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Causes And Effects Of U.S. Imperialism

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In analyzing the causes and effects of United States Imperialism from 1870 to 1916, one finds that there are three main factors. These major factors of United States Imperialism in this time period are: Hawaii, the Spanish-American war, and Theodore Roosevelt. In this time period Hawaiian islanders were very happy to live traditionally, but Americans were not content with the traditional ways of the Hawaiians (Buschini, n.pag.). Even though America seemed to be on the road to imperialism with Hawaii, the Spanish- American war actually set the United States on the new road of Imperialism (The Spanish American War n.pag.). Theodore Roosevelt played an important role in the United States road to imperialism in the 1870’s while serving as president. These three subjects all have given us many causes and effects, in dealing with United States Imperialism in 1870 to 1916.

Queen Liliuokalani and the Hawaiian islanders were very content, and Happy to live traditionally; the way that they always had before the Americans came along. Americans built huge plantations, railroads, dry-docks, banks, hotels, and stores. They soon dominated the Hawaiian economy and greatly influenced the government. Queen Liliuokalani was determined to eliminate the American influence in the Hawaiian government. As a new plan, Queen Liliuokalani tried to create a new constitution to strengthen the Hawaiian Monarchy, but her cabinet refused. American residents were outraged and organized the committee of safety and appointed annexation members as its leaders. On January 17, 1893, armed members attacked, and took over the government office building to read a proclamation abolishing monarchy, and naming Sanford B. Dole president (Buschini, n.pag.).

All of this was done, because in the mid-19th century United States owned sugar plantations equaled three quarters of the island’s wealth. Foreigners and immigrant workers outnumbered Hawaiians. The McKinley tariff resulted in competition of Hawaiian sugar growers in the American market. Therefore, American planters in Hawaii called for the United States to annex the islands (Danzer, 366,367).

The Spanish-American war definitely set the United States on the road to imperialism. In the beginning, Captain Alfred T. Mahan argued that future national security depended on a large Navy supported by bases around the world. After many incidents leading up to what could only be war the USS Maine exploded in Havana harbor on February 15, 1898 (The Spanish American War n.pag.). “Though Spain was willing to make large concessions to avoid war, it adamantly resisted what had become the minimum and official US demand”Spanish withdrawal from Cuba and recognition of the island’s independence (The Spanish American War n.pag.).” Overall, this says that the United States wanted Cuba to gain its independence so that they did not have to deal with Spain anymore.

In mid April 1898, congress authorized McKinley to use armed forces to expel the Spanish from Cuba. On April 20, 1898 the United States went to war with Spain. George Dewey then decided that he wanted to leave his mark in this war. So, on May 1, 1898 he destroyed a Spanish flotilla in the harbor of Manila in the Philippines. The fighting was finally over by august 12 when a preliminary peace treaty was signed. McKinley then forced the Spanish to “sell” the Philippines to the United States for Twenty Million dollars (The Spanish American War n.pag.).

Theodore Roosevelt was assistant secretary of state in 1898 when news of the Maine being blown up reached his office. Teddy Roosevelt hoped that President McKinley would order the US Naval fleet to Havana. He believed that the Maine was sunk “by an act of dirty treachery on the part of the Spaniards. Teddy ended up being correct. A naval board decided that the Maine was destroyed by a submarine mine of unknown origin (Hutton, n.pag.).

When Roosevelt came into office, he liked the potential commercial and strategic opportunities that could come from America’s venture into the Pacific. He could not see how any man could be anything but expansionist (Theodore Roosevelt, n.pag.). We see in this that Teddy Roosevelt is now turning towards imperialism in his thinking about America’s venture into the pacific. Teddy decided that in order to obtain friendly relations with Japan, he needed to cultivate a balance of power between Japan and Russia. By mediating the end to the Russo-Japanese war Theodore Roosevelt earned the Nobel Peace Prize (Theodore Roosevelt, n.pag.). The Nobel Peace Prize was just a perk in Teddy Roosevelt’s plan to obtain friendly relations with Japan. He wanted friendly relations with Japan so that he could successfully
set the United States on the road to Imperialism.

Hawaii, The Spanish American war, and Teddy Roosevelt all contributed to Imperialism in the United States. Some more than others, but consequently they seemed to come out even. The intention was not exactly for the United States to be put on the road to Imperialism, but as a result, it was indeed set on that road.

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