Biggest picture

Download 44.01 Kb.
Size44.01 Kb.
Lecture # 4

The Progressive Movement--Responses to the Challenges Brought About by Industrialization, Urbanization, and Immigration: The Rise of American Power (Justified Imperialism?)


Between the end of the Civil War and the turn of the 20th century, the US became a more industrialized and urbanize nation. These changes brought many benefits to society, but they created problems as well. We will review how Americans responded with foreign policies to changes at home and overseas, in the years from 1900 to 1920. Recall that this period is called the Progressive Era because of the belief in the “progress” society could achieve through government intervention and personal effort. Progressivism indicates that Americans were reacting to problems by working for and getting reform (instead of the accepting the status quo or letting ignorance, apathy/tradition, or Social Darwinism guide America.)


From 1865 to 1920, the US emerged from isolation to become an imperial power. The US gained power and territory through: 1) victory in war 2) annexation 3) purchase, and 4) economic influence.


This section deals with American foreign policy during the Progressive Era, after reviewing the background of American expansion since 1865. From 1865 to 1920, the US moved beyond the borders of North America to become an imperialist power on a global scale. Presidential power is the central issue. We will review the reasons for these actions and the national debate caused by them. Again, TR and WW dominated foreign policy in the first two decades of the 20th century. Their motivations, their policies, and the effects on people at home and abroad are all important understandings you will learn. WWI will be address in the next lecture.


1) Places and Regions: How did America’s industrialization increase pressures for overseas expansion?

2) Challenges and Changes: How did American imperialism challenge and change the world? How did it get promoted and rejected in America?


Frederick Jackson Turner, Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Woodrow Wilson, Matthew Perry, Henry Cabot Lodge, Open Door Policy, jingoism, imperialism, Roosevelt Corollary, Dollar Diplomacy,


-In the 1800s and early 1900s, American expansion was in many ways a resumption of the expansionist drive that had been halted by the Civil War. A number of factors led the US into greater global involvement in the late 1800s.

A. New Technology

-Improvement in transportation and communication technology shortened distances around the world. At the same time, other inventions accelerated industrial growth. Railroads connected factories and farms to Atlantic and Pacific ports, from which steamships carried goods to Europe, Latin America, and Asia. Communication was faster and easier thanks to the telegram, telephone, and transatlantic cable. Communications technology quickly provided information on international markets and on events in other nations that might affect the US. The world was become more interdependent.

B. Drive for Markets and Raw Materials

-Economics linked the domestic and foreign policy goals of the US. Business leaders wanted raw materials from abroad. Both business leaders and farmers also wanted overseas markets. Overseas markets could provide economic stability, especially when, as in the 1890s, domestic consumption could not absorb the nation’s output. At the same time, international competition increased as European nations, Japan, and the US sought raw materials and markets. Foreign trade increased dramatically. High US tariffs played a role in the revolutions in Hawaii and in Cuba.

C. Growth of Naval Power

-The US Navy began to expand in the 1880s, building steel-hulled warships with steam engines and the latest in weapons. Behind this growth was the urging of the expansionists like Alfred T. Mahan, who argued that as foreign trade grew, a nation needed a strong navy to (establish and) protect shipping routes. The navy, in turn, needed bases at which to refuel and restock supplies for routine/defensive patrols and/or offensive actions.

D. Manifest Destiny and the Closing of the Frontier

-Recall that the idea of Manifest Destiny took hold in the US in the mid-1800s. Manifest Destiny is the idea that the US had a divine mission to expand in order to spread the ideals of freedom and democracy, aka, remake the continent (world?) in our image. The historian Frederick Jackson Turner fueled this thinking. In a famous 1893 essay, Turner argued that the existence of a frontier throughout American history had been vital in shaping the America character, such as individualism, ingenuity, ambition. By 1893, Turner noted, that the frontier no longer existed, an argument supported by the 1890 census. Some people interpreted this development to mean that Americans needed new frontiers beyond the current borders.

