The United States role in World Affairs In the 19th and 20th Centuries

Essay by scojop October 2004

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The United States has been a major player in world affairs over the last two centuries. In the years following its War of Independence, its policies tended to be isolationist, but over the centuries it has been transformed, mainly by trade and economic imperatives, into a superpower that exerts military, economic and cultural domination over much of the rest of the world. The following essay will outline some of the main events of this period.

The Monroe Doctrine was a statement of United States policy on the activities and rights of European powers in the western hemisphere. It was made by President James Monroe on December 2, 1823. Monroe asserted that European powers could no longer colonise the American continents and that they should not interfere with the newly-independent Spanish American republics. He specifically warned Europeans against attempting to impose monarchy on independent American nations, but added that the United States would not interfere in existing European colonies or in Europe itself.

For the most part, the United States did abide by this policy, but the outbreak of the Spanish American War did rather contradict it

The Spanish American War came about because of American anger over Spanish actions in Cuba. On April 19, 1898, Congress demanded that Spain withdraw from Cuba, and authorised the president to use force to evict the Spanish from Cuba. This was considered to be a declaration of war against Spain. In the Spanish-American War that ensued, the United States won a decisive victory. The Treaty of Paris, which concluded the conflict on December 10, 1898, provided for the independence of Cuba and secession to the U.S. by Spain of Puerto Rico and Guam, as well as the Philippines.

On the outbreak of war in Europe, President Woodrow Wilson formally proclaimed the neutrality of...