During the late 1800s and the early 1900s, the US became much more involved in world affairs. In other words, they were becoming a world power. This meant many things, many changes.
In the 1880s, the US was still known as a minor county, a nation known to play only a small role in world affairs. Before the start of intervening in other nations, the US had followed a policy of isolationism, or having little to do with the political affairs of other nations. This was advised by George Washington in his Farewell Address and had been followed by later presidents. At the same time, however, the US also followed a policy of expansionism, or extending its national boundaries. An example of this was their constant westward movement across the continent. As all this was happening, the US was opening and increasing trade with countries across the world, especially those in Asia and the Pacific.
In the 1860s, William Seward, Secretary of State, wanted the US to dominate trade in the Pacific. In 1867, he succeeded in convincing Congress to annex Midway Island, an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Seward also made a deal to buy Alaska, which belonged to Russia back then. The US gave up $7.2 million for this vast piece of land.
Between 1870 and 1914, imperialism, the policy of powerful countries seeking to control the economic and political affairs of weaker countries or regions began to occur in the US. Many European countries had been engaged in this practice for a long time, and the US finally decided to join in. The causes of this were Manifest Destiny, the need for more money and trade, and competition between the European countries for power and land. This eventually led the US deeper into the intervention of world affairs.
Problems in Cuba did not help to unwind the US from these interventions. Americans had invested about $50 million in the island and watched the revolt with growing concern. Many business leaders opposed American involvement in fear that it might hurt trade. Others sympathized with Cuban desires for freedom and wanted action. The policy of imperialism and yellow journalism, or sensational stories that were often biased or untrue, eventually made the US participate in the struggle in Cuba. This involvement, however, lead to the "Spanish-American War," which lasted only four months. The US won, grating Cuba its freedom and the US two islands: Puerto Rico in the Caribbean and Guam in the Pacific. Also, for $20 million, Spain gave the Philippines to the US.
The next event was the building of the Panama Canal. As the US grew to become an industrialized nation and a world power, President Roosevelt was thinking of building a Canal through the Isthmus of Panama. He believed that it would greatly benefit American commerce and military capability. The trips for trade and war would be greatly shortened and thus it would reduce the cost of shipping goods. Also, during periods of war, naval ships could move back and forth between the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean much faster and safer.
During the building of the Panama Canal, many workers died. This was because of the tropical heat, heavy rainfall, and plentiful swamps, which attracted mosquitoes. Panama was often called "mosquito paradise." And, indeed, it was. These mosquitoes carried two of the deadliest tropical disease, malaria and yellow fever. Because of this, work in the Panama Canal was difficult and somewhat delayed. Even so, Roosevelt's dream came true when the Canal was completed in 1914.
The Panama Canal involved the US with Latin America more than ever. Unknowingly, President Roosevelt and succeeding presidents had established a policy of intervening in Latin America to settle disputes and disturbances, especially if it affected American's lives or properties.
In 1904, Rooseelt announced an important addition to the Montro Doctrine. The Roosevelt Corollary claimed the right of the US to intervene in Latin America to preserve law...
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