In what ways did the United States pursue imperialism in the 1890s? How did the Spanish–American war affect United States foreign policy in the 20th century?

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By the 1890s, imperialism was sweeping the globe. Huge areas of both Africa and Asia were being colonized by Western powers. They sought territory, national prestige, and religious conversion of the native peoples of colonized lands.

American imperialists were encouraged by The Influence of Sea Power Upon History,1660–1783 ....

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By the 1890s, imperialism was sweeping the globe. Huge areas of both Africa and Asia were being colonized by Western powers. They sought territory, national prestige, and religious conversion of the native peoples of colonized lands.

American imperialists were encouraged by The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, 1660–1783. Written by Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan, the book argues that national greatness depends on naval power and the acquisition of foreign colonies. Theodore Roosevelt, the assistant secretary of the US Navy, was influenced by Mahan's ideas.

Social Darwinism also encouraged American imperialism. Social Darwinism propagated the now-discredited idea that Anglo-Saxon peoples were superior and had a duty to civilize and Christianize the world.

American expansionism in the 1890s focused on the Pacific: the United States sought domination of the Samoan and Hawaiian island groups. In 1889, America gained partial control over Samoa. Hawaii was important for its sugar production. Queen Liliuokalani tried to end American influence, but she was overthrown in 1893. In 1898, the United States annexed Hawaii. The Philippines was added to America's empire after the Spanish–American War (1898).

These territorial acquisitions made the United States a Pacific power and an imperialist nation. It put the country on a collision course with the other rising Pacific power: Japan.

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After the Spanish-American War, in which we inherited the Spanish colonies of Guam, Puerto Rico and the Philippines, we became the dominant empire in those regions of the world in terms of our military and economic control. 

Teddy Roosevelt, a veteran of the SA War, established the Roosevelt Corollary declaring the Caribbean essentially an "American lake" and taking a lot more direct interest and involvement in Central and South America.  He acquired the Panama Canal Zone and started construction of it as US territory.  These are areas and territories we would have to defend over the long term as an Empire.

Lastly, one of the reasons the Japanese attacked us at Perl Harbor and the Philippines was because our empire threatened theirs by our very presence in the region.  They simply wanted to remove the threat, especially in the Philippines, which we would not have been in at all if not for imperialism in the 1890s.

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The main way that the US pursued imperialism in the 1890s was through war.  The US took various Spanish possessions after defeating Spain in the Spanish-American War.

This war affect US foreign policy in the early parts of the 20th century because it made more places matter to the US.  Now that the US had holdings in the Caribbean and as far west as the Philippines, it had to care about a lot more things so that it could keep those posessions safe.  An example of this is how Theodore Roosevelt got involved in the Russo-Japanese War, partly because the US ownership of the Philippines made Asia matter more to us.

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