Topics: Colonialism, United States, Imperialism Pages: 7 (1278 words) Published: November 15, 2014
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The Debate Over American Imperialism #8
Historical Context:

The final decades of the nineteenth century saw a mad scramble as the powerful, and aspiring powerful, nations of the world attempted to gain control of areas in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and elsewhere in order to build and consolidate their empires. This outbreak of colonialism found its origins in the industrial nations securing raw materials for their factories and captive markets for their manufactured goods. Often the colonies would be sought for military reasons. The coal-fired navies of these nations required bases from which they could easily refuel. The strategic location of these bases around the globe meant that they could protect their far-flung empires more easily. Just the act of possessing colonies became a source of bragging rights for nations who were seeing a rise in nationalism at home. Obtaining and controlling vast colonial empires was a source of pride. The British claimed, with great pride, that “the sun never sets on Great Britain.” Ironically, this period was soon to be followed by a rise in nationalism among these same colonial peoples.

During most of the 1800s, the United States ignored much of this activity and it was fought out almost entirely by European nations. We were busy conquering our own continent and spreading across the Great Plains to California and the Pacific Ocean. Colonial expansion held little interest until our own sense of nationalism began to be awakened in the late 1890s.

Ironically, our interest in colonial empire grew out of a desire to champion anti-colonialism and an interest in helping Cuba free itself from Spanish colonial rule. It ended with the United States in the possession of a colonial empire herself. The Spanish-American War, over quickly with few casualties, gained Guam, Puerto Rico and the Philippines. But from the war’s end in August 1898 until the Senate ratified the Treaty of Paris in February 1899 annexing these lands, a debate raged over whether or not a nation born in revolt against colonialism should itself become a ruler of colonies. This debate did not end with the ratification of the treaty but became even more impassioned when the Filipinos took up arms against American colonial occupation troops beginning two years of bloody struggle. As is often the case, this domestic quarrel over imperialism became a major political issue influencing the presidential election of 1900.


Consider why people objected to or supported America’s imperialism. Some felt it was immoral to rule over other peoples while others felt it was immoral to shirk our duty of assisting the less privileged of the world. Was imperialism a proper policy for the United States to follow in the context of the 19th Century?


Read the documents to arrive at an understanding of the task above. Analyze the content to determine how you might use the document to complete the task. Complete Part A short answers.
Write a well organized essay that includes an introduction with a thesis (main idea) statement, several paragraphs explaining the thesis, and a conclusion. Use a majority of the documents.
Do not simply repeat what the documents say. Explain how it supports your thesis. Include specific related additional information from your study of social studies.

Part A
Short Answer:The following documents relate to why people objected to and supported America’s policy of imperialism. Examine each document carefully and then answer the question(s) which follow it. Incomplete sentences or phrases may be used to answer the question, but DO NOT use one word answers. Part B

Essay:Complete the TASK in a well organized essay. Consider why people objected to or supported America’s imperialism. Some felt it was immoral to rule over other peoples while others felt it was immoral to shirk our duty of...
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