Explain the nationalistic reasons for American imperialism.

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mkoren | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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American imperialism was based on many factors. One of those factors dealt with American nationalism. Nationalism refers to pride in one’s country. The United States had gradually been expanding across the North American continent.  First, we moved from the Appalachian Mountains to the Mississippi River. Then we moved to the Rocky Mountains. Finally, we reached the Pacific Ocean. In each step of expansion, we believed it was our duty to expand. We believed we were spreading ideas of progress every time we spread further westward. We believed our ways of life were the best. We believed it was our duty to spread this way of life. Once we reached the Pacific Ocean, we believed it was our duty to spread our ways of life beyond our borders. We also wanted to be viewed as a world power. We knew we had to spread beyond our borders to be viewed as a world power. We were very competitive as a country. We felt we were on equal footing with Great Britain and France by the late 1800s. However, we didn’t have much of an empire until the Spanish-American War ended. Thus, pride in our country and a belief that our ways of life were superior motived us to expand beyond our borders after we expanded to the Pacific Ocean.