E. Social Darwinism

-Closely tied to Manifest Destiny was the idea that the American way of life was so superior that the US was obligated to carry its benefits to other peoples. Few wondered whether these peoples wanted American ‘benefits,’ or recognized that this notion implied that other people and their ways of life were inferior. The belief in American superiority was a form of Social Darwinism. According to Social Darwinists, the law of nature resulted in the survival of superior people. Similarly, the same law led to the survival of superior nations, which are meant to dominate inferior nations. Few questioned the fact that no scientific evidence supported this theory.

F. Missionary Spirit

-Another motive for expansion was the missionary spirit. It lay behind attempts to introduce Christianity and ‘civilization’ to others, particularly in China, where the movement was strongest. The missionary impulse did result in certain improvements, such as the building of schools and hospitals. However, it also fostered a paternalistic view—one that saw the US as a parent supervising weaker, less ‘developed’ people. Underlying Manifest Destiny, Social Darwinism, and the missionary movement were nationalism, racism, and a strong sense of cultural superiority.

*Foreign Policy Trends: 1776-1823: Protecting national independence; 1824-1897: Fulfilling Manifest Destiny; 1898-1918: Emerging, Reluctant global involvement; 1919-1940: Limited international involvement; 1941-to Now: Accepting world leadership.


-The US’s role in Asia expanded because of the establishment of trade with China and Japan and the acquisition of Hawaii, Pacific bases, and the Philippines

A. China

-American trade with China began in the 1780s through the port of Canton. By the late 1800s, however, Americans were afraid that their economic opportunities in China might be limited. Throughout the 19th century, China had been subjected to imperialistic demands by Japan, Germany, Russia, Britain, and France. Each nation gained a ‘sphere of influence’—a region in which it had exclusive trade, mining, and other economic rights. Hong Kong, e.g., was British.

B. Open Door Policy

-In 1899, Secretary of State John Hay tried to assure economic opportunity for the US in China. He asked the European powers to keep an “open door” to China. He wanted to ensure through this Open Door Policy that the US would have fair access to the Chinese markets (buy/sell). The European powers, however, met his request with a cool response.

1. “The policy of the US is to seek a solution which may bring about permanent safety and peace to China, preserve Chinese territorial and administrative entity, protect all rights guaranteed to friendly powers by treaty and international law, and safeguard for the world the principle of equal an impartial trade with all parts of the Chinese Empire.” –Open Door Policy, 1899

C. The Boxer Rebellion

-In 1900, a secret patriotic Chinese society called the Boxers attacked western/Christian missionaries, diplomats, and other foreigners in China in what is known as the Boxer Rebellion. The Boxers were revolting against the Manchu Dynasty and against the intervention of Western powers in China. The Western powers, including the US, sent troops to restore order. Fearing that rival nations would take even more Chinese land, Secretary Hay expanded the Open Door Policy to mean that the current boundaries of China should be preserved.

file:china imperialism cartoon.jpg

D. Japan

-Japan had developed into a major economic power after 1854, the year US Commodore Matthew Perry ended Japan’s isolation by negotiating a treaty opening two Japanese ports to ships from the US. Unlike China, Japan carried out a far-reaching modernization program making it a major economic power by 1900.

From 1900 to 1941, a key aim of American foreign policy in Asia became providing the balance of power to restrict Japanese expansion. Japan displayed its growing strength by defeating Russia in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905. In an effort to protect American interests in Asia, President Theodore Roosevelt mediated the peace treaty that ended the war. It was understood that Japanese could remain in Manchuria and annex Korea. The agreement of the US to the Japanese takeover of Korea was formalized in the 1905 Taft-Katsura Agreement. In return, Japan would not threaten the Philippines.

Relations between Japan and the US experienced a setback when the San Francisco schools placed Japanese children in separate classes in the 1900s. The Japanese government condemned this segregation. President Theodore Roosevelt achieved a compromise with Japanese officials called the Gentlemen’s Agreement of 1907. This agreement ended school segregation in San Francisco, but also restricted Japanese immigration to the US.

In 1908, the two nations also entered into the Root-Takahira Agreement, in which both countries agreed to uphold the Open Door Policy and support China’s independence and integrity. It also meant each nation would not attempt to seize the other’s possessions.

