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American Imperialism in the 19th Century

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American Imperialism in the 19th Century
In the late nineteenth century, the American Imperialism movement began. Imperialism is the "acquisition of control over the government and the economy of another nation, usually by conquest." (Davidson, Delay, Heyrman, Lytle & Stoff, 2008, p. G-4) During the late 1800's, Americans had visions of empire. Their sights were aimed toward Canada, Mexico and Cuba, as well as "more distant lands in Asia and Latin America...by opening the doors of trade to foreign markets and resources." (Davidson et al., 2008, p. 611)
Through imperialism, a country can gain power by amassing new territories and building wealth. The American Imperialism was adopted for many reasons. According to the Regents Prep website (2000):
The public perception of the "closing of the west", along with the philosophy of
Social Darwinism, contributed to a desire for continued expansion of American lands and the spreading of American culture. The result was a shift in US foreign policy at the end of the 19th century from a reserved, homeland concerned republic to an active imperial power. (para. 1)
The Spanish-American War started the era of American Imperialism. Cuba was trying to gain independence from Spain. Newspapers made up stories of Spanish brutality in Cuba causing Americans to call for war. 260 Americans were killed when the USS Maine, stationed in the harbor of Havana, exploded. The newspapers immediately blamed the Spanish increasing the call for war by Americans. The American leaders saw the benefit of defeating the Spanish Empire. They could (gain territories outside North America. These territories would then provide access to world markets for growing manufacturing by US industries." (Regents Prep, 2000, para. 3)
In 1989 the United States formally annexed the Hawaiian Islands. This same year, through the 1989 Treaty of Paris, the United States gained control over the Philippines, Guam, and Puerto Rico, followed by Samoa and Wake Island the following year to be used for refueling stops for military and trade ships. The United States gained control over the Panama Canal Zone after financing the Panamanian Revolution against Columbia in 1903. Then the United States purchased the Virgin Islands from Denmark in 1917.
The actions of the United States concerning imperialism were not approved by everyone. There were people and organizations against it. The Anti-Imperialism League was founded in 1899. Andrew Carnegie and William James, two of the most respected citizens in the United States, were the founders. The belief of the Anti-Imperialism League was that imperialism was militia. They believed it was immoral to the pursuit of liberty and freedom to the constitution of the United States. "We demand the immediate cessation of the war against liberty, begun by Spain and continued by us." (Internet Modern History Sourcebook, 2001, para. 4) In their platform, the League further states:
The United States have always protested against the doctrine of international law which permits the subjugation of the weak by the strong. A self-governing state cannot accept sovereignty over an unwilling people. The United States cannot act upon the ancient heresy that might makes right. (Internet Modern History
Sourcebook, 2001, para. 5)
The revamping of the overseas empires of other nations was a success. The United States commanded weak countries with ease and the ones who were less persuaded were either forced into submission or forced into aggressive agreements through military force or economic influence. The United States possessed most countries through military takeover. The growth of the United States was the main motivation for imperialism. In order to adapt to the vast demands due to new developments in the technological and industrial fields, life in the United States had to change through the expansion of political, social, and economical aspects. As the United States grew more powerful, they wanted to extend their power throughout the world. Though some opposed imperialism, it was agreed by most that it was a positive move. The agreement was that the acceptance of the American standard would be in the best interest of all nations.

Reference
Davidson, J., Delay, B., Heyrman, C., Lytle, M., & Stoff, M. (2008). Nation of nations: a narrative history of the American republic. (6th ed.), United States: McGraw-Hill Companies Inc.
Halsall, P. (1997). Modern History Sourcebook: American Anti-Imperialist League, 1899. Retrieved January 23, 2011, from http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/1899antiimp. html.
Regentsprep.org. (2000). Imperialism. Retrieved January 23, 2011, from http://regentsprep.org/regents/ushisgov/themes/foreignpolicy/imperialism.htm.

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