The United States and the Era of Imperialism Essay

The United States and the Era of Imperialism Essay

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The United States and the Era of Imperialism

Never interfere with Europe was the cry of the founding fathers. Our very first president, George Washington warned us not to get involved with foreign powers. The spirit at the time of our nation’s birth was isolationism. The infant United States of America could not afford to get it’s hand caught in the cookie jar of world affairs. As children grow they get stronger, and the growth of the United States was no different. By the end of the Civil War the United States had muscles to flex. At the time the world was enthralled in the Age of Imperialism, in which a nation’s power was derived from it’s overseas holdings. The United States, who had just proved that it could beat itself up, was not going to be excluded from imperialistic contest the world arena provided. So, the United States was ushered into the Era of Imperialism.

There are several reasons why the United States sought to found an empire. For theses reasons, American began it’s divine quest. Foremost were the economic prospects of empire. There were several commercial and business interests involved with the American imperialist movement. Overproduction in America caused economic depressions. In order to curve these slumps, America needed new markets. Also, as American business increased there was an ever-growing demand for raw materials. America glanced heavily at the potential of the Far East, especially China, and it’s southern neighbor Latin America as a new market, and a source of raw materials. These are the economic factors that contributed to the rise of American imperialism. For military and strategic reasons America needed to forge and empire. In 1890 Thomas Mahan published Influence of Sea Power upon History 1660 - 1783. In his book Mahan pointed out that Great Britain’s phenomenal growth as the world power was because of it’s unsurpassed naval power. America saw that in order to become a world power, it needed to expand it’s own navy. In order to maintain this new navy, America would also need to increase the number of harbors, refueling and repair stations, and trade ships around the globe. America also came to realize that the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans needed to be connected closer to home. This raised the demand for an isthmian canal. These are the military and strategic exponents that sparked America to...


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...rican interests abroad. Taft would use “dollar diplomacy”, and the Roosevelt Corollary in Nicaragua and other Latin American countries to further protect American business investments.

The U.S. got a late start in the race for trading rights with China, and with the U.S. now in the Philippines, the race became economically crucial for America. By this time, Great Britain, France, Russia, Germany, and Japan claimed exclusive trading rights with China within their sphere of influence. Some, like Japan, even claimed parts of China as their own. In order to level out the playing field Secretary of State John Hay sent diplomatic dispatches to these nations, urging an Open Door Policy, in which there would be equal trading rights with China. All the dispatches came back to Hay with their corresponding nations endorsing the proposal. However, before the policy was enacted, the Chinese tried to expel the “foreign devils” from their homeland in what was to be called the Boxer Rebellion. This nationalist rebellion was put down by an international police force including 2,500 U.S. troops. These actions of intervention in Latin America and China were part of American imperialism.

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