American Expansionism in the 1890s - Essay Example

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Leading up to the end of the nineteenth century, the U.S. had emerged as one of the world’s leading economies. In 1890 the U.S. Gross National Product doubled that of Britain’s, but the U.S. army and navy were five and ten times smaller than Britain’s respectively…
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American Expansionism in the 1890s
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American Expansionism in the 1890s Leading up to the end of the nineteenth century, the U.S. had emerged as one of the world’s leading economies. In1890 the U.S. Gross National Product doubled that of Britain’s, but the U.S. army and navy were five and ten times smaller than Britain’s respectively. The U.S.’s limited military might in comparison to that of its former colonial master was a growing concern since Britain was using its military strength to greatly expand its empire. By the late 1890s, Britain had accumulated colonial territories in Africa and Asia that gave it control over one fifth of the world’s population. As a response to Britain’s growing influence, the expansion ideas of former Lincoln and Johnson administration Secretary of State William Seward began to develop more traction. Alfred Thayer Mahan, a Navel Strategist, and author of the book “Influence of Sea and Power Upon History” started advancing the notion that the political and economic security of a nation was tied up in both its abilities to militarily control the shipping routes to and from its borders and to culturally influence other parts of the world. These ideas contributed to a change in attitude among the American public about expansionism. The previous aversion to imperial aspirations that resulted from being a former colony began to be replaced by a growing belief that America’s best interests were served through expansion. As a result, missionary work designed to influence the “backward” people of Africa and Asia saw significant growth during this period. From 1889 to 1900 thousands of missions were established in those parts of the world in an effort to spread U.S. cultural influence around the world. In 1895, President William McKinley responded to public pressure by advocating and facilitating direct U.S. involvement in Cuba’s fight for independence from Spain. Mckinley was not interested in engaging in a war effort against Spain, but he was persuaded to understand that it was in the best interest of the U.S. to eliminate the presence of a European colonial power in the Western Hemisphere. The U.S. assisted Cuba in fighting for its independence and this effort firmly established the U.S. as an international power. Along with the effort in Cuba, the U.S. began to engage in regular efforts to further advance its imperial agenda. The expansion into Hawaii of course eventually resulted in that country becoming the 50th state in the union, but there is still a significant portion of the native population of the islands who still see the U.S. role there as an illegal occupation. In 1893, at the strong political urging of U.S. pineapple growing businessmen, the U.S. sent marines and army infantrymen into Hawaii to forcibly remove Queen Lydia Kamakaeha Liluakalani. This military action seized the vast majority of crown Hawaii land. Shortly afterward, President Ben Harrison pushed for the complete annexation of Hawaii. Over the next several years the U.S. would become significantly involved militarily in Haiti, the Philippines, Russia, and eventually World War I, thus firmly establishing America as one of the world’s major superpowers. Mintz, Steven (2007). Digital History. University of Houston. Read More
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