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In the period from 1890 to 1920, the US economy functioned in an optimal manner achieving impressive results. In 1900, the US had 38 percent of world’s wealth, which is 13 percent more than Britain. This economic might enabled leaders to pursue expansionism and importantly financed it as well. “Economic power set the foundations of American power, facilitating leaders to pursue ‘grand’ policies” (Efthymiou). The other related cause is that the US wanted to further develop its economy, which they wanted to achieve by capturing and tapping resources-rich territories. That is, after capturing and entering newer territories, the US looked for key resources or materials, which can be sold separately or can be used to manufacture finished goods. Those finished good were sold or exported to various countries thereby developing its economy. “…expansionism was driven by the idea that the American economy needs to grow continuously” (Johnston 189). The third cause which initiated expansionism was the strengthening of its naval wing. The US’s Navy Admiral of that period, Alfred Thayer Mahan only emphasized “the need for a powerful navy and the creation of “coaling stations” in strategic regions with significance in world trade” (Efthymiou). When this started actualizing, the US became confident in its expansion plans.
The US expanded its role and influence through three ways namely imperialism or armed conflicts, international diplomacy, and through the construction of the Panama Canal. In 1898, the US declared a war on Spanish territories in the Caribbean and totally dismantled the waning Spanish Empire. So by evicting Spain, the US fortified its advantageous grip on the Caribbean, built a naval base in Cuba, and even annexed Puerto Rico (Efthymiou). It further extended its influence into the Pacific by capturing Philippines and Guam. The US also expanded its influence by actively
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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.
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For instance, through the Louisiana Purchase that was conducted in 1803, and several treaties with both Span and Britain, the country moved its borders in order to accommodate the new acquired territory.
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