Beginning in the 1880s, Americans wanted the United States to become a world power.
Their change in attitude was a result
of economic and military competition from other nations and a growing feeling of cultural superiority.
Imperialism, the economic and political domination of a strong nation over weaker nations, was a view held by many Europeans nations as they expanded their power overseas.
To protect their investments, European nations exerted control over territories where they had invested capital and sold products.
Some areas became colonies while others became protectorates.
In a protectorate, the imperial power allowed local rulers to remain in control while protecting them against rebellion and invasion.
In return, local rulers had to accept advice from the Europeans on how to govern their country.
Americans wanted to develop overseas markets to keep the economy strong.
Social Darwinists argued that as nations competed, only the strongest would survive.
Americans used these ideas to justify expanding American power overseas.
John Fiske, a historian and writer, wrote about “Anglo-Saxonism,” the idea that the English-speaking nations had superior character, ideas, and systems of government and were destined to dominate the planet.
Josiah Strong linked missionary work
to Anglo-Saxonism, convincing many Americans to support imperialism.
Americans expanded across the Pacific Ocean and toward East Asia looking for overseas markets.
Americans hoped to trade with China and Japan, but Japan only allowed trade with the Chinese and the Dutch.
In 1852 President Franklin Pierce ordered Commodore Matthew C. Perry to travel to Japan to negotiate a trade treaty.
In 1854 the Japanese, impressed by American technology and power, signed a treaty opening two ports to American trade.
By the 1890s, Japan had a powerful navy and had set out to build its own empire in Asia.
Following an 1872 recession in Hawaii, the United States exempted Hawaiian sugar from tariffs in 1875.
When the treaty later came up for renewal, the Senate insisted that Hawaii give the United States exclusive rights to a naval base at Pearl Harbor.
The trade treaty led to a boom in
the Hawaiian sugar industry.
The McKinley Tariff in 1890 gave subsidies to sugar producers in the United States, causing the sale of Hawaiian sugar to decline.
As a result, the Hawaiian economy
In 1891 Queen Liliuokalani became
the queen of Hawaii.
She disliked the influence of American settlers in Hawaii.
In 1893 a group of planters, supported by U.S. Marines, forced the queen to give up her power after she unsuccessfully tried to impose a new constitution that reasserted her authority as ruler of the Hawaiian people.
The group of planters set up a temporary government and asked the United States to annex the islands.
In the 1800s, the United States wanted to increase its influence in Latin America by increasing the sale of American products in the region.
Americans wanted Europeans to realize that the United States was the dominant power in the region.
Secretary of State James G. Blaine led early efforts to expand American influence in Latin America.
He proposed the idea that the United States and Latin America work together in what came to be called Pan-Americanism.
In 1889 the first Pan-American conference was held in Washington, D.C.
The goals of the conference were to create a customs union between Latin America and the United States, and to create a system for American nations to work out their disputes peacefully.
The Latin Americans rejected both ideas.
Latin Americans agreed to create the Commercial Bureau of the American Republics, an organization that worked to promote cooperation among the nations of the Western Hemisphere.
Today this organization is called the Organization of American States (OAS).
Americans were willing to risk war to defend American interests overseas.
This led to American support for a large modern navy.
Captain Alfred T. Mahan of the United States Navy published his lectures in a book called The Influence of Seapower Upon History, 1660–1783.
The book suggested that a nation needed a large navy to protect its merchant ships and to defend its right to trade with other countries. Mahan felt it necessary to acquire territory overseas for naval bases.
Henry Cabot Lodge and Albert J. Beveridge, two powerful senators, pushed for the construction of a new navy.
By the late 1890s, the United States was on its way to becoming one of the top-ranked naval powers in the world.
In the spring of 1898, war began between Spain and the United States.
Cuba, a Spanish colony, provided wealth for Spain with sugarcane plantations.
In 1868 Cuban rebels declared independence and began a guerrilla attack against Spanish authorities.
After the attack failed, the Cuban rebels fled to the United States to plan a new revolution.
Writer and poet José Martí, an exiled leader of Cuba’s revolution, fled to New York City.
In 1898, after much pressure, McKinley authorized Congress to declare war on Spain.
The United States Navy’s North Atlantic Squadron blockaded Cuba.
An American fleet in British Hong Kong was ordered to attack the Spanish fleet in the Philippines–a Spanish colony.
In May 1898, Commodore George Dewey led a squadron that destroyed or captured Spanish warships in Manila Bay in the Philippines.
