Expansionism

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Expansionism Throughout history, many great nations have amassed an immense empire through expansionism, which is a nation's practice or policy of territorial or economic expansion. The United States expansionism was present since it became an independent nation itself. Manifest Destiny, which is the doctrine that the United States had the right and duty to expand throughout the North American continent played a major role in expansionism of the mid 1800’s. Evidence such as the Louisiana Purchase, the acquisition of California, and the Oregon Territory shows expansion of the United States from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific. Although expansionism in the late 1800’s and the early 1900’s was a departure from past expansionism, it also was a continuation in some aspects. At the turn of the century, Americans looked past the contiguous United States to overseas empires. This expansionism movement was much the same to the expansionism movement of the early 1800’s in which Americans pushed from the Appalachians to the Pacific. In both instances, United States citizens moved into the new territories, joining the natives. Americans brought with them diseases that plagued the natives, and often killed large percents of the native population. Also, whatever lands Americans took over, and either time period, there were uprisings by the natives to try to overthrow unwanted American power. For example, wars between the Indians and United States Army in the west, and uprisings in the Philippines. In comparison, both expansionism movements had their supporters and critics. Although there was large public support for expansion, more so in the 18th century, both movements sparked large debates. Such can be seen in writings by imperialists such as Josiah Strong, who went as far as preaching that god had divinely commissioned the United States to civilize the world. In contrast, both movements required military backing, which came in two different ways. During the expansionism westward, only ground military units were required. However, during expansionism overseas, a strong navy was essential, although ground troops were also needed during certain times. Imperialist and naval commander, Alfred Mahan believed that with a strong navy, the United States could successfully protect itself, and extend its influence overseas. When the United States claimed territories in the west, such as California, they had every intention to later make them states. However, concerning the overseas territories, the United States simply wanted strategic trade and military locations, new markets, and resources.

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