The United States has had a long history of being a powerful country. Up until early in the twentieth century, the US had used its power to colonize and find new areas for American citizens to occupy, as well as develop cities and new economies. [Jacob Rhyne, Socy Berty] But around 1900, their ideals changed, and the power was no longer used for the good of the people. A sort of greed took place, and America was reaching for new lands to trade with and searched to build up a wall of defense and superiority around the rest of the world. The actions the US took around the turn of the century proved that we have no doubt been an empire in our history.

A few things can drive a country to become an empire. An empire being of course one country that controls other countries or occupies and dominates areas that are not theirs. An empire seeks to subordinate original governments and influence native customs with American ideas. In the time around 1900, the US had a thirst for power and supremacy. We wanted to be the utmost powerful and most advanced in trading and technology. Competition sped across the globe as new resources were found and new ideas came about to support and raise economies. More markets began to form and with the world starting to flourish came a mad rush to the top. The US needed to show the world it was serious about its matters. Our military forces needed to be strengthened and reinforced to show we meant business. Besides the fact that the United States was reaching for new territory and places of trade and commerce, we also felt inclined to spread our culture along, too.

The belief was to spread as much of our foundation as we could, and good things would follow for our standing in the world. [L. Patrick, Austin CC]

            Early on, America began by purchasing Alaska from Russia in 1867. It did not become a state until after gold was discovered in 1896, when US opinions changed on the value of the land. The US began taking advantage of its natural resources and is now our largest state. [Unknown, History Channel] America eventually took over Hawaii as well, after keeping a number of plantations and laborers there for years. The Hawaiian government, which was strongly for a land for the natives, was eventually overthrown and a new government took place under Sanford B. Dole. In 1898 Hawaii was official American territory, even though the natives never had a say in whether or not the US should be allowed to take over the area.

In 1898, the US had much interest in Cuba. Cuba wanted its independence from Spain, and when it rebelled, America helped a great deal in helping Cuba battle Spain’s influences. [Robert A. Devine, America Past and Present] While in progress with lending a “helping hand” to Cuba, the US got itself a pretty good deal, and ended up taking advantage of Cuban land and investing millions of dollars into sugar cane plantations. In 1901 the Platt Amendment was formed, which included such provisions as the US letting itself impede into Cuba whenever it felt, and that the US could use Cuban land for military stations. Eventually, America took over the Philippine Islands as well after US naval forces occupied the area over Spanish ships. [Robert A. Devine, America Past and Present] This was a good example of the US extending its boundaries and taking American constitution terms to territories outside North America. In addition to the US involving itself in Cuban and Spanish issues, it eventually occupied Puerto Rico, which was important for retaining American influence in the Caribbean, and for holding the land so future canals and trade routes could be built.  China was also under America’s belt after the Open Door Policy was created by McKinley, which made sure that no other country got ahead in trading with China.           

             Roosevelt and Wilson’s diplomacy ideals of using force when we need to, protecting our land and keeping our duty of invading other countries when they do wrong definitely gave the US and imperialistic tone. [Greg Russell, High Beam Research] By about 1917, the US was in fact a full-blown empire, after economic and social reasons convinced the US to attain as much land possible and expand into new territories and markets. It was not our “duty” to help countries that did not need our help, and it was unmoral of the US to expand and take advantage of countries for satisfaction and power, but America still proved itself to be imperialistic through its desire for domination and beliefs of Social Darwinism and American strength.  


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