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The student will explain America’s
evolving relationship with the world
at the turn of the 20th century
14.a- Explain the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and antiAsian immigration sentiments on the west coast.
By the 1880s, approximately 100,000 Chinese immigrants lived in the U.S., mostly
in the West. Some had immigrated as early as the 1840s, during the California gold
rush, with another influx in the 1860s- to help complete the transcontinental
Strong anti-Chinese sentiment was prevalent throughout the West, especially
among labor organizations who argued that the Chinese undercut native-born,
American labor.
In California, an anti-Chinese political party (Workingman’s Party) gained seats in
the legislature, and helped to make anti-Chinese immigration a national issue.
In 1882, Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, which prevented Chinese
immigration as well as denying citizenship to those already in the U.S. Originally
adopted for 10 years, it was renewed in 1892, and made permanent in 1902. The
act was not repealed until 1943.
During the height of the Anti-Chinese movement in the 1880s, terror tactics and
outright brutal violence were not uncommon. The most infamous of these antiChinese episodes was at Rock Springs, WY. In 1885, a group of miners attacked a
Chinese mining settlement, burning 150 houses, killing 28 and wounding many
14.b- Describe the Spanish-American War , the war in the
Philippines, and the debate over American expansionism
The Spanish-American War (1898) was an important turning point for the U.S. It
was a radical departure from the isolationist foreign policy of the preceding
century, and marked the real emergence of the U.S. as a world power.
The central issue between the United States and Spain revolved around Cuba.
Several attempted rebellions had been brutally repressed by the Spanish, and
support for Cuban independence grew steadily in the last decades of the 1800s.
In 1895, Cuban rebels captured half the island and established the Republic of
Cuba. The U.S. was officially neutral, but many openly supported military support
and intervention for Cuban independence. The clamor for war was greatly
increased by sensational newspaper reports of the Spanish brutality in Cuba. Often
embellished and sometimes entirely fabricated, this “yellow journalism” set the
public mood for war.
In this tense atmosphere, a series of mishaps led to armed conflict. A letter was
intercepted from the Spanish ambassador, containing insults to President William
McKinley. Before the furor abated, a U.S. battleship, U.S.S. Maine, exploded in
Havana harbor, killing over 250 sailors. The press immediately blamed Spain, but
McKinley was reticent to declare war. Under intense political pressure McKinley
agreed to the use of force to intervene in Cuba in April 1898. McKinley issued an
ultimatum to the Spanish who responded by declaring war.
Spanish American War
• The recently modernized U.S. Navy had little trouble
with the dilapidated Spanish fleets. U.S. warships cut
off Spanish Cuba from resupply, and Spain’s Pacific
fleet was destroyed, taking the Spanish colonies of
Guam and the Philippines in the process.
• A ground force landed in Cuba in June 1898, defeating
Spanish resistance a month later. Puerto Rico was also
seized, but in the treaty that formally ended the war,
Cuba was established as an independent republic. With
its new global holdings, the U.S. became an imperial
War in the Philippines
• Filipino resistance to Spanish rule was well
established before 1898. After the U.S.
annexed the Philippines, revolution leaders
such as Emilio Aguinaldo led a guerilla
campaign against the U.S. forces. Aguinaldo
was captured in 1901, effectively ending
organized military resistance to American rule
in the Philippines.
Expansionism Debate
• The debate over the U.S. annexation of former Spanish colonies presented
a wide range of perspectives. Some in favor of American expansion cited
the economic benefits of colonization, while others claimed the expense
of maintaining colonies outweighed the benefits. The benefits of a Pacific
naval base were obvious, but isolationist rhetoric also entered the debate.
• Some pointed to the “duty” of Americans to Christianize and “civilize”
foreign peoples, while a few opponents saw such social imperialism as
decidedly “un-American” in its suppression of self-determination. Still
others, like AFL leader Sam Gompers protested expansionism because of
the potential impact on domestic labor.
• In the end, the expansionists carried the day. In addition to the colonies
seized from the Spanish, The United States annexed Hawaii in 1898, after
having deposed the Hawaiian Queen some years earlier.
• The Philippines remained a U.S. possession until 1946. Hawaii became a
state in 1959. Guam and Puerto Rico remain United States Territories.
14.c- Explain U.S. involvement in Latin America, as reflected by the
Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine and the creation of the
Panama Canal.
As the United States entered the 20th century, it continued to assert its newfound
role as global power. When Teddy Roosevelt became president upon McKinley’s
assassination in 1901, he embraced and promoted the role of the U.S. as a world
Roosevelt asserted that the U.S. would “speak softly and carry a big stick” in global
affairs, including a reiteration of the Monroe Doctrine. This so-called Roosevelt
Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine advances the original (1823) notion of the
United States as protector of independent nations in the western hemisphere,
adding that the United States will intervene anywhere in Central or South America
to maintain political and economic stability in the Americas.
Roosevelt had already demonstrated his willingness to intervene in Panama. The
United States took over the attempt to construct a canal through the Panamanian
isthmus from the French. Panama was a territory of Colombia, and when the lease
for the canal zone was jeopardized by negotiations with Colombia, the United
States helped to sponsor and support a coup to oust Colombia, establishing the
independent nation of Panama.