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Chapter 21, Henretta
IMPERIALISM & IDEALISM, 1877 to 1918
Important strands in Chapter 21
1. Where should America expand next?
The United States had been expanding since before its
creation as a country. As the 19th Century drew to a close, and
the country extended from Atlantic to Pacific, “Manifest
Destiny” turned into “American exceptionalism,” the idea that
the United States’s unique virtues gave it the responsibility to
move elsewhere on the globe. The only question was where to
expand next – and what kind of expansion it would be.
2. William Seward’s Prescient Idea
Lincoln’s secretary of state (and the man who insisted on
buying Alaska in 1867) foresaw in the 1860s that America’s
further growth as a powerful country depended on access to
global markets for its goods. His ideas were too advanced for
his own time, but they began to become popular in the 1890s.
Important strands in Chapter 21
3. A new kind of empire
European powers in the 19th Century had actively taken over
parts of Africa and Asia as colonies; the U.S. did a little of that
(Puerto Rico, the Philippines, Hawaii) but more often
pressured “independent” nations into doing what Washington
wanted them to do (as in Cuba, Japan, China, Panama and
elsewhere). The U.S. needed markets for its manufactured
goods and refueling stations for its modern, dominant navy.
Important strands in Chapter 21
4. Wars, skirmishes and rebellions
The United States used its military weight to get its way in
many parts of the globe between the 1870s and America’s
entry into World War I in 1917:
Cuba, Hawaii, Philippines, Puerto Rico (War of 1898)
China (Boxer Rebellion, 1900)
Panama (Panama’s rebellion against Colombia, 1903)
Mexico (Invasion of Veracruz, Villa raids, 1914-1916)
In each case, the U.S. acquired the territory, ports or access to
markets that in wanted, even though each use of force was
launched on a different pretext, often on humanitarian
grounds.
Important strands in Chapter 21
5. World War I: A Real World Power
Since George Washington, U.S. leaders had tried to remain
aloof from European conflicts, but we were drawn gradually
into World War I by 1917. It transformed the United States:
• A booming wartime economy
• “Great Migration” to the North for wartime jobs
• Government involved in all areas of life
• Crackdown on speech and civil liberties
• Women’s suffrage as a “war measure”
• Power-broker in Treaty of Versailles
• Taking Progressivism abroad: Wilson’s Fourteen Points
Important strands in Chapter 21
6. … And in the rest of the world
From here on out, U.S. history is also about what’s happening
in the rest of the world, in which the U.S. is inextricably
involved.
• Rise of Japan as the first non-European world power
• Instability in Latin America
• Treaty of Versailles, ending World War I – one of the great,
unmitigated disasters of world history, setting up a second
world war (in which the U.S. would fight) as well as
colonial wars of the 1960s