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American Imperialism Essay

1846 words - 7 pages

Imperialism, defined by Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary, is "the policy, practice, or advocacy of extending power and dominion of a nation especially by direct territorial acquisition or by gaining indirect control over the political or economic life of other areas"(Merriam-Webster). During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the United States pursued an aggressive policy of expansionism, extending its political and economic influence around the globe. The United States has become an empire. Although the United States has less power – in the sense of control over other countries’ internal behavior – than Britain did when it ruled a quarter of the globe, the United States now has more power resources relative to other countries than Britain had at its imperialistic peak. American Imperialism was driven by a need for markets and raw materials, as well as the desire for power and success. The United States increasingly appears to be an imperial power.
Manifest Destiny was the driving force responsible for changing the face of American history. Manifest Destiny, described by Dictionary.com, is a policy of imperialistic expansion defended as necessary or benevolent. It is the 19th century doctrine that gave the right to the United States to expand through North America. In 1845, a democratic leader and influential editor by the name of John L. O'Sullivan gave the movement its name. In an attempt to explain America's “thirst” for expansion, and to present a defense for America's claim to new territories he wrote:
".... the right of our manifest destiny to over spread and to possess the whole of the continent which Providence has given us for the development of the great experiment of liberty and federaltive development of self government entrusted to us. It is right such as that of the tree to the space of air and the earth suitable for the full expansion of its principle and destiny of growth." (The National Experience: A History Of The United States 352)

Manifest Destiny became the “rallying cry throughout America” (www.let.rug.nl). Although the movement was named in 1845, the philosophy behind Manifest Destiny always existed throughout American History. For example, in 1818 Andrew Jackson, while instructions from President Monroe, led military forces into Florida during the Florida crisis. In a systematic and ruthless way, he punished the Seminal Indians for fighting with the Spanish, destroyed Spanish forces, and captured several cities and forts. Their reasoning, Florida was a part of American territory and therefore, destiny intended that America should have it. The reason why Americans were in Florida in the first place, is yet another example of Manifest Destiny and imperialistic idea. The people of the south wanted more fertile land; farmers, without permission, began to settle and farm their. Americans believed that they had a right to any land they wanted. The reasons for Manifest Destiny were influenced by...

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