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    Westward Expansion and Imperialism Essay

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    Throughout most of the nineteenth century, the United States expanded its territory westward through purchase and annexation. At the end of the century, however, expansion became imperialism, as America acquired several territories overseas. This policy shift from expansionism to imperialism came about as a result of Americans experience in the Spanish American War and the Congressional debates that followed the American victory.

    After temporarily resolving the problems of Reconstruction and Industrialization, Americans began to resume the course of expansion. The horrors of the Civil War had interrupted the original Manifest Destiny that began in the 1840s.

    Now, as pioneers settled the last western frontiers, expansionists looked yet farther to the west — toward Asia and the Pacific. American ships had long been active in the Pacific. The New England whaling fleets scoured the ocean in search of their prey. As ships crossed the vast ocean to trade in Asia, islands in the Pacific became important stops for coal, provisions, and repairs. In the South Pacific, the American navy negotiated with awestruck natives for the rights to build bases on the islands of Midway and Samoa. This practice had been going on for a while.

    The Hawaiian Islands, which lie closest to the American mainland, had long been an important stop for the Pacific fleet.

    Eventually, the expansion to this area became imperialistic. Pearl Harbor, on the island of Oahu, offered one of the most attractive natural bases in the Pacific. Soon other Americans followed to become sugar planters and to establish profitable businesses. Americans were busy building huge plantations, warehouses, railroads, dry-docks, banks, hotels, and stores. They soon dominated the island’s economy, and they were able to influence its government as well.

    Americans created and controlled Hawaii’s legislature and cabinet, and they limited the power of the native king. As the century began to come to a close, disputes arose between the Kanaka and those of foreign descent. “Hawaii for Hawaiians” became the slogan of people who sought to restore the traditional ways of the kingdom. Others called for the annexation of Hawaii by the United States. Annexation would eliminate the recent trade restrictions on sugar and revive the island’s faltering economy. The imperialistic was taking over the islands.

    The imperialistic attitude sprung from the American Victory in the Spanish-American War. Although the Spanish-American War and the intervention in the Philippines were preceded by fifty years of meddling in Latin America, and to a lesser degree Asia and Africa, it was these two events that marked and tested a fully realized imperial policy. But the Spanish-American War directly affected the intervention policy in the Pacific because the U.S. decision to take action against Spain in Cuba made propelled Dewey’s invasion of the Philippines not only allowed for U.S.

    capitalist expansion, but also were largely based on a consciousness of economic expansion as key to economic development at home. The Spanish-American War in 1898 heightened military interest in a canal. After defeated Spain, the United States acquired the Philippines and Puerto Rico and wanted better access for its navy to both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. American officials negotiated the Hay-Pauncefote Treaty with Britain in 1901, in which the two countries agreed that the United States alone could build and regulate the canal. Americans took many rights that werent theirs; the right to take over more Panamanian land if needed and the right to use troops to intervene in Panama.

    During the time of Imperialism in the 19th century, the U.

    S wanted to expand worldwide and strive for the lead in the “imperialistic race.” From the birth of America, to America today, the driving force and the heart of America has always been the “American Dream.” The results of the Spanish American War sent the message that imperialism was acceptable and achievable. This imperialism has resulted in the United States abusing its power, but also creating the nation that we have today. .

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