AP US History
9 January 2012
Self Interest of Idealism?
Expansion to foreign nations was a very important factor in America during the early twentieth century. Self-interest and idealism play large roles in America’s foreign policies from 1895-1920. Although both factors were very common, idealism seems to have been the dominant factor during this time period towards foreign affairs. Speakers such as Senator Albert Beveridge and William Sumner were very important because they gave valuable information to people about foreign policies in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Self-interest was very important to the expansion of America. “Ambition, interest, land hunger, pride, the mere joy of fighting, whatever it may be, we are animated by a new sensation” (Document A). This quote from the Washington Post in 1896 is important because it shows America’s appetite for showing their power. Senator Albert Beveridge also shows self-interest in a speech in 1898: “Therefore we must find new markets for our produce, new occupation for our capital, new work for our labor” (Document B). This document is informative because it tells how America’s self-interest is growing too much and how it is hard to sustain our power in just one country. Document G, a map of the United States expansion from 1857-1917 also shows the factor of self-interest because it shows how they want to expand their power by having their naval and military forces go to places such as Hawai’i, Cuba, and China.
During this time period, idealism seemed to have been more important to America’s foreign policy. William Sumner’s essay, War and Other Essays, shows the importance of idealism: “[The] reason why liberty, of which we Americans talk so much, is a good thing is that it means leaving people to live out their own lives in their own way, while we do the same” (Document C). This shows idealism because it explains how America will expand to foreign nations while letting...
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