Kathleen Fitzgerald America—Take Home Final Professor St.

John, Fall 2006 History 1639: The Expanding United States, 1803-1917 Take Home Final Exam Identifications (6) (1) “They occupy a territory to which we assert a title independent of their will, which must take effect in point of possession when their right of possession ceases. Meanwhile they are in a state of pupilage. Their relation to the United States resembles that of a ward to his guardian.” (Cherokee Nation vs. State of Georgia, 1831) This quote originates in the 1831 response Supreme Court Chief Justice Marshall offered to the Cherokee Nation after the Cherokees accused Georgia of unconstitutionally legislating for Indian removal despite the fact that Cherokee Nation, as an independent, “foreign state,” was not liable to U.S. state laws. Penned the year following the Indian Removal Act of 1830, Marshall’s quote reflects what even moderate Americans of the time (in contrast to the far more radical responses offered by Johnson and Baldwin in the same document) believed about the United States’s right to territorial expansion as well as its paternalistic role toward subordinate cohorts like Native Americans and slaves.1 Marshall’s paradoxical claims that (1) the U.S. Constitution demarcated Indians as being separate from the protected “foreign nation” category, thereby leaving states to deal with Indians however they desired and (2) that U.S. subgroups like the Indians (and simultaneously, the slaves) needed to be told what to do by their “American parent” because they were like mildly ignorant pupils in life set the stage for both the Trail of Tears in 1838 and the claims by Southerners (less than three decades later) that it was the right of civilized and paternalistic states to control their relationships with (and rights to) slaves. (2) “Self-interest makes the employer and free laborer enemies. The one prefers to pay low wages, the other needs high wages. War, constant war, is the result, in which the operative perishes, but is not vanquished; he is hydraheaded, and when he dies two take his place. But numbers diminish his strength. The competition among laborers to get employment begets an intestine war, more destructive than the war from above. There is but one remedy for this evil, so inherent in free society, and that is, to identify the interests of the weak and the strong, the poor and the rich.” (George Fitzhugh’s “Slavery Justified,” 1854) This quote comes from the latter part of George Fitzhugh’s intellectual treatise in favor of slavery titled, “Slavery Justified.” Written less than a decade before the Civil War, the quote encapsulates Fitzhugh’s economic argument that an entirely free society leads the innately less intelligent (presumably the slaves during the ante-bellum period) into a system that naturally destroys their well-being and livelihood by pitting each

This reflected a definite shift in ideas of U.S. empowerment when contrasted to the letter President Thomas Jefferson sent to Meriwether Lewis in 1803 in which he advised Lewis to treat Indian chiefs like foreign dignitaries by inviting them to the U.S. capital.


