What motivated America's "new imperialism" ?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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America's "New Imperialism" in the late 1800s and early 1900s is typically attributed to three main causes.  They include:

  • Desire for economic gain.  There was a need during this time for new sources of raw materials and new markets in which to sell finished goods.  America hoped to gain some of these things via imperialism.
  • Strategic needs.  This was the era of Alfred Thayer Mahan and his idea that naval power was the most important factor in making countries strong.  This led to a desire for new territories on which to site naval bases.  These bases could be used for refueling ships and as places from which to project American power.
  • Cultural/religious reasons.  This was also the era of the "white man's burden."  The idea was that Americans were superior to the people they were imperializing.  It was the Americans' duty to bring superior civilization and religion to these people.

All of these factors had a part in motivating America's "New Imperialism."

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