Stockman's History Extravaganza
A LOT To Cover
Toward the end of the 19th century, a growing number of people in the U.S. believed in imperialism. They believed the U.S. needed to look beyond its own borders to acquire overseas colonies.
There was also a growing sense among many that the U.S. needed to expand in order to maintain national security. In 1890, it was thought that the U.S. must build a powerful navy if it ever hoped to be a world power. Just ten years later the U.S. had one of the most powerful navies in the world.
Many in the country felt it was the pioneer spirit of the early settlers that had made the U.S. great .Frederick Jackson Turner proclaimed that the frontier had played a vital role in forming the American character. He appealed to nationalism and argued that expansion was essential to maintain U.S. spirit and keep the country strong.
Some leaders pushed the Manifest Destiny, They saw it as their responsibility to take democracy to the rest of the world.They often appealed to Social Darwinism to justify U.S. imperialism. This was the idea that taught “survival of the fittest”.
No Man Is an Island
While more and more U.S. citizens and leaders wanted imperialism, others preached
isolationism. They believe it to be not in the best interest of the U.S. to acquire and exercise control of foreign countries. They believed it would eventually pull the U.S.
into foreign conflicts.
The Colour Yellow
In the late 1800's, the island of Cuba was still under Spanish rule. In 1895, the Cuban people rebelled, Spain sent 15,000 troops to restore order. As part of their strategy, the Spanish relocated thousands of Cuban citizens to concentration camps where many Cubans died.
Pressure mounted for the U.S. to intervene. Competing newspapers printed stories about the Spanish abuses against the Cubans. Often these stories were untrue and were meant to sell papers. This brand of journalism became known as
La Guerra Americana Española
The Spanish-American War officially began as a result of what happened on February 15, 1898.A U.S. battleship , the USS Maine exploded while anchored in a Cuban harbor.
The newspapers immediately blamed Spain, and the U.S. citizens demanded war. Although it was later determined the explosion was an accident, Congress adopted a resolution.
The U.S. declared war on Spain in April 1898.
Upon hearing of the declaration of war, U.S. Commodore George Dewey set sail for another Spanish colony –the Philippines. Dewey destroyed the Spanish fleet there and seized control of the Philippine Islands.
Meanwhile in Cuba, Theodore Roosevelt led the Rough Riders in bold charges up Kettle and San Juan hills. This became the most famous incident of the war and helped the U.S. achieve victory over the Spanish. In less than 3 months, the U.S. had defeated Spain in both Cuba and the Philippines.
A Bunch of Countries
The Spanish American officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Paris. Attached to the resolution with Spain was the Teller Amendment (would not annex the territory but would have a military base there).In 1900 when Cubans began drafting their own constitution, the U.S. continued to exercise its influence. They insisted that the document include the Platt Amendment (put limits on what the Cuban government could do, and gave the U.S. two naval bases in Cuba.)The Platt agreement stayed in effect until the early 1930's. Meanwhile Puerto Rico became a U.S. territory.
The Philippines caused more controversy and division after the Spanish American war. People understood reasons for occupying Cuba but not the Philippines. Those who opposed expansion argued that annexing the Philippines would undermine democracy. Some even joined the Anti-Imperialist League financed by Andrew Carnegie. Roosevelt and others however saw the Philippines as crucial for protecting U.S. economies. Finally in 1902, due to debate in Washington and resistance by the Filipinos, the Philippines became an unorganized territory of the U.S. In 1946, the Philippines officially became an independent nation.
The end of the 19th century marked a new era in U.S. foreign policy. The U.S. entered the 20th century hoping to expand its trade with China. Fearing that imperial powers would try and gain control over Chinese exports and markets, the U.S. insisted on an Open Door Policy. This would leave China open for U.S. trade and commerce. Some Chinese nationalists wanted to bring an end to foreign influence in china altogether. Known as the Boxers, these nationalists massacred 300 foreigners and Chinese Christians in 1900 to launch the Boxer Rebellion.
Following the assassination of President William McKinley in 1901, Theodore Roosevelt became president. In order to enable U.S. ships to move quickly between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, Roosevelt a canal across the Isthmus of Panama. This canal would serve the U.S. military and economic interests by allowing ships to travel between U.S. territories in the Pacific.
In 1903, the Panamanian people revolted against the Colombians, Roosevelt responded by providing U.S. naval support that helped Panamanians win their independence. In return the U.S. was able to lease the land for the canal. It was completed in 1914.
By the 1900's, the U.S. was becoming a major player in world affairs. In 1904, President Roosevelt issued the Roosevelt Corollary; it was a statement which expanded on the Monroe doctrine. Roosevelt modified the doctrine by saying the U.S. had the right to intervene in the region if a nation had trouble paying its debts.
This doctrine became known as Roosevelt’s “big stick diplomacy”. It meant that the U.S. did not intend on being a threatening presence in the Western Hemisphere but neither would it hesitate to forcefully protect its own interests
Following Roosevelt, President William Taft sought to substitute money for bullets. He promoted foreign policy known as “dollar diplomacy”. He believed that the U.S. could best maintain order in nations abroad by increasing U.S. foreign investments.
As a result, his administration encouraged U.S. bankers to invest in Latin America and the Caribbean and wired U.S. financial help to China to finance railroads. Taft’s policy sometime meant huge losses for U.S. businesses. It also created enemies among some Latin people who opposed U.S. involvement and resented U.S. efforts to buy influence in the region.
Another POTUS....Another Idea
In 1913, President Woodrow Wilson succeeded Taft and renounced dollar diplomacy. Instead he advocated what came to be known as missionary diplomacy. Wilson based his foreign policy on the idealistic view that it was the role of the U.S. to promote democracy and moral progress in the world. Unfortunately for Wilson, however events abroad soon tested his convictions.
In 1915, when a series of assassinations and revolutions rocked the nation of Haiti, Wilson sent in the U.S. marines to protect U.S. property and banking interests. Fearing the U.S. intended to make the country a territory, the Haitians responded violently. Following a series of bloody skirmishes, the Haitian government ended the violence with a treaty that made Haiti a protectorate but not a territory of the U.S.