American Imperialism has been a part of United States history ever since the American Revolution. Imperialism is a practice by which powerful nations or people seek to expand and maintain control or influence over weaker nations or peoples. Throughout the years there have been many instances where the Americans have taken over other people countries, almost every time we go into we have taken over a new piece of land.
America’s first taste of imperialism came about five hundred years ago when Columbus came to America. We fought the pleasant inhabitants and then took over their land making them slaves. Americans over the years have been known to become almost selfish, no matter how much we have we will never be happy until we control the free world.
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“The Monroe Doctrine of 1823 defined United States foreign policy in the Americas for the rest of the 19th century and beyond. It declared that the United States had an interest in the Western Hemisphere and the European powers must not meddle in the affairs of any developing nations there.
The United States was a young nation in 1823 and did not really have to power to back up the Monroe Doctrine. However, the policy was used to justify the sending of the U.S. troops into Mexico in 1866 (to intimidate the French) and the purchase of Alaska in 1867″. Another case of Imperialism was the United States industrial economy was growing so fast that they were producing more goods than they could consume.
The overabundance of industrial goods led the United States to look for new markets. Next came the Spanish-American War, which started with the Americans not liked the way that the Spaniards were treated the Cubans. After this, a U.S. battleship (Maine) was docked outside of Havana (Cuba’s Capital) and all of a sudden exploded from under the sea.
At the time no one actually knew the real reason why the ship exploded but many Americans thought that it was the Spaniards. 266 officers and men were lost in the explosion. William McKinley (U.S. President 1897-1901) went to congress and asked for permission to send troops to help stop the fighting in Cuba. After a couple of days, he was given permission which shortly led to war. Spain declared war on the United States on April 24th followed by a U.S. declaration of war on the 25th.
This war was no contest for the Americans; they easily defeated the Spanish troops. Led by Gen. William Shafter (and including Theodore Roosevelt and his 1st Volunteer Cavalry, the “Rough Riders”). The Rough Riders were National Guard infantry regiments and a regiment of volunteer cavalry. They played a very important role in the defeat of the Spanish Army.
The war only lasted about four months and the Americans easily won. The Treaty of Paris (signed Dec. 10, 1898), Spain lost Cuba, Guam, and Puerto Rico to the U.S., and also the United States gained control of the Philippines. This was a major turning point in the history of both countries.
Spain was able to concentrate on their problems within the country and not about overseas, while the Americans were becoming a very powerful country expanding its property. There was a lot of talk about “Manifest Destiny”, and many people suggested that America should assume its role as a world power.
“Manifest Destiny, jingoistic tenet holding that territorial expansion of the United States is not only inevitable but also divinely ordained. The phrase was first used by the American journalist and diplomat John-August 1845 edition of the United States Magazine and Democratic Review, a magazine that featured literature and nationalist opinion.
The phrase was later used by expansionists in all political parties to justify the acquisition of California, the Oregon Territory, and Alaska. By the end of the 19th century, the doctrine was being applied to the proposed annexation of various islands in the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean”. (Encarta 98)
The Boxer RebellionChinese nationalists uprising against foreigners, the representatives of alien powers, and Chinese Christians in 1900. Expulsion of all foreigners from China was the ultimate objective of the uprising. In 1899 a secret society of Chinese called the Yihequan (”Righteous and Harmonious Fists”), known by Westerners as the boxers, began a campaign of terror against Christian missionaries in the northeastern provinces.
They were secretly supported by many of the Chinese Royal Court. “In the early months of 1900, thousands of Boxers roamed the countryside. They attacked Christian missions, slaughtering foreign missionaries and Christian converts. Then they moved toward the cities, attracting more and more followers as they came. Nervous foreign ministers insisted that the Chinese government stop the Boxers”.
The United States was willing to rescue the ministers and to emphasize its presence in China. So they sent 2,500 sailors and marines, after rescuing many of the ministers they marched to Beijing, fighting boxers along the way. The international troops looted the capital and even ransacked the Forbidden City. The power of China would never be the same.
