Imperialism isthe policy in which stronger nations extend their economic, political, and/ormilitary control over weaker nations. Imperialismusually results in the stronger nation creating a colony in the weaker nationto maintain its control. Europeancountries, by the late 19th century, had established colonies on thefollowing continents: Africa, Asia,South and Central America. The US had atradition of expansionism long before it become imperialistic.
In 1803 the US purchased the LouisianaTerritory from France, doubling the size of the country.In 1819 Spainceded Florida to the US. In 1823president Monroe issued the Monroe Doctrine, warning European countries to stayout of the Western hemisphere (Latin America) because it was our “sphere ofinfluence”.
As well, during the 1840smost Americans believed in the Manifest Destiny of the US. That it was our destiny as a country toexpand from sea to sea. In 1845 the USannexed Texas which at that time considered itself independent. In 1846 Great Britain ceded the OregonTerritory (WA, OR, ID and part of WY) to the US. In the treaty that ended the US-Mexican War(1846-48) the US paid Mexico $15 million (about $350 million today) for theMexican Cession – CA, NV, UT and parts of CO, NM, AZ & WY.
The year 1853 the US purchased the southernparts of AZ and NM from Mexico for $10m. In 1867 the US purchased Alaska from Russia for $7.2 million. Most Americans thought it was a bad deal, butit ended up being a great decision. Then, in 1867 the US annexed the Midway Islands in the Pacific (twosmall atolls)Some of the keyfactors that fueled the new American Imperialism were the strong desire for newmarkets to sell US goods and the desire for military strength to compete with,and gain the respect of, other world powers. There was also the belief in our cultural superiority and the benefitsit could bring to less civilized people.
The US wanted a new frontier to settle in order to maintain America’sidentity and prosperity. In the late 19thcentury the US advanced in technology enabled American farms and factories toproduce far more than American citizens could consume. The US had suffered a depression in 1893 –unemployment was high and farmers were suffering greatly from overproduction, underconsumption and low prices. Overseasterritories would provide the US with access to cheap raw materials it coulduse to fuel its factories to recapture its prosperity.
Overseas territories would provide USbusinesses and farmers access to new markets (places) to sell their surplus(extra) goods leading to higher prices, more profits and more jobsIf the US wasto become a respected and influential world power (like Great Britain andFrance) it too would need to establish a global military presence and acquireoverseas territories. American leaders,like TR and Alfred T. Mahan of the US Navy, urged government officials to buildup the U.
S. Navy in order to complete with other powerful nations and extendits influence globally. Overseasterritories needed to support the new navy (coaling stations, repairs, militarybases). Navy needed to protect newterritories and merchant ships trading near new territories. SomeAmericans combined the philosophy of Social Darwinism – a belief that the strongesteconomic nations would “survive and thrive” in a global free market – alongwith a belief in the racial superiority of Anglo-Saxons (white Americans ofNorthern & Western European descent) – to justify American Imperialism.
HowSocial Darwinism was used to justify overseas expansion: Eachrace has a distinct mission and place in God’s plan. It is God’s plan that English speakingAnglo-Saxons rule the world and uplift inferior races (in Africa andAsia in particular)