Chapter 27 (13th)

Empire and Expansion

  1. America Turns Outward
    1. By the 1890's, America turned away from its isolationist policies and was beginning to look overseas, toward imperialism. The European nations had been gobbling up colonies all during the 1800's, now America wanted a slice of the world pie.
    2. There were several influences pointing toward imperialism…
      1. Yellow journalism, or sensationalism in reporting, stirred up the desire to take over lands. William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer's newspapers painted the far off lands as exotic, adventurous, and captured young people's imaginations.
      2. Missionaries wanted to save souls in un-Christian lands. Namely, Rev. Josiah Strong pushed for imperialism in his book Our Country: Its Possible Future and Its Present Crisis.
      3. Some people (like Theodore Roosevelt and Henry Cabot Lodge) applied Darwin's survival-of-the-fittest theory to nations. It was the order of things for the strong to conquer the weak.
      4. Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan wrote a book titled The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, 1660-1783. It said that the key to a nation's power is through naval power. Thus, to become a world power, the U.S. needed to build up her navy.
    3. The U.S. had several international, political balancing-acts and/or crises at the time…
      1. James G. Blaine advocated the "Big Sister" policy toward Latin America. The idea was to get Latin American countries behind the leadership of the U.S. To that end, he led the Pan-American Conference in Washington D.C.
      2. A U.S.—Germany standoff occurred down in Samoa. Samoa was split in half.
      3. A U.S—Italy standoff occurred in New Orleans over captured Italians. The U.S. made payments.
      4. A U.S.—Chile standoff occurred over murdered Americans. Chile made payments.
      5. A U.S.—Canada standoff occurred over seal hunting rights. It was settled in arbitration (mediation).
      6. A U.S.—Britain standoff occurred over gold discoveries down in Guiana. The actual dispute was between Britain and Venezuela; the U.S. just got in to stick up for her "little sister" by saying the Brits were breaking the Monroe Doctrine's "stay out!" policy.
        1. Things got very tense, nearly to war. Finally, Britain (a) had other distractions by the Germans down in South Africa and (b) decided a war with the U.S. simply wasn't worth it. The gold lands were basically split and the crisis was over.
  2. Spurning the Hawaiian Pear
    1. Hawaii had been alluring to Americans since the early 1800's when shippers, sailors, whalers, and missionaries went there.
    2. By the later 1800's, a few things were pertinent to the Hawaii situation…
      1. America largely regarded Hawaii as an unofficial part of the U.S. America had warned other nations to leave Hawaii alone (or, leave Hawaii to the U.S.).
      2. American fruit and sugar companies were deeply entrenched in Hawaii. They largely ran the islands due to their economic power.
      3. There was growing resistance by the native Hawaiians __toward the U.S. due to the increased influence by Americans.
    3. The sugar companies grew restless. Concerns were that (a) Japan might try to take over and (b) the McKinley tariff had raised prices of Hawaiian sugar/fruit imported to the U.S.
      1. The solution, they figured, was to get Hawaii officially__ and for good.
      2. Queen Liliuokalani resisted. She said the native Hawaiians should run Hawaii.
      3. In 1893, the whites staged a revolt and the U.S. military helped to dethrone the queen. Notably, this was all done locally in Hawaii, completely unofficially from Washington D.C. Papers were drawn up to annex Hawaii and sent to Washington.
      4. Grove Cleveland had just become president and he didn't like the way Hawaii was taken and stopped the annexation. (The U.S. would get Hawaii 5 years later, in 1898).
  3. Cubans Rise in Revolt
    1. Cuba revolted against Spain in 1895. The Cuban "insurrectos" on the Sugar plantations revolted against their Spanish overlords by burning everything.
    2. America watched with interest and the U.S. rooted for the Cubans since (a) America loves liberty and independence, (b) it would be good for the Monroe Doctrine to get a European country out of the neighborhood, (c) Cuba was at the gateway to the Caribbean where the U.S. was dreaming of a Panama Canal.
    3. Spain sent Gen. Valeriano "Butcher" Weyler to stop the revolt. He cracked down harshly and started prison camps where scores of insurrectos died from disease.
      1. The "yellow press" in America loved the Cuban revolution and Butcher Weyler's activities only made the storylines even juicier. William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer's newspapers tried to "outscoop" each other.
        1. Hearst sent artist Frederic Remington down to Cuba and said, "You furnish the pictures, I'll furnish the war." Remington drew Spanish men stripping and searching American women (in actuality, women searched). Still, the result of the stories and pictures was to fire up Americans. The U.S. was decidedly leaning toward Cuba and away from Spain.
