1872–1912 Becoming a World Power

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This chapter traces the rise of the United States as a world power.

4.1 The Imperialist Vision

Section 1 identifies the attitudes and actions that transformed the United States into a world power. By the 1880s the western frontier was finally filling up, and American business leaders began looking overseas to find new markets. Increased European imperialism led many Americans to justify expansion with the idea of Anglo-Saxonism-the belief that it was the nation's destiny to spread its civilization to other people. New markets opened first in Japan, where the United States demonstrated a show of force, and then in Hawaii, where American business leaders led a successful campaign for Hawaiian annexation. In Latin America, leaders attempted to increase American influence. Meanwhile, the United States became increasingly assertive in foreign affairs. As Americans became more willing to risk war in defense of overseas markets, interest in a powerful navy and overseas bases grew.

4.2 The Spanish-American War

Section 2 describes the Spanish-American War. In 1895 many Americans sided with the rebels in an uprising in the Spanish colony of Cuba. Americans had economic and trade ties to Cuba, and yellow journalism played to their sympathies. President William McKinley tried to negotiate a peaceful end to the rebellion. However, when the U.S.S. Maine exploded off the coast of Cuba, the press blamed Spain, and Americans called for war. The U.S. Navy demonstrated its superiority over the Spanish fleet, while American troops led successful ground attacks. Spanish resistance ended with the surrender of the Cuban city of Santiago. Under the terms outlined in the Treaty of Paris, Cuba became an independent country, and Spain ceded Guam and Puerto Rico and sold the Philippines to the United States. Despite arguments from anti-imperialists, the United States annexed the Philippines along with Guam and Puerto Rico. In the aftermath of the Spanish-American War, the United States established itself as an imperial power.

4.3 New American Diplomacy

Section 3 explains how the United States wielded its influence on the world stage under President Theodore Roosevelt. After President McKinley's assassination, young and energetic Vice President Theodore Roosevelt took charge. Because Roosevelt intended to make the United States a world power, his administration involved itself in the politics of foreign nations. In Asia, American leaders worked to maintain an Open Door policy—full access to China's lucrative markets. Roosevelt gained worldwide recognition for his role in negotiating a peace treaty between Japan and Russia. He used a "big stick" policy to secure the right to build the Panama Canal, while the Roosevelt Corollary warned foreign powers that the United States would intervene to maintain stability in Latin America. President William Taft continued Roosevelt's mission of enhancing American influence in the Western Hemisphere, but his dollar diplomacy put less emphasis on military strength and more emphasis on helping Latin American and Asian industries.

Chapter 4 project

BACKGROUND To Europeans in the Age of Imperialism, conquering countries in other parts of
the world was seen as a way to increase European power as well as a way to spread religion and culture to new places. For the people living in the conquered lands, imperialism was viewed less favorably. They already had their own religion and cul- ture, and many people did not want to adopt those of the Europeans.

TASK You and a small group of your classmates have been asked to create a keynote for the student showcase that explores the topic of American imperialism in Asia, Africa, and Latin America from 1800 to 1914. Your keynote should include many different media, such as maps, captions, political cartoons, charts, graphs, artwork, letters, and journals.

PURPOSE The purpose of your keynote is to present European and American imperialism in Asia, Africa, and Latin America from two vantage points: the view of the conquerors and the view of the conquered. As a result, half of the material you include should present the European and American defense of imperialism: it helped create strong markets, build national power, and spread religion and culture. The other half should show how imperialism weakened the political, economic, and social structure of the conquered nations.


  1. Restate the assignment in your own words.
  2. Summarize what you know about imperialism from 1800 to 1914.
  3. List what you want to include in the keynote.
  4. Sketch the layout.
  5. Be sure everything supports the purpose and is directed to your audience.
  6. Prepare a task and time management plan to allocate tasks to each group member.
  7. Research any additional information you need.
  8. Select and create material to include on the bulletin board.
  9. Construct the keynote.
  10. Present the keynote to your audience.

Section 1

Vocabulary Define: imperialism, protectorate, technology, publish.
People and Terms Identify: Anglo- Saxonism, Matthew C. Perry, Queen Liliuokalani, Pan-Americanism, Alfred T. Mahan, Henry Cabot Lodge.

  1. In the years immediately following the civil war, what did most Americans concentrate on?
  2. Who wast the last monarch of Hawaii?
  3. What were the reasons Europeans embarked on a path of imperialism?
  4. Describe "Social Darwinism."
  5. Who was Josiah Strong and what did he link Anglo-Saxonism to?
  6. What did the desire for new markets lead to? (two things)
  7. When did Perry sail into Yedo Bay?
  8. What impressed the Japanese?
  9. A treaty signed with Japan on March 31, 1854 opened which two ports?
  10. What event in 1872 lead to a treaty with Hawaii? What did the treaty do for Hawaii? What was the result?
  11. Which president opposed the annexation of Hawaii?
  12. What did the US buy from Latin America? What did Latin America buy from the US?
  13. How did James Blaine try to increase American influence in Latin America?
  14. USS MAINE had what kind of lights? Could travel at how many knots? and had how many crew and officers?

Section 2

Vocabulary Define: yellow journalism, jingoism, resources, violated, virtually.
People and Terms Identify: José Martí, William Randolph Hearst, Joseph Pulitzer, Theodore Roosevelt, Platt Amendment.


  1. In 1898, Cuba belonged to what country?
  2. What happened to the battleship Maine? What "really" happened?
  3. When did Spain abolish slavery?
  4. What was the economic crisis for Cuba in 1894?
  5. What led most Americans to support the Cubans in their struggle with Spain?
  6. How many Spanish troops were sent to Cuba?
  7. What did McKinley tell the Spanish in September of 1897?
  8. What would "autonomy" have ment for the Cubans?
  9. How much did congress agree to spend on preparing for war with Spain?
  10. What conditions led to the Cuban rebellion in 1895?
  11. On what date did the US declare war on Spain?
  12. Who was Commodore George Dewey? What was he tasked to do? When did he do it?
  13. What was the problem in mobilizing the Army for a battle in Cuba?
  14. Where did more americans die, training or in battle?
  15. Who were the "rough riders?"
  16. What were the arguments for and against establishing an American empire?

Section 3

Vocabulary Define: exploits, sphere of influence, Open Door policy, tensions, intervene, dollar diplomacy.
People and Terms Identify: Boxer Rebellion, “Great White Fleet,” Hay- Pauncefote Treaty, Roosevelt Corollary

  1. List the reasons why Republican leaders thought Theodore Roosevelt was a good choice for vice president.
  2. Explain how the Open Door policy affected U.S. policy in Asia.
  3. President Roosevelt wanted to make the United States a world power. List the ways in which he attempted to do so.
  4. What event made Theodore Roosevelt president of the United States?
  5. Why did President Roosevelt send the “Great White Fleet” on a trip around the world?
  6. Why did President Roosevelt want to build a canal across Panama?
  7. What were some of the challenges in building the canal?
  8. Who first tried to build the canal?
  9. How would you critique Theodore Roosevelt’s foreign policy as president?