Theodore Roosevelt Foreign Policy

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Theodore Roosevelt inherited an empire-in-the-making when he assumed office in 1901. After the Spanish-American War in 1898, Spain ceded the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Guam to the United States. In addition, the United States established a protectorate over Cuba and annexed Hawaii. For the first time in its history, the United States had acquired an overseas empire. As President, Roosevelt wanted to increase the influence and prestige of the United States on the world stage and make the country a global power. He also believed that the exportation of American values and ideals would have an ennobling effect on the world. TR's diplomatic maxim was to "speak softly and carry a big stick," and he maintained that a chief executive must be willing to use force when necessary while practicing the art of persuasion. He therefore sought to assemble a powerful and reliable defense for the United States to avoid conflicts with enemies who might prey on weakness. Roosevelt followed McKinley in ending the relative isolationism that had dominated the country since the mid-1800s, acting aggressively in foreign affairs, often without the support or consent of Congress. One of the situations that Roosevelt inherited upon taking office was governance of the Philippines, an island nation in Asia. During the Spanish-American War, the United States had taken control of the archipelago from Spain. When Roosevelt appointed William Howard Taft as the first civilian governor of the islands in 1901, Taft recommended the creation of a civil government with an elected legislative assembly. The Taft administration was able to negotiate with Congress for a bill that included a governor general, an independent judiciary, and the legislative assembly. The most spectacular of Roosevelt's foreign policy initiatives was the establishment of the Panama Canal. For years, U.S. naval leaders had dreamed of building a passage between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans through Central America. During...
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