The 'New' Expansionism Ideas of the United States (1880-1914)

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AP US History

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 departure from previous expansionism (up to 1880) developed alongside the tremendous changes and amplifications of United States power (in government, economics, and military.) The growth in strength and size of the United States navy gave the country many more opportunities to grow, explore, and expand both in size and money. The better range and build of ships allowed the U.S. to enter the Far East, lands of the Philippines and China, all to increase trade and to create an influx of commerce. Because of the huge production of agricultural goods and the need for outputs and markets for these goods, the United States needed to find other places for shipping, trading, buying, and selling, and these areas of interest were just the place. The idea of Manifest Destiny and placing faith in God also allowed the United States to expand farther out into what once were unattainable lands. Document C, written by Mahan the naval writer, explains the three necessary obligations of sea power, as well as expressing the extreme importance of the navy during late 1800’s expansionism. During this time period and before, it was believed that whoever retained control of the seas would maintain control over the lands. Additionally, the speech by Senator Albert Beveridge (Document E) further states the importance of the U.S. expanding into the Pacific Ocean (especially the Phillipines) and trading with eastern countries: “the pacific is the ocean of the commerce of the future...the power that rules the Pacific is the power that rules the world… forever be the American Republic.

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