unarmed slave against his brother in a war of underbidding and competition while the white employers, who had formerly provided for and taken care of their “employees” (i.e. slaves) simply watch with glee. In the post-Second Great Awakening period, the morality argument against slavery was gaining steam as American leaders and antislavery conventions railed against the immoral and unreligious treatment of slaves, arguing that it violated the Christian principle of stewardship. Claiming that the slave system actually served the practical interests of black slaves through domestication and paternalism (both of which provided culture, shelter, food, and medicine for slaves) and contrasting that with examples of European and ancient free trade nations where the working class fared far worse, Fitzhugh forcefully undercut the abolitionist argument that purported slaves would be better provided for under God’s natural law if America adopted a free labor system. Fitzhugh openly admits that his aim in writing this is intended to re-invigorate the resolve of his fellow pro-slavery Southerners by emboldening their cause with economic sense and subtle righteousness. (3) “Through political organization, historical and polemic writing and moral regeneration, these men strove to uplift their people. It is the fashion of today to sneer at them and to say that with freedom Negro leadership should have begun at the plow and not in the Senate—a foolish and mischievous lie; two hundred and fifty years that black serf toiled at the plow and yet that toiling was in vain till the Senate passed the war amendments; and two hundred and fifty years more the half-free serf of to-day may toil at his plow, but unless he have political rights and righteously guarded civic status, he will remain the poverty-stricken and ignorant plaything of rascals, that he is now.” (W.E.B. Dubois’s “The Talented Tenth,” 1903) This quote is excerpted from W.E.B. Dubois’s 1903 article, “The Talented Tenth.” This passage is particularly evocative in expressing Dubois’s overall opinion that Negroes were never able to simply rise up from their powerless positions at the plow; instead, the liberation, education, and overall empowerment of both the ante-bellum and post-Civil War black community had always been the result of black intelligentsia leaders like Douglass and Hughes taking a legal and systematic approach toward governmental and societal appeals. Written during the Progressive era in which political parties ruled the land, and overall politics were very interest-driven, Dubois and other black intellectuals like him realized that legalized black enfranchisement like the earlier Black Codes, 1876’s U.S. vs. Cruikshank (which allowed white hotel owners to refuse to house blacks) would never truly transform into racial equality unless combated from within the legislative system. Throughout the article, Dubois attempts to counter other black leaders like Booker T. Washington who espouse appealing to white paternalistic fears as a means of gaining racial equality; DuBois undercuts Washington’s argument by offering examples that show how those who sat behind the “plow” without taking their cause to the Senate never made great headway and would not succeed in the 20th century either. (4) “The American people have steadily and irresistibly taken whatever land they felt they needed for any purpose, because the course of empire and the movement of the race could not be stayed.”
(Henry Cabot Lodge’s “The American Policy of Territorial Expansion,” 1891)


Written in 1891 during the Hawaiian annexation controversy, this quote from Henry Cabot Lodge reflects a widely-held opinion of his day that it was in the interest of America’s national security (strategic military bases) and in the interest of those who occupied U.S.-sought lands for the United States to annex the territory of Hawaii rather than establish “dollar diplomacy” or economic imperialism there. Directly disagreeing with the Hawaiian sugar cane planters who begged the U.S. not annex Hawaii since regulations and taxes would harm their business, this entire paper reflects Cabot Lodge’s sentiments that 19th-century America had already annexed approximately 2,800,000 square miles of land and was simply remaining consistent with that policy in the Pacific theater. Cabot’s description of the U.S. needing to annex Hawaii without pausing or consulting with the indigenous peoples since territorial expansion “could not be stayed” reflects a popular response to the pre-Progressive argument that the U.S. should apply logic to imperialism by sitting down with European leaders and parceling up strategic lands. According to Cabot Lodge, the U.S. now had the third strongest navy in the world and was viewed as an international competitor by European nations, which would inhibit any so-called “Progressive” attempts at peaceful international parceling of desired lands; Cabot Lodge’s support of Hawaii’s annexation reflects his paradoxical isolationist-expansionist tendencies in the sense his proposal prevented the U.S. from dealing with other nations.

(5) “I will say here, while upon this subject, that I have no purpose directly or indirectly to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so. I have no purpose to introduce political and social equality between the white and the black races.” (Abraham Lincoln, The 1858 Ottawa, Illinois Stop on the multi-city tour of the philosophical “Lincoln-Douglas Debates”) In this quote, Republican Abraham Lincoln is responding to Stephen Douglass’s accusation that “black Republicans” like Lincoln believed whites and blacks should be entirely equal, and popular sovereignty should not determine slavery in new states. This response, as well as the entire Lincoln-Douglas Debates, were really addressing the states’ rights controversy that had arisen following the Compromise of 1850, “bleeding Kansas,” and the Dred Scott decision, all of which reflected a brewing war between proponents of states’ rights and federal slavery containment. With its denial of an intent to equalize the races in all realms, this quote reflects Lincoln’s rebuttal to Douglas’s “black Republican” accusations. By maintaining that Republicans only believed in labor equality and not “political” and “social” equality for blacks, this quote provides insight into the economic aspect of the slave debate that would incite the Civil War no less than two years later. Furthermore, this quote also reflects the appeasement and relatively moderate stance taken by Lincoln which would garner enough support for him to win the presidential election just two years later. (6) “The sea of a mighty population, held in galling fetters, heaves uneasily in the tenements. Once already our city, to which have come the duties and responsibilities of metropolitan greatness before it was able to fairly measure its task, has felt the swell of its resistless flood. If it rise once more, no human power may avail to check it. The gap between the classes in which it surges, unseen, unsuspected by the thoughtless is widening day by day. No 3

