Unit 5: America Builds an Empire
What is foreign policy?
• A nation’s policies toward other countries
Elements of Foreign Relations
• International Anarchy: the idea that while
citizens in each country are subject to law, the
governments of nations are not subject to
international laws in all cases
• Balance of Power: when one nation becomes
too powerful, other nations band together to
protect themselves or make sure that the one
nation does not over-throw them
More Elements of Foreign Relations
• Control of US Foreign Policy: the Constitution
divides this power between Congress and the
– President negotiates treaties/Senate ratifies
– President commands troops/ Congress pays
– Congress declares war/President commands
More Elements of Foreign Relations
• Traditional Foreign Policy: America felt
protected by the 2 oceans; Washington
warned us to stay out of other nations’
problems and remain isolated
• National Interests: American interests
– Security from attack
– Protecting American investment
– Promoting American democracy
The Spanish-American War, 1898
• Origins: (Cuba is a Spanish colony)
– In 1894, the US raised it’s tariff (tax) on the sugar
imported from Cuba
– This lead to a decline in Cuban revenues and
increased unemployment and unrest
– Cuban refugees, living in the US, are led by Jose
Marti to sail back to Cuba and begin a revolution
– Marti declared Cuba independent in 1895
– Spain sent troops to put down the rebellion
Spanish-American War
• Spain’s attempts to end the rebellion were
• Entire villages and towns in Cuba were forced
into camps surrounded by barbed wire and
starved into submission
• These events raised humanitarian concerns in
the United States
Spanish-American War
• Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World and William
Randolph Heart’s New York Journal were 2 of
the major newspapers that covered the story
• These papers deliberately sensationalized the
• They depicted the Spanish as murderous
brutes in order to sell more papers
Spanish-American War
• Yellow Journalism: unbalanced, sensationalized
reporting intended to sell more papers
• This type of news reporting gave Americans an
unrealistic view of the events in Cuba
• Americans believed that it was important to
intervene to protect the Cubans
Triggering Events: the De Lome Letter
• De Lome is the Spanish Ambassador to the US
• A letter he wrote to a friend in Havana was
stolen by Cuban rebels and sent to US
• The letter was critical of the US and
specifically called President McKinley “weak”
• De Lome resigned from office
U.S.S. Maine
• American naval vessel was sent to Cuba to protect
American lives and property during the revolution
• While in port in Havana, the ship exploded
• The Maine sunk and 258 U.S. sailors died and more
were severely injured
• Hearst and Pulitzer both blamed the Spanish for the
• Heart offered $50,000 reward for capture of the
Spaniards responsible
• The cause of the explosion is still unknown today
Spanish-American War
• Public outcry against Spain as a result of the
Maine grew
• “Remember the Maine”
• Spain agreed to US demands for a cease fire
with Cuban rebels
• April 20, 1898 McKinley asks Congress to
declare war on Spain
• Congress votes to declare war on April 21,
War in the Pacific
• The first battles in the Spanish-American war
were fought in the Philippines
• Commodore George Dewey sailed the US fleet
into Manila harbor and opened fire on the capital
• Dewey destroyed the entire Spanish fleet in
• 11,000 US forces and Filipino rebels fought Spain
for the next two months
• Spanish troops surrendered the Philippines in
Caribbean War
• Admiral Sampson blockades Cuba preventing
the Spanish fleet from escaping
• A small number of professional Army officers
were sent into Cuba with 125,000 volunteers
• The volunteers were inexperienced, poorly
trained, provided with inadequate weapons,
and old woolen uniforms from the Civil War
Teddy Roosevelt
• TR serves as Asst Secretary of the Navy
• Believes that for America to become a world
power, we must improve our navy
• Resigns from War Dept to form an all
volunteer cavalry unit to fight in the S-A War
• “The Rough Riders” are under the command
of General Leonard Wood and TD
• Along with regular army troops, they defeat
the Spanish at the Battle of San Juan Hill
Spanish-American War
• July 1st: Rough Riders, 2 regiments of African-American
troops, and the 9th and 10th cavalries charged up Kettle
Hill and defeat Spanish troops
• Infantry and Rough Riders attach San Juan Hill next day,
defeat Spain again
• 4 days later, Spanish Navy tries to break the blockade
• Naval battle along the Cuban coast lasts a week.
• Spanish fleet is destroyed
• American troops invade Puerto Rico the next week
Spanish-American War
• Problems:
– Yellow Fever (malaria)
– Poor training
– Old weapons
– Unsuitable uniforms
– Old officers who were more interested in telling
Civil War stories than fighting (General Wheeler)
– Delay in getting ships from Atlantic to Pacific and
Caribbean….We need a CANAL!
