Imperialism is the plan of expanding nationals’ authority by acquisition of territories, or setting up economic control over other nations. American Imperialism is attributed to economic, cultural, and political factors that influence the United States. Therefore, the following paragraphs focus on how Americans adopted imperialism in the 19th century, using all means such as surrogates to take over other countries, and how many unpopular or underdeveloped countries survived through their support.
In the 19th century, Americans came up with the idea of expansion – the west part began to purchase Louisiana, and the practice continued throughout the mid century. This raised constitutional issues about legality of land purchase. By the end of civil war, all the lower 48 states on the continent of North America were owned by the United States.
From the early years of 19th century up to the civil war, Northern American boarders were to be expanded according to the plan and debates. Events about the expansion created conflict between those that advocated for it and the ones in the opposition.
Todd (2004) asserts that United States imperialized other countries to the aim of economic benefits. Affordable labor and raw materials came from foreign countries which were meant to stimulate the America’s economy. Overseas territories were lined up with cheap labor force which allowed American’s goods to be made at a lower cost. Furthermore, America was seeking adventures in foreign countries claiming that it was a big nation and needed to do outdoor tasks of the world.
Similarly, newspaper editors increased their profits while raising public support for the imperialism in America, and nationalism contributed to the occurrence of imperialism. The nationalists called themselves jingoists, and maintained that their country was like European nations. Consequently, Americans protected its new existing territories especially the overseas territories and acquired Alaska, Midway Island, Hawaii, the Alleutian Islands, Guam, and Samoa, which extended its perimeter.
Religion was also a driving force to imperialism because missionaries wanted to convert people from their target foreign land by convincing them that they had a better religion. Missionaries Christianized the Hawaii Island, and they discovered it was an excellent sugar growing land. Their search for, and exploitation of raw materials was extended to South Africa which was rich with goldmines and diamonds, and India which had silk (Immerman, 2010).
Later, American imperialism extended to Cuba, Puerto Rico and Philippine Islands in 1899; Puerto Rico and Philippines turned out to be American colonies. The Filipinos rebelled against American rule in February 1899, and were restrained in 1902 after guerilla war. They formed Ant imperialist League since they viewed imperialism as hostile to liberty (Halsall, 1997).
Consequently, in early 20th century, writers like Charles Beard conferred that American Policy was being driven by self concern – the US did not change its foreign policy after the cold war, and was mainly focused to enlarge its control across the world.
In conclusion, even if the present world is controlled by the United States, the action depicted by the dominance is no longer imperial; its power is based on soft power which is cultural, rather than monetary force. This is observed by the widespread desire to migrate to the US and the high intake of foreign students at America’s learning institutions. The other factor is the spread of U.S music, styles, and movies. The US is viewed by some countries as the most dangerous world imperialist, but in the real sense no matter how powerful, it is no longer considered as an empire.
Halsall, P. (1997, August). American Anti-Imperialist League, 1899. Modern History Sourcebook. Retrieved from http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/1899antiimp.html
Immerman, R. H. (2010). Empire for Liberty: A History of American Imperialism from Benjamin Franklin to Paul Wolfowitz. New Jersey: Princeton University Press.
Todd, E. (2004). After the Empire: The Breakdown of American Order. New York: Columbia University Press.