Views On Overseas Expansion In 19th Century America

943 words - 4 pages

Arguments for and against overseas expansion raised a foreign policy debate in the late years of the 19th century to the early years of the 20th century. People favored overseas expansion because they wanted the American economy to grow. Missioners, who wanted to convert the inhabitants of the new lands, also propelled this new policy, and theories such as the Social Darwinism and the Manifest Destiny made people believed it was right for America to expand its frontiers and help the less fortune. But there were some who disagreed with overseas expansion because they looked at it as a hypocrisy act among Americans, or as a way of subjugating other nations just for America’s benefits. Some others were concerned that making contact with under-developed nations would eventually dilute their racial stock and the strength of America.
At the end of the 19th century the growth in population and in production led many people to look outward. By expanding, America would ensure that there would always be access to foreign markets for America’s surplus products to be sold. To fuel America’s industrial economy, people found expanding very beneficial. Overseas territories offered a cheap labor force allowing American goods to be made at a lower cost and were full of natural resources and raw materials, which could be very useful in American manufacturing. These foreign territories could serve as possible coaling stations for the battleships, or as military basis. Many businessmen found very advantageous this idea because they saw it as investment opportunities. They were willing to use their surplus capital to invest in the mines of Philippines or to start producing in Hawaii because they knew this would give them higher returns that investing in the American economy.
Religious reasons also motivated the overseas expansion. Christian missioners wanted to spread the word of the Lord, and the idea that the United States would conquer under-developed countries attracted these people who saw it as a big opportunity to convert as many inhabitants of the foreign lands as possible. Many of these missioners were women who wanted to highlight their importance as social uplifters at home. The Women’s Christian Temperance Movement also sent women abroad with the idea of letting the people know that it was America who had started with the women’s rights.
Two well-known theories became very spoken among American expansionists when the debate about looking outward exploded. Follow by the ideas of Social Darwinism expansionists supported the ownership of overseas territories as a natural order of a “more fit species”. These people believed that the American race, Anglo-Saxon, was superior to many others, and for that reason justified the authority in less-developed countries. Manifest Destiny, also used for the western expansion a half century earlier, stated that America had the mission to regenerate the world, and people believed that the Unites States’ destiny...

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