Reasons for the U.S. Turning to Imperialism at the End of the 19th Century
Imperialism is "the creation and maintenance of an unequal economic, cultural, and territorial relationship, usually between states and often in the form of an empire, based on domination and subordination.” (Johnston 375) By the 1890s, many Americans leaders started to have new attitude towards imperialistic adventures abroad. There were numerous reasons for the U.S. to turn to Imperialism at the end of the 19th century, mainly the economic, political, strategic, and humanitarian motives. Various industrialists as well as investors including bankers and the new wealthy class feared that the United States would soon produce more than it could ever consume and wanted to find new source of raw materials and markets for their products in new dependent states. Moreover, with Europe gaining control of undeveloped countries, U.S. businessmen were afraid of competition in those countries, and therefore favored dependent states that would become market for goods mostly from U.S. As a result, industrialist, investors, and businessmen eagerly pushed for an aggressive American policy abroad. For instance, American economic interest highly increased the U.S.’s involvement in China. The potential of investment in China was an important reason for Secretary of States John Hay asking European leaders for an Open Door Policy in China i, which would allow all foreign nations to establish trading relations with China. However, spreading nationalistic movement in China evidenced that the U.S. intervention was not only unnecessary but also unwelcomed by most of the Chinese population. Moreover, the political reasons for America to expand included the acquisition of strategic locations for military bases and “coaling stations”, in the Pacific. A major supporter of imperialistic adventures and naval expansion was Captain Alfred T. Mahan, who in 1890 wrote The Influence of Sea
Cited: Boorstin, Daniel J., Brooks Mather Kelley, and Ruth Frankel Boorstin. A History of the United States. Needham, MA: Prentice Hall, 2002. Print Johnston, Ronald John. The Dictionary of Human Geography. Oxford, UK: Blackwell, 2000. Print.