Term Paper on Imperialism

This essay has a total of 628 words and 4 pages.


Imperialism in America:
A world power emerges

American imperialism seems at first to be an oxymoron. After all, when this country was
established, it was done so by a group of people fleeing the imperialistic oppression of
their own homeland. These people had a dream of creating a place where a man could live
for himself, free of the subjugation of his government or any other coercive force. This
seemed like a relatively simple dream to fulfill at the time, when America was new and
lacking the corruption of power. As it grew, however, the simplistic approach to life in
the U.S. altered drastically. The power that came with the size and wealth that was soon
associated with America brought changes in attitude. Why should America limit its
ambition to one continent when so much opportunity lie beyond? What it meant to be
American was no longer to be free, it was to have power. Those who still clung to the
ideals of an enlightened existence in an unconventional government were overrun by those
craving a more opportunistic one.

Webster defines imperialism as “the policy, practice, or advocacy of extending the
power and dominion of a nation especially by direct territorial acquisitions or by gaining
indirect control over the political or economic life of other areas, or broadly, the
extension or imposition of power, authority, or influence.” Though some may not
know it, and others may not want to admit it, that is exactly what America did. In a lull
of such local problems as reconstruction and industrialization, Manifest Destiny was once
again sovereign of the American initiative. The idea of the convenience and prosperity
that control of worldwide colonies promised was easy to embrace, and the conquering of
those lands was nearly as easy.

With a massively superior navy and the support of more than adequate ground forces,
America swept over several Spanish colonies, including Cuba and the Philippines, under the
pretence that they would be freed from their oppressor. After the land was essentially
ours, however, it was easy to make it seem like we were right in taking over, at least
until the peoples were secure in government and education. If during that time the
colonies were used as way stations for U.S. travelers or navy ports, it was all in due
thanks to the freeing of the natives, and not in any way imperialistic in nature, or at
least that was how it was viewed by most Americans. When the inhabitants were deemed
ready by the United States to manage their own lives, perhaps then their countries would
be restored to their original status.

Through most of the eighteenth and early nineteenth century, America emulated the
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