During the end of the 19th century after the war and trying to recuperate, America had gone into a state of expansionism. The never ending change with the economy, agriculture and the industrial growth. Democratic National Platform, 1900 states “We assert that no nation can long endure half republic and half empire…” With this new sense of power, expanding for the Americans was inevitable. The spreading of the “good” word of God with the mindset of the “superior” race with the fact that America had to compete economically with other foreign countries had made imperialism not an option but necessary to America’s empire. Also with the other European countries also competing for world colonization. Therefore America was indeed justified to engage in a policy of imperialism due to religious, economical, and military purposes.
“It seems to me that God, with infinite wisdom and skill, is training the Anglo-Saxon race for an hour sure to come in the worlds future. The lands of the earth are limited, and soon will be taken…” quoted from Minister Josiah Strong. Many Americans felt it was not only our responsibility and duty but it was also a command from God. Minister Strong argued that America was in a race with other nations to dominate the world and obtain resources that we needed. So because America claimed that it was their duty to uplift and “Christianize” the foreign people they used this as an argument for imperialism.
As Charles Darwin states “In the struggle for survival, the fittest win out at the expense of their rivals because they succeed in adapting themselves best to their environment.” America had gone into a state of “social Darwinism”, where they thought that the earth belong to the fit and strong, which in this case is America. And so, if U.S. wanted to survive in competition of modern states, it too would have to become an imperial power. According to Beveridge, “…and thanksgiving to Almighty God that He has marked us as His chosen people, henceforth to lead in the regeneration of the world…” This embarks that they were even told that America was the chosen people, and the people who would change the entire world.
Economically America was just about to “burst”, with farmers and factory owners looking beyond American shoreline for agricultural and industrial interests. Many believed that America did not have the resources to keep it going. Therefore seeking other places to replenish their resources. Josiah Strong argues “The lands of the earth are limited, and soon will be taken. Then will the world enter upon a new stage in its history- the final competition of the races.”
With this the race industrially began for countries claiming lands for economical purposes. Foreign trade becoming increasingly important to American economy in late 19th c. Americans considered acquiring new colonies to expand markets further. Washington Post of 1896 states “A new consciousness seems to have come upon us-the consciousness of strength-and with it a new appetite, the yearning to show our strength….Ambition, interest, land hunger, pride, the mere joy of fighting, whatever it may be we are animated by a new sensation.” Showing how Americans wanted imperialism. The small taste of it was still in their mouths and they wanted more. With also the economy being unstable they seeked foreign lands to satisfy themselves.
Lastly militarily, Alfred Thayer Mahan states “Whether they will or not, Americans must now begin to look outward. The growing production of the country demands it.” With increased business overseas it became necessary to protect those investments. With his book of 1890 The Influence of Sea Power upon History, it was argued that control of the sea was the key to world dominance. This book soon read by all the great powers of the world helped even more in the race for a supreme naval fleet. Also with this the U.S. wanted to build large navy and build defensive bases and refueling stations strategically placed on world’s oceans. With these thought they soon were after Hawaii and other pacific islands, they also advocated to build a canal across the isthmus of Central America to link Atlantic & Pacific Oceans. Also according to the cartoon “The World’s Plunderers, 1885” It shows how all the European countries were picking away at the lands still open for taking.
In addition to the sense of “catching up” with the other nations around the world. America also felt that they were more powerful than ever, with the addition of an improving navy, turning their attention to the seas for conquer. Before America had virtually no navy, which made overseas out of their reach, leaving them only the surrounding areas for taking. America now had the opportunity at such territories as Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the Philippines, because of their navy and its power. With imperialism came the increase and necessity of a navy. As Albert Beveridge states ” Most future wars will be conflicts for commerce. The power that rules the Pacific, therefore, is the power that rules the world.”
So in all America with its new sense of power and pride were only in a position of imperialism. With Christianizing the fellow brothers across the oceans, with the economical instability with the rapid growth, and also with the race towards a superior naval fleet. With all these factors into play indeed America was justified to engage in a policy of imperialism due to religious, economical, and military purposes.
Courtney from Study Moose
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