    4. More strain emerged with the de Lôme letter. Spanish official Dupuy de Lôme wrote a letter which criticized Pres. McKinley and pointedly called him a wimp. William Randolph Hearst published the letter for all to read; Americans were upset.
    5. The greatest event occurred on February 15, 1898, when the U.S.S. Maine exploded at night in Havana harbor killing 260 American sailors.
      1. The cause of the explosion was a mystery, but in the public's mind, the cause was simple—Spain had done it. (Though still a bit of a mystery today, it was much later concluded that the explosion was an accident.)
      2. The yellow press went berserk with the Maine story. The American public clamored for war with the battle cry, "Remember the Maine!". Pres. McKinley was still sluggish to enter the war though.
        1. War-hawk Teddy Roosevelt said that McKinley had "the backbone of a chocolate éclair."
      3. McKinley gave in to the public demand and on April 11, 1898 he sent a message to Congress asking for war. Congress happily voted for war.
        1. Congress also passed the Teller Amendment that said the U.S. would give Cuba its freedom after kicking out Spain.
  4. Dewey’s May Day Victory at Manila This content copyright © 2010 by
    1. America entered the war in a giddy, confident mood.
    2. Even before war was declared, under-secretary of the Navy Teddy Roosevelt ordered Commodore George Dewey to move to the Philippines (controlled by Spain) if war broke out.
      1. On May 1, 1898, Dewey carried out Roosevelt's orders.
      2. America had 6 ships, Spain had 10. But, America's were modern whereas Spain's were antiques. Plus, America's guns could literally out-shoot Spain's. The naval battle was very one-sided for the Americans.
      3. Dewey had won the naval battle, but could not storm the fort ashore in Manila with sailors. Tensions grew when German ships arrived. He had to wait until foot soldiers arrived—they did and they captured Manila on August 13th.
        1. The U.S. was aided by Emilio Aguinaldo who led a group of Filipino insurgents against Spain. He'd been exiled in Asia, but was brought along for this mission—a decision the U.S. would later regret when he turned against the U.S.
    3. The U.S. grabbed the Philippines quickly. Now, the U.S. wanted to grab Hawaii to use as a half-way coaling station between California and the Philippines. Congress and McKinley agreed to annex Hawaii on July 7, 1898.
  5. The Confused Invasion of Cuba
    1. When war broke, Spain sent their fleet to Santiago, Cuba where they entered a narrow harbor there.
    2. The U.S. hastily mounted up in Tampa, FL.
      1. The Spanish-American War is known for being very ill-prepared. For example, the men had wool uniforms for use against Indians out west, not for the Caribbean tropics. Also, more U.S. soldiers would die from disease than from fighting due to poor medication and planning.
      2. The U.S. was led by Gen. William Shafter, a large, gouty man.
      3. The "Rough Riders" cavalry were organized by Teddy Roosevelt. Eager for action, he'd resigned his navy administration post. The Rough Riders were headed by Col. Leonard Wood, Roosevelt served as Lt. Col.
        1. As another example of poor planning, the Rough Riders would eventually fight on foot, horseless. No one had planned how to get the horses to the beach, so they forced the horses to swim ashore—most of them drowned.
    3. The U.S. sent ships and troops down to Santiago. The navy trapped the Spanish fleet by blockading the mouth of the harbor and the Army went ashore further up the beach.
      1. The Army swept around behind Santiago and began a strangle-hold on the city. The Spanish fleet was surrounded and decided to run the gauntlet out of the harbor. They did so, and the U.S. navy mowed down the Spanish ships.
    4. U.S. forces quickly went into Puerto Rico, met little resistance, and took the island.
    5. Seeing the loss, Spain signed an armistice on August 12 and the so-called "splendid little war" was over.
    6. The U.S. forces that lingered in Cuba began dying by scores due to disease. There were 4,000 deaths in battle, 5,000 deaths from disease.
  6. America’s Course (Curse?) of Empire
    1. Peace negotiations were held in Paris to "settle" the war. The stipulations were…
      1. Cuba was free and independent, as the Teller Amendment had said it would be. But there were strings attached (see below).
      2. The U.S. gained (1) Puerto Rico, (2) Guam, and (3) assumed control of the Philippines.
    2. The Philippines posed the largest problem. Following are America's options and their consequences:
      1. Give the Philippines back to Spain. This option was out due to decades of Spanish misrule and abuse.
      2. Let the Filipino people run the country themselves. This was luring but the fear was that competitive warlords would throw the country into total chaos.
      3. Take over the islands. This would make the U.S. look like an imperial bully. Plus, after finally getting Spain off of their backs, the Filipino people didn't really want the U.S. controlling them.
