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Becoming a World Power: American Imperialism

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1 Becoming a World Power: American Imperialism


3 Growth of Imperialism By the 20th century, European countries control much of Africa and Asia – protecting their interests The US also wanted to begin to expand its “empire” through imperialism – stronger nations attempting to create empires by dominating weaker nations



6 Reasons for Expansion Many business leaders and politicians believed that US expansion was important b/c it would provide the country with more economic markets and greater potential for economic growth. Others favored imperialism b/c they felt the US needed to expand to maintain our national security. With the Western frontier conquered, some argued that the county needed to look abroad for a new frontier (Manifest Destiny). Some saw imperialism as a moral obligation of whites in the US to “civilize” and take democracy to the rest of the world. They believed darker skinned people were naturally inferior to, and in need of leadership from whites of Euro descent (Social Darwinism).

7 Opposition to Expansion
Those who preached isolationism believed that it was not in the best interest of the US to acquired and exercise control over foreign territories. They felt that imperialism would pull the US into foreign conflicts. Some believed it was not economically or politically wise to expand, while others argued that expansion contradicted the principles of freedom and self- government on which the US was founded.


9 The Pacific Both political leaders and businessmen wanted to trade with China and other nations in SE Asia, and saw the Pacific as a pathway to these markets. Secretary of State William Seward negotiated the purchase of Alaska from Russia in 1867 to give us greater access. 30 years later, the US annexed Hawaii as well. Pearl Harbor would be used as a naval base and it was a half-way point to many Asian markets.

10 Isn’t it Ironic? While we tried to expand in the Pacific, and tap into Asia markets, we wanted to keep Asians out of the US. Remember the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882?


12 The Spanish-American War
In the late 1800s, the island of Cuba was still under Spanish rule. In 1895, the Cubans rebelled and Spain sent 150,000 troops to restore order. The Spanish relocated thousands of Cuban citizens to concentration camps where many died. As pressure mounted for the US to intervene, competing newspapers printed stories about eh Spanish abuses against the Cubans. Often exaggerated and untrue, the stories were meant to sell papers rather than accurately report the facts (Yellow Journalism). They also ignited the emotions of the American public and caused people to call for war with Spain.




16 Rough Riders One of the war-mongers was Teddy Roosevelt, Assistant Secretary of the Navy. When the Spanish-American war started, T. Roosevelt became a Lt. Colonel and commanded a group of volunteers known as the Rough Riders. The war began when a US battleship, the USS Maine, exploded while docked in a Cuban harbor. The newspapers blamed Spain for sinking the ship, and Congress declared war on Spain in April 1898.




20 “A Splendid Little War”
. Commodore Dewey destroyed another Spanish fleet in another of their colonies, the Philippines In Cuba, Roosevelt won fame for leading the Rough Riders in a victory at San Juan Hill. These incidents helped the US win the war against Spain. In less than 3 months, the US had defeated Spain in Cuba and the Philippines.

21 Colonel Theodore Roosevelt – “Rough Riders” Spanish-American War (1898)




25 Treaty of Paris, Version 3.0
The Spanish –American War officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Paris (1898). According to the treaty, the US would allow Cuba to be independent and not annex the territory, but treat it as a protectorate (McKinley installed US military govt for 3 years to restore stability). In 1900, the Platt Amendment was drafted which put limits on what the Cuban govt could do, gave the US 2 naval bases in Cuba, and allowed for US intervention in the region whenever it felt necessary. It stayed in effect until the early 1930s. Puerto Rico & Guam became US territories as a result of the treaty of Paris. And then there was the Philippines…


27 Philippines Those who opposed expansion argued that annexing the Philippines would undermine democracy and increase the likelihood of future wars in the Pacific. Some saw the Philippines as crucial for protecting US economic interests in SE Asia. Filipinos under the leadership of Emilio Aguinaldo launched a resistance movement against any US occupation. The Filipinos used guerilla warfare to combat the US military. The fighting lasted for more than 2 years. US forces finally captured Aguinaldo in 1901, and in 1902, the Philippines became an “unorganized territory” of the US. The Philippines became independent in 1946.


29 The Panama Canal After the assassination of William McKinley in 1901, Teddy Roosevelt became president. In order to enable US ships to move more quickly between the Atlantic and Pacific, Roosevelt envisioned a canal across the isthmus of Panama. The canal would serve US military and economic interests by allowing ships to travel back and forth between US territories in the Pacific & Atlantic without having to go around S. America. Unfortunately for Teddy, the Colombian govt which controlled the territory refused to sell or lease the land necessary for the canal. So, Roosevelt incited a Panamanian revolution against Colombia. Panama would get independence if the US could gain control of the canal territory.


31 Speak Softly & Carry a BIG STICK!
Roosevelt’s strategy worked. The US gained the canal zone, and construction began in By 1914, the Panama Canal was complete. The US controlled the canal until Jimmy Carty signed a treaty in 1977 authorizing the transfer of the canal to the Panamanians. Georgia. Represent.




35 The Roosevelt Corollary
By the 1900s, the US was becoming a major player in world affairs. In 1904, T.R. issued the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine. Monroe had said that the US would not allow European powers to colonize newly independent nations in the Western Hemisphere, or would the US interfere with such nations. Roosevelt modified this by saying that the US had the right to intervene in the region if a nation had trouble paying its debts. Roosevelt wanted to make sure that imperialist nations didn’t use debt collection as a an excuse to occupy territories in the Caribbean or Latin America. This doctrine came to be known as Roosevelt’s “big stick diplomacy.” Comes from West African proverb “Speak softly ad carry a big stick.” It meant that the US did not intend to be a threatening presence in the Western Hemisphere, but neither would it hesitate to forcefully protect its own interests.


37 Nobel Peace Prize TR’s policies in Asia were similarly aggressive and he won the Nobel Peace Prize for keeping trade with China open to all nations by mediating a peace during the Russo-Japanese War of


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