Unit 5 Class Notes- imperialism and wwi american Expansionism


The Season for Annexation-



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The Season for Annexation- By the mid 1800s, American-owned sugar plantations accounted for ¾ of the islands wealth. Laborers from Japan, China, and Portugal came by the thousands to work the plantations. By 1900, foreigners and immigrant workers outnumbered native-born Hawaiians three-to-one.

  • 1875- The US agreed to import Hawaiian sugar duty-free (tax free)

    • Hawaiian sugar production increased nine times over the next 15 years

  • 1890- The McKinley Tariff removed the duty-free status of Hawaiian sugar, causing the islands sugar growers to compete in the American market

    • American-owned plantation owners cried foul!

    • They called for America to annex the islands, in order for them to avoid paying the tariff duty.

  • 1890- Hawaii’s King Kalakaua was forced by foreign business leaders to amend his nation’s constitution, limiting the voting rights to only wealthy landowners.

  • 1891- the King died, his sister Queen Liliuokalani took the throne

    • She pursued an agenda to remove property qualifications for voting, known as “Hawaii for Hawaiian” in order to ensure native Hawaiians controlled the islands

    • ***The queen’s attempt to reduce the political influence of American sugar planters would prompt the U.S. government to participate in the overthrow of the Hawaiian government

  • 1893- American business groups, encouraged by U.S. Ambassador John L. Stevens, organized a revolt

    • Assisted by the U.S. Marines, they overthrew the queen and set up a government, The Republic of Hawaii, led by Sanford B. Dole

      • Ambassador Stevens informed the State Department, “The Hawaiian pear is now fully ripe, and this is the golden hour for the United States to pluck it.”

    • The new U.S. president, Grover Cleveland, called for Liliuokalani to be reinstated, but Dole refused.

    • Cleveland formally recognized the Republic of Hawaii, but refused to consider annexation unless a majority of Hawaiians favored it…which they didn’t. Of course.

  • 1898- The next U.S. president, William McKinley, favored annexation.

    • Aug. 12, 1898, Congress proclaimed Hawaii an American territory.


Support and Opposition to American Imperialism
William McKinley’s reelection in 1900 confirmed that a majority of Americans favored his policies. During his first term in office, beginning in 1897, support for U.S. imperialism would grow, and America would gain an empire.

  • American sugar growers supported the overthrow of Liliuokalani and the annexation of Hawaii

  • ***U.S. business people who had significant investments in Cuba were supportive of the Spanish-American War, which began in April 1898.

  • ***Newspapers such as William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal sensationalized stories of Spanish atrocities during the Cuban rebellion, and stoked the calls for war following the explosion of the U.S.S. Maine, largely in order to increase circulation of their newspapers…as well as their profits.





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