The Panama Canal The United States had long been interested in a Central American canal, to link its east and west coasts and expand trade. However, it did not have the money or the will to build one before 1900. During the 1890’s Congress appropriated money to begin work on capital in Nicaragua, but the project was soon canceled.
The Spanish-American War in 1898 heightened military interest in a canal. After defeated Spain, the United States acquired the Philippines and Puerto Rico and wanted better access for its navy to both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. American officials negotiated the Hay-Pauncefote Treaty with Britain in 1901, in which the two countries agreed that the United States alone could build and regulate the canal.
“The Panamanians had authorized Philippe Bunau-Varilla, a French citizen and long-time official of the French Canal Company. Bureau-Varilla gave the United States even more than it had asked for a perpetual lease on a section of central Panama 16 km (10 mi.) wide, where the canal would be built. The right to take over more Panamanian land if needed; and the right to use troops to intervene in Panama.
The United States agreed to guarantee Panama’s independence and pay $10 million, plus an annual fee of $250,000. In exchange for their independence, then, Panamanians were forced to accept the treaty, which no Panamanian ever signed, that virtually gave away the Canal Zone to the United States.
The United States of America has come along way since the purchase of Alaska. For one thing since when does it say in history that we have purchased any land. We have taken it from the weaker, but is this bad? I don’t think so, I think that we help out a lot of the countries. That is why they are third-world countries because they are poor and do not have the availability that we do.
I think of the United States as the big brother that looks after his younger ones until they are able to defend themselves from the bullies of the world. The United States is a world among itself, just saying it strikes fear in the hearts of some people.
To there is one argumentative question that not everyone will agree on. Did we have to kill and hurt so many people to get to where we are today? I think so, we sure didn’t get here because to tend to talk well. In this world, the strongest survive our ancestors have made sure that we are the strongest for all time.
The United States entered the arena of capitalism as a world power after the Spanish-American War in 1898. After having routed Spain the United States secured undisputed control of the American Mediterranean – the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. Puerto Rico was annexed. A protectorate was established over Cuba. In Cuba, there is invested about $1,000,000,000 of American capital in the sugar industry alone.
This is 60 percent of the total capitalization of the sugar industry. Fully 85 percent of the capital invested in the Cuban railways is American. One-third of Cuba’s imports are edible and more than half of that third comes from the United States. According to the last reports of the Department of Commerce, Cuba has outstripped Japan as our second-best customer in steel.
Turning to the Pacific, the Yankee imperialists annexed in quick order the Philippines, Guam, and Hawaii. In the Philippines, the American imperialists have a territory the size of the Kingdom of Italy and with a population greater than that of Canada or Hungary. Sixty-five percent of the foreign commerce of the Philippines is done with this country.
Close to $300,000,000 of American capital is invested in these islands, which are teeming with natural resources and are only three days away from China, the richest and cheapest labor mine in the world. They are the gateway of American capital to the prize market of the Far East where 800,000,000 people live.
Then followed the complete domination by the United States thru the successful engineering of the revolt of Panama against the Republic of Colombia. Having secured “general supervision” of the new government and unrestricted control of the Canal Zone, the American capitalists proceeded to establish their hegemony over Nicaragua and mastery of the alternative canal route.
Scarcely had the ink dried in Wilson’s democratic notes when American troops dissolved the Haitian parliament. Today the United States is the political master of over 150,000 square miles and almost 10,000,000 people in Central America and the Caribbean, which has become an American lake. In the Pacific, the United States has an island empire of an area of more than 125,000 square miles and a population of at least 13,000,000.
“Peaceful Penetration”. Our imperialists are also engaged in the “peaceful penetration” of other countries. In recent years particular attention has been paid by our capitalists to Canada, Mexico, Central, and South America. Because of the collapse of the European market American investors and merchants have been making especially strong efforts to develop these markets. In Latin American countries, the United States has today invested $610,000,000 in public securities and $3,150,000,000 in industries.
The United States became an imperialist nation at the end of the 19th century because Americans wanted to expand overseas with their belief in manifest destiny. The three factors that started American imperialism were political and military competition including the creation of a strong naval force, economic competition among industrial nations, and a belief in the racial and cultural superiority of people of Anglo-Saxon descent.
