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America From Imperialism To The Great War

1181 words - 5 pages

Imperialism and Progressivism were focusing more on domestic growth with an indirect focus on foreign policy. The US gained more from staying at home and letting a shadow government run a country of great financial interest to the US and their investors than from taking over countries and running them with US personnel; these ideologies would play a role in the decision to hold off on getting into the Great War right away. On the other hand a worldwide market was opening up and China was becoming a big player, subsequently everyone wanted to get a piece of them. The US being the furthest away yet recently having annexed the former Anarchy of Hawaii, was one step closer. Years later the US would fight the Spanish American War and gain control of the Philippines facilitating a similar goal.
US Imperialism drove the need for new markets; some requirements for the new markets would be a need for balanced trade and the also making exports exceed imports; to do this they sought new land. They were also interested in staging grounds for any contingencies in the future be it political, financial or militarily; this made Hawaii a prime candidate. They were situated in the middle of the ocean with better access to China, who was emerging as a great financial opportunity, and the sugar Hawaii produced was a prime export. The sugar was taxed however and was very expensive to get to the US. One solution to that problem was to take over the islands, but Hawaii was ruled by a Monarchy, and the Queen had no intentions of giving away her land.
Some imperialists had an idea of Anglo-Saxon Superiority however which fit right in with Social Darwinism . These two beliefs combined meant that English speaking whites were biologically superior to others and because of that, they had an obligation to govern the less advanced nations, Hawaii they thought was one. This was not a new idea and had been used in Venezuela in the late 1800’s as well as countries like Cuba, Haiti and later on the Dominican Republic. Sometimes military force was used like Cuba and Haiti, and in Hawaii’s case, it started out as a political battle but ultimately turned into having troops on the ground.
Hawaii was an example of not only financial gain but also militarily gain. The intent was to set up a port there as a middle ground between the US and Asia, in addition to a cheaper sugar export, and the Philippines would later serve a similar purpose. They both had a better proximity to China and the trade they were capable of producing. The importance of China became more apparent as WWI approached when all countries were looking to China’s economy to support a large war.
The Panama Canal was an example of progressivism pushing imperialism a little further. It fit very well into the US plan for military might, as well as delaying the US involvement into WWI. With the canal taking 11 years and $375 million dollars to complete , it took a toll on the US in both manpower and finances. The...

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