United States Imperialism

January 5, 2018 | Author: Anonymous | Category: History, US History
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United States Imperialism Imperialism:

The policy in which stronger nations extend their economic, political, or military control over weaker territories.

By 1890, continental US is complete with the announcement of end of frontier

If the United States wanted to expand in 1900 where might it have sought new territory?

The Age of Empire

Global Competition 

Most Americans warmed to the idea of expansion over seas.

With the belief in manifest destiny they had already pushed the U.S. border to the Pacific Ocean.

3 Factors fueled the new American Imperialism  Desire

for military strength

 Thirst

for new markets

 Belief

in cultural superiority

Desire for Military Strength 

The ablest and most effective apostle of imperialism was Alfred T. Mahan.

Admiral Mahan urged government officials to build up American naval power in order to compete with other powerful nations.

As a result of Mahan’s input, the U.S. built nine steel-hulled battleships.

The construction of modern battleships such as the USS Maine transformed the country into the third largest naval power.

Thirst for New Markets 

By 1900 advancements in technology enabled American farms and factories to produce more than American citizens could consume. Imperialist viewed foreign trade as a solution to over production.

Belief in Cultural Superiority 

Cultural factors were also used to justify imperialism. They argued that the United States had a responsibility to spread Christianity and “civilization” to the “inferior peoples” of the world.


In 1867, the U.S. arranged to buy Alaska from Russia for $7.2 million. In 1959, Alaska became a state. For about two cents an acre, the U.S. had acquired a land rich in timber, minerals, and, as it turns out, oil.

U.S. acquires Hawaii: ◦ 1. Americans developed the sugar industry. ◦ 2. U.S. built a naval station there. Name of naval base? ◦ 3. Americans staged a revolution to depose the Native Rulers. ◦ 4. Americans dominate Hawaiian economy. ◦ 5. Queen Liliuokalani surrendered Hawaii to the United States in 1893.


American Expansion

The Spanish-American War    

The U.S. had long held an interest in Cuba. Diplomats recommended that President Pierce buy Cuba from Spain. Spain responded by saying that they would rather see Cuba sunk in the ocean. Cubans rebelled against Spain and American sympathies went out to the Cuban people. American capitalists began investing millions of dollars in large sugar cane plantations on the island.

The Emerging Imperial Nation

Jose Marti Anti-Spanish sentiment in Cuba soon erupted into a second conflict.  Using guerilla warfare, Jose Marti, a Cuban poet and journalist, began deliberately destroying American sugar mills and plantations.  Marti hoped the tactics would provoke the U.S. to help the rebels achieve Cuba Libre!-A free Cuba. 

War Fever Escalates In 1896, Spain responded to the Cuban revolt by sending General Valeriano Weyler to Cuba to restore order.  Wyler tried to crush the rebellion by capturing and placing rebels into barbedwire concentration camps.  Thousands would die in these camps from hunger and disease. 

Yellow Journalism 

Weyler’s actions fueled a war over newspaper circulation between William Randolph Hurst who published the New York Journal and Joseph Pulitzer who published New York World.

Both printed exaggerated accounts—by reporters of “Butcher” Weyler’s brutality. Stories of poison wells, and children being thrown to the sharks deepened American sympathy for the rebels.

When Hurst sent a gifted artist to Cuba to draw the sketches’ of the reporters stories the artist told Hurst that war between Cuba and the U.S. was unlikely. Hurst responded” You furnish the pictures and I’ll furnish the war.”

The De Lome Letter William McKinley took office in 1897 and demand for American intervention in Cuba were on the rise.  McKinley, wanting to avoid a war with Spain, tried diplomatic means to resolve the crisis.  At first his efforts seem to succeed. Weyler was recalled, modified the concentration camp policy, and offered Cuba limited selfgovernment. 

The De Lome letter cont. 

However, the New York Journal published a private letter written by Enrique de Lome, the Spanish minister to the United States.

The letter criticized President McKinley calling him “weak”. Americans were angry over the insult.

USS Maine A few days after the publication of the De Lome letter American’s resentment toward Spain turned to outrage.  McKinley had ordered the USS Maine to Havana, Cuba to bring home Americans who were in danger from the fighting and to protect American property.  On February 15 1898 the ship blew up in the harbor of Havana.  To this day no one knows for sure why the Maine exploded but American newspapers were quick to blame Spain. 

The USS Maine

War with Spain Erupts 

There was no holding back the forces that wanted war. “Remember the Maine!” Became the rallying cry for American intervention in Cuba.

April 20 1898 U.S. declares war on Cuba.

The War in the Philippines The first battle took place on the Philippine Islands.  The first battle was at the Philippine capital of Manila 

The War in the Caribbean U.S. was able to seal up the Spanish fleet in the harbor of Santiago de Cuba.  Problems with U.S. War effort: 

◦ 1. Shortage of Modern Rifles and Ammunition. ◦ 2. Heavy Cold-weather uniforms in a hot climate. ◦ 3. Inadequate medicine and food. ◦ 4. Poor Racial Relations in the U.S. Army.

Rough Riders     

Volunteer cavalry under the command of Theodore Roosevelt Most known for the part they played in the capturing of San Juan Hill. Two days later the Spanish fleet tried to escape the American blockade of the harbor at Santiago. The naval battle that followed along the coast of Cuba, ended in the destruction of the Spanish fleet. On the heels of this victory, American troops invaded Puerto Rico.

America in the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Cuba

By 1899… 

The United States now had an empire that included Cuba, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines.

The Treaty of Paris 

Ended the Spanish-American War in 1898.

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