      4. McKinley fretted over the decision, then finally decided the U.S. should take over the Philippines. This decision conveniently meshed with the interests of the public and businesses.
        1. $20 million was paid to Spain for the Philippine islands.
    3. The Senate still had to okay the treaty so the question then became, "Should the U.S. Senate accept the Paris treaty and thus acquire the Philippines?"
      1. Those against acquiring the island got organized. The Anti-Imperialist League emerged to halt annexation.
        1. The difference was that the other lands were generally in North America. Plus, Alaska and Hawaii were sparsely populated.
        2. The League held some prominent members including Mark Twain, William James, Samuel Gompers, and Andrew Carnegie.
      2. Imperialists countered the argument. They said that the Philippines could eventually flourish, like Hong Kong.
        1. Brit Rudyard Kipling (author of The Jungle Book) wrote of "The White Man's Burden." He encouraged the U.S. to hold onto and civilize the Philippines.
        2. Passage of the Paris treaty was in the balance until William Jennings Bryan threw his weight in favor of it. Once he did, the treaty passed by a single vote.
  7. Perplexities in Puerto Rico and Cuba
    1. Puerto Ricans was owned by the U.S. but was neither a territory nor state. It was given a limited elected government under the Foraker Act. Full U.S. citizenship was granted to Puerto Ricans in 1917.
      1. Much improvement was done to the island in terms of sanitation, transportation, etc. Many islanders moved to New York to become "New York Ricans."
    2. A question arose over taking Puerto Rico and the Philippines…"Do American laws and rights apply to these lands and peoples?"
      1. The Supreme Court declared in the so-called Insular Cases that America's laws and customs do not necessarily extend to these new lands.
    3. In Cuba, a military government was set up by Col. Leonard Wood. Much improvement was done there in government, education, agriculture, etc.
      1. Col. William C. Gorgas and Dr. Walter Reed combined efforts to nearly wipe out the mosquitoes and yellow fever.
      2. The Teller Amendment had said that the U.S. would leave Cuba to be independent; the U.S. kept this promise and left in 1902. But, the U.S. wrote the Platt Amendment which said…
        1. Cuba couldn't make treaties that the U.S. didn't like.
        2. Cuba couldn't take on too much debt. The U.S. could intervene in these situations if necessary.
        3. Cuba must lease coaling stations for the U.S. military to use. This became the "Guantanamo Bay" military base.
  8. New Horizons in Two Hemispheres
    1. Sec. of State John Hay called the 113 day Spanish-American War a "splendid little war."
      1. It showed the world that the U.S. was a world power, likely the world's strongest. Other nations, like Russia, Britain, and France, took note and stepped up their diplomatic headquarters in Washington D.C.
    2. America was marching to a joyous patriotism.
      1. Literally, they marched to the 2/4 marching beat of band-master John Philip Sousa, such as his with "Stars and Stripes Forever."
      2. A strong military was accepted as a need. Folks were convinced of Cpt. Alfred Thayer Mahan's concept of a powerful navy. And, Sec. of War Elihu Root started a War College.
      3. The old North-South divide seemed to narrow a bit. At least in part, the enemy ceased to be one another and became Spain. Old Confederate Gen. Joseph "Fighting Joe" Wheeler had even been given command in Cuba. He'd apparently yelled in battle, "To hell with the Yankees! Dammit, I mean the Spaniards."
    3. Despite the spoils of war, however, the Philippines pan out to be a thorn in America's side.
  9. “Little Brown Brothers” in the Philippines
    1. The Filipino people felt tricked when they weren't given their independence after the Spanish-American War.
    2. An insurrection began against the American troops by the Filipinos on February 4, 1899.
      1. Their leader was Emilio Aguinaldo, who'd fought with the U.S. and against Spain. Like most Filipino's, he'd believed the Philippines would gain independence from Spain. When it didn't happen, he simply turned his aggression toward the U.S.
      2. America stooped below her ideals by (1) using the "water cure" of forcing water down throats to force cooperation, (b) setting up prison camps similar to the ones Butcher Weyler had made in Cuba, and (c) attacking people who simply wanted freedom.
      3. Fighting was sporadic and guerrilla-style, frustrating the Americans. It lasted well over a year and killed 4,234 Americans.
    3. The Americans gained the upper hand in 1901. Pres. McKinley sent William H. Taft to serve as the Philippines' civil governor.
      1. A large (350 pounds) and jovial man, Taft got along well with the Filipinos. They generally like him and he called them his "little brown brothers."