tardy enactment of law, no political expedient, can close it. Against all other dangers our system of government may offer defense and shelter; against this not. I know of but one bridge that will carry us over safe, a bridge founded upon justice and built of human hearts. I believe that the danger of such conditions as are fast growing up around us is for the very freedom which they mock.” (Jacob Riis’s “How the Other Half Lives,” 1890) This is the quote with which Jacob Riis closes the last chapter of his galvanizing photojournalistic attempt to document the slums, “How the Other Half Lives.” Encapsulating Riis’s main argument (that a war of frustration was quietly rolling into late 1800s American cities of industry along with the rapidly increasing immigrant population), the quote also reflects Riis’s purposefully middle-class stance which claimed religious and social justice organizations should help immigrant tenants keep traditional familial roles in tact (e.g. allowing children to have a real childhood rather than being forced to labor as newsboys and the like). This quote and Riis’s entire work both attempt to persuade American readership to fight against the swelling numbers of slum immigrants who struggled in squalor and would continue to do so forever if no one intervened. Riis and others like him believed American progress and prosperity only occurred when cleanliness and social order prevailed; therefore, this quote explains why Riis believes capitalistic America will fail if the capitalist-slum war were not stopped by American morals.

ESSAYS (2) (3) The 1830s debates over Indian Removal laid the groundwork for future discussions about both abolition and imperialism. How did ideas about national sovereignty, race, and conquest shape the debates over Removal? How were they evoked in arguments about the abolition of slavery and turnof-the-century imperialism?


Parties on both sides of the 1830s Indian Removal debate agreed that the issue, “unlike histories of many great questions which agitate the public mind in their day, will in all probability endure … as long as the government itself.”2 To witness proof of the Indian Removal debate’s lasting effects on mass opinion and political action, one need look no farther than the abolition debates of the mid-1800s or turn-of-the-20th-century American imperialism. Chief Justice Marshall’s 1831 proclamation that U.S. domestic dependents like the Indians “pupils” needed to be instructed by their sovereign, ‘American parent’ merely paved the way for the Trail of Tears seven years later, and then the claims by Southerners two decades later that slaves also needed to be ‘taught’ under a slave holding system.3 However, at its deepest core, the Indian Removal debate was one of economics veiled behind the guise of paternalistic concern for nations and races weaker than the sovereign United States, and this successful fog of rationalization was later used by pro-slavery and pro-imperialism proponents who honestly believed the U.S. would economically benefit by the expansion of the two respective practices. Despite the fact that many purported its real aims as being land transfer rather than the wholly humanitarian concerns for the tribal way of life, the ultimate reason Indian removal occurred was economically-driven.4 In 1810, just 35 years after America had won its own independence, 400 American squatters living on un-annexed Chickasaw lands petitioned the president and Congress to remove the Indians.5 Their rationale for this request? “They could not understand why fertile land should be denied to those who

Mary Hershberger, “Mobilizing Women, Anticipating Abolition: The Struggle Against Indian Removal in the 1830s,” p. 15. 3 Justice Marshall, “Cherokee Nation v. the State of Georgia (30 U.S. 1, 1831).” 4 Hershberger, p. 16. Andrew Johnson, “Seventh Annual Message to Congress (December 7, 1835).” It is the “moral duty of the Government of the United States to protect and if possible to preserve and perpetuate the scattered remnants of this race which are left within our borders” by moving the Indians west of the Mississippi. 5 Rothman, “Slave Country,” p. 56.


