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American Imperialism

America moves beyond the North American continent.

Robert Baker

on 8 January 2016

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Transcript of American Imperialism

Panama – fever ridden swamps
Nicaragua – longer
France had a plan that the U.S. decided to follow, but Columbia would not sign off on the plan
U.S. took advantage of Panamanian rebels in the North and the unstable political situation in Columbia
U.S. warships blocked Colombian troops from using sea lanes to put down rebellion
Panama declared independence Nov. 1903
Three days later, the U.S. signed a treaty with Panama officials to build a canal
Canal construction began in 1904
Very difficult

Panama Canal

Weak, dominated by European powers
Sec. of State John Hay established the"Open Door Policy" with China
Privilege to trade with China would remain open to all nations
Boxer Rebellion – fight with foreigners
McKinley sent 5,000 troops to help other European powers put down the rebellion
China was forced to pay reparations afterward.

Foraker Act in 1900
Gave Puerto Rico a government
By 1952 Puerto Rico became a self-governing commonwealth

Puerto Rico
Cuba recognized as independent
Spain ceded to America:
Puerto Rico
The Philippines (for a token $20 million)

Treaty of Paris, 1898


Big Stick Policy
Roosevelt, as President, feared European involvement in the West - wanted to protect U.S. interests
He issued the The Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine
In 1902, Great Britain and Germany threatened to invade Venezuela over the nation's inability to pay back loans
Roosevelt reminded both that the U.S. held to the Monroe Doctrine - and that the U.S. would oversee the collection of debts owed by Latin American countries to Europeans
What the Roosevelt Corollary means:
The U.S. would intervene in Latin America to prevents its takeover by other nations
Negotiations were key - but if they failed, the military would be used to enforce
"Speak soft and carry a big stick"

“Speak softly and carry a big stick”
Panama Canal

Following the war, the U.S. was in position to take advantage of markets throughout Latin America - centerpiece of this would be the construction of a trans-oceanic canal.
Three Reasons why:
shorten sailing time between east and west coast
facilitate the faster movement of naval assets from ocean to ocean
Protect U.S. Holdings in the Pacific
Clayton-Bulwer Treaty
US & Britain would not build a canal unless each country was involved
Where should the canal be built?
Columbia (Panama)?

Panama Canal
William Taft served as governor
Improved schools and hospitals
Americans promised independence
WW2 delayed it until 1946
US Army swelled from 30k to 220,000
Mostly volunteers which had to be trained, clothed, armed, and transported to Cuba
Teddy Roosevelt resigned as Sec. of Navy to go to war
Became cavalry officer
“Rough Riders”
U.S. fleet blockaded Cuba - trapped and destroyed Spain's Atlantic fleet
On Land:
Spain's army was better armed and had more experience
American advance slowed to a crawl - allowed Spanish to fortify the hills around Santiago de Cuba
Determined, the U.S. Army assaulted the hills
Four regiments of "Buffalo Soldiers" (African-American Troops) and Teddy Roosevelt's 'Rough Riders' took the hills
Meanwhile, other American units captured Puerto Rico

The Spanish American War

The New York Journal published the De Lome Letter
a private letter written by Enrique de Lome, Spanish minister to the U.S.
it criticized President McKinley - called him "weak"
Americans were outraged
Public opinion forced President McKinley into a war with Spain
Teddy Roosevelt (Sec. of Navy) also eyed the Philippines
Battle of Manila Bay (Philippines)
He had already postured the Pacific fleet for the attack
When war broke out - the US captured Manila and destroyed the Spanish fleet

War Begins

"Remember The Maine!"

American Exceptionalism
“We’re better than you” attitude

Expanding America’s Boundaries

Restricted Cuba's ability to conduct foreign policy
Made foreign diplomacy and commercial agreements difficult
US could intervene in Cuba, demanded Cuba to allow the U.S. to buy or lease land
Treaty later gave US a naval base
Guantanamo Bay

The Platt Amendment

The War in the Philippines (1899-1902)
Cuba belonged to Spain
Cuban revolted in 1895 against the Spanish
Spain responded with brutality.
McKinley sent the U.S.S. Maine to protect Americans
In part because of the brutal treatment of Cuban rebels
Spain's Reconcentrado Policy - "The Cuban Holocaust"
Mostly because, America had business interests in Cuba
Sugar Cane Plantations

Washington’s farewell speech?
Monroe Doctrine
France tried to colonize during the Civil War

Foreign policy of non-intervention militarily
Economic protection


February 15th, 1898 the Maine exploded
266 out of 350 die
Nobody is sure what happened at the time
U.S. Newspapers demanded actions - blamed Spain
"Yellow Journalism"
Journalists Hearst and Pulitzer exaggerated events in Cuba
Including the Maine
Battle cry for war begins:
“Remember the Maine. To Hell with Spain!”

Climate made it difficult
Very hot
Mosquitoes carried yellow fever
Construction took 10 years and cost $400 million
Completed in 1914

A New Type of Diplomacy:
First War on Film
Reasons for expansion:
additional markets and want of raw materials
desire for military strength
belief in cultural superiority
Military Strength
Admiral Alfred T. Mahan of the U.S. Navy
urged government officials to build up naval power to compete with other nations
Between 1883-1890 the U.S. built nine steel hulled cruisers
The U.S. became the 3rd largest naval power in the world
First battles of the Spanish-American War took place in the Philippines
Debate: Should the U.S. expand or respect Filipino independence?
The U.S. did not want to see a weak nation fall to another power (European or Japan)
Filipino freedom fighters fought back
1902, the U.S. defeated Filipino guerrilla forces and administered the islands
General Wheeler - From the Civil War to the Philippines
1893 - a group of American businessmen led a revolt in Hawaii and petitioned to become part of the U.S.
Congress debated and rejected it
However, the naval base at Pearl Harbor had already been leased by the U.S.
during the Spanish-American War, the base proved invaluable
Congress revisited the matter and annexed Hawaii in 1898
Invoking the Corollary
The U.S. intervened in:
The Dominican Republic in 1904
Nicaragua in 1912
Haiti in 1915
The policy pleased U.S. businessmen but angered Latin Americans
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