      2. Under Taft, America pursued a policy called "benevolent assimilation"—to kindly bring the Philippines up to civilization. The process was slow but it bore fruits…
        1. With millions in American money, the infrastructure (roads, sanitation, etc.) was greatly improved. Public health improved as well.
        2. Trade between the U.S. and the Philippines began, largely in sugar.
        3. Schools were built and American teachers were sent over.
        4. Still, the Filipino's wanted freedom. Independence was finally granted just after WWII, on July 4, 1946.
  10. Hinging the Open Door in China
    1. After Japan had defeated China in 1894-1895, China had been sliced up by Europe into "spheres of influence."
      1. This usually meant that a European nation controlled a coastal city and its surrounding area. The European nation held exclusive trade rights for that city and area (for example, Britain's control of Hong Kong).
      2. Needless to say, the Chinese people despised this situation.
    2. America was mostly uninvolved in this situation. Except, missionaries were concerned about access, and American businesses worried they'd be shut out.
      1. Sec. of State John Hay drafted the Open Door Policy saying spheres of influence should be dropped and Chinese cities should be open to all nations for business. Europe was not interested in giving up their sweet situations.
    3. China took matters into their own hands with the Boxer Rebellion. In this, the Chinese rose up to oust/kill foreigners who controlled their cities. 200 foreigners and thousands of Chinese Christians were killed.
      1. Europe and the U.S. responded together and smashed China, then charged China for damages.
      2. China's fine was $333 million; America's cut would be $24.5 million. Feeling guilty about such a high amount, the U.S. used $18 million to educate Chinese students in American universities.
      3. Sec. of State Hay sent the Open Door Policy along again and this time it was accepted. China's borders were to be respected and its cities open to trade to all.
  11. Imperialism or Bryanism in 1900?
    1. The 1900 election was a repeat of 4 years earlier: William McKinley versus William Jennings Bryan again.
      1. McKinley just held fast while Bryan did the personal campaigning. McKinley's running-mate was Teddy Roosevelt. "TR" did considerable campaigning for McKinley.
    2. Bryan attacked imperialism. This was unproductive since people had grown weary of the subject by then.
    3. McKinley attacked what he called "Bryanism" as being the problem. McKinley struck fear again by implying that a President Bryan would undercut America's prosperity.
      1. McKinley won his reelection easily.
  12. TR: Brandisher of the Big Stick
    1. Only six months after being reelected, McKinley was shot and killed in Buffalo, NY by a mentally unstable man. V.P. Teddy Roosevelt became the youngest president ever at only 42 years old.
    2. Roosevelt was a very interesting character. Small of frame as a youth, and picked on, he put himself on a rigorous workout routine and built himself into a short, barrel-chested powerhouse.
      1. He'd been born into an elite family and was a Harvard grad. His motto was, "Speak softly and carry a big stick," which was odd in that Roosevelt was not one to speak softly.
      2. He had a temper, was boisterous, stubborn, decisive, passionate, always thought he was right, and was always the center of attention.
    3. Roosevelt was a fantastic politician. The people adored the likeable "Teddy." Cartoonists loved his wire-framed glasses, huge teeth, rowdy nature—he was almost a walking, living caricature of himself.
      1. As president, TR's opinion was that the president should lead, and he did. He's often considered the "first modern president."
  13. Building the Panama Canal
    1. America, and Teddy Roosevelt, lusted after a canal across isthmus of Central America.
      1. The Spanish-American War showed that lacking a canal meant naval weakness. The U.S.S. Oregon had been "trapped" in the Pacific Ocean and took weeks to travel around South America to the Caribbean.
      2. A canal would also be a huge boost for business.
    2. There were obstacles to building a canal.
      1. The Clayton-Bulwer Treaty with Britain (1850) said the U.S. couldn't control the isthmus route alone. By the early 1900's, Britain was willing to let this slide however. Britain signed the Hay-Pauncefote Treaty (1901) that gave the U.S. the okay to go solo.
      2. The next question was the location of the canal.
        1. Nicaragua was the initial choice, but the volcano Mt. Pelée erupted, killed 30,000 people, and changed minds about the location.
        2. A French company was eager to move the U.S.'s attention to Panama where it'd tried and failed at constructing a canal. Engineer Philippe Bunau-Varilla got the price of the canal holdings dropped from $109 to $40 million. Congress decided to give it a go.
        3. Panama was a part of Colombia, posing the next problem.
          1. TR worked a deal with the Colombian president to lease the canal zone, but the Colombian senate reneged on the deal. TR was furious.