The Spanish American War marked the emergence of the United States as a world power. This brief war lasted less than four months from April 25 to August 12, 1898. A number of factors contributed to the United States’ decision to go to war against Spain. These included the Cuban struggle for independence, American imperialism, and the sinking of the United States warship “Maine”.
As a result of the war, Spain ceded Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines to the United States. The United States, in turn, paid Spain $20,000,000 for public property in the Philippine Islands. The United States gained colonies on both sides of the Pacific including Hawaii. On August 12, 1898, Congress took control and proclaimed Hawaii American territory, and issued the open door policy, which was messages that president John Hay sent to Germany, France, Russia, Britain, Italy, and Japan asking the countries not to interfere with the United States trading rights in China.
The United States had long been interested in a Central American canal to link its east and west coasts, expand trade, and for military interest. In 1902 President Theodore Roosevelt decided on Panama over Nicaragua and negotiated a treaty with Columbia giving the United States permission for the canal project. The Panamanians had authorized Philippe Bunau-Varilla an official of the French Canal Company to negotiate the terms and sign the agreement.
Imperialism is the establishment of political and economic dominance over other nations. Many nations took part in colonial empires including the U.S. during the nineteenth century. America, on its own, is not supposed to be an empire. It was a rebel colony initially being the first system to dispose of British rule.
Imperialism was first practiced in Samoa which motivated the rest of America. The United States had positive motives when they got involved in the task. Their reason for participation was to control the economy and compete with other industrialized nations as well as to maintain their reputation in other countries. Another motive was to obtain a constant market for gainful investments. There was also religious motivation with the desire to introduce Christianity to foreign and traditional cultures.
Americans viewed imperialism as a way of uplifting the uncivilized people in the world in a moral way. Production was very high and America needed to protect its expanding foreign markets. Hawaii had been dominated by Americans way before the war. America had already started investing in Cuba’s natural resources while Hawaii’s best ports, already under America’s control, were used to access China for efficient trading. The state’s secretary pressured Europeans to stop blocking America’s participation in China’s trade.
America had a war with Spain in 1898 which after its conclusion, America was given the ownership of Cuba, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico which were previous possessions of Spain. America wanted efficient and easier access to its navy to the Pacific and the Caribbean oceans.
A negotiation between American officials and Britain confirmed America’s domination and regulation over the canal. A French canal company official gave Americans a central section of Panama to build the canal. He also gave America the rights to take more land or use troops on Panama when necessary.
The Panamanians were to be given their independence only if they accepted the treaty, but they refused to sign it so the Americans took ownership of the canal region. The United States, therefore, destroyed all European empires after taking over Cuba and the Philippines from Spain.
They built a navy ready for European in case they became troublesome or destabilized. From 1939 to 1945, the then American president, Roosevelt, extracted British colonies including the Caribbean and West Africa and in exchange, He offered assistance to Britain during the war. After years after World War II, America was already exercising authority and power in the Belgian Congo which was previously dominated by Britain.
Despite the fact that many Americans believed in overseas expansion, many other Americans opposed the move. They formed the American anti-imperialism league in 1899. However, their campaigns were not successful. The league argued that the imperialism policy was intimidating to personal liberty.
They argued that all human races no matter the color have the right to live and pursue happiness at all times. The group maintained that the government should obtain their rightful powers from the citizen’s consent. They insisted that forced control is criminal assault and a lack of devotion to government principles.
The league firmly condemned the national administration in the Philippines and demanded an immediate stop to the discrimination against human liberty. They required Spain to initiate the process since it was one of the first countries to practice imperialism. They had the aim of forming a congress that would officially inform the Philippines of America’s intentions to grant them their rightful independence.
The group also disapproved strongly of the American soldiers for being involved in an unjust war. Their arguments were based on the fact that the United States had always detested international laws that allowed forceful control of the weak by the strong party. The obligation of the nation’s citizens to support its government during hazardous moments did not fit applicably for this situation of imperialism.