E. Hawaii

-Until the 1890s, Hawaii was an independent country ruled by a monarch. The US had important business interest there; namely, sugar plantations. In 1890, the US placed a protective tariff on imported sugar, including that from Hawaii, in order to protect sugar producers in the US. This meant that Americans would be more likely to buy domestic sugar rather than Hawaiian sugar, and American planters in Hawaii would lose money. In addition to being hurt economically by this protective tariff, American planters in Hawaii also feared the growth of Hawaiian nationalism and resentment toward the power of American interests. In 1893, American planters, aided by the chief US diplomat to Hawaii and by marines, carried out a successful revolution against the Hawaiian ruler. Against the wishes of the Hawaiian people, the American sugar growers asked that the US annex Hawaii, but President Grover Cleveland opposed expansion by force. Hawaii remained in the hands of the American sugar interests as the independent Republic of Hawaii. Now American planters in Hawaii could get as much for their sugar as growers on the mainland. Not until 1898, during the Spanish-American War, did Hawaii become a US possession. Then it became important as a military and commercial link to the Philippines and the rest of East Asia. Annexation was accomplished by a joint resolution of Congress rather than a treaty.

F. Samoa

-In 1878, the US gained the rights to a naval station at Pago Pago in the Samoan Islands. The port was also used by German and Great Britain. Samoa was situated in the Pacific on the trade route to Australia. Conflicts arose among the three nations. In 1899, Germany and the US divided it.

“The power that rules the Pacific…is the power that rules the world. And, with the Philippines, that power is and will forever be the American Republic.” Congressional Record, 1900.


-In 1898, the US began to acquire new territories, making it an imperial power. Most of these territorial gains resulted from the Spanish-American War.

A. Underlying Causes of the Spanish American War

-There were several underlying causes of the war between Spain and the US.

1. Economic: In Spanish-controlled Cuba, economic chaos led to revolution and a demand for US intervention. In the 1890s, Spain had imposed increased taxes on Cuba. In addition, the US placed a protective tariff on Cuban sugar, which had previously entered the nation tax-free. The effect of these taxes was economic collapse. Resentment toward Spain fueled Cuban anger, and soon revolution erupted. Cubans provoked US involvement by destroying American sugar plantations and mills in Cuba.

2. Humanitarian: Many Americans sympathized with the Cuban revolution and were appalled by the tactics of the Spanish military commander, Valeriano Weyler. He imprisoned hundreds of thousands of Cuban civilians in camps, where about 30% of them died from disease and starvation.

3. Expansionist: American expansionists—including Teddy Roosevelt, Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, and Secretary of State John Hay—recognized that war offered an opportunity to seize territory from Spain, a weak nation.

B. Immediate Causes of the Spanish-American War

-In addition to the underlying causes of the Spanish-American War, several immediate events aroused Americans’ emotions. These fed a growing jingoism—a super patriotism and demand for aggressive actions—that created a warlike mood.

1. Yellow Journalism: In the late 1890s, two of the most famous American publishers, William Randolph Hearst of the New York Morning Journal and Joseph Pulitzer of the New York World, were battling for readers in a circulation war. Both newspapers printed the most sensational stories and pictures they could find about the horrors of the Cuban revolution. The stories often exaggerated and distorted—sensationalized—events for emotional effect.

*Jingoism comes from an 1870s British:

“We don’t want to fight

But by Jingo, if we do,

We’ve got the men, we’ve got the ships,

We’ve got the money, too.”
2. The de Lome Letter: A personal letter written by the Spanish minister to the US, Enrique Dupuy de Lome, was printed in the New York Journal in February 1898. De Lome’s unfavorable comments—he called POTUS McKinley “weak and catering to the rabble”—made it hard for the POTUS and other political leaders to withstand demands for war.

3. Sinking of the Maine: Less than a week after publication of the de Lome letter, the US battleship Maine exploded and sank in the harbor of Havana, Cuba, killing 266 Americans. The public blamed Spain, although a later investigation was never able to neither determine the cause of the explosion nor assign responsibility.

C. Fighting the Spanish-American War

-In April 1898, despite Spain’s agreement to an armistice with Cuba, McKinley asked Congress to declare war. Congress complied. It also approved the Teller Amendment, which promised that the US would not annex Cuba. The war lasted four months, with fighting in both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. Of the 2,446 Americans who lost their lives, fewer than 400 were killed in combat; the rest died from infection and disease.

