Publication Date

5-1-2008

Advisor(s)

Swinehart, Kirk

Major

History (HIST)

Language

English

Abstract

In this study, I try to answer the question of why the United States, at the end of the nineteenth century, suddenly embraced a policy of formal imperialism in the Philippines, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam, and Samoa, then reversed course and implemented more informal imperial policies elsewhere in the world. I trace the evolution of expansionist thought in the United States from the Reconstruction era, focusing on writers and politicians such as Alfred Mahan, Josiah Strong, and Theodore Roosevelt, and argue that American actions in the aftermath of the Spanish-American war represented a culmination of this ideology. I then examine the assumptions underlying the drawn-out colonial war in the Philippines, and analyze why the United States subsequently backed the Open Door policy in China rather than seek territorial concessions, and implemented a system of indirect political domination in Latin America exemplified by actions in Cuba, Panama, and the Dominican Republic.

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