would ‘improve’ it, for the sake of ‘a heathen nation’ who seemed content to ‘saunter about like so many wolves or bares.’”6 Therefore, despite Justice Marshall’s 1831 claim that the then-contested lands of the Cherokee Indians should be left to the discretion of the State of Georgia because the Cherokees were “domestic dependents” whose culture and race needed to be protected from encroachment by their American “ward,” the bottom line remained economic.7 Further proving the “smoke screen” nature of this argument are the documented cases of economically successful Indian tribes like the Choctaw nation that owned a cotton gin by 1802 and was soon thereafter participating in cotton’s market economy by selling their cotton to the Chickasaw nation for cash.8 A few indigenous communities of the Deep South even fell into the slaveholding practice and expanded their plantation complexes, much to the chagrin of the surrounding whites.9 After all, the Jeffersonian hope that “civilizing the southern Indians [would] lead to the peaceful transfer of surplus lands to the United States” became thwarted by the newfound Indian resolve not to “sell out cheaply” since the market value of their prosperous, slaveholding lands had increased.10 Thus, when the Indians were eventually forced west of the Mississippi in the 1830s after Andrew Johnson told to the 1835 Congress, “all preceding experiments for the improvement of the Indians have failed. It seems now to be an established fact they cannot live in contact with a civilized community and prosper,”11 no white man honestly believed it was entirely in the Indians’ best interest to do so. As the complainant in the Cherokee Nation v. the State of Georgia case remarked, the American and state governments’ paternalistic task of maintaining peace among its domestic
6 7

Rothman, p. 56. Marshall. 8 Rothman, p. 59. 9 Rothman, p. 61. 10 Rothman, p. 61. 11 Andrew Johnson, Seventh Annual Message to Congress (December 7, 1835).


dependents obviously could not truly be motivating Indian removal since many Indians who had abided by the removal decrees were worse off than they started; many tribes had been “exposed to incursions of hostile Indians [in their new land], and that they are 'engaged in constant scenes of killing and scalping, and have to wage a war of extermination with more powerful tribes, before whom they will ultimately fall.'”12 As the Indians marched down 1838’s Trail of Tears, with 4,000 brethren dying along the way to Oklahoma, any caring, paternalistic claims by America proved false; however, the important matter is not that America’s paternalistic guise enabled them to dominate a purportedly inferior race for its own free market benefit (in which land was a means of currency in many regions), but that the guise succeeded, thereby paving the way for future paternalistic claims in the abolition and 20th century imperialism arguments. Just as Johnson had shown that the removed Indians would be paternalistically provided for when moved west of the Mississippi and therefore better off, so too did the proponents of the pro-slavery argument justify their mal-treatment of slaves by claiming slaves needed protective paternalism under the free labor system rather than honestly admitting it was really the Southern economy that needed slaves.13 As prominent 1850s politicians like Stephen Douglas argued, slaves were not the white man’s equal, and therefore required protection, which Southern slave holders were already providing in the form of “[a slave’s] person and his property.”14 Southerners like George Fitzhugh expanded the argument that it was the sovereign right of Americans to protect those “weaker” races and peoples living within the U.S.’s boundaries. Fitzhugh claimed that
12 13

Cherokee Nation v. State of Georgia. Andrew Johnson, “Seventh Annual Message to Congress (December 7, 1835).” “To these districts the Indians are removed at the expense of the United States, and with certain supplies of clothing, arms, ammunition, and other indispensable articles; they are also furnished gratuitously with provisions for the period of a year after their arrival at their new homes.” 14 Stephen Douglas, Lincoln-Douglas Debate, Ottawa, Illinois, August 21, 1858.


