American imperialism in the late 1800's was a break in American foreign policy. America has always wanted to expand the country. In the 1880's, many people thought that America should join countries such as England and set up colonies overseas. Imperialism is when a bigger, stronger country wants to control other smaller and weaker territories.At that time, imperialism was a trend around the world. America became an imperialist nation because of economic reasons, militery interests,and cultural superiority.
Leaders of the economy said that expanding the country would increase the nations wealth. William Seward purchased Alaska from Russia. Everyone criticized him for it. They would call Alaska "Seward's Icebox", or they would call it, "Polar Bear Garden". As it turns out, the purchase of Alaska turned out to be a bargain for the country. After the purchase of Alaska, Seward looked for more territories to gain.
One of the territories he considered buying were the Hawaiian Islands.
During the early 1800's, missionaries from the United States went to Hawaii to try to convert people to Christianity. Their descendents started sugar plantations. The planters conquered Hawaii's financial system by the late 1800's. The Queen thought that the planters had too much authority. So, she thought that she should try to limit their power. Meanwhile, in the United States, the trade laws were changed to support sugar grown completely in American states. The American planters that lived in Hawaii were upset that they had changed the law not to their advantage. In 1893 the planters rebelled. They overthrew Queen Liliuokalani and arranged their own regime. After that, they asked the States to annex them into the US. When the president at the time, which was President Benjamin Harrison, heard the planters demand he approved and sent the treaty to the Senate. But Grover Cleveland became the president before the Senate could act on the treaty. He withdrew the treaty because he thought that the planters' actions were awful.
Foreign policy experts insisted that US leaders should set up a military presence out of the country. Hawaii's Pearl Harbor became the naval base for the United States. it was a refueling station for American military and merchant ships headed to Asia. This was one of the reasons that Hawaii was annexed into the United States. The other reason was for economic reasons.
Cultural superiority was when you thought that other cultures, or races, or religions were inferior to your own race, religion, or culture. America took some islands so they could spread Christianity to other countries. America thought that it was their duty to help Cuba and the other territories because they knew how it felt to not be free.
Spain was an imperialist country. They had many colonies, such as Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippine Islands. The people that lived in these colonies wanted their independence. Cuba hade rebelled against Spain a couple of times in the middle of the nineteenth century. But the Spanish beat them every time. The rebellions in Cuba worried the United States. Because of the fighting going on in Cuba, the trade going to the United States was interrupted. The president in 1898 was William McKinley and he said that he didn't want to go to war with Spain. But he had no choice but to go to war with them. In January of 1989, President McKinley sent the ship the U.S.S. Maine to Cuba. The next month, the ship blew up, killing 260 sailors. They still don't know why the ship blew up today, but some people think it was an accident. But some Americans still blamed Spain for it. In April of 1989 the president signed a congressional resolution that stated that Cuba was free and ordered Spain to remove their military.
There was another war in the Philippine Islands. They also rebelled against Spain in the 1890's. Theodore Roosevelt was secretary of the navy at the time. Roosevelt put a navy of ships in Hong Kong ready to act. In the battle of Manila, Commodore George Dewey, army destroyed Spain's army. In this war, no Americans were harmed, but about 380 Spanish sailors were either dead or injured. Four months after the war started, two hundred thousand more people joined the US Army.
Theodore Roosevelt helped arrange the First United States Volunteer Cavalry. The called it the Rough Riders. Everybody joined it; some of those people were cowboys, miners, college students, New York policemen, athletes, and Native Americans. By June, 16,000 other solders with the Rough Riders went to Tampa, Florida. After that they went to Santiago, which was in southern Cuba. When the solders got there, they came down with tropical diseases. But they kept on fighting. On July 1, they attacked the Spanish. On July 17, the city gave up. The U.S. military took Puerto Rico. In August of 1898, Spain signed a truce.
The war had been fought over Cuba in the beginning, but after the war, the Americans wanted the Spanish to give up Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippine Islands. Spain gave up all their colonies. America wanted to keep the territories for themselves. But they fought for their freedom and they soon got it. Only Puerto Rico became an American territory.
Imperialism grew in America because of three major reasons- the first reasons are economic interests, the second reasons are military interests, and the last reason is cultural superiority. If we hadn't become an imperialist nation, then we would have never gotten the islands of Hawaii or Alaska. We also helped the Cubans and Philippines to gain their freedom and got Puerto Rico as a territory too. Imperialism was a much better foreign policy than the Monroe Doctrine.