Why Americans engage in imperialism (1890-1914)

Why did Americans engage in imperialism (1890-1914)?

What pushed Americans to drop traditional isolationism and engage a more interventionist, imperialist foreign policy?

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  • Economic factors: The United States was experiencing rapid economic growth during this period, and many businesses were looking for new markets and resources. Imperialism offered a way to gain access to these markets and resources, and it also helped to protect American businesses from foreign competition.
  • Nationalistic factors: Many Americans believed that the United States had a moral obligation to spread its values and institutions to other parts of the world. They also believed that imperialism would make the United States a more powerful and respected nation.

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  • Strategic factors: Some Americans believed that imperialism was necessary to protect the United States from its rivals, such as Germany and Japan. They argued that control of overseas territories would give the United States a strategic advantage in the event of war.
  • Racism and Social Darwinism: Some Americans believed that it was their duty to “civilize” the people of less developed countries. They argued that these people were inferior to white Americans and that they needed the help of the United States to progress.

These are just some of the reasons why Americans engaged in imperialism during this period. It is important to note that there was no single reason, and that the reasons varied depending on the individual or group.

The shift from isolationism to imperialism was a gradual one, and it was not without its critics. Some Americans argued that imperialism was wrong, and that it violated the principles of democracy and self-determination. Others argued that it was a waste of money and resources, and that it would lead to conflict with other countries.

Despite these criticisms, imperialism remained popular in the United States until the First World War. The war exposed the flaws of imperialism, and it led to a decline in American interest in overseas expansion. However, the United States would continue to play an active role in world affairs, and it would eventually emerge as a global superpower.

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