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American Imperialism Essay

Identify the countries or areas where the United States engaged in imperialistic actions during the period from about 1870 to 1914. Discuss why each area was important to American empire building (political, economic, and social). Explain America’s expansionist ideals. What were some of the factors that justified American imperialist actions? Identify the current political status of these places in relation to the United States.

Age of Imperialism: 1870 to 1914

Why was there interest?
U.S. actions
Status today


The United States wanted to sell American Goods to their market.

Treaty of Wanghsia in 1844 opened several Chinese Ports for American trade. The United States is currently China’s greatest Ally.

The United States wanted to support naval fleets in the Pacific. 1872; United States was granted a naval base at Pago Pago. In the 1880’s the United States, Germany as well as Britain jointly signed treaties of occupancy. 1899 the treat was revised giving the United States a protectorate over the Eastern islands which became U.S territory. Unincorporated Territory of the U.S; now called American Samoa


The United States wanted to construct a naval base and wanted their sugar plantations. 1875; The United States signed a trade agreement with Hawaii. In 1887 the United States was allowed to construct a naval base at Pearl Harbor. In 1890; the U.S tariff policy placed heavy tax on exports from Hawaii. American rebels over threw the Queen and Hawaii didn’t receive annexation to the United States in 1898; after going into a Pacific War with Spain. Incorporated into the United Sates and the people became U.S. citizens in 1990. The Philippines

The United States wanted the Philippines; in its effort to attain global power and to become a market for American manufactured products.

The United States acquired the Philippines from Spain in 1898 after the Spanish-American War. In1899 a Filipino leader Agunaldo led a war against the U.S. which resulted in the country being an unorganized territory. The Philippines is currently an independent country.


The United States wanted Cuba for their sugar plantations and its rich resources. The Spanish-American War of 1898 prompted the United States to declare war against Spain that resulted in the Cuban War of Independence. This war was started by Spain’s harsh treatment of the Cuban people which was unsuccessfully fought for decades. The Teller Amendment was legislation passed by congress which barred the United States from annexing Cuba; forcing the U.S to leave it independent once the war was over. Currently; the United States has imposed an embargo on Cuba in 1960 and broke diplomatic relations in 1961 following the Castro regime. The U.S has attempted to reach out to the Cuban government in regards to their human rights policies; in doing so the U.S implemented the 1994-1995 U.S- Cuba Migration Accords. Currently, the U.S still remains Cuba’s largest supplier
of food.

Puerto Rico

The United States wanted to use Puerto Rico for it’s natural rich resources and for naval purposes.

Towards the end of the Spanish-American War the U.S invaded Puerto Rico which at that time belonged to Spain. In December of 1898; the treaty of Paris was signed which ended the Spanish-American war and gave the U.S power over Puerto Rico. Commonwealth of the United States.

Part 2

Answer each of the following prompts with a response of at least 200 to 300 words:

Trace the path of American imperialism during the period from about 1870 to 1914 through political, military, and economic events. Why was the United States interested in expansion in these areas? Why was America building a global empire?

What were the benefits of America’s imperialistic actions for the people in these countries or areas? What were the disadvantages? How would you describe their experiences in terms of being conquered, assimilated, or marginalized?

What were the moral implications of American imperialism? How did Imperialists justify their actions? How did the Anti-Imperialists justify their position? Consider the role of race, economics, science, and religion.

What significance did the Spanish-American War have in the development of the United States as an empire and world power?

Do you think the United States is currently an imperialist country? Why or why not?

Cite and reference all information sources consistent with APA guidelines.

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