Chapter Three Manifest Destiny and American Antecedents

Download 146.5 Kb.
Size146.5 Kb.
  1   2   3
Chapter Three
Manifest Destiny and American Antecedents

Night after night McKinley paced the floor of the White House, and knelt beside his bed to pray.1

With God’s help, we will lift Shanghai up and up, ever up, until it is just like Kansas City.2
Behind the foreign expert lies a long tradition of white colonial exploitation.3
The supply of good [educational] programs [in Asia] reflects…the long history of American missionary and business relationships in China and Japan.4

The American Expansion:

Manifest Destiny
U.S. Imperial expansion was part of the country’s perceived manifest destiny almost from the founding of the nation. For the United States, manifest destiny in the nineteenth century and beyond included cultural, social and political values as well as geographical expansion.5 Manifest destiny would continue to have a singular impact upon U.S. foreign policy and foreign aid after 1948.
Manifest destiny began prior to the American Revolution when colonists from Virginia and Pennsylvania pressed to move into the Ohio valley touching off the French and Indian War. It continued with the new national government decision to push Native Americans off most of their lands after the establishment of the Federal government in 1789. For most of the nineteenth century the expansion was continental and incorporative and, except for the incorporation of Native American nations and the status of slavery, territorially egalitarian. Territories eventually became states which then became part of the Union.
After the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, most of those whose loyalties were to Britain were driven into Canada or back to England. In his Farewell Address, Washington made his appeal for no entangling alliances with European nations.6 John Adams and a number of members of the founding generation were known to be anti-British and suspicious of Europe as a whole. In this sense, because of the U.S. hostility exhibited towards Europe in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, both British and European foreign policy diverged significantly from the United States.
In 1823, President James Monroe asserted what has come to be known as the Monroe Doctrine. The 1823 Monroe Doctrine contained three principles: There was to be no further European colonization of the Western Hemisphere; Europe should not intervene militarily in Latin America; and the U.S. would not become involved in European affairs.7 Most importantly, the Monroe Doctrine of 1823 in effect declared that the U.S. had a right to political control events in the Western Hemisphere.8
Throughout the first half of the nineteenth century many American leaders assumed that the U.S. would eventually incorporate Canada and Mexico. There was much discussion of the annexation of parts of Central and South America, and the Caribbean throughout the century. The Monroe Doctrine initially impacted upon American policy on the North American continent, and most notably with the 1846-1848 U.S.-Mexican War, which brought the Southwestern third of Northern America forcibly into the United States. This included the annexations of massive areas of the Southwest from Texas to California and with associated purchases of land to fill out the continent.
Large chunks of territory, Spanish Florida and the Louisiana Purchase were bought, or in the case of Florida, in effect were annexed from European powers. The Indian Wars (1835-1842) brought the central plains into the union. Treaties with Britain and continued conflict with Native American nations completed the conquest of what became the continental United States. By the 1860s, with the purchase of Alaska, the U.S. began to look beyond the continental United States to fulfill its national ambitions.
Next steps included expeditions of exploration and in some cases conquest to Hawaii, the South Pacific, Japan and China.9 Following the expansion of manifest destiny overseas, what came to be the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine proclaimed that the United States “should prohibit incursions by foreign creditor nations into the hemisphere by undertaking preemptive invasions and occupations of those Latin American countries that failed to honor their debts.”10 The U.S. used this principle to intervene in many states in the Caribbean and Latin America well into the twentieth century.
U.S. foreign policy during the last decade of the nineteenth century “was based on the negative principle of isolation from the powers of Europe, but it was not lacking in strong positive assertions in both the Western Hemisphere and the Far East.”11 The country’s leadership was particularly concerned about the threat to U.S. commercial rights in the Caribbean and the Pacific area. There were a number of very powerful aggressive expansionists in Congress in the late nineteenth century. Among the business community and the church were those who defined duty as “the obligation of a great nation to guide less fortunate persons, and bestow on them the enlightenment of her institutions and culture.”12