An obvious outcome is America now stretches from Atlanta to the Pacific. With this entire region where there are no import and export tax barriers, it has been quite easy for America to increase its per capita. However, America was left with the heritage of oppression which is no different from slavery.
However, some positive effects have been felt especially through the Panama Canal that was constructed then which has helped improve the region’s economy. Transportation and communication services were extensively improved. Uncivilized areas got the opportunity of adopting higher livelihood values.
The countries that were colonized were affected negatively as well especially in the economic sector where most of the key and productive elements are up to date owned or controlled by foreign economic agencies.
Imperialism can never be a good practice no matter the circumstances. It does not matter whether the imperialistic country has good intentions or not. If any nation at all feels the need to offer help to another country, it should do so in a better way and certainly not by controlling the other depriving them of their freedom and rights. Assistance can be offered as ideas and policies that the country should implement on its own depending on what suits the situation it is faced with.
After the civil war, the United States took a turn that led them to solidify as the world power. From the late 1800s, as the US began to collect power through Cuba, Hawaii, and the Philippines, a debate arose among historians about American imperialism and its behavior. Historians such as William A. Williams, Arthur Schlesinger, and Stephen Kinzer provides their own vision and how America ought to be through ideas centered around economics, power, and racial superiority.
Economics becomes a large factor in American imperialism, but more specifically that expansion in foreign markets is a vital part of the growth of America. As historian Charles Beard puts it, it is indispensable to the prosperity of American business.
Besides, it was all very necessary after the depression of the 1890s; people sought to find a route for recovery and “…strong majority agreed that foreign policy could and should play an important – if not crucial – part… in forestalling future difficulties… explained the depression and social unrest as the result of not having enough markets for their specific product… an outlet for surplus stocks becomes an imperative necessity”.
This engendered the Open Door Policy which “was in fact a brilliant strategic stroke which led to the gradual extension of American economic and political power throughout the world” (Williams 45-6). But not all historians agreed with Williams for Schlesinger attacks Williams concerning his ideas on the Open Door Policy. “This zeal for foreign trade and for territorial expansion predated the general agricultural surplus…
After the Civil War, the passion to promote trade and exports subsided, instead of intensifying as it should have done according to the Open Door thesis” (Schlesinger 132). He satirically criticizes Williams’ economic reasoning by saying, “vast new markets in the solar system” and furthermore, firmly states “the American empire was produced not by the economic system”.
Associate Program Material Appendix A American Imperialism Part 1 Complete the chart by identifying the following:
- Identify the countries or areas where the United States engaged in imperialistic actions during the period from about 1870 to 1914.
- Discuss why each area was important to American empire building—political, economic, and social.
- Explain America’s expansionist ideals. What were some factors that justified American imperialist actions?
- Identify the current political status of these places in relation to the United States. Age of Imperialism: 1870 to 1914 |Place |Why was there interest?
Why was the United States interested in expansion in these areas? Why was America building a global empire? 1871-U.S. attempts to force Korea for a treaty by destroying Korean forts. Treaty of Washington between the U.S. and Britain to settle boundary disputes. 1878- the U.S. acquires naval base in Samoa. 1880- the U.S. takes control of canals across the Isthmus of Panama. 1881-Hawaiin islands are considered a part of the American system 1887-treaty with Hawaii ratified giving the U.S. the right to create a naval base at Pearl Harbor.
1890-Mckinley Tariff 1894-U.S. declares Hawaii as their own government and any nation that interferes will be considered an enemy of the U.S. 1898- Spanish American War, Teller Amendment, and Annexation of Hawaii 1899-Annexation of Philippines 1900-Boxer rebellion in China 1901-Treaty signed between the U.S and Britain allowing the U.S. to build a canal across Central American isthmus. 1902-Phillepene government Act giving the U.S. the right to run the islands of the Philippines.
Many authors – sociologists, anthropologists, and ‘philosophers’ – tend to explain, in the most accurate way, these two symbolic terms without any strong conviction in the end. For John Tomlinson, this expression does not have a particularly long history.
