The Path of Empire
As America bustled with a new sense of power generated by the strong growth in population, wealth, and productive capacity, labor violence and agrarian unrest increased. It was felt that overseas markets might provide a safety valve to relieve these pressures. Reverend Josiah Strong's Our Country: Its Possible Future and Its Present Crisis inspired missionaries to travel to foreign nations. Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan's book of 1890, The Influence of Sea Power upon History, 1660-1783, argued that control of the sea was the key to world dominance; it stimulated the naval race among the great powers. James G. Blaine published his "Big Sister" policy which aimed to rally the Latin American nations behind America's leadership and to open Latin American markets to American traders. The willingness of America to risk war over such distance and minor disputes with Italy, Chile, and Canada demonstrated the aggressive new national mood.
Monroe's Doctrine and the Venezuelan Squall
The area between British Guiana and Venezuela had been in dispute for over 50 years. When gold was discovered in the contested area, the prospect of a peaceful resolution faded. Secretary of State to President Cleveland, Richard Olney, claimed that if Britain attempted to dominate Venezuela in the quarrel and gain more territory, then it would be violating the Monroe Doctrine. When Britain flatly rejected the relevance of the Monroe doctrine, President Cleveland stated that the United States would fight for it. Although somewhat annoyed by the weaker United States, Britain chose to not to fight a war. Britain's rich merchant marine was vulnerable to American commerce raiders, Russia and France were unfriendly, and Germany was about to challenge the British naval supremacy. With their eyes open to the European peril, Britain was determined to cultivate an American friendship. The Great Rapprochement, or reconciliation, between the United States and Britain became a cornerstone of both nations' foreign policies.
Spurning the Hawaiian Pear
The first New England missionaries reached Hawaii in 1820.
Beginning in the 1840s, the State Department began to warn other nations to keep their hands off Hawaii. In 1887, a treaty with the native government guaranteed naval-base rights at Pearl Harbor. The profits of sugar cultivation in Hawaii became less profitable with the McKinley Tariff of 1890. American planters decided that the best way to overcome the tariff would be to annex Hawaii. Queen Liliuokalani insisted that native Hawaiian should control the islands. A desperate minority of whites organized a successful revolt in 1893. The Queen was overthrown and white revolutionists gained control of Hawaii. When a treaty to annex Hawaii was presented to the Senate, President Grover Cleveland promptly withdrew it.
Cubans Rise in Revolt
Sugar production of Cuba became less profitable when the America passed the tariff of 1894. Cubans began to revolt against their Spanish captors in 1895 after the Spanish began to place Cubans in reconcentration camps and treat them very poorly. Cuban revolutionaries began to reason that if they destroyed enough of Cuba and did enough damage, then Spain might abandon Cuba or the United States might move in and help the Cubans with their independence. America had a large investment as well as annual trade stake in Cuba. Congress passed a resolution in 1896 that recognized the belligerence of the revolted Cubans. President Cleveland refused to budge and fight for Cuba's independence.
The Mystery of the Maine Explosion
William R. Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer led the fabricated atrocities of Cuba apart of the new "yellow journalism." The two men caused the American people to believe that conditions in Cuba were worse than they actually were. Hearst's Journal published a private letter written by the Spanish minister in Washington,...