American Imperialism

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500 banks, and 15,000 businesses failed. The rich industrialist and poor working classes were vastly separated, and the rights of African Americans since the Civil War were ignored. The federal government was in a state of constant stalemate. The U.S. administration needed to respond to economic and class divisions, as well as to cycles of boom and bust that were destroying the economy. They did this by adopting the practice of imperialism in foreign policy. This saved the economy, and brought the U.S. increased power. Imperialist policy decisions set the model for U.S. foreign policy into the 20th Century. McKinley was elected President in 1896. At this time, an economic recovery was happening. In addition, southern and western farmers, as well as Standard Oil, were sending product overseas. America was witnessing the actions of Britain and France, who were taking Africa and Indochina respectively, by force. Their machine-gun technology proved overwhelming to foreign resistance (Davidson, et al, 2010, p. 611). America wanted in on this expansion, and, like the Europeans, used the doctrine of Manifest Destiny to justify the exploitation of foreign peoples and resources. In addition to McKinley, a three-part group of elites banded together at this time “to promote American Imperialism” (Davidson et al, 2010, p. 612). Mahan, a navy admiral, promoted his theory of Navalism, which stated that the cycles of overproduction and depression that had been occurring could be alleviated by developing import and export with foreign markets.

Modern cruisers and battleships were needed to protect these markets. Missionaries wanted to change “heathen” foreigners into Christians by introducing western culture and values. Many missionaries were opposed to the brute force exercise of power, but they were in favor of imposing their ideology onto foreign people. Social Darwinists Spencer and Sumner argued from the premise that Anglo-Saxon and Teutonic stock were the “fittest” to rule over “lesser peoples of the world” (Davidson et al, 2010, p.613). Then Secretary of State James G. Blain advocated for expansion of trade into Central and South America. Britain, however, already had interests in South America. Blaine’s efforts to cancel the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty, which shared access with Great Britain to any possible canal that might be built, were resolved with the Hay Pauncefort Treaty. This stated that the U.S. could build a canal in Central America, but was required to give all nations access. Using the Manifest Destiny model, Blaine bullied Central American countries into compliance with his Pan American Union, which facilitated trade between the two regions. Blaine threatened to ban exports from Central American countries into the U.S. unless these countries complied. (Davidson, et al, 2010,p.616). The U.S. became involved with Spain, England, Venezuela, Cuba, Hawaii and the Philippines due to their imperialist policies. The Spanish-American War was waged over possession of Cuba. America and Britain narrowly escaped war over disputes concerning trade in Central America. In Hawaii, the Queen was overthrown, and marines came in to “protect” American lives. Big sugar planters, who wanted trade with the U.S., were influential behind the scenes. American imperialist policy in the war in the Philippines contained racism and brutality. The U.S.

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