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American Imperialism DBQ

Between the period of the late nineteenth century and the early twentieth century, expansionism was a major part of the United States. Since there were many advances in technology and knowledge of the world many different countries tried to expand their countries as much as possible. Between this period there was a lot of continuation of expansionism plus there was also a lot of departure of expansionism in the country. Many things that contributed to this expansionism such as the American Diplomacy in China and the Gentleman’s Agreement in Japan all contributed to the expansion of the United States.

Since there seemed to be an abundance of territory that was not claimed by any country, expansionism was a great option for lots of countries around the world. In a cartoon by Thomas Nast, there is a great illustration of different countries expanding there territories. It is a picture of a world with three men around it and one is from Germany, one from Britain, and the last one is from Russia. They all have grab bags and they are picking from the world which shows how countries around the world were trying to gain as much territory as they could while it was available without fighting for it. This will play a big part in the lead to World War I.

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In an article about the interest of America in sea power, Alfred T. Mahan states a lot of things having to do with the territory of the US and its control over the ocean. He says, “America must now look outward. The growing production of the country demands it.” He states that we should not allow all of our ports on both the Atlantic and the Pacific to be controlled by other countries because the United States is going to expand and we need all of our relations and ports on both oceans so that we can stay in control of our country. In the end, he states three things that we should defiantly do to protect the country’s expansionism.

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First, he says that the chief harbours should be protected and the shorelines should also be protected. Second, he says that the naval force should be projected outward more to expand the water territory of the United States. Third, he says that no foreign force should acquire a coaling position within three thousand miles of San Francisco. Senator Albert J. Beveridge makes a statement to the 56th Congress starting out by saying, “The Philippines are ours forever…And just beyond the Philippines are China’s illimitable markets.

We will not retreat from either.” He is saying that the country should not give up the economical position of the United States because Asia is a great source for trade and expansion and if the country gives up the Philippines then the connection to China and Asia would be weak. He states, “Our largest trade henceforth must be with Asia. The Pacific is our ocean…And the Pacific is the ocean of the commerce of the future.” He is saying that if the country moves more towards the Pacific ocean then there will be a greater commerce advantage, therefore, making the country bigger and stronger.

A cartoon from 1900 of American Diplomacy shows how America is really interested in China. The picture illustrates Abe Lincoln in front of an open door to China. He is leaning up against a key titled American Diplomacy. In the Downes v. Bidwell, the Supreme Court Decision shows the concern for expansion in the United States and that no matter how different culture is that if it is annexed to be part of the United States then it is still part. It talks about how treaty-making can help to improve the expansion of the country.

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There also are some signs of departure of expansionism in the United States mostly because as the early twentieth century approaches less and less land was available to take over and obviously the only other way to obtain land is war or treaties. Josiah Strong thinks that expansionism will end with less amount of land available and will eventually lead to war. He says, “The unoccupied arable lands of the earth are limited, and will soon be taken.”

He goes on to talk about after all the land is taken war will break out, this foreshadows WWI. The platform of the Anti-Imperialism League in 1899 talks a lot about how the country does not need to take over the Philippines and shed more blood, instead the country should focus on instituting the country and move away from expanding the country’s territory. They say, “The aspiration for the liberty of a vast immigration is forces that will hurl aside those who in the delirium of conquest seek to destroy the character of our institutions.”

This basically says that all the people who are abandoning our country to try to expand the country and destroy other countries should be cast aside. Theodore Roosevelt sends an annual message to Congress on December 6, 1904. It basically says that any country that has established itself as a successful country and can make it without any support will be a friend to the United States because the country has no meaning to try to take over a country if they are already a well-established country. In fact, according to Roosevelt if the country makes friendly relations with these countries then the well-being of the United States will be higher because the country has better relations.

The message states, “All that this country desire is to see the neighbouring countries stable, orderly, and prosperous.” He goes on to say that sometimes if a country such as Cuba is falling and has a loose civilization then sometimes it is necessary for the other countries to take control. After the United States got Cuba back on its feet the interference was over and the US evacuated Cuba.

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All of these supporting articles show that there was a lot of tension between people wanting to expand the US and also a lot of people who wanted to just secure the US in its position and leave other countries to do their own things. While Senator Beveridge says that we should expand to Pacific countries such as Asia, Roosevelt states that the US should just be friends with neighbouring countries that are already well established.

Overall however it seemed that there was a lot more push towards continuing the expansionism of the US rather than departing it which is a perfect example of one of the main causes of World War I. Because of all the country opportunities, there was a tension that grew between many European countries which resulted in the start of the war. Continuation of expansionism defiantly overpowered the departure of expansionism during the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century.

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American Imperialism DBQ. (2021, Feb 11). Retrieved January 28, 2023, from