unlike the Northern states in which “the wages of the poor diminish as their wants and families increase, for the care and labor of attending to the family leaves them fewer hours for profitable work … with negro slaves, their wages invariably increase with their wants.”15 By purporting that slave holders cared for their slaves better than the free labor market cared for poor whites, Fitzhugh succeeded in hiding the real economic need of slaves. In the Southern, agrarian 1850s economy, cotton was king, and the system of slavery that produced it expanded daily.16 “Slavery was a vital part” of an economy in which slaves on one plantation picked “about 37,000 pounds of cotton in the plantation’s first year.”17 With incidents like 17 hangings in one day, whippings for no apparent reason, and other abuses, the alleged guardianship slave holders offered slaves appeared feigned. Rooted in the successful 1830s Indian Removal, inherently racist ideas about skin color and the white sovereign duty to control helpless blacks fueled the pro-slavery argument. By arguing often about the paternalistic good they were providing the slaves, slavery proponents successfully deflected moralistic abuse accusations; abolitionist complaints about the morality of slavery could never have been successfully defeated by a realistic appeal to southern economics, since the Northern abolitionists’ appeal to equality under America’s burgeoning free labor market would have demolished such a southern claim. Similarly, 20th-century imperialist supporters utilized the paternalistic argument that resulted from Indian Removal debates to forcefully argue in favor of early 20th century American expansion as a means to better the lives of child-like indigenous populations in other territories. Henry Cabot Lodge reflected this philanthropic take on American
15 16

George Fitzhugh, “Slavery Justified,” p. 29. Rothman, p. 4. 17 Rothman, p. 3, 53


imperialism when he remarked in 1898 that many in America possessed “too much confidence in our own political system to imagine that the inhabitants of the annexed [territories] would find themselves less free, less happy, or less prosperous under [American] rule than under that from which they had been taken.”18 As America stretched into a truly global empire near the beginning of the 20th century, with international land acquisitions like Hawaii and Cuba, it nevertheless continued its policy of publicly justifying imperialistic acquisitions by claiming the U.S. was making them out of a desire to benefit the indigenous peoples in those lands as well as protect them and American interests from foreign threats. Regarding America’s desire to claim Cuba (a move which would later incite 1898’s Spanish-American War), 1994’s “Ostend Manifesto” purported that America needed to interfere in Cuba so as to protect her national security (since Cuba was too close to America to safely be ruled by a European threat like Spain) as well as liberating those Cuban peoples who were being persecuted by the Spaniards in concentration camps. The Manifesto reads, “The sufferings which the corrupt, arbitrary, and unrelenting local administration necessarily entails upon the inhabitants of Cuba, cannot fail to stimulate and keep alive that spirit of resistance and revolution against Spain.”19 This public slant de-emphasizes the major economic factors fueling America’s lust for Cuba—the income that such a well-located port could provide for America via ship tolls. Similarly, America claimed it was deposing of Hawaii’s Last Queen, Liliuokalani, because she was threatening the stability of the Bayonet Government by attempting to increase the monarchy’s power; America, as the “sovereign guardian” of peoples of Hawaii (who like the Indians and slaves before them were

Henry Cabot Lodge, “The American Policy of Territorial Expansion,” The Independent (January 13, 1898). 19 The Ostend Manifesto, Aix-La-Chapelle, October 18, 1854.


deemed unable to properly rule anything “more than [a] wandering horde”), publicly interfered under the auspices of a concerned, sovereign guardian; however, once again, America was really interfering so as to reap the economic rewards of the thriving sugar cane plantations.20 According to numerous scholars, “Indian removal symbolized … a portentous triumph of the market values of aggressive acquisitiveness that placed a monetary value on everything and encouraged human exploitation for commercial gain. ‘How long shall it be that a Christian people … shall stand balancing the considerations of profit and loss on a national question of justice and benevolence?”21 By claiming it was America’s sovereign right to ensure paternalistic care of those races and peoples who were unable to properly govern themselves, American government established a precedence of public humanitarianism that belied their more central, economic motivations. This practice proved successful at persuading many people that America was behaving righteously during Indian removal, the Civil War, and imperialistic battles like the Spanish-American War.

(1) In his 1898 article, “The American Policy of Territorial Annexation,” Henry Cabot Lodge argued that the United States’ acquisition of Hawaii was part of a long, consistent, and justified history of American conquest that reached back to the beginning of the nation. Agree or disagree with this argument. What is the relationship between the United States’ continental expansion in the first half of the 19th century and its acquisition of overseas territories in the late 19th and early 20th century? Is this history best understood as one of continuity or change?

