There was a surge in imperialism in the late nineteenth century. European nations established or expanded their colonial possessions throughout Africa and Asia. The United States, on the other hand, was preoccupied with settling the West, so America's entry into the competition for colonies was belated.
There was a debate in the United States on the wisdom of becoming an imperialist nation. In addition, the colonial possessions acquired by the United States were far less extensive than those held by Britain and France. Nevertheless, by 1900, America had become an imperial power.
Andrew Carnegie, an extremely wealthy industrialist and philanthropist, was not in favor of American colonialism. His cautionary views were published in the North American Review in 1898. He argued that American power was—and should remain—based on the North American continent. He believed that India, Great Britain's largest colony, was a "grievous burden." Carnegie believed the United States should refrain from trying to govern "alien races" in faraway places. America was much stronger without "distant possessions." He believed foreign possessions, such as the Philippines, were unprofitable. Carnegie also believed that possession of distant colonies would entangle the United States in dangerous wars.
Senator Albert Beveridge, a politician and historian, was a quintessential colonialist. Therefore, he championed all of the traditional arguments for imperialism: spreading Christianity, establishing foreign markets, civilizing "backward" peoples, spreading democracy, and enhancing national prestige.
In the end, the views of Beveridge and his fellow American imperialists won. America did acquire a colonial empire. Today, in many respects, America remains an "imperial" power even though it lacks formal colonies.