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The United States as an Expansionist Nation 

Updated April 26, 2022
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The United States as an Expansionist Nation  essay

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“Veni, vidi, vici. (I came, I saw, I conquered.),” as once proclaimed by a Roman dictator, military general, and historian, Julius Caesar. Although the Industrial Revolution and nationalism shaped European society in the nineteenth century, imperialism—the domination by one country or people over another group of people—dramatically changed the world during the latter half of that century. American imperialism is partly based on American exceptionalism, the idea that the United States is different from other countries because of its specific world mission to spread liberty and democracy. The United States entered into a period of where imperialism had dominated the land during the early 1900s.

An organization established in the United States on June 15, 1898, to battle the American annexation of the Philippines as an insular area had been established by the group of the American Anti-Imperialist League. A few major outcomes of imperialism, which had thus created various challenges to both families and the government which included of World War One, Yellow Fever, and the Spanish American War. In essence, due to propaganda and yellow journalism and various other situations, this had created the desperate effects of creating challenges at home and abroad. In the fall of 1897, a new Spanish ministry offered concessions to the insurgents. It would recall General Weyler, abandon his reconcentration policy, and allow Cuba, an elected parliament, with limited powers of self-government. These concessions came too late. The insurgent leaders would now settle for nothing short of complete independence. The war went on in Cuba, and a series of incidents brought the United States to the brink of intervention. Trouble in Havana led to the sending of the battleship U.S.S MAINE to that city’s port as a precaution for the safety of U.S. citizens and property. On the night of February 15, an explosion had led to the Maine sinking, thus created the thought of the creation of the explosion. The Spanish government offered to submit the question of its responsibility to settle the dispute, but the U.S. publicly, written by the New York Journal and other sensational papers in the grips of yellow journalism, held Spain unquestionably responsible. “Remember Maine, to hell with Spain!” became a popular outcry.

According to the Source H, “The Role of Newspapers and Yellow Journalism…,” it states, ‘How long are the peasants of Spain to be drafted away to Cuba to die miserably in a hopeless war, that Spanish nobles and Spanish officers may get medals and honors? How long shall old Cuban men and women and children be murdered by the score, the innocent victim s of Spanish rage against the patriot armies they cannot conquer? How long shall the sounds of rifles in Havana at sunrise proclaim that bound and helpless prisoners of war have been murdered in cold blood?” This quote portrays the outward thinking of publishers of newspaper residing in Spain. The people of Spain had deliberately subdued the claim of putting fault at U.S hands in taking responsibility and pleading the U.S with guilt. Yellow Journalism, a term referring to journalism that is based upon sensationalism and crude exaggeration, had then occurred to the sinking of the U.S.S Maine. Yellow Journalism was the ultimate challenge which had created thus so far, the cause of the Spanish-American War. According to the article, “U.S. Diplomacy and Yellow Journalism, 1895–1898,” written by “history.state.gov,” it states, “The peak of yellow journalism, in terms of both intensity and influence, came in early 1898, when a U.S. battleship, Maine, sunk in Havana harbor. The naval vessel had been sent there not long before in a display of U.S. power and, in conjunction with the planned visit of a Spanish ship to New York, an effort to defuse growing tensions between the United States and Spain…” Here, this quote conveys the proposition of how the internal conflicts between the two groups were flamed by tensioned using the thought of yellow journalism.

Yellow journalism of this period is significant to the history of U.S. foreign relations in that its centrality to the history of the Spanish American War shows that the press had the power to capture the attention of a large readership and to influence public reaction to the various international events occurring throughout the world, globally. The dramatic style of yellow journalism contributed to creating public support for the Spanish-American War, which had been a war which expanded the global reach of the United States. Spain’s defeat decisively turned the nation’s attention away from its overseas colonial adventures and inward upon its domestic needs, a process that led to both a cultural and a literary renaissance and two decades of needed economic development in Spain. Thus, the challenge which had been created in Cuba during the Spanish-American War had been much of Yellow Journalism throughout the nation. “This is a war to end all wars,” as once quoted by Woodrow Wilson in 1917. World War One had been a war of conflicts, deaths, and, sacrifice. This war had been caused by the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, where conflicts had started to arise.

During the conflict, Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire (the Central Powers) fought against Great Britain, France, Russia, Italy, Romania, Japan and the United States (the Allied Powers). “Due to new military technologies and the horrors of trench warfare, World War I saw unprecedented levels of carnage and destruction,” as stated by History.com. By the time the war was over and the Allied Powers claimed victory, over 16 million people—soldiers and civilians—had perished. Propaganda, a term used to state biased information that is used to promote a point of view, had a heavy impact in the battles of World War One. During World War One, propaganda was employed on a global scale. Unlike previous wars, this was the first total war in which all nations, and armies of all kinds were fighting against each other. This and recent modern wars required propaganda to mobilize hatred against the enemy. As well as to, convince the population of the reasons of the cause and to enlist the active support and cooperation of neutral countries, and to strengthen the support of allies. For instance, propaganda messages were incorporated into commercial advertising which had changed the perception of everyday goods in the nation. According to the article, “Commercial advertising as propaganda in World War One,” written by “bl.uk,” it states, “…there was a surge in newspaper readership as the public clamored for news from the front. This increase represented large numbers of potential customers to advertisers, who were keen to place advertising in pursuit of those readers who might be inclined to buy their products. Further, given the sense of unity within the nation, simple sales messages could be devised, which keyed into the popular narrative and reinforced pervasive propaganda messages.

