Theodore Roosevelt and American Imperialism

During the era of 19th century President Theodore Roosevelt, the United States emerged from the nineteenth century with many ambitious creations on global power through military might, economic influence and territorial expansion. Although the Spanish-American War had begun under the administration of William McKinley, Roosevelt, the hero of San Juan Hill, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Vice-President, and President, was arguably the most notable and influential proponent of American imperialism at the turn of the century. Roosevelt’s emphasis on developing the American navy and on Latin America as a key strategic area of U.

S. foreign policy.

American imperialism was motivated by four main factors: political, economic, geographic and cultural. Politically, Imperialism was spreading nationalism and patriotism. This was a point of pride to maintain colonies worldwide. From the military point of view, it also make a sense to have colonies in different regions of the world in case it is necessary to launch a military operation. The economic factors were desires to find new markets for trade, extending colonial power throughout the world and the US became a colonial power in the Philippines and it opened up a trade with East Asia.

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Geographically, at the end of the 19th century, Africa was carved into pieces by the Europeans at the Berlin Conference; Europeans won land and resources in Africa, and the USA wanted to join on land gains across the world. And culturally, a desired for humanitarianism, wanting to help out people and countries the U.S perceived impoverished.

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Senator Henry M. Teller proposed an amendment to declaration of war by the United States against Spain that proclaimed that the United States shouldn’t establish permanent control over Cuba. This amendment was approved by the Senate on April 19. The Teller Amendment was followed by the Platt Amendment introduced by Senator Orville Platt in February 1901. It allowed that the United States the right to intervene to preserve in Cuba’s independence, the maintenance of a good government for the protection of life, property and individual freedom

Roosevelt Corollary was convinced that all of Latin American was vulnerable to Europeans attack, Roosevelt dust off the Monroe Doctrine and added his own corollary. While the Monroe Doctrine was blocked a major expansion of Europe in the Western Hemisphere but the Roosevelt Corollary went a step further. If any Latin American nation is involved in large debts or civil rests, the United States military would intervened. The first opportunity to enforce this new policy occurred in 1905, when the Dominican Republic was in danger of invasion by Europeans debt collectors.

The United States increased their policy of Imperialism after the Spanish American War. The Annexation of Hawaii in July 1898 the US used the pretense of needing Hawaii as military naval base. Was rushed through Congress and approved by President McKinley. Hawaiians granted U.S citizenships and received full territorial status in 1900. Another acquisition was The U.S Army invaded Puerto Rico, U.S sought to take the island before the war with Spain ended.

Most of population regarded U.S soldiers as liberating heroes. Spain signed an armistice on August 12, 1898.

The Spanish-American War was caused mainly by the general military aggression of the United States at the end of the 19th century. In particular, the war was based on the freedom of the Cubans. American society supported the Cuban revolt against Spanish mismanagement. This general disposition to go to war pressed McKinley to declare war against Spain. Much of the support for the war came from the explosion of the Maine while it was anchored in an area controlled by the Spaniards. Yellow journalism aggravated Americans more with the horrifying stories that were invented. All these factors were added to cause the Spanish-American war.

The USS Oregon’s long journey to reach Cuba from the Pacific Ocean convinced the Americans of the strategic need to build a Central American canal. The channel would be the legacy of Roosevelt, and he would stop at nothing to get it. The canal, which was completed in August 1914, is one of the two most important artificial waterways in the world. Economically, it was desired because it would accelerate the shipment of cargo via the sea and increase global trade.

The Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty was then negotiated between Panama and the United States. The treaty satisfied the Spooner Act and created the Panama Canal Zone; it was proclaimed in February 1904. They granted to the USA. A permanent lease contract on land in Panama and the right to build the canal.

The Panama Canal took 10 years to build. The engineers and workers had to face the mountainous regions, full of jungle, with high temperatures, unstable soil and rock and frequent tropical rains when building the canal. The United States had to build a dam to help construction, because the area was often flooded thanks to bad weather.

The builders also had to deal with many tropical diseases such as yellow fever and malaria. William C. Gorgas and other doctors worked to eliminate the mosquitoes that transmitted the diseases in the area to make it a safer place to work. Despite their efforts, more than 5,000 workers died from these diseases and accidents.

However, the American Imperialism came at a great cost to the people living in the lands America Conquered. The kingdom of Hawaii was overthrown by the U.S government and American businessmen. The people living in Cuba, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico were denied the independence they were promised at the start of the Spanish-American war. And The U.S businessmen created large corporations in Latin American nations that destroyed small Latin American businesses.

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Theodore Roosevelt and American Imperialism. (2021, Mar 18). Retrieved from

Theodore Roosevelt and American Imperialism

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