Dbq: American Imperialism The shaping of American foreign policy during the late 19



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Kristy Nguyen

Period 1B

DBQ: American Imperialism

The shaping of American foreign policy during the late 19th and early 20th century were molded by the roles of imperialism through commercial/business interest, military and power, and the increasing Social Darwinist thinking.

With the commercial and business interest building up, expanding, earning and protecting more foreign trade became important. In document J, it states that in the American Asiatic Association Organizes Businessmen in Support of an Aggressive China Policy that its purpose is to” foster and safeguard the trade and commercial interest of the United States and places in Asia and the Oceania”. They United States made many policies and treaties with these places, like the Treaty of Kanagawa in Japan, The Open Door Policy in China; gave nations equal trade in china and this guaranteed that China would not be taken over by any one foreign power, thus strengthening Americas foreign policy with China. In document F, it speaks of the Chinese Treaty tariff that includes of the “Sphere of Interest” within China involving the other nation that it trades with. America made many ways to keep it foreign policy within different countries for the commercial and business interest of the United States.

Through the increasing Social Darwinist thinking, the Americans thought it was there duty to raise the lower races up. In document A, it states that there was nothing left for them to do but to educate the Filipinos and uplift and civilize them the best they could do. The Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine strongly supported this idea of that it was the white man’s responsibility to rise them up as the United States continued to expand through imperialism. In document H, it continues to follow this idea as within it, it states” Would not the people of the Philippines prefer the just, humane, civilizing government of this Republic to savage , bloody rule of pillage and extortion from which we have rescued them ?”. In document L, in the first line “Take up the White Man’s Burden”, this plainly shows that they thought it was their “burden” the white man’s problem. It was there burden to help the lower race, the colored races, rise up. The rising of Social Darwinist thinking spread American foreign policy to many “lower class” races all around the world in order to “help” them.



One of the major foreign policies that were shaped by imperialism was the military/strategic interests of America. In document C, it shows the all islands that the United States acquired, they made many of these into coal stations for their trade boats and for foreign countries as well. With these islands, the United States were able to travel farther for trade, and foreign influence. In the document E, it talks about how in the Platt Amendment, the government of Cuba consent that the United States may exercise the right to intervene for the preservation of Cuban independence. They signed the Treaty of Paris that freed Cuba from the Spanish rule of Spain. With this the United States became an imperial power. In document I, it shows Uncle Sam places the American flag on places of the Oceania region. It says” Uncle Sam wished to add another star to his flag” this states that the United States wants to own more countries, adding more to what the United States already owns will add more to its military power of the sea.

In conclusion, the shaping of American foreign policy during the late 19th and early 20th century were molded by the roles of imperialism through how America made many ways to keep it foreign policy within different countries for the commercial and business interest of the United States. The rising of Social Darwinist thinking spread American foreign policy to many “lower class” races all around the world in order to “help” them. Finally, the spread of the United States power through military power gain, help it keep it foreign policies in cheack.


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