Rise of American Empire

Rise of American


The American Empire started taking shape
when the U.S. started enforcing the Monroe Doctrine in 1895, to assert
its control over Latin America. America was just starting to build a navy
that could compete with other world powers.

It wouldn’t have the chance to show off
these powers until the Spanish-American War. America was outraged
with the inhumain way, Spain was treating the Cubans. Civilians were being
locked up in prison camps and dying by the thousands, as punishment
for a Cuban guerrilla revolt. The Sinking of the U.S. Battleship The Maine
further infuriated the American pubic and Spain declared war on April 24,

1898. The fist battle was fought across the world in the Philippines. On

May 1st 1898 Commordore Dewey’s fleet cornered the Spanish fleet in Manila

Bay and destroyed it. With this decisive victory America saw its chance
to gain a valuable foothold in the Asian market by controlling the Philippines.

Hawaii was annexed within months due to it being the halfway point to the

Philippines, Americas empire was growing faster than anyone predicted.

Spain eventually surrendered in Cuba, giving it up, and ceded Puerto Rico
and Guam to the United States.

Before the war America wanted Europe to
know it had no intention of fighting this war to gain territory.

On the other hand, when war came McKinley saw it as a opportunity. During
the war he wrote privately "While we are conducting war and until its conclusion,
we must keep all we get; when the war is over we must keep what we want"
(McKinley 593).

At home the public didn’t advocate colonial
rule over large populations, such as the Philippines, it was European-style
imperialism. Spain ceded The Philippines to the U.S. for 20 million dollars
in the Treaty of Paris. The treaty was barley ratified in February 1899,
by the Senate in a two-thirds vote with one to spare. The Senates indecisiveness
indicates the anti-expansionist, anti-empirical feelings of the American
public. Andrew Carnigie offered to buy Filipino freedom with a check
for 20 million dollars. Constitutionalists believe that the constitution
doesn’t support empire building.

The government didn’t want to give up control
of Philippines because they had the Progressive idea of "Manifest

Destiny" for the island. They thought the Filipinos were unfit for self
rule and white Anglo-Saxon ways were better. Also that the Filipino government
would collapse and that the Progressive idea of capitalism and democracy
could save them.

I would argue that U.S. involvement in

W.W.I was more Progressive than Imperialistic, but not in a purely Progressive
sense. Considering Progressives were highly opposed to the war, Republicans,

Democrats and the Populist Party all opposed our involvement. The American

Union against Militarism, and the Women’s Peace Party both denounced the
war and supported American neutrality at all costs. However, in President

Wilson’s declaration of war speech he attempts to sell Progressives on
the war by saying, our involvement will make the world "safe for democracy"
(Wilson 618). He also says by helping win the war, "we would earn
a place at the peace table, where it would spread the country’s democratic
ideas to the rest of the world" (Wilson 618). This is of course refers
to the underlying point in the Progressive idea of "Manifest Destiny"--our
moral duty to spread democracy and capitalism to the rest of the world.

Now these are just words that Wilson uses to gain support for the war,
but one could argue that they are both Progressive and empirical in nature.

The "Manifest Destiny" connection of the U.S.’s intentions in W.W.I
supports this. Progressive because Wilson says we are standing up for democracy
and helping people, by spreading democracy and capitalism around the world.

Imperialism because we are trying to force
our ideas of what’s right, on other nations. In the end however, I don’t
think American involvement in The Great War was clearly Imperialistic or

Progressive, more a mixture of both. If the Progressive’s had their way
we would have never entered the war, but necessity arose. Imperialists
and expansionists in this country, would likely oppose the war due to there
being no chance in acquiring new territories. Finally it came down
to us standing up to Germany, and showing the world that the U.S. is a
new world power, and major player in world affairs. That is what we did
by joining the war and setting the stage, for future global power structures.