The U.S. annexed the Midway Islands in 1867. Hawaii was annexed by the United States in 1893 after a bloodless coup by American settlers over the internationally recognized Queen Liliukalani. However, full territorial status required Senatorial approval which only occurred in 1898. Hawaii had long been a commercial dependency and was seen by expansionists as a gateway to the Far East. It had a “submissive and dwindling native population.”13 The then American settler population almost from the beginning focused on outright annexation to the United States.
The U.S. attitude from the early nineteenth century had been that Cuba should be either given its independence from Spain or purchased by the United States. There was a flurry of activity in this direction just prior to the U.S. Civil War. Resistance to Spanish rule in Cuba had simmered throughout the last half of the nineteenth century and especially after a renewed insurrection broke out in 1895. There were militant expansionists in both the Democratic and the Republican Party who advocated a war of conquest with Spain in 1896.
In Latin America it was the crisis with Britain over the Venezuela-British Guiana border that began a redefinition the U.S.’s Western Hemisphere policy. However, it was the Spanish-American War which defined an American overseas policy for the first half of the twentieth century. The 1898 Spanish-American War was a watershed period for U.S. foreign involvement in the Western Hemisphere and had implications for U.S. international assistance policy.
The Impact of the Spanish-American War
The Spanish-American War began on April 20, 1898 and was fought until an armistice was declared on August 12, 1898. The Treaty of Paris, that formally ended the war, was signed on December 30, 1898 and ratified by the U.S. Senate on February 6, 1899. The Spanish-American War was a war of emotion, from the sinking of the Maine to Admiral Dewey’s capture of Manila Bay which caused a “delirious celebration” in the United States.14 It was what then Secretary of State John Hay called “a splendid little war.”15
In the wake of the victory over Spain, the United States was ripe with excitement and “dizzy and drunk with glory, and prostrate in admiration” for President McKinley, Admiral Dewey and the other instant heroes generated by this brief, and seemingly easy war. The U.S. had a manifest destiny in the Western Hemisphere and the Pacific and there was “spontaneous popular enthusiasm for colonial dependencies.”16
At the end of the Spanish-American War, the U.S. had in effect created a colonial Empire. In addition to Hawaii, as a result of the Treaty of Paris which ended the Spanish-American War, the U.S in 1899 acquired the Philippines, Guam and Puerto Rico as colonies. Cuba became a Protectorate.17 In 1898 and 1899, the U.S. annexed Johnson Island, Wake Island, and Palmyra Island as Naval outposts. The U.S. also leased the Canal Zone from Panama (1903), purchased the Virgin Islands from Denmark (1916), and in 1947acquired the Pacific Trust Territories as a result of World War II. The U.S. most often used the term Protectorate rather than colony to describe the territories that it controlled and Americans defined their Empire as based upon the requirements of trusteeship.
By 1900, the United States had become a great expansionist power in both the Western Hemisphere and the Pacific. It dominated Central America and was seeking out an isthmian canal that would link the Atlantic and the Pacific. The construction of the Panama Canal between 1903 and 1914 would provide a model for high cost international construction projects well into the twentieth century.18 Table 3.1 provides information on the current status of the former U.S. Protectorates worldwide including their current (2006) political system and population.

Table 3.1
The U.S. Associated States and Territories in the

Twentieth Century19

Name of Territory

Current Status


(2000 unless otherwise noted)

Republic of Palau

Associated State


Federated States of Micronesia

Associated States


Republic of the Marshall Islands

Associated State


Commonwealth of the Mariana Islands

Associated State (Commonwealth)


U.S. Virgin Islands








American Samoa




Commonwealth of Puerto Rico

Commonwealth Associated with U.S.



District of Columbia

Federal District


Republic of Philippines




Panama Canal Zone

Incorporated into Panama







Directory: ~picard -> 2096-0901

Share with your friends:
  1   2   3

The database is protected by copyright © 2020
send message

    Main page