D. The Results of the Spanish-American War

-In December 1898, the Treaty of Paris, negotiated with Spain granted Cuba its independence, gave the US the Philippines, in return for $20M, and ceded Puerto Rico and Guam to the US. The Treaty of Paris of 1898 led to the acquisition of many former Spanish territories that formed the basis of an American empire. This set off a national debate among imperialists and anti-imperialists. It also led to increased American involvement in Latin America and Asia as the nation sought to protect its new lands.

*”It has been a splendid little war; begun with the highest motives, carried out with magnificent intelligence and spirit.” John Hay, Secretary of State, 1898


-Ratification of the Treaty of Paris set off a great debate in the US. As with all treaties, it had to be approved by a 2/3 vote of the Senate. The fundamental question was whether the US should pursue imperialism—the policy of expanding a nation’s power by foreign acquisitions.







Annexation after 1893 revolution


Puerto Rico

Bought from Spain after war



Bought from Spain after war



Bought from Spain after war



Treat with Great Britain


Wake Island



Panama Canal Zone

Treaty with Panama


Virgin Islands

Purchased from Denmark

A. Debating Imperialism

-Americans in both political parties, in all regions, and from all social classes could be found on either side of the debate. Progressives were also divided. Imperialists included Theodore Roosevelt, Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, and Alfred Thayer Mahan. Among the anti-imperialists were Andrew Carnegie, Mark Twain, Jane Addams, William Jennings Bryan, Booker T. Washington, and former POTUS Grover Cleveland and Benjamin Harrison.



The US needs colonies to compete economically.

Supporting an empire is a financial burden.

To be a true world power, the US needs colonies and naval bases.

The US should concentrate its energies on solving its problems at home.

It is the American destiny to expand, and its duty to care for poor, weak peoples.

Nonwhite people cannot be assimilated into American society; they’re better off on their own.

To abandon territories makes the US appear cowardly before the world.

An empire would involve the US in more/continuous wars of defense & conquest.

It is only honorable to keep land that Americans lost their lives to obtain.

It is a violation of democratic principles to annex land and not offer its people the same rights as those of US citizens.

B. Acquiring the Philippines

-In February 1899, the Senate approved the Treaty of Paris by a small margin. That January, Emilio Aguinaldo, who had been fighting the Spanish for Philippine independence, declared the Philippines a republic. The bitter war between the Americans and Filipinos ended in 1902. More than 4K Americans and 16K Filipinos died. An additional 200K Filipinos died from starvation and disease during this insurrection and guerilla war. Atrocities were committed by both sides. At the end of the war, the Philippines were under American control.

C. The Constitution and the Territories

-Imperialism was supported by the Supreme Court form 1901 to 1904, with decision in the Insular Cases. The Court ruled that the Constitution only applied in those territories that Congress decided would be incorporated into the US. The Court also held that people in annexed territories did not automatically have the rights of US citizens. Congress would make that decision, based on the status give to a territorial possession.

D. Governing the Territories

-The US set up different means of governing its new territories.

1. Hawaii was made a territory in 19000, its first step on the way to statehood.

2. In 1916, the Jones Act promised the Philippines independence, but the law did not name a date. In 1934, the Philippines was promised independence in 10 years. This promise was delayed because of WWII but was honored in 1946.

3. The Foraker Act of 1900 provided for a Puerto Rican legislature elected by the people with a governor and council appointed by the American President. Puerto Ricans received US citizenship in 1917. In 1952, the island became a commonwealth. This status gives Puerto Rico many rights of a state excluding sending representatives to Congress.

4. US troops remained in Cuba until 1902. American troops were sent to Cuba twice between 1902 and 1922. Cuban independence was limited by the Platt Amendment (1901), which remained part of the Cuban constitution until 1934. The amendment (1) required that the US approve treaties between Cuba and other nations, (2) gave the US the right to lease naval bases in Cuba, and (3) allowed the US to intervene in Cuba to preserve order or peace.


-Having acquired an empire rather quickly, the US found itself increasingly involved around the globe as it protected its new territories and interests. Of particular interest was Latin America.