McKinley sent 20,000 American troops to the Philippines and, along the way, seized the island of Guam–a Spanish possession in the Pacific.
The American army was untrained and unequipped.
Poor conditions in training camps resulted in more Americans dying in training than in battle.
In June, American troops advanced toward Santiago Harbor in Cuba.
One group attacked the village of El Caney, and another group attacked San Juan Heights.
Among the American troops were the “Rough Riders” led by Colonel Leonard Wood, with Theodore Roosevelt as second in command.
Both attacks were American victories.
Along with the Rough Riders were the all-black 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments.
About one-fourth of the American troops fighting in Cuba were African American.
Spanish resistance ended with the surrender of Santiago.
On August 12, 1898, Spain and the United States agreed to a cease-fire.
Many Americans supported annexing the Philippines because it would provide a naval base in Asia, a stopover on the way to China, a large market for American goods, and the ability to teach “less civilized” peoples.
On December 10, 1898, the United States and Spain signed the Treaty of Paris.
Cuba became an independent country.
The United States acquired Puerto Rico and Guam and paid Spain $20 million for the Philippines.
This treaty made the United States an imperial power.
Controlling its new empire was not easy for the United States.
Emilio Aguinaldo, a Filipino revolutionary, ordered his troops to attack American soldiers stationed in the Philippines.
American General Arthur MacArthur was forced to set up reconcentration camps resulting in thousands of Filipinos dying.
William Howard Taft, the first U.S. civilian governor of the Philippines, introduced reforms in education, transportation, and health care to try to win over the Filipino people.
These reforms slowly lessened Filipino hostility toward American rule.
By April 1902, all Filipino resistance stopped.
In 1946 the United States granted independence to the Philippines.
In 1900 Congress passed the Foraker Act, making Puerto Rico an unincorporated territory.
Congress gradually allowed the people a degree of self-government.
In 1917 Puerto Ricans were made citizens of the United States.
In 1947 the island was given the right to elect its own governor. Today the debate on whether to grant Puerto Rico statehood, to become an independent country, or to continue
as a Commonwealth and part of the United States still exists.
After the war, the United States set up a military government in Cuba.
Steps were taken to ensure that Cuba would remain tied to the United States.
The Platt Amendment specified that (1) Cuba could not make a treaty with another nation that would weaken its power or allow another foreign power to gain territory in Cuba; (2) Cuba had to allow the United States to buy or lease naval stations in Cuba; (3) Cuba’s debts had to be kept low to prevent foreign countries from landing troops to enforce payment; and (4) the United States would have the right to intervene to protect Cuban independence and keep order.
Cuba reluctantly accepted the Amendment.
It was repealed in 1934.
In the 1900 election, President McKinley defeated William Jennings Bryan by a wide margin.
On September 6, 1901, Leon Czolgosz shot President McKinley, who died a few days later.
Theodore Roosevelt, McKinley’s vice president, became the youngest person to become president.
Roosevelt believed the United States had a duty to shape the “less civilized” parts of the world.
He wanted the United States to become a world power. In 1899 the United States was a major power in Asia.
Between 1895 and 1900, American exports to China quadrupled.
In 1894 war began between China and Japan over what is now Korea.
This ended in a Japanese victory.
In the peace treaty, China gave Korea independence and Japan territory in Manchuria.
The war showed that China was weaker than people had thought, and that Japan had successfully adopted Western technology.
Japan’s rising power worried Russia.
Russia forced Japan to give back the part of Manchuria to China and later made China lease the territory to Russia.
Leasing a territory meant it would still belong to China but a foreign power would have control.
This leasehold became the center of a sphere of influence, an area where a foreign nation controlled economic development such as railroad and mining.
President McKinley and Secretary of State John Hay supported an Open Door policy in China.
They believed all countries should be allowed to trade with China.
Hay sent notes to countries with leaseholds in China asking to keep ports open to all nations.
Hay expected all powers would abide by this plan.
Secret Chinese societies were organized to end foreign control.
Members of the Boxers started the Boxer Rebellion.
Group members invaded foreign embassies in Beijing and killed more than 200 foreigners and took others prisoner.
An international force stopped the rebellion in August 1900.
Theodore Roosevelt won the Nobel Peace prize in 1906 for his efforts in ending the war between Japan and Russia.
After the peace treaty between Japan and Russia, relations between the United States and Japan worsened.
Each nation wanted greater influence in Asia.
They agreed to respect each other’s territorial possessions, to uphold the Open Door policy, and to support China’s independence.