Tag Archives: Imperialism

Imperialism and Expansion

It is difficult to not be a little pro-imperialist if you are an American.  We have already used drastic measures to acquire the lands we now possess so why should it be any different if we choose to claim foreign lands that we won by victory of war?  Lands that now have access to the markets of the world.  Who are some in U.S. history that have been in favor of Imperialism and what were their arguments?

A voice in  the time period that urged American expansion was President McKinley (1843-1901) who stated on many occasions that, “I went down on my knees and prayed Almighty God for light and guidance mare than one night.”  Then the truth was spoken to him, “That there was nothing left for us to do but to take them all, and to educate the filipinos and uplift and civilize and Christianize them by God’s grace do the very best we could do by them, as our fellow men, for whom Christ also died” (Beisner, p.199).  McKinley’s outlook on the Filipinos was basic, as stated to a group of Methodist Church visitors, “We could not turn them over to France or Germany–our commercial rivals in the orient, that would be bad for business and discreditable” (LeFeber, P. 201).  And that is how you have to think if you want to be in league with other world powers; a kind-of sociopathic mentality.

An 1899 U.S. Senator, Albert Beveridge spoke strongly that, “The Philippines are ours forever, territory belonging to the United States, and just beyond are China’s illimitable markets” (RTAP, p218).  Beveridge furthered, “The Filipinos are a barbarous race modified by three centuries of contact with a decadent race” (RTAP, p219).  Economics are at the forefront of Imperialism, as stated by Beveridge, “The mineral wealth of this empire of the ocean will one day surprise the world, and the wood, hemp, copra, and other products of the Philippines supply what we need and cannot ourselves produce” (RTAP, p219).

President Theodore Roosevelt, the man among men, believed first and foremost that it was important to uphold the country’s honor in the community of nations.  T. Roosevelt stated, “All the great masterful nations have been fighting nations” (American History, p659).  November 6, 1903, the United States recognized Panama and set up a renewable lease on a canal zone, putting into movement the construction of the Panama Canal.  This cunning use of tactics to acquire land in Panama is imperialism in a very true form, even to the point that T. Roosevelt sent in covert ops to secure a sympathetic government that would cooperate with American way of thinking.  T. Roosevelt also initiated the Open Door Policy in Asia and started into motion many future messes in the Philippines, but made a lot of profit in doing so.

General Arthur MacArthur stated, “Our occupation of the island was simply one of necessary consequences in logical sequence of our great prosperity, and to doubt the wisdom of occupation was simply to doubt the stability of our own institutions and in effect to declare that a self-governing nation was incapable of successfully resisting strains arising naturally from its own productive energy” (American History, p.656).  It was supposedly the Filipinos fault that they didn’t willingly choose to be civilized, and the U.S.’s justification for conquering their lands.

Alfred T. Mahan, an influential Naval commander around the turn of the 20th century, brought forth the notion that all great empires have a great Navy.  Navies required things to be an effective force: coaling stations far from home for example.  Mahan also claimed that this military strengthening accompanied the proposition of connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans to compete with Europe for East Asia markets.

So, in building the Navy and treating the Pacific like a highway rather than a burden, America would become a military power first, economic power second.  China’s markets and the Philippines natural resources were too much for greedy men.  Not only were the Philippines ripe for conquest, but so was the Hawaiian Islands, many other smaller Pacific Islands, Alaska, and the Caribbean; all were strategic points for controlling the world markets and roads to new markets in China.

A final reason, but in no way exhaustive, for America expanding is Manifest Destiny.  A way of thinking that says it is God’s mandate that we take over the world and educate and uplift all others to our level of thinking.  Manifest Destiny, two words that have been the reason for where we are today, yet no longer hold any value.  Upon completing the previous goal of submitting the North American continent, the same method was then applied to the world.

Why not use the same way of thinking, of conquering, that worked for our fore-fathers.

Senator Beveridge is a prime example of pushing Manifest Destiny, stating that, “It is noble land that God has given us,” about the Philippines. (RTAP, p208-209).  Beveridge also ties in patriotic duty to this concept, so if you do not believe it is God’s will, then you must see this action as a patriotic duty that America expands.

This is all crazy talk!!! Who determines what is right or wrong is a huge responsibility, especially when the fates of millions of people hang in the balance.  Should we have just went in and destroyed any opposition against the U.S. where it is encountered, thankfully that is a debate for those above my pay-grade, but at least now i can make the claim that it is ludicrous.

Our civilization may have started because we went in and took other peoples land and resources, so it shouldn’t be surprising that when we wanted more we just went in and took it.  It should also be surprising that those who were going against imperialism were just talkers, and little to no doing was involved.

At the time the conclusion was simple, America needed to expand beyond its borders if it was going to compete and survive with any of the other world powers.

World Power is a term that incorporates certain truths, one is that trade is involved, two is that there are more likely many conflicts.

Isn’t it exasperating , though, that America stopped expanding that way that it used too?  Also, do you see America caring about the world’s POV more than its own?

Whatever the outcome, debate, or argument, events cannot go about any other way because they are a part of history, it just really makes one think about the way the world would be if America stopped imperial expansion.  Had America continued, yes millions would have lost their lives, but would there have been a greater good in the outcome?  The world lives in fear today that at any moment someone could carry a nuclear weapon in a brief case, or shoot up a communal gathering place.

There was a time for this expansion, when America was the sole owner of atomic weapons,  but that window has closed.  We now live in a world of imminent, mutually-assured destruction.  Is it still a time of expansion?