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America’s Age of Imperialism

Background: America’s Age of Imperialism was relatively short-lived, and somewhat anomalous in terms of overall US history. For a few brief years in the 1890s, the US aggressively pursued overseas colonies, holding on to those colonies even in the face of indigenous resistance and, unlike its handling of continental territories, offering the new colonies no pathway toward equal statehood and citizenship. The Filipino Insurrection of 1899 to 1902 provides a particularly unsettling episode in terms of how Americans generally like to remember their past. Having driven the Spanish out of the Philippines, the US ignored the Filipinos’ demand for independence, for which they had been fighting against the Spanish for several years, and instead took possession of the islands, treating the Filipinos as colonial subjects. For several years, Americans and Filipinos fought over the destiny of the Philippines in a brutal conflict which cost the lives of hundreds of thousands—perhaps even more than a million—Filipino civilians. 

American Imperialism combined the expansionist ideology that propelled Americans from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans with a desire to become a world power as well as the need for new markets and raw materials to feed the growing industrial base. Inspired by Alfred Thayer Mahan’s concept of sea power, Americans began to look outside their borders for the means to grow their global political influence. Fueled by the technological innovations and cheap labor of the Industrial Revolution, American industry looked abroad for new markets and access to natural resources. Unlike in previous periods, the United States pursued territorial expansion through the acquisition of imperial possessions with no intention of offering a path to statehood. An early and vociferous proponent of American Imperialism, Theodore Roosevelt aggressively and effectively promoted the cause through initiatives like the construction of the Panama Canal and the demonstration of American military power embodied by the Great White Fleet. With the articulation of the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine, Roosevelt claimed the US right to keep European powers out of Latin America through the use of military force. 

Resources: All outside sources for this assignment, primary and secondary, need to come from JSTOR, a database available through the Ashford University Online Library. Before beginning your research into JSTOR, review the resources from Week One about the differences between primary and secondary sources:

  1. BeamLibrary. (2009, September 23).  Primary, secondary, tertiary sources . [Video file]. Retrieved from http://youtu.be/L5DdedR_iF8
  2. Review the How to Research Primary Sources and How to Research Secondary Sources in the Ashford Writing Center located in the Learning Resources tab in the left navigation bar.

Draw from material in the following video for a discussion of American foreign policy generally:

  1. (2001). America becomes a world power [Television series episode]. In America in the 20th Century. New York, NY: Films for the Humanities & Sciences. Retrieved from http://digital.films.com/OnDemandEmbed.aspx?Token=36214&aid=18596&Plt=FOD&loid=0&w=640&h=480&ref=

Instructions: After reviewing your Instructor’s Guidance and completing the weekly reading assignments (including those in the resource section below), please post a substantive discussion post of at least 200 words that analyzes American Imperialism in either the Philippines or Latin America, using the following questions as the basis of your analysis: 

  • How did American foreign policy become more interventionist (aggressive) from the 1890s into the twentieth century? 
  • What issues led to the Filipino Insurrection? How was this conflict perceived in the United States? 
  • What arguments did Americans use to justify their colonization of the Philippines? What arguments were used against colonization? 
  • Why did the U.S. want to build a canal across Central America? How did the U.S. eventually accomplish this? 
  • What is the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine, and how was it used to justify imperialism? 
  • In your opinion, which branch of the service, the Army or the Navy was more influential in this period of imperialism? Why?

Your initial post should be at least 200 words in length. Support your claims with examples from the required material(s) and properly cite any references. You may use additional scholarly sources to support your points if you choose. 

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