          2. Bunau-Varilla worried the whole deal would fall through. He incited Panama to revolt against Colombia. The revolution began on November 3, 1901 with the killing of a Chinese citizen and a donkey. The U.S. navy was conveniently offshore to give aid and the revolution was pulled off.
          3. TR recognized Panama as independent and the Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty was signed. It leased the canal to the U.S. for $10 million and $250,000/year for a 10 mile wide canal strip.
    3. Roosevelt didn't try to sever Panama from Colombia, but it looked that way and was perceived that way. U.S.—Latin American relations took a major hit by Teddy Roosevelt's use of his Big Stick policy (bullying).
    4. Construction began in 1904. There were huge obstacles yet again.
      1. Obstacle #1 was sanitation. Tropical diseases forbade workers from even getting to the job site. Col. William C. Gorgas drained the swamps and eradicated the mosquitoes and diseases.
      2. Obstacle #2 was the scope of the task. It was likely the largest modern engineering undertaking to date. West Point engineer Col. George Washington Goethals headed up construction to its fruition—a modern marvel when completed in 1914. It'd cost $400 million to construct.
  14. TR’s Perversion of the Monroe Doctrine
    1. Relations with Latin America would take another turn-for-the-worse. Nations like Venezuela and the Dominican Republic were constantly behind in loan payments to European lenders. R
      1. Roosevelt worried that Europe would take action to collect their money, and thus violate the Monroe Doctrine. This put TR in a bit of a pickle: would he allow delinquency of payments or allow Europe to breech the Monroe Doctrine? He chose neither.
    2. His decision was the Roosevelt Corollary (an addition to the Monroe Doctrine). It said that the U.S. would intervene in Latin America and collect the debts for Europe.
      1. Whereas the Monroe Doctrine had said, "Europe, don't intervene!" the Roosevelt Corollary added, "We'll intervene for you!"
      2. In practical terms, the U.S. would take over customs houses and collect taxes and/or use the U.S. navy to seal off Latin American ports for tax collection purposes.
    3. Latin America did not appreciate TR's Big Stick being thrown at them again. The Good Neighbor policy seemed to be more like the "Bad Neighbor" policy.
      1. The Big Stick fell on Cuba in 1906. Revolutionaries created great instability and the Cuban president asked for U.S. assistance. U.S. Marines moved in for 3 years to offer their help. Still, it was seen as another Bad Neighbor policy move by the bully U.S.
  15. Roosevelt on the World Stage
    1. Teddy Roosevelt jumped onto the international scene in 1904 when Russia and Japan went to war.
      1. The two nations were fighting over land, namely the Manchuria area and Port Arthur in particular.
      2. When peace negotiations broke down, Japan asked TR to mediate. This was a bit ironic for the War Hawk Teddy Roosevelt to have turned peace-maker.
    2. TR negotiated a treaty at Portsmouth, NH (1905).
      1. Both nations wanted the Sakhalin island. Japan wanted payments since they felt they'd won the war.
      2. Russia got half of Sakhalin island. Japan was awarded no money but gained control over Korea. Neither side was overjoyed, Japan was especially unhappy, but the war was over.
      3. With both countries going home disgruntled over the outcome of the war, America's friendship with Japan and Russia went sour.
    3. Roosevelt also mediated a North African dispute in 1906 at a conference in Spain. For his peace-making, Roosevelt was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
  16. Japanese Laborers in California
    1. Another issue with Japan emerged when Japanese laborers began to migrate into California. Their population was only 3% of state's total, but a "yellow peril" swept over California.
    2. In 1906, San Francisco was recovering from a devastating earthquake and fires. The school board ordered segregation of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean students.
      1. The issue quickly erupted and the yellow press on both sides went wild. There was even talk of possible war.
      2. Roosevelt invited the school board to the White House where he mediated a deal known as the "Gentlemen's Agreement." It said that the school board would repeal the segregation policy and Japan would halt the emigration of laborers to California.
    3. Roosevelt worried that Japan might interpret his actions as being motivated through fear—he wanted to show America's strength.
      1. TR ordered the sparkling new U.S. naval fleet on a world-wide tour. The "Great White Fleet" went to Latin America, Hawaii, New Zealand, Australia, and Japan. It was a diplomatic good-will mission on the outside, and a not-so-subtle show of military muscle underneath.
      2. The U.S. had been cheered all along, but Japan was especially welcoming. The U.S. and Japan signed the Root-Takahira agreement where both nations promised to respect one another's territorial boundaries to honor China's Open Door policy.

This content is copyright © 2010 by and may not be copied or redistributed. It is protected at

Except for the 11th edition American History pages, the content of this site is copyright © 2010 by and may not be copied or redistributed. It is protected at