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Honors U.S.

History 2008/09 Name:
Week 20
Mr. Irwin Period:


The Pressure to Expand

Key Terms:
A. The policy of extending a nation’s authority over other countries by economic,
political, or military means.
B. The policy or principle of having and extending control over the territory of other
nations; creating or maintaining an empire for the purpose of extending the
influence of the country engaged in imperialism.

A. a devotion to the interests and culture of one’s nation.
B. Nationalism often describes a condition in which a nation’s people believe
themselves, their ideals, and their goals to be superior to those of other nations.

A. To join a new territory to an existing country.

banana republic
A. A slang term used to describe Central American nations that were being
exploited during the U.S. period of imperialism of the late 1800s – early 1900s.

As America approached the twentieth century, it had, in a very short period of time,
undergone tremendous change. The Industrial Revolution had helped the U.S.
transform from a predominantly agricultural nation, to a nation diversified in farming,
ranching, business, technology, and international trade. With industry, came job
opportunities, and as the result, cities developed near industrial areas where work was
plentiful. The invention of the steam engine was applied to transportation, in the form of
railroad engines. This adaptation of technology motivated railroad companies to build
thousands of miles of track, which served to link the country together. It also helped
establish an American national identity that was rooted in capitalism and consumerism.

Upon having accomplished Manifest Destiny, two questions seem to have developed in
the minds of many Americans:
1. “How will the U.S. continue to grow and prosper?”
2. “What should the U.S. do to develop and protect its economic interests?”
Imperialism is the thread that links these two questions.

In the mid to late 1800s, the major powers of Europe sought to increase their wealth
through the practice of imperialism. By the late 1800s, much of Africa and Asia was
under the control of European nations, with Great Britain leading the pack (France,
Russia and Germany, being the other major European imperialistic powers). An
example of the vastness of the British Empire at its peak was the quote that:

“The sun never sets on the British Empire.”

In the late 1800s – early 1900s, U.S. businessmen and the companies that they
represented, went abroad to Central America, and to islands in the Atlantic, and in the
Pacific, to set up plantations and other types of profitable business ventures. Around
the same time, U.S. government officials observed that the major powers of Europe had
successfully profited from their imperialistic colonies. As the result, speeches and
debates took place in our congress about the need to expand American influence
beyond its borders. Many people thought that the time was right for the U.S. to follow
the European lead, and that we too should grow through imperialism.

Factors That Accounted for the Spread of 19th Century Imperialism:
Economic Factors:
1. The growth of industry in Europe created an increased need for natural resources
such as
rubber and petroleum, which came primarily from underdeveloped regions of the

2. Manufacturing nations required new markets in which to sell their manufactured

Nationalistic Factors:
1. An increase in nationalism among the major European powers created a climate of
competition in which each of the major powers sought to grow and become stronger
than its neighbors.

Military Factors:
1. Expanses in military technology produced armies and navies that were superior to
those in
Africa and Asia.

2. The growing European navies sought bases around the world that could be used for
and repair stations.

Humanitarian Factors:
1. Some imperialistic activity was encouraged by people and organizations of strong
humanitarian and religious convictions.

2. There was a belief that it was a moral duty to spread elements of Western civilization
such as religion, medicine, food, law and government.

The U.S. Acquires Alaska:
In 1867, Secretary of State William H. Seward arranged for the purchase of Alaska from
Russia. This was viewed as a protective move, as Seward believed that by having U.S.
territory on two sides of Canada, Great British might abandon its interests in Canada
(thinking that Great Britain would not want to have another military conflict with the

Detractors of the Alaska purchase thought that Seward was proposing to buy a
worthless frozen land, as the result, the Alaska purchase was sometimes referred to as
“Seward’s folly.”

U.S. Influence in the Far East:
In 1853, Commodore Matthew C. Perry sailed into Tokyo Bay and opened trade
relations with Japan. By the 1860s, the U.S. and several European nations had signed
treaties for expanded trade with China.

Like the Europeans, the U.S. needed fueling stations for its navy. As the result, the U.S.
annexed the (uninhabited) Pacific island of Midway, in 1867.

Hawaii Sugar:
In 1875, the U.S. signed a treaty with the monarchy of Hawaii. Under this treaty, Hawaii
would be allowed to send its sugar to the U.S. without having a tariff imposed upon its
product. In return, Hawaii agreed that it would not sell or lease any of its territory to a
foreign power.

Grant Enforces the Monroe Doctrine:
In 1870, President Ulysses S. Grant announced that under the Monroe Doctrine, the
U.S. would protect the islands of the Caribbean from being transferred to European

Supply and Demand Considered:
By the late 1800s, the U.S. had developed into a strong industrial economy. America
was producing goods at the highest rate ever. Unfortunately, domestic consumption of
these goods could not keep up with what was being produced. According to the Law of
Supply and Demand, an excess supply causes prices to fall. Falling prices are not good
for the businesses that produce products. As a way to increase demand for U.S. made
goods, America looked to foreign markets.

Expansionist Business & Economic Policy:
By the turn of the 20th century, Standard Oil Company and American Telephone and
Telegraph were conducting business on an international level. Some American
business leaders actually invested directly in the economies of other countries. In
return, they sometimes received special considerations such as long-term leases on
land, and exclusive rights to conduct business, free of competition. These special
arrangements allowed American businesses to become the dominant element in some
of the foreign economies. This was especially true in Central America, where the term
banana republic was coined.

America Builds a Navy:
Between the end of the Civil War and 1882, the U.S. had done little to improve its navy.
What we had in the way of ships were old and outdated. In 1890, Naval officer Alfred T.
Mahan published a book titled, The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, 1600-1783.
In his book, Mahan presented two important arguments:

1. The nation’s economic future would require new markets abroad.

2. The U.S. would need a powerful navy to protect these foreign markets from
competing nations.

Congress responded by passing the Naval Act of 1890. This act called for the
construction of a variety of ships, including battleships, gunboats, torpedo boats, and
cruisers. By 1900, the U.S. had one of the most powerful navies in the world.