20 21

Johnson, Cherokee Nation . Hershberger, p. 17.


From its inception, America had consistently been a land of expansion. Colonizers initially settled at Plymouth Rock only to migrate inland and southward soon thereafter. Continuing in this spirit of explorative expansion, early 19th-century America pursued a similar course of territorial acquisition using treaties and strategic land selection. Part of the rationale behind their land acquisition methodology was their belief that America’s power to wage a federally-funded and staffed war of expansion against a strong European nation would undoubtedly prove fatal to the young nation; consequently, American leaders implemented a policy whereby the federally-weak government would be strategic in choosing relatively weak opponents like Spain-controlled Mexico for treaty talks or the disjointed Indian Nations for forceful acquisition. On January 13, 1898, Henry Cabot Lodge proudly proclaimed that America had acquired great territory throughout the 19th century and “only one of [its] great acquisitions was made by war. The others have come by purchase.”22 Cabot Lodge is accurate in recognizing America’s definite trend toward strategically un-risky land acquisition during the first half of early nineteenth century. After all, this was a time period in which the American union operated under the strain of international dissension over issues like states’ rights and regionalized economic needs. The resultant weak federal government had no chance of waging a successful territorial war with powerful nations like Britain; however, following Reconstruction and the reinvigoration America’s federal and naval power, America shifted gears and grew more brazen in its willingness to fight strong nations for land. Throughout antebellum America, expansion followed either peaceable treaties like 1803’s Louisiana Purchase from France, or forceful action against weaker groups like the


Henry Cabot Lodge, “The American Policy of Territorial Expansion,” (The Independent, January 13, 1898).


Indians; simultaneously, the government purposefully avoided warring with a strong nation like Britain over northern California’s boundary. Toward the beginning of the 19th century, when land-hungry America aggressively pursued the nearby lands of what would become Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, there was scarcely a strong, unified force on that land with which America would have to fight. In fact, most of these lands were described at the end of the 18th century as being “thinly populated by a congeries of peoples subject to the overlapping jurisdictions of several American Indian nations, Spain, and the United States.”23 Similarly, America’s attack on the Indians for their land also did not require a federally united, militaristic front since the Indian force itself did not “present a united front” against America.24 Even when America fought against the Spanish government over Texas territory during the Mexican-American War (18461848), it can be argued that the Spanish force was not too strong in Texas. In fact, in the 1820s, it is reported American immigrants outnumbered Tejanos 3:1 in that region. American mass power in Texas remained so strong that by 1830, Mexico attempted to prohibit any more American settlers but failed to thwart the continuous influx.25 Thus, even when antebellum America waged territorial war against a European power, as it did against Spain here, it did so only when that nation posed little militaristic threat to its weak federal powers. Furthermore, President James K. Polk’s 1844 refusal to fight against Britain over the disputed boundary of North Carolina also reflects America’s hesitancy to take on a powerful nation. Polk did not believe America could win a battle against the world’s naval superpower (Britain) at that time, so he chose to war with
23 24

Rothman, p. x. Rothman, p. 55. “Historical animosities between different indigenous groups, disputes over boundaries, and the highly decentralized, consensual character of their internal politics inhibited pan-Indian solidarity.” 25 Few Mexicans and Spaniards would settle in Texas, which also contributed to the skewed population ratio.


