United States Foreign Policy Near The End Of The 19th Century


This nation, from its inception had a lust for real estate.
From the original chants of "manifest destiny" to the calls
for the annexation of Indian territories, our nation has
been driven to acquire land. In this country's youth land
was needed for economic expansion; however, by the end of
the 19th century the entire continental United States was
in our possession and the citizenry of this country turned
their eyes out to sea. The United States no longer sought
new lands to farm and work nor did they need new areas for
their geological resources. The United States was now
driven by the temptations of world power and political
one-ups-manship. The self-absorbed citizenry looked upon
their intrusion into foreign areas as a moral obligation;
to spread the words of democracy throughout the world. The
Spanish - American War in the final years of the 19th
century perfectly demonstrate this "new" Imperialism. In
addition the American intrusion into Chinese affairs during
the Boxer rebellion is also a proof for the new motives
which governed our international attitude. 

By the end of the 19th century Spanish forces in Cuba were
in all out battle with nationalist rebels. The Spanish army
had tortured and killed thousands of innocent Cubans in
their efforts to maintain control of Cuba. The American
"Yellow Press" under the leadership of Pulitzer and others
wrote horrific articles about the war in Cuba and called
for the imposition of the United States into the matter
under the flag of moral obligation. President McKinley and
his war hungry Congress saw this as a perfect opportunity
to have a "nice little war" and bolster the status of the
United States in the international community. The war with
Spain also gave McKinley am excuse to invade the Spanish
controlled Philippine Islands, an important naval site
which would give the United States a voice in the far east.
After, the United States Navy massacred the meek Spanish
Armada and defeated the Spanish forces at San Juan hill,
the little war was over. In the process the United States
acquired the Philippine Islands, a strong voice in Cuban
affairs, and most importantly, status. The political
support that McKinley received after the Spanish - American
War was "worth" the loss of a few American lives. In
addition the control of the Philippine Islands gave the
United States clout in the Far East and a chance to spread
the dreams of democracy. Clearly the forces working behind
the Spanish - American War were far different than those
that led our forces, only a few decades earlier, into the
western frontier.
Once the United States had established its presence in the
Far East, it felt obliged to oversee all that went on in
the area. When Chinese nationalists rebelled against the
controlling government, the United States was most eager to
get into the action. At the time the United States had
issued the "Open Door Policy" which called for the equal
financial treatment of all foreign governments. The Boxer
rebellion, as it would later be called, gave the United
States a chance to strengthen the unpopular policy. 2,500
United States troops were eventually sent into the area and
gave the United States the power to push ahead its own
personal agenda in China. The threat of political
instability and the chance to further outstretch its
political sphere of influence were the driving factors
behind the United States' involvement in this affair. The
Imperialistic McKinley government was not going to sit idly
while the other nations of the world edged the United
States out of China. 

These two isolated incidents, when analyzed from a
historical frame of reference reveal a growing change in
the Imperialistic tendencies of the United States towards
the end of the 19th century. The United States was
determined to gain a voice in the international arena for
the political status it would generate and the strategic
benefits it would foster. This country was settled as a
satellite to its mother country, Great Britain, and now it
would spread out its own Imperialistic wings to cover the
globe with its own political motivations and moral


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