American Imperialism: Characteristics

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American Imperialism in the Nineteenth Century extended from several characteristics of America and American society, including but not limited to exceptionalism and manifest destiny. While these beliefs not only supported and manifested the perpetual effort to exploit and later completely oppress and subjugate the Native American populations within its borders, they also supported the later establishment of reservations and the practice of Native American boarding school education. But, American Imperialism extended far beyond its ever-expanding territory (Yale, 2008, Avalon Project). Rather, evidence existed in many corners of the world, like Asia, Southeast Asia, and Cuba.

American Imperialism informed numerous unequal relationships and unequal trade agreements including the ones entered into after each Opium War (Asia for Educators, 2008). In fact, Americans not only had military presence in China and the Philippines but also within Cuba (Halsell, 1997, p. 1; Lett, 2008, p. 403). In this way, it mirrored its European counterparts and sought domination over populations it perceived as “lesser” in accordance with Social Darwinism and its principles (Halsell, 1997; Larson, 1998). Accordingly, Halsell (1997) contends that these American imperialist acts demonstrate America’s belief that the Judeo-Christian philosophy and worldview coupled with the worldview substantiated by Social Darwinism and its focus on the “survival of the fittest” merely strengthened American ambition and its actions extending from Manifest destiny (Larson, 1998). Therefore, these contentions and beliefs fused with American desire for more power, affluence and influence induced its Imperialist actions (Suffolk Community College, 2010, p.1).

Not all Americans agreed with these policies and actions, especially after the Civil War. Not only had Americans realized the costs and consequences of subjugation and equality, but they understood how disparate rights coauthored the military...
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