In the 1960s cultural Imperialism became a part of the general intellectual currency – a “generic” concept: “It (cultural imperialism) brings together two words which are themselves extremely complex and problematic, in an attempt to provide a covering concept for a very broad range of issues”.
To make it easier we shall divide these two terms and attentively study the definition of “culture” and the definition of “imperialism” independently, ultimately arriving at a better understanding of the importance in defining this expression. In Oxford Dictionary the word “cultural” is defined as: “an improvement or refinement of mind, manners, etc., by education and training; condition of being thus trained and refined; particular form or type of intellectual development or civilization”.
Despite that the word “culture” is still one of the three most complicated words in the English language, by the nineteenth century the British anthropologist E.B. Tylor (1874: 185) provided probably the most popular definition of culture: “Culture is… that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, law, custom and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society.”
Imperialism is, itself, defined as “the policy, practice, or advocacy of extending the power and dominion of a nation especially by direct territorial acquisitions or by gaining indirect control over the political or economic life of other areas; broadly: the extension or imposition of power, authority, or influence”.
Historically, imperialism is defined through the economic system (and its reference to colonial rules) and the political system, in which appears the Marxist analysis of stages, the modern capitalism, and the fight between the American and Soviet Union.
“Commonly associated with the policy of direct extension of sovereignty and dominion over non-contiguous and often distant overseas territories, it also denotes indirect political or economic control of powerful states over weaker peoples.
Regarded also as a doctrine based on the use of deliberate force, imperialism has been subject to moral censure by its critics, and thus the term is frequently used in international propaganda as a pejorative for expansionist and aggressive foreign policy”. If we now jointly consider these two definitions, we then nearly approach the following definition by Martin Barker and Julian Petley: “It seems to mean that the process of imperialist control is aided and abetted by importing supportive forms of culture.”
Let us now examine a clear and direct example of cultural imperialism by Robert Cecil (1971: 6). In his folio about cultural imperialism, he essentially focuses on the impact of the colonisations across the world. For him, this is the beginning of pure and simple cultural imperialism.
If we have a look for instance at some meetings of The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, known as Unesco, when the French-speaking Africans and English-speaking Africans stand up to make a speech to the assembly, you can obviously distinguish characteristics of French and British culture.
Respectively, French-speaking Africans speak in a rather a silver-tongued, logical way; while the English-speaking Africans tend to be more blunt, empirical, and, occasionally, even humorous. Which methods are used to convert a nation under cultural domination? The leading method is language.
As an example, if you compel somebody, throughout an educational system or as a means of economic concern, to speak your language, to some extent you are imposing your pattern of thought on them. A French sociologist, Pierre Bourdieu, in an interview (Paris, 1996) communicated the following: “Only knowledge of language enables the influence of the culture expressed by that language to be fully effective and to reach the soul of other people.”
We can also find this cultural panel in advertising campaigns, such as McDonald’s, Pepsi, Durex or Ford. Ford’s advertising, like the others, cited above, adapts itself to cultural differences between the many countries in which the brand is available. The American ads are generally bringing back the classic American way of life, using old gangster movie patch-work as background references. Asian ads for Ford feature a fantastic, cartoonish style.
While the UK ads are usually matching with the English humor style: short, direct, colorful, and relevant. If we then sum up all those different approaches of the expression we can see that cultural imperialism is, finally, spreading and exalting habits and values; a practice in which different economic powers play a big part. It is with this link to economic power that the media ownership and concentration now interfere.
Example #9 – interesting ideas
Before I get started, please observe that the “Knight” who posted is absolutely and utterly wrong. He’s an apologist for an entirely discredited and defeated ideology – although some American political movements today attempt to recreate parts of it. Nor did the North invade the South to begin the war – the first shot was fired personally by Confederate firebrand General P.G.T. Beauregard at Ft. Sumpter in Charleston harbor, South Carolina.
“Imperialism” in American history really was born with the “Manifest Destiny” philosophy of the 1840s, but it was not seen as such at the time. After continental expansion, the U.S. turned inward, partly due to the Civil War, and partly due to the demands of building the nation. This included internal “imperialism” during the Indian Wars.