Patriotism was a recurring motif in commercial advertising, alongside the denigration of the enemy… buying the products of the Allied nations was absolutely key and extended to distinguishing the Allies’ approach to war in contrast to that of the enemy, as well as tacitly advocating an emotional connection through the consumption of these goods.” Here, the motive of the people and community was for people to both buy and sell goods, however, in a quick matter of time as the war had been progressing. The use of ‘allied commercializing’ was the key component as to selling the goods. The proposition of patriotism is to have a sense of national pride to one’s homeland due to extensive benefits and gains and portrays a sense of alliance with other citizens who share the same sentiment. Due to the war being at its humble beginnings, due to the time of opportunity, it had been a time of a “compelling” message. Governments during the First World War dedicated massive resources and huge amounts of effort to producing material designed to shape both opinion and action internationally. The attempts of states to clarify their actions, and to build international support, resulted in some of the most powerful propaganda ever produced. They also created various personalities towards propaganda itself in the years following the end of the War. One of the first actions carried out by Britain at the start of the war was to cut Germany’s under-sea communication cables, ensuring that Britain had a monopoly on the fastest means of transmitting news from Europe to press agencies in the United States of America. Influencing the reporting of the war around the world, with the aim of gaining support and sympathy, was an important objective for all states. According to the article, “Commercial Advertising as Propaganda in World War One,” written by, “bl.uk,” it states, “In Britain, a secret organization, Wellington House, was set up in September 1914, and called on journalists and newspaper editors to write and disseminate articles sympathetic to Britain and to counter the statements made by enemies.

As well as placing favorable reports in the existing press of neutral countries, Wellington House printed its own newspapers for circulation around the world. Illustrated news, carrying drawings or photographs, was viewed as particularly effective. By December 1916, the War Pictorial was running at a circulation of 500,000 copies per issue, in four editions covering 11 languages. The Chinese-language Cheng Pao had a fortnightly circulation of 250,000 issues, and was described as having ‘such a powerful effect upon the masses that the Chinese government were able to declare war against Germany.” With this prime evidence of propaganda, news had been a valuable source to depend on when in desperate situations, whereas, covering up many situations had not led to any beneficial count. Adding to a separate point, from the U.S., many families had been devastated after their men in the family had left to fight in the war. The had then been left alone which then created a mood of sadness at home and families worry about the safety of the men. According to the Source N, “I Didn’t Raise My Boy to Be A Soldier,” written by Alfred Bryan, it states, “Ten million soldier who may never return again. Ten million mothers’ hearts must break for the ones who died in vain… I didn’t raise my boy to be a soldier, I brought him up to be m pride and joy. Who dares to put a musket on his shoulder, to shoot some others mother’s darling boy?” Here, this point arises a problem which is experienced at home as the losing of a family member in the war. Thus, the use of propaganda in wartime is not a modern invention. Societies have used and lived with the source of propaganda from the earliest civilizations.

The Great Depression defined as “a global economic crisis” had been triggered by political decisions including war amends after World War I. The Great Depression had been the cause of the domino effect, which is a chain reaction of events leading up to a specific cause. Through the domino effect, many people had become unemployed and the stock market had crashed due to unnecessary spending throughout the nation. After World War One, families were delighted and had burst a sense of pride due to the victory of the United States in World War One. As the soldiers came back from the battlefield, new technologies and equipment had been created which led to people spending large amounts of money on. Businesses produced more than they could sell and unsold goods piled up. This time period is well-known to be as the roaring ’20s. To purchase the expensive items, people were buying margin, which is a process to purchase stocks with borrowed money. Additionally, wages at that time were low, consumer debt had been rapidly increasing, the agricultural portion of the economy was struggling due to drought and falling food prices, and banks had an excess of large loans that could not be terminated. However, in the summer of 1929, consumer spending had decreased and unsold goods began to pile up, which in turn slowed factory production. Nonetheless, stock prices continued to rise, and by the fall of that year had reached stratospheric levels that could not be justified by expected future earnings. According to the article, “Great Depression History,” it states, “As consumer confidence vanished in the wake of the stock market crash, the downturn in spending and investment-led factories and other businesses to slow down production and begin firing their workers.

For those who were lucky enough to remain employed, wages fell and buying power decreased. Many Americans forced to buy on credit fell into debt, and the number of foreclosures and repossessions climbed steadily. The global adherence to the gold standard, which joined countries around the world in fixed currency exchange, helped spread economic woes from the United States throughout the world, especially Europe.” People purchased what they wanted, which is something desired, however, not what they needed the most which are something required. Thus, the Great Depression had been caused by the roaring ‘20s, which had been a cause of the victory of World War One. In short, American imperialism is a term that refers to the economic, military, and cultural influence of the United States on other countries. First popularized during the presidency of James K. Polk, the concept of an “American Empire” was made a reality throughout the latter half of the 1800s. American imperialism is partly based on American exceptionalism, the idea that the United States is different from other countries because of its specific world mission to spread liberty and democracy. One of the most notable instances of American imperialism was the annexation of Hawaii in 1898, which allowed the United States to gain possession and control of all ports, buildings, harbors, military equipment, and public property that had belonged to the Government of the Hawaiian Islands. Some groups, such as the American Anti-Imperialist League, opposed imperialism on the grounds that it conflicted with the American ideal of Republicans and the “consent of the governed.” The Spanish-American War was a conflict in 1898 between Spain and the United States.

It was the result of American intervention in the ongoing Cuban War of Independence. American attacks on Spain’s Pacific possessions led to U.S. involvement in the Philippine Revolution and ultimately to the Philippine-American War. This event had been boosted with the aid of yellow journalism which provided unjust information regarding a collision. World War I began in 1914, after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and lasted until 1918. This event had been caused by the propaganda put together throughout the nation and had widespread over to other countries by the news, and other transported wires. Thus, while the U.S. expanded to other county’s seeking land, they had created various troubles at both home and abroad.

The United States as an Expansionist Nation  essay

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