A. Expanding the Monroe Doctrine

-The Monroe Doctrine of 1823 warned foreign powers to stay out of the Western Hemisphere. For several decades, the relatively weak US seldom referred to the doctrine. It was use, however, to support the American annexation of Texas as well as the Mexican American War. It was used again, as the end of the Civil War, against France, which had set up a puppet government in Mexico and refused to give into American demands to withdraw. France withdrew only after the US massed troops along the Mexican border.

1. The Roosevelt Corollary: POTUS Theodore Roosevelt, further reinforced, even reinterpreted, the Monroe Doctrine. Economic problems in Venezuela and the Dominican Republic led to threats of European intervention. In both cases, the US stepped in to restore order. Roosevelt explained American policy in a 1904 message to Congress. If a nation I the Western Hemisphere is guilty of consistently behaving wrongly, he said, the Monroe Doctrine requires that the US step in a act “as an international police power.” This policy is the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine.

2. The “Big Stick Policy”: With the Monroe Doctrine as its justification, the US intervened often in Latin American affairs, usually to protect American economic interests. POTUS Roosevelt was famous for the motto “speak softly and carry a big stick.” This means that the US would use peaceful methods to protect its interests whenever possible, but that it would use military force if necessary. The US occupied Nicaragua with troops from 1912 until 1933. IT also maintained a military occupation of Haiti (1915-1934) and the Dominican Republic (1916-1924). The Dominican Republic had trouble paying its debts to European nations. When the Europeans threatened force, the US took over Dominican finances, supervising them between 1905 and 1941. Haiti was supervised between 1916 and 1941 as was Nicaragua from 1911 to 1924.

3. “Dollar Diplomacy”: POTUS Taft’s foreign policy approach was known as “Dollar Diplomacy.” This mean that the US could help maintain orderly societies in other counties by increasing American investment in foreign economies. Naturally, these investments tended to increase American intervention in foreign affairs.

4. Intervention in Mexico: During the Mexican Revolution, POTUS Wilson intervened in Mexico’s affairs in order to protect huge US investments there. He also believed in “Moral Diplomacy”—conducting foreign affairs in terms of judgments about right and wrong. In 1913, after Victoriano Huerta overthrew the Mexican president and had him murdered, Wilson refused to recognize Huerta’s government. The next year, the US Navy seized the port of Vera Cruz to prevent a German ship from landing its cargo of arms for Huerta. Wilson also sent a force into northern Mexico in 1916 in an attempt to capture Pancho Villa, a Mexican rebel whose border raid into New Mexico in 1916 led to American deaths.

5. The “Good Neighbor Policy”: Only under POTUS Herbert Hoover (1929-1933) and FDR (1933-1945) did the US try to improve its relations with Latin America. Roosevelt backed what came to be called the “Good Neighbor Policy.” This means less emphasis on intervention and more on cooperation. However, American economic dominance of the region continued.

6. Panama Canal: Since the mid-1800s, the advantages of a canal linking the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans were well recognized. With a canal, nay and merchant ships could move more quickly between the 2 oceans. In 1901, the US, through negotiations, gained the sole right to build and control such a canal as long as it would be open to all nations.

Under TR, the US settled on a route across Panama, which was part of Columbia. When Columbia seemed reluctant to agree to financial terms, TR encouraged Panamanians to revolt and declare their independence. The US quickly negotiated a treaty with the new nation of Panama, which gave the US a 99 year renewable lease on a 10-mile-wide strip of land across Panama. Panama remained a US protectorate from 1903 to 1939.

Building the canal was a mammoth and dangerous task. Americans began 1904. Accidents, yellow fever, and malaria caused delays and deaths, as did the difficulty of moving more than 250 M cubic yards of soil and rock. However, workers made the remarkable achievement of completing the canal ahead of schedule and under budget. The canal opened in 1914, but this momentous event in engineering, imperial, and commercial history was overshadowed with the outbreak of the First World War (July 1914-November 1918; US involved April 1917-November 1918)

**Responding to Panamanian demonstrations, the US agreed in a 1977 treaty to return the canal to Panamanian control. Panama took over the canal on December 31, 1999.

Share with your friends:

The database is protected by copyright © 2020
send message

    Main page