The inherent self-image of Americans reflected in the “Manifest Destiny” doctrine included a sense of moral superiority, racial superiority (although today we would more call it ethnic superiority), and “natural” entitlement – that is, that Americans had an undefined right and obligation to dominate others. Underlying this was a competitive posture facing expansionist European powers at the time who actively sought to take North American continental territory if they could, particularly Britain.
Beginning with the Monroe Doctrine, the U.S. had taken a bristly “hands-off” stance, claiming hegemony in the Western Hemisphere, and the right to take any territory the country could acquire in the continent. This did not, of course, go uncontested by European states, nor by the people already living in lands the U.S. coveted.
But the “Age of American Imperialism” officially began with the Spanish-American War of 1898. Both that war and the subsequent acquisition of U.S. foreign colonies, as well as the following decades of “gunboat diplomacy” exercised by the U.S., constituted American imperialism on its face. It was not undertaken without near-violent debate.
Leading up to the Spanish-American War, which was a naked colonial land grab at the expense of Spain, was justified with a very thin veneer of high-minded explanation that the U.S. was “freeing” people in Cuba and elsewhere. The strains of republicanism (the political concept, not the political party) ran wide throughout the pro-war arguments. This is a theme that had been sounded extensively in American popular literature and serious thought for a long time.
In writing about his late 1860’s tour of the Mediterranean region aboard the steamship SS Quaker City, Mark Twain often referred to the “republicanism” of Americans in a way that sharply illustrated American disdain for monarchies and aristocracies or other forms of government. You’ll find it a unifying element of his book about that trip, “Innocents Abroad.”
In his history, “Modern Spain, 1788-1898,” published in 1900, American Richard Hume similarly displayed an open belief in republicanism in contrast to the “corrupt, priest-ridden” society of Spain. Hume, who was yet sympathetic to and admiring of the Spanish people, strongly supported the late war and its results as a vindication of a superior American role in the world.
An odd contrast of American imperialism was the U.S. reluctance to enter WWI. Apparently the U.S. had enough in the way of troublesome colonial territories and was satisfied with protecting commercial interests in the Far East and South America while abstaining from the European bloodletting. The U.S. came out of that war with a principled, anti-imperialistic posture (despite holding on the territories already acquired). That seems to have been a case of pointing a stern, moralistic finger at Old Europe and admonishing the victors to be good while claiming American actions were “different.”
After WWI, “different” remained the theme of American imperialism. What the U.S. did was in the name of republicanism and expansion of the democratic ideal, while other countries undertook imperialistic expansion for more nefarious and less noble purposes. That was, of course, nonsense, but to this day characterizes American foreign policy. It is most pronounced in the policies of the George W. Bush administration.
One of the greater ironies of the past 60 years is that although the U.S. engaged in some forms of economic imperialism during the Cold War, the country also largely stepped back from territorial imperialism – and undertook a sustained campaign to counter the territorial imperialism of the USSR.
With the fall of the USSR, the U.S. returned to territorial and economic imperialism. Economic imperialism was most evident in the foreign economic policies of the Clinton Administration in dealings with Japan and other Asian states. The Bush Administration has undertaken naked aggression to pursue territorial imperialism.
However, the Afghan war is not imperialistic in nature. The most telling characteristic of that conflict is the attempted absence of American participation in that war.
American Imperialism has been a part of United States history ever since the American Revolution. Imperialism is a practice by which powerful nations or people seek to expand and maintain control or influence over weaker nations or peoples.
Throughout the years there have been many instances where the Americans have taken over other people countries, almost every time we go into we have taken over a new piece of land. America’s first taste of imperialism came about five hundred years ago when Columbus came to America. We fought the pleasant inhabitants and then took over their land making them slaves.
People all over the world enjoy American movies and American TV. Every major city in the world has American-style (if not American-owned) fast-food restaurants. American cars are used in many places, although they are no longer as popular as they once were.
Besides Disneyland and Disney World in the U.S., you can find Disney parks in Paris, Tokyo, and probably elsewhere. There’s a Six Flags in Mexico City; there may be others elsewhere.
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