Imperialism is the influential expansion of a country’s power through territorial invasion creating a financial and political control of other countries. Imperialism is used to refer to the period of 1880 to 1918 wherein the developed countries look for new territories to dwell in, creating their command to the African and Asian countries so that they will have the most useful location. The United States pursue an aggressive policy of expansionism during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to expand the nation’s political and economic influence worldwide.
The United States general public observed the first expansion attempts as a means to help other nations for a righteous reason but as it goes by they changed their mind and viewed the United States as an imperialist nation. Manifest Destiny was created in 1845 to somewhat justify American expansionism. United States would still be the sole strong power even without expansion but it was America’s goal to reign supreme above others. In 1860’s when American Imperialism was isolated, it affected the affairs of other small countries but it had no effect whatsoever to the Great Powers which the United States has not fully reached.
Initially the United States wanted expansion to be able to compete with the European markets. In The People’s History of the United States, Howard Zinn commented about the demand of expansion: Appleman Williams has described in The Roots of the Modern American Empire that there were need for expansion by many commercial farmers. Populist Congressman Jerry Simpson of Kansas told Congress in 1892 that with a vast agricultural excess, farmers ‘must of necessity search for foreign market.
True, he was not calling for violence or invasion but once foreign markets were seen as significant to success, expansionist procedure, even war might be appealing. The period of Imperialism began when United States helped Cuba to drive away the Spaniards and helped the Cuban gain their independence. The Americans then had a navy base in Cuba and they wanted to help the Philippines next but instead of giving them independence they build their own empire. The American people come to realized and viewed their nation as an upcoming imperialist nation because prior to the Spanish American War, the American military did not subsist.
The national identity of the people of America changed significantly since they were able to show to the whole world that they can survive even without the help of Great Britain. The Manifest Destiny was created to rationalize to the citizens the expansion that was happening. The United States expansion enabled them to be competitive to the European market but later on the expansion became more of imperialism like what happened in the case of the Philippines.
By becoming an imperialist nation, the United States has to build their military from scratch and the people who object their expansion was viewed as unpatriotic by the government. The United States without expansionism would be just like one of the numerous nations that is incompetent in absorbing millions of immigrants, without the ability of protecting itself against great nations and without the capacity of spreading and preserving its culture worldwide.
Zinn, Howard. The People’s History of the United States. New York: Harper Collins Publisher, 1999.