Civil War.
In order to acquire new territories, the United States implemented methods of expansionism and later imperialism in the first and second phases, respectively, of its expansion. These two means of self-establishment had several striking similarities between them. Through expansionism in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the main logic behind annexation was for the country to grow and establish itself within its continent. Of course, the desire for increased political power in new states led to conflicts such as Bleed...
America was rapidly changing with the growth of ideas and inventions in the early nineteenth century. A major factor that allowed the United States to flourish in the late nineteenth century was the installment of the railroad system. The push to build railroads in the United States began in the 1830s and carried on far into the 1870s. The railways became an important system that guided settlement and delivered economic opportunity for much of the United States. Railroads allowed access to places that people had no means of getting to and provided an opportunity to develop cities and towns. The impact of the railways allowed the United States to become more mobile and efficient as it was going through a period of change. The railways changed the United States forever giving important links to the rest of the country.
United States expansionism in the late nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century is both a continuation and a departure of past United States expansionism. Expansionism in the United States has occurred for many reasons. Power (from land), religion, economics, and the ideas of imperialism and manifest destiny are just a few reasons why the U.S. decided to expand time and again throughout the course of its 231 year history. Expansionism has evolved throughout the years as the inhabitants of the country have progressed both socially (the Second Great Awakening, the women's suffrage movement, the populist party and the early 19th and 20th century social reformers) and economically (factories, better farms, more jobs, etc.) Expansion changed from non-interference policies to the democratic control of the government as the United States grew in both size and population. Through the use of the documents and events during two major-expansion time periods (1776-1880) and 1880-1914), I will display both the continuation and departure trends of United States expansionism.
From the years 1800-1850 the nation was full of battles and prosperity. Territorial expansion was a cause in most of the battles, but also gained prosperity for the nation. There were many impacts on national unity between those time periods, but the main impact was territorial expansion. This is true because of the Louisiana Purchase, the purchase of Oregon territory, and the Mexican War.
In the early and middle 1800s expansionism was a popular view in the United States. The Louisiana Purchase, the claim to Oregon, and the purchase of Florida, were all made to expand the borders and power of the United States. From the Rio Grande to the United States southern border was gained during the Mexican American war. This raises the question if the Mexican American war was an exercise in american imperialism, a war purely for land and power. Rodolfo Acuña believed that The Mexican American war was an exercise in american imperialism. When americans were invited to settle in Northern mexico they had to follow the laws set by the mexican government, no slaves were allowed and all settlers must convert to Catholicism. The american settlers openly rejected these laws and continued to settle in what is now present day Texas.
Slavery was a practice in many countries in the 17th and 18th centuries, but its effects in human history was unique to the United States. Many factors played a part in the existence of slavery in colonial America; the most noticeable was the effect that it had on the personal and financial growth of the people and the nation. Capitalism, individualism and racism were the utmost noticeable factors during this most controversial period in American history. Other factors, although less discussed throughout history, also contributed to the economic rise of early American economy, such as, plantationism and urbanization. Individually, these factors led to an enormous economic growth for the early American colonies, but collectively, it left a social gap that we are still trying to bridge today.
As the United States grew in power, so did her ideas of expansion. The foreign powers were beginning to move out of their continents and seek land in other countries. The United States soon followed. They followed in their founder’s footsteps and tried to occupy lands in the far seas. However, in the beginning, this need for more land was called Manifest Destiny. This idea claimed that God was forcing them to occupy the new western lands. The expansionism that occurred in the late 1800’s was not a result of Manifest Destiny, and thus this "new" idea of expansionism was different from the expansionism ideas of early America. For the most part, the United States’ need for more land was primarily to keep other nations (mainly European powers) out of the western hemisphere. However the United States began to see reason behind change towards the "new" expansionistic ideas.
The American imperial project of the 1890s changed previous U.S. foreign policies in order to rapidly expand its power through territorial possessions. In the 1840s, Americans justified their expansion to the west coast with the ideology of the Manifest Destiny. By the late 1800s, the United States had acquired most Native American and Spanish land out to the western frontier in California. The influence of the Manifest Destiny combined with the belief of social Darwinism--that the U.S. had a duty to spread its power to reform less powerful societies by spreading liberty and implementing its democratic values--previously only applied to territorial expansion within the North American continent, but now justified an imperial project in the Pacific
America is known as the Land of Opportunity where anything is possible with enough determination and drive. The Westward Expansion is a perfect example of people with much determination and drive going after something they want. The Westward Expansion is a very important moment in American history for many reasons; some good, some bad. The United States gained 1.2 million square miles of territory, but many lives were lost or destroyed in the
Manifest Destiny! This simple phrase enraptured the United States during the late 1800’s, and came to symbolize an era of westward expansion through numerous powerful entities. The expansion can be inspected though many different contextual lenses, but if examined among the larger histories of the United States, this movement can be classified as one of the most influential developments of the post-Civil War period. While very influential to the larger part of American history, the seemingly barbaric methods that were used conquer the western lands and their peoples took physical and economical forms that proved to be a plague upon the West.