American Imperialism in the Nineteenth Century 1

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American Imperialism

January 17, 2011

American Imperialism in the Nineteenth Century was a very important era in our country. Imperialism is the acquisition of control over the government and the economy of another nation; usually by conquest. The United States became an imperialistic world power in the late nineteenth century by gaining control over the Hawaiian Island and after the Spanish American War (1898), Guam, the Philippines, Cuba and Puerto Rico. (Davidson, Delay, Heyrman, Lytle & Stoff, 2008) This policy was adopted to keep up with the world powers like Great Britain, France, Spain, Portugal, and Russia. Compared to the European-style imperialism the possession by conquest American imperialism was said to be more pure because it was done without conquest; it was completed with exportation of products, ideas, and influence. As countries became dependant on industrialism they needed the foreign trade to bring in the capital. Companies within the country could purchase products but that only moved the capital from producer to purchaser within our own economy. Securing the interests of trade was not an easy task as there were five other world empires trying to complete the same goal. Americans preferred the more indirect approach to imperialism, free enterprise. It was a win-win approach for America, everyone stood to gain by the rapid and expanding social and economic networks that were going to be secured.

Admiral Alfred Thayer Mahan argued that if the US was to be a great nation we needed to protect its interest in the foreign markets. He persuaded Congress to build a new Navy that consisted of large cruisers and battleships that were steam powered vessels made of steal. Congress agreed and the program to rebuild the Navy began in the 1880’s. The United States Navy was the third best in the world by 1900 and now had to means to become an imperial power and protect its vested interests. (Davidson, Delay, Heyrman, Lytle, & Stoff, 2008)...
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