Why did the US want the Philippines?

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The decision to take control of the Philippines was very controversial in the U.S., and there were several different reasons for why the U.S. wanted to gain control of this nation. First of all, it comes back to the idea of Manifest Destiny—the U.S. believed in expanding their land in...

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The decision to take control of the Philippines was very controversial in the U.S., and there were several different reasons for why the U.S. wanted to gain control of this nation. First of all, it comes back to the idea of Manifest Destiny—the U.S. believed in expanding their land in order to have control as well as economic opportunities, and the Philippines were seen as a way to do this. Additionally, the U.S. felt that Filipinos were incapable of self-government, and felt that if they didn't take control of this nation, then another nation like Germany or Japan would. This was concerning to the U.S., not only because they felt that these nations would control the Philippines in a way that would be harmful to the people of the Philippines, but also because this would further threaten the U.S.'s control in international affairs. Finally, having control over the Philippines would allow the U.S. to enter the Asian market, and be exposed to more economic opportunities.

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The US wanted the Philippines because the islands would serve as valuable resupply stations for steamships going to and from China. The United States wanted desperately to get into the lucrative Chinese markets; this partially explains the US's expansion into the Pacific. The United States also wanted to ensure that a growing Japan did not exert too much power in the region. What's more, the United States wanted to take over the island to fill the vacuum left when the Spanish were ousted by the US-Filipino forces. Christian missionaries also wanted the islands as American territories in order to add a new mission field for American Protestants. The archipelago was annexed at a time when the United States was trying to take up the "White Man's Burden," and this meant forcing Western-style commerce and civilization on the developing world—whether they wanted it or not.

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