What is Imperialism?

Imperialism is a policy of extending a country’s power and influence through diplomacy or military force. In 1776, America got its independence from Great Britain and America wanted to take over more land. America had reasons for getting involved in Imperialism. President McKinley knew that in order to be a world power, we needed to have land beyond our borders that we could control. All of the other countries had colonies beyond their borders and if we wanted to be viewed the same way as the other countries, we needed to get colonies.

One of the major political acts of American Imperialism was the Monroe doctrine. The Monroe doctrine was a United States foreign policy regarding domination of the Americas in 1823. It stated that if the Europeans interfered with any land that belonged to the United States, that it would be taken as a threat or as acts of aggression requiring for the United States to intervene. President James Monroe first stated the doctrine during his seventh-annual state of the union address to Congress. He said in the state of the union address that “America needs to become a world power”, so America took it upon themselves to gain colonies like the Philippines, Cuba, Germany, Austria, Korea and Japan.

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Another major political act was both the Platt and the Teller Amendment.
Those amendments both helped give Cuba their own space, but they also had limits. It allowed the United States to intervene on Cuban independence, the Cuban government, and protection of Cuban lives, property and individual liberty. The Platt Amendment helped change the United States because the conditions prohibited the Cuban Government from entering into any international treaty that would compromise Cuban independence or allow foreign powers to use the island for military purposes.

The United States already viewed itself as the major power of the Western Hemisphere, as shown by the Monroe Doctrine. The United States fought the Spanish-American War to help Cuban rebels, when in reality it was to make sure that American economic interests were secured on the island. The United States also needed to find more land for more opportunities for factories and trading because the United States needed a better economy at the time.

The Spanish-American War began on April 21, 1898 and the United States decided to fight Spain for control of the Spanish colony of Cuba. Cuban Rebels had been fighting there since 1895 for their independence from Spain. In April 1898, the United States declared war on Spain to end the revolution, which was hurting American business on the island. The United States said it wanted to secure freedom for Cuban civilians, who were dying by the thousands in Spanish concentration camps. Many Americans however, wanted to acquire Cuba and its rich farming economy.

The reasons for war were many, but there were two immediate ones. One was America’s support of the ongoing struggle by Cubans and Filipinos against Spanish rule, and the other one was the mysterious explosion of the battleship U.S.S. Maine in Havana Harbor. Imperialism was supported by the Manifest Destiny, which is “a belief that territorial expansion by the United States was both inevitable and divinely ordained”, or in lamest terms the United States believed that it was there right to conquer land anywhere when they believed it should be conquered. In order to allow Imperialism to spread, many referred to manifest destiny or they persuaded citizens and other countries that it was all right to spread American policies and show that America was a dominant and Imperialistic country.

Imperialism was a time that America went through to become a world power. Is America wrong for becoming a world power? America is not wrong for becoming a world power because if not for Imperialism, we would not be where we are today. Imperialism has helped America in many ways and it will keep helping America going forward.

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