Mexico for the acquisition of Southern California instead. Through the resultant 1848 Treaty of Hidalgo, America increased its own size by ¼ without waging a major territorial war. Thus, in antebellum America, the government acquired expansive amounts of territory through treaties and conservative power moves since it continued to fear fighting with strong national superpowers for land; until the Civil War, internal dissension and a limited federal governmental power prohibited the relatively weak nation from even attempting such a feat. America’s inability to fight strong world powers for territory changed following the Civil War. In 1838, Chief Justice Marshall justified his ruling in the Cherokee Nation vs. the State of Georgia Supreme Court case by referencing the power of states for expansive self determinism as long as it did not violate the Constitution. With this proclamation, Marshall essentially provided fodder for the South’s states’ rights argument, which merely perpetuated the long-term internal American disagreement over a state’s right to determine its slave status. Marshall wrote: To control the state of Georgia, and to restrain the exertion of its physical force. The propriety of such an interposition by the court may be well questioned. It savours too much of the exercise of political power to be within the proper province of the judicial department.26 With this proclamation, Justice Marshall left the weakening federal government little recourse against the now-bolstered South, and the resulting Civil War was often thought to be a battle for the enforcement of federal laws nation-wide by Union soldiers. “‘This contest is not the North against South,’ wrote a young Philadelphia printer six days before he enlisted. ‘It is government against anarchy, law against disorder.”27 By 1860, it had become quite obvious that the Union lacked unity and was guided by regional ties
26 27

Marshall, Cherokee McPherson, “For Cause and Comrades,” p. 18.


rather than loyalty to the entire nation. One Civil War soldier wrote, “the West might want to separate next Presidential Election … others might want to follow, and this country would be as bad as the German states.”28 As Lincoln said, the “house divided” could hardly remain together, let alone aggressively battle for controlled land with stronger European nations. Therefore, when the North won a decided victory over the South and established a strong, federal government that would not accept “flaccid” federal power any longer, the stage was set for America to grow into a single, United States, capable of confronting world superpowers during disagreements over territorial acquisition.29 The shift in the U.S.’s newly aggressive land acquisition policies is incredibly evident in the late 19th century and early 20th century, a period in which “the United States was conquering overseas territories.”30 Between 1800 and 1900, the U.S. navy increased in size so much that it jumped from ranking as the world’s fifth largest navy to the world’s third largest navy, only behind Britain and Germany. With its bolstered military force and truly empowered federal government, the U.S. was now able to use either treaties or armed conflict to battle European strongholds for land. Such was the case in 1898 when the U.S. waged the Spanish-American War in Cuba (over which Spain held a tighter control than it had with Texas 50 years earlier) for territorial dominance. Although the U.S.’s relative military inexperience almost prevented McKinley and his Rough Riders from summiting Havana’s hill and attaining victory, and Spain’s economic
28 29

McPherson, p. 18. Walter L. Williams, “United States Indian Policy and the Debate Over Philippine Annexation: Implications for the Origins of American Imperialism,” The Journal of American History 66:4 (March 1980), p. 812. Empowerment of the federal government and courts include measures like 1885’s providing the federal court jurisdiction over major crimes on reservations. The key insight is that the federal legislature, court, and President were now understood to be in charge of the entire Union. 30 Williams, p. 813.


hardships at the time caused an economic blockade to break their control sooner than it would have otherwise, the fact that the U.S. trekked down to Cuba and fought for the primary reason of expanding territory (and not as a response to Americans’ cries for help, as it had done in the earlier Mexican-American War) reflected a newfound national confidence. Gaining control of Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines as a result of that war’s Treaty of Paris, the U.S. then proceeded to stay in an extremely bloody war with a Filipino rebel Aguinaldo. Although the Filipino insurgents were divided into smaller groups, the leaders were typically well-trained militarists possessing “a remarkably high exposure to the military ramifications of [the] United States.”31 The United States’ willingness to enter into such a violent conflict and remain there so as to maintain their territorial ascendancy reflected a shift from their earlier, more protective policy of 19th century continental expansion. Seventeen years after the dawning of the 20th century, the United States entered World War I, essentially sounding a loud declaration that it remained willing to battle strong European nations for territory and rights. Having grown in federal strength and military since the early 19th century, the U.S. continued to prove that it would remain a territorially large and internationally powerful nation with which others should not reckon. NOTES: possibly discuss that perfect Indian-Filipino article in first essay?


Williams, p. 828.


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