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How did America create a world empire?

Industrialism had changed the United States. Americans began to view their nation with increasing nationalism. The spirit if expansion and imperialism was fueled by these feelings. For one hundred years America had taken a back seat to the traditional European powers, that many American felt, should change.

In order for America to take its rightful place amongst the worlds power many felt we needed to control a vast imperial empire. This empire would provide a market for our goods, raw materials for our factories and protection for our commercial interests. The expansion was, as previously discussed, justified by the need for our people to expand commercially and the social Darwinist idea of the white man's burden. With this need in mind eyes turned towards Spain. Spain, a once mighty empire, still with vast colonial holdings many of them in our Caribbean backyard, was now a much weaker nation than us. They were ripe for the picking and a their imperial holdings would be the spoils of victory.

I. The Spanish American War

A. Causes of the War

1. In 1895 civil war broke out in Cuba between Spain and the Cubans.

2. Newspapers reported the brutality of the Spanish in graphic terms. The New York Journal reported "...blood on the roadsides, blood in the villages, blood, blood, blood!" American newspapers were clearly pushing the nation towards intervention in the Cuban situation.

3. The DeLome Letter - A letter by Spanish Ambassador to the United States Enrique DeLome was intercepted by Hearst's newspaper and published on the front page. The DeLome letter called President McKinley "...weak" The DeLome letter embarrassed McKinley and brought us one step closer to war. The letter was published on the front pages of newspapers.

4. The Sinking of the Maine - As tensions had increased the United States has sent it's fleet to Cuba to protect American economic interests.

On the night of February 15, 1898, the ship was sunk by a tremendous explosion, and 260 lives were lost. Reports pointed to sabotage, but responsibility for the disaster was not determined. The New York Journal reported that a Spanish Mine had had sunk the Maine. Other newspapers showed pictures of Spanish terrorists swimming under the Maine and placing explosives under the ship.

Below you can see the actual newspaper headlines published by the New York Journal

Publisher William Randolph Hearst had instructed his photographers: "You furnish the pictures...I'll furnish the war!" Looking at these headlines it is obvious that Hearst, and his competitor Pulitzer, published information that they could not back up. This influenced Americans to push for war with Spain. This biased and irresponsible reporting is known a yellow journalism. It is clear that the so called "yellow press" was deeply involved in pushing the US into war.

B. Results of the War - The United States gained control of the following lands as a result of the Spanish American war.

1. Cuba

2. Puerto Rico

3. Philippines

4. Other islands as well but these are the important ones.

Because of the vast territories gained as a result of the Spanish American War America became an instant world power. From then on the United States was one of, or the most, powerful nations on earth. As a result the Spanish American War is known as "the beginning of the American Century.

II. Other Territories Gained

A. Hawaii - Prior to the Spanish American War the United States gained control of the Hawaiian Islands. From the early 1800's American business interests had grown in Hawaii, a series of islands that remained independent. In time the Dole Family was the largest landowner and the Hawaiian Royal family more or less followed whatever they and the United States said. In the mid 1800's a new queen, Queen Liliuokalani gained control of the Islands and began to pass a series of anti American laws. As these laws hurt business the Dole's and other private American businessmen funded a revolution and took over Hawaii. The USS Boston, a US battleship, sat in the Harbor making any Hawaiian resistance impossible. In 1895 Hawaii became a US territory.

B. Panama Canal Zone - The US, dealing with French Engineer Phillipe Bunau-Varilla, agreed that if Panamanians revolted the US would stop Colombia from interfering. A US fleet, led by the USS Nashville, entered the harbor at Colon and the next day a revolution broke out. Four days later the US government recognized Panama a treaty was signed where Panama gave the canal zone to the US forever. The reality is the US caused a revolution just to get what we wanted.

C. Asia - Other then the Philippines, the US did not gain much actual territory in Asia but we did gain much of power.


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