Expansionism v. Imperialism

I. Background: Expansionism is continuation of “Manifest Destiny”

a. the United States was divinely ordained to enter new regions because the country had the right government, e.g. democracy, the proper religion, and a growing population.

b. Ideology led people to expand West (under the misguided belief that they were not imposing on anyone else).

c. Imperialist countries seek to gain the wealth of other countries by dominating their markets, economy, and raw materials.

II. Annexing New Regions

a. “Seward’s Folly”

i. Secretary of State, William Seward (1861-1869) envisioned Pan-America under the control of the United States.

ii. Purchased Alaska in an effort to secure the U.S. from Russian expansion, and as part of his vision.

b. Hawaii

i. American settlers living in Hawaii dominated the sugar market through the Reciprocity Treaty of 1875.

ii. Hawaii’s Queen, Liliuokalani, sought to restore power to the people of Hawaii by regaining control of their most valuable resource—sugar.

iii. McKinley convinced the people that Japan sought control of Hawaii, therefore it was in U.S. interest to annex the islands as a matter of national security.

III. Popular Influences on Foreign policy

a. New arguments emerging about the role of the United States and its place in global affairs were clearly connected to Darwin’s scientific work and social thought of the late 19th century.

b. Alfred Thayer Mahan, Influence of Sea Power upon History



c. John Fiske, American Political Ideas (1885) Argued that Anglo-Saxon race was superior, or most fit to survive…destiny of human race required spread of Anglo genes.

d. Josiah Strong, Our Country: Its Possible Future and Its Present Crisis (1885)


e. Albert Beveridge, “The Command of the Pacific” (1902)

IV. Case Study: Cuba

a. Cuba is fighting for Independence from Spain; The Cuban War for Independence is known as the Ten Years’ War in Cuba

b. New York Journal and New York World, yellow journalism, began covering war crimes in Cuba.

c. Why is the U.S. interested in going into Cuba?

d. Other Factors influencing U.S. involvement

i. De Lome letter—denounced McKinley for not entering the war to help Cuba, making him appear weak.

ii. Maine: U.S. ship in the region of Havana that exploded and sank, which was viewed as an attack by Spain, even though research demonstrated later that a fire in coal bunker caused the explosion.

e. Teller Amendment—

f. Concluded with the Treaty of Paris, with help from William Jennings Bryan who represented the Anti-Imperialists but endorsed the Treaty in an effort to bring peace.

i. The U.S. annexed Guam, Philippines, and Puerto Rico–despite the Teller Amend.

ii. Spain disputed this annexation–so the U.S. gave them $20 Million for the three island countries.

V. Anti-Imperialist League

a. Imperialism undermines democracy

b. Pro-Isolationism; no foreign involvement

c. Inconsistency- Cuban Independence/annexation of the Philippines.

d. Investment in Domestic Labor—Samuel Gompers/AFL

e. Undermining the Monroe Doctrine—no colonization.

f. Worry that new territories will be expensive to maintain/secure.

VI. Debating Annexation:

VII. Gender Interpretations of History

a. What does it mean to conquer?

VIII. Annexation & Foreign Policy

a. Filipino Insurrection

i. Emilio Aquinaldo: rebel that was exiled by Spain, but brought back to power by the United States to help the U.S. beat Spain.

ii. (1917) declared an “unorganized territory”

iii. Tydings-McDuffie Act (1934)

b. Annexing Puerto Rico

i. Function of island: Caribbean guarding station

ii. Foraker Act (1900) est. a civil government; controlled by Presidential appointees; Puertoriqueños disillusionment

iii. 1917—Partial Citizenship

c. Cuba & the Platt Amendment:

d. Open Door Policy: This policy urged major powers to keep China trade open to all investors and merchants; on an equal basis.

i. Rejected by Anti-Imperialists because it subjected Chinese sovereignty to the will of other countries.

ii. Boxer Rebellion–Chinese nationalists rebelled against the Open Door out of discontent of foreigners overpowering the Chinese.

iii. Gunboat Diplomacy:

IX. 1900 Election

a. Democrats—William Jennings Bryan

b. Republicans–W. McKinley and Roosevelt

X. Roosevelt

a. Roosevelt’s Background

b. Panama Canal

i. Hay-Herran Treaty (1903) agreement between U.S. Secretary of State and Colombian Ambassador to build a canal through Panama region of Colombia in exchange for $10 Million (down-payment) $250,000 per year (annual usage fee); Colombia rejected the terms; wanted $25 Million

ii. “Speak softly and carry a big stick”

iii. The U.S. did not give up control of the canal zone until 1999, when it power of the region finally reverted back to Panama.

c. Roosevelt Corollary: Stated that the U.S. had the right to intervene on behalf of American countries prior to foreign intervention by European countries.

d. In theory, the policy was meant to allow the U.S. to “police” the Western Hemisphere, and protect all American countries from invasion.

e. This policy has had negative implications in Latin America as many of those nations begin to feel dominated by the U.S.