As production increased American business began to look out at the
world as a means to support that growing industry. American
businessmen and newspapers began to urge the American government to
take actions that would lead to expansion and imperialism.
Americans justified imperialism by:
- Claiming Emerging business demanded it. As Americans
increased business overseas it became necessary to protect those
investments. In order to protect those investments America built
the "great white fleet" that had been requested by Captain Alfred
Thayer Mahan. (Last lesson) American policy was now going to based
upon intervention and acquisition, not isolation and neutrality.
Senator Alfred Beveridge expressed this view as a justification
Today we are raising more than we can consume. Today we
are making more than we can use... Therefore we must find new
markets for our produce, new occupation for our capital, new
work for our labor... Ah! As our commerce spreads, the flag of
liberty will circle the globe and the highway of the ocean -
carrying trade to all mankind - will be guarded by the guns of
the republic. And as their thunders salute the flag, benighted
(ignorant) peoples will know that the voice of liberty is
speaking, at last, for them... that civilization is dawning at
last, for them.
--Senator Alfred Beveridge, 1898
Americans justified imperialistic behavior by:
- Claiming that it was their responsibility. Americans
and Europeans both claimed that it was their responsibility as
superior races to uplift, civilize and Christianize native
peoples. This was known as the White Mans Burden and was
based upon the ideas of social Darwinism. Rudyard Kipling wrote a
famous poem by the same name:
Take up the white man's burden-
Send forth the best ye breed-
Go bind your sons to exile
To serve your captives need
To wait, in heavy harness,
On fluttered folk and wild-
You new-caught sullen peoples,
Half devil and half child.
Take up the white man's burden,
And reap his old reward-
The blame of those ye better
The hate of those ye guard-
The cry of those ye humor
Ah, slowly toward the light:
"Why brought ye us from bondage,
Our loved Egyptian (heathen) night?
--Rudyard Kipling, "The White Man's Burden"
This cartoon entitled "What The United
States Has Fought For" aptly describes the goals of
missionaries and imperialists.
- Claiming it was God's Will. Many Americans felt it was
not only our responsibility and duty but it was also a mandate by
God. One of the leading proponents of imperialism was the Minister
Josiah Strong. Minister Strong argued that America was in a race
with other nations to dominate the world and acquire the limited
resources the world had to offer. Strong claimed that America as
the leading nation in the world (arguable at the time!) it was our
destiny to acquire new lands. This idea sounds alot like Manifest
Destiny because it is the same idea! In the following passage
Strong makes his ideas quite clear.
It seems to me that God, with infinite wisdom and skill, is
training the Anglo-Saxon race for an hour sure to come in the
worlds future. The lands of the earth are limited, and soon
will be taken. Then will the world enter upon a new stage in
its history- the final competition of the races. Then this race
of unequaled energy, with the majesty of numbers and the might
of wealth behind it- the representative of the largest liberty,
the purest Christianity, the highest civilization... will
spread itself over the earth.
--Minister Josiah Strong, 1885
The reality is that even though we were expanding for economic
reasons, we said it was for the reasons expressed above. American
policy makers were clear in the course of action. We were to follow
an aggressive imperialistic foreign policy.
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