Throughout the history of the United States, her ideas of expansion were altered. According to certain views, expansionism did not change in the late nineteenth-century to the early twentieth-century while others viewed expansionism to have stayed the same. Foreign countries continued to broaden their horizons and colonize other places, and as the United States grew in power, it began to act likewise.
An old concept idealised by the American people was Manifest Destiny. Senator Albert J. Beveridge describes the American people as, “…[God’s] chosen people, henceforth to lead the regeneration of the world…(Document E)” It was believed that it was America’s divine right to rule over the world. We would do this by taking control of the Pacific Ocean which was predicted to be the center of future commerce (Document E). Likewise, Josiah Strong believed that the strongest race, the Anglo-Saxon race, would rule over the rest of the world by the process of “survival of the fittest (Document B).” Considering America was progressing technologically, economically and had previously expanded from the East coast to the West, thoughts of further control were prominent in the minds of Americans at the time. It only seemed fit to expand America’s ideals to others around the globe who were so obviously in need of our attention.
Theodore Roosevelt, in a message to Congress, addressed the reasons for America’s participation in foreign affairs. He states the the United States does not wish to take over foreign countries, but to simply lend a helping hand where is needed. Upon a country becoming uncivilized, America will interfere until all disputes are settled and the country can maintain itself without our assistance, also known as “police power (Document F).” The sole purpose of the help given by the United States is to ensure that foreign countries remain stable and prosperous to avoid abuse of the people and catastrophe. On the other hand, not everyone sought it fit for America to be putting so much attention on foreign affairs. These people were known as the Anti-imperialists. They believed that before America looked to expand, it should solve its internal issues. During 1899, wars in the Philippines took attention from the homeland, and people such as Anti-Imperialists did not concur with the decision to continue this war (Document D). In the end, though, the decision of the majority was to attempt to expand, or assist foreign countries.
In order to expand, sea power was believed to be a necessity. According to Alfred T. Mahan, three things were necessary to become more powerful at sea: protection of harbors, control of coaling stations around the United States, and naval force (Document C). With the growth of a naval force, especially, the United States became more successful and gained respect from the other great world powers. Prior to strengthening her navy, the United States had difficulty in expanding, so countries such as Britain, Germany and Russia were left to split the globe amongst themselves (Document A). Post naval strengthening, the United states was not only able to compete with foreign countries, but dictated foreign policies. The political cartoon titled “American Diplomacy” clearly displays how the United States controlled the influence of other countries on China. This young country was so highly regarded that its rules and regulations were acknowledged by countries that had existed for hundreds of years before the Americas were colonized. The United States’ growth in power allowed her to not only expand across the seas, but also to spread her morals around the world and assist those on the verge of collapse.
Throughout the years the United states both continued and departed from previous expansionism. By continuing to follow the principles of Manifest Destiny, the country continued elements of previous expansionism. On the other hand, new expansionism is portrayed through the extensive use of the navy and foreign policies. All of the aforesaid ideals allowed America to develop into the highly successful superpower we know today.