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DBQ Essay Jackson Kincaid

Expansionism in America during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century shared

many similarities and differences to that of previous American expansionist ideals. In both cases

of American expansionism, the Americans believed that we must expand our borders in order to

keep the country running upright. Also, the Americans believed that the United States was the

strongest of nations, and that they could take any land they pleased. This is shown in the

"manifest destiny" of the 1840's and the "Darwinism" of the late 1800's and early 1900's. Apart

from the similarities, there were also several differences that included the American attempt to

stretch their empire across the seas and into other parts of the world. The views compared and

contrasted of the United States overseas expansion in the late 19th and 20th century were seen as a

God-given right to those in support of oversea expansion, unconstitutional and militaristic to

anti-imperialists, and as a way to justify America as a powerful nation.

Throughout history, the United States had come off as a stubborn nation that would take

what they wanted at any cost. This was prevalent in both cases of expansion as the Americans

risked war and national safety for the sake of gaining land, or even merely for proving a point.

During the early years of expansion, the Americans had pushed aside the Native Americans and

whoever else inhabited the land they wanted. They believed that the land was rightfully theirs

and that everyone else was merely encroaching on their land. This idea was continued into the

early twentieth century as the Americans looked to the oceans for new territories to their

kingdom. This idea is greatly exemplified in document 2, in which Senator Albert J. Beveridge

delivers a speech to Congress, saying that, "...and thanksgiving to Almighty God that He has

marked us as His chosen people, henceforth to lead in the regeneration of the world..."
In contrary to America's earlier beliefs, however, the race for expansion became more of

a global competition than that of controlling the surrounding lands. Other countries were quickly

scooping the remaining uncontrolled territories up, and America felt that they needed to stake

their clam in imperialism around the world. According to Carl Schurz, an advocate against

oversea expansion, states We earnestly condemn the policy of the present national

administration in the Philippines. It seeks to extinguish the spirit of 1776 in those islands. This

saying that what right does America have to go and colonize a small island nation. He compares

it to the idea that America was once oppressed by Britain and how they revolted against them.

The argument of Manifest Destiny by the United States in the Philippines was challenged

by William Jennings Bryan through his speech Imperialism (Flags of an Empire). America was

obsessed with the Philippines as it was a good spot for further colonization in China. Most

Americans believed it was good to control this location as it was a great economic opportunity.

Also, the Philippine war was taking place and trade with Asia could support that. Jennings goes

on to talk about how the Filipinos do not need any encouragement from Americans now living.

This was to promote the idea that we dont need to be influencing other countries. He pointed

out the hypocrisy of American interventionism and argued that republican ideals could never

coincide with the policies of imperial colonialism. He used the language of the revolution to

describe how the Filipinos felt.


Events happening around this time were the Spanish-American war. The Spanish-

American war was a conflict between America and Spain in 1898 effectively due to the

intervention of US in the ongoing Cuban War of Independence. United States was attacked

Pacific possessions of Spain led to the involvement in the case of Philippine Revolution as well

as to Philippine- American war. The public opinion of America was grown at reports of Spanish

Atrocities in Cuba. United States tariff had put restrictions on sugar imports to America and

severely hurt the economy of Cuba that was dependent on the producing and selling sugar.

The early twentieth century proclaimed an era of American expansionism that broke with

past principles in its pursuit of economic and political interests, while it maintained cultural and

social incentives of past continental expansion. As the United States began to acquire a colonial

empire however, it became apparent that the allegedly noble social motives of Manifest Destiny

and the spread of liberty merely served to justify the true secular intentions beneath imperialism:

a desire for commercial gain and international power. It was ultimately a pursuit of these self-

serving interests that fueled American imperialism and catapulted the nation to a position of

dominance.