Significance of Social and Economic Change in the Usa Between 1898-192

Topics: Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, William Howard Taft Pages: 15 (5550 words) Published: October 8, 1999
Sweeping social and economic reforms that occur in any country at any time are always very significant. In relation to the United States of America (USA) during the period of 1898-1921, it is even more so. This period of time saw remarkable changes occurring both inside the USA, and in relation to the USA and the outside world as it became a global force. After the Spanish-American War, led by President McKinley, American ideologies, basically ignorant, capitalist and isolationist at heart, seemed to shift and do a 180 degree turn. This can be said as being signified by the accession of the political dogma of Progressivism, advocated by the next President Theodore Roosevelt, who believed in a 'Dirigisme' style of government. With Roosevelt came swift economical and business reforms, the Roosevelt coined 'Square Deal' is an example of the reforms he implemented, and the advent of the 'muckrakers', with their campaigns against malpractice in the corporate world and big business monopolistic power. William Howard Taft, the successor of Roosevelt, tried to follow this road with his attempts at reforming tariff protection, but inner party disagreements, and a split, in the Republican camp denied him the chance to do so. As the world, and America, edged closer to the First World War, we see that the United States had significantly revolutionised both socially and economically, especially assisted with the Democrat Woodrow Wilson as President, who reformed the country more than any other. However, as the Great War progressed and after its completion, we see a drastic reversal. A new US stepped out of the war, one where its people wore blinkers for thinking caps. As the era of Communist take-over fears, suffrage for women, prohibition and the 'roaring 20's' neared, isolationism, restricted immigration, and social, civil, and racial unrest had come to the forefront of American society's priorities. This period ended with the introduction of 'laissez-faire' economics, a swift turn-around from usual government methods used in the last 20 years. American society had once again done a 180-degree turn, back to 'normalcy', under the guidance of President Warren Harding. This original form of control and regulation in the country was a way in which the people repudiated all the years of hard work done by the progressives and others in the past in their attempts to make the USA a more friendly, safe, prosperous and free place to live in. Permeating through every area of American society, this new, isolated attitude to life, themselves and foreigners stuck with the American people for many years into the future.

The year 1898 started with a bang for the American people, literally. The battleship 'Maine', sent by the US Navy to Havana, Cuba, to protect US citizens and property there from Spanish violence, exploded in suspicious circumstances, taking 260 lives with it. This began an avalanche of action and a few months later, Spain, who was accused of destroying the ship and mistreating Cuban's, was at war with the USA. A war of liberation for the Cuban people from Spanish oppression was announced by President William McKinley. After a swift and decisive naval victory for the Americans in the Philippines against the Spanish Fleet, and a surprise ground invasion into Cuba at the port of Santiago was hugely successful, Spain soon sued for peace. In the terms for surrender, Spain relinquished Cuba to the auspicious eyes of the US, and ceded to the United States the Philippine Islands, Guam, and Puerto Rico. Not only did the US gain control of these regions, but also during 1898, Hawaii was annexed by the US.

The USA had now become, as many called it, a 'world colonial power'. This new power is also demonstrated with the implementation of McKinley's "Open Door" policy with all the nations in China, which in essence was a diplomatic manoeuvre to gain the advantages of a new colony without the necessity of any conflict. With...
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