The Debate Over American Imperialism

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The Debate Over American Imperialism

During the late nineteenth century America was a growing and prosperous country. The Civil War had ended and the United States was once again unified. As the United States gained more money and power, it looked to overseas trade to monopolize on their raw materials. The United States began to trade with Japan, China Latin America and other countries to acquire these distant resources. In order to protect these investments, the U.S. had place upon these foreign countries their political influence. The United States went to war with Spain in order to protect their investments. In the Spanish-American War the United States gained control of the Philippians, Cuba, and Puerto Rico all three territories were filled with coveted materials. While many agreed with America becoming an imperialist country, many believed it was against America’s best interest to do so.

As America was becoming a world power, it set it eyes on foreign trade. In order to protect its investments the United States had to influence foreign countries government and thus become imperialistic. Many believed that a growing country, such as the U.S., would not be able to survive or become stronger if it did not extend its trade and influence. U.S. Navy officer, Alfred T. Mahan once said, “America must look outward. The growing production of the country demands it. An increasing volume of public sentiment demands it.” In document two Mahan, believes that the people of the U.S. are behind imperialism.

After the Spanish-American War, the United States had acquired new territories. The United States did not want lose these possessions and desired to show the world that they are powerful. In document three, President McKinley speaks of how the U.S. should not give up the Philippines. McKinley says that if the U.S. gives the Philippines back to Spain it would be cowardly and dishonorable. If France or Germany were to acquire this foreign land it would be aiding there commercial rivals. McKinley also says that if they were left to govern themselves it would lead to anarchy and would be worse off then before. President McKinley expresses “White Mans Burden,” and believes it was his countries God given right to govern the Philippines. President McKinley chose imperialism to secure trade with Asian countries.

Many believed in imperialism for economic reason while others believed in it because they thought God had chosen the Anglo-Saxon to become the leaders of the world. In document one, an excerpt from Reverend Josiah Strong’s book “Our Country”, discusses how the Anglo-Saxon race is superior and will spread throughout the world as leaders. Reverend Strong says, “this race of unequaled energy, with all the majesty of numbers and the might of wealth behind it-the representatives…of the largest liberty, the purest Christianity, the highest civilization…will spread itself over the earth.” The Reverend believes that those Americans from British and German descent will conquer the world and imperialism is first step to take in doing so.

Although many were for America becoming an imperialist country, there were those who thought it was a terrible idea. Many believed that it went against the Declaration of Independence and the people who founded the United States. U.S. Senator George F. Hoar of Massachusetts was a strong opponent of imperialism. He once said in a speech, “under the Declaration of Independence you cannot govern a foreign territory, a foreign people, another people than your own…” Later in the speech Hoar says, “You have no right at the cannon’s mouth to impose on an unwilling people your Declaration of Independence and your Constitution and notions of freedom and notions of what is good.” What Hoar means by this, is that taking over another region with arms and forcing them to accept the American way without objection goes against American values. This is evident in document four and clearly shows Hoar’s dispassion for imperialism.

Others also believed that imperialism went against the American way and they formed the Anti-Imperialist League. Document seven is an excerpt from the Anti-Imperialist League’s platform. The passage discusses the fact that imperialism goes against what Washington and Lincoln believed in. The League understood that the subjugation of any people is a criminal aggression. In the eighteen hundreds America began to exploit weaker countries for their raw materials. Imperialism was one of the reasons for the American Revolutionary War and goes against everything the founding fathers fought against. These are many reasons why the Anti-Imperialist League opposed imperialism.

Imperialism in the late nineteenth century occurred in order for the United States to grow as a country. Although many opposed it and thought it went against what the U.S. was founded upon it happened. For the reason that imperialism in the United States it grew into a world super power and has influenced many foreign countries. Because of the decisions made in the eighteen hundreds the United States of America is now one of the most powerful countries in the world.

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