Treaty of Paris
• The US and Spain sign an armistice resulting in
a cease-fire on August 12th
• December 10th, US and Spain meet to discuss
terms in Paris
• Treaty is signed on December 15th
• The US Senate will have to ratify
Terms of the Treaty of Paris
• Spain agrees to give Cuba independence from
Spanish rule
• Guam and Puerto Rico will be given to the U.S.
• Spain will sell the Philippines to the U.S. for
$20 million
• Thus ends what Secretary of State, John Hay,
called “a splendid little war”
Is this a turning point in American
• US no longer isolationist
• US gains territories
• US naval and military power and influence
• US enters into international trade
• US defeats European power (again)
Does this event make the US into a
world power?
• Probably
• America viewed as having both economic and
military strength
• Naval power essential for both and US navy is
now the 3rd largest
What is Imperialism?
• The policy of extending a nation’s authority
over other countries by economic, political, or
military means
Reasons for American Colonial
• Need for Raw Materials: industrial expansion requires
coal, oil, rubber, steel, etc…
• Need for Markets: increasing production requires new
places to sell our stuff
• Nationalism: expansion show that the US is a world
power to be admired and respected
• Strategic Reasons: the need for naval bases around the
world to refuel and resupply
• Attitudes toward other people: belief that Americans
were superior to other people and that we needed to
educate/train them to be more like us
Alfred Thayer Mahan
• Admiral and President of the Naval War
• Wrote The Influence of Sea Power Upon
• Argued that for a nation to become a world
power, a powerful navy was required
• Colonies and naval bases around the world
would be necessary to support merchant ships
as well as naval vessels
• Because the US is competing with other
nations for supremacy, we should seize control
of Pacific trade routes, construct a canal
through Central America, and dominate the
• These things would give us geographic
dominance over Atlantic and Pacific trade
• T. Roosevelt was one of his followers
American Anti-Imperialist League
• People like Mark Twain, Andrew Carnegie,
Moorefield Storey, and Henry Ford opposed
• They felt that the United States was based on
the ideals of democracy and self-government
and that to impose our rule on others was
• They opposed America acquiring colonies
Moorefield Storey
• First President of the NAACP
• Spokesman for the Anti-Imperialist League
• Gave dramatic speech in Boston warning
against US colonization
Results of Spanish-American War
• US wins!
• US becomes a world power
• US acquires a colonial empire consisting of :
– The Philippines
– Guam
– Hawaii
– Puerto Rico
– Samoa
– Midway
The Platt Amendment
• A congressional resolution passed in the U.S.
Congress prior to the S-A War had guaranteed
independence of Cuba
• At the end of the war, Cubans were forced to
agree to the Platt Amendment to their
• This gave the US the right to intervene in
Cuban affairs at any time
The Philippines
• Filipinos were disappointed that the US
Congress decided to annex them instead of
granting independence
• Rebels fought until their defeat in 1902
• Hawaiian Islands had proved refueling stations
for American ships for many years
• American settlers built sugar and pineapple
plantations on Hawaii
• Missionaries were sent to convert the natives
to Christianity
Stanford Dole
• Queen Liliuokalani attempted to take land and
power back from American planters
• American lawyer and plantation owner in
Hawaii led American landowners to overthrow Hawaii’s Queen in 1887
• President Cleveland refused to annex Hawaii
because of Dole’s actions
• Dole became President of Hawaii
• An important re-fueling stop for US ships
• US won as part of the treaty ending the S-A
• Guam is still a territory of the United States
• A Pacific Island group that was divided
between the United States and Germany
• Provided a valuable naval bases and re-fueling
stations for American shipping
• American Samoa is still a U.S. territory
• Became a US possession in 1867 (before the SA War)
• Midway is still an important military base for
the U.S. Navy
• In china, European powers had already
established “spheres of influence” by 1850
• These would be places where they enjoyed
special privileges in trade
• The US was not a part of this, but did have an
active trade network within China
• The US feared that these other nations would
work to block US trade with China
• Sec. of State, John Hay, sought to protect US
interests and business in China
• In 1899, Hay announced America’s “Open
Door Policy” in China
• This meant that all nations would have equal
footing in trade with China
• In 1900, a rebellion erupted in China
• Boxers, or Chinese who opposed Western
influence in China, rebelled against their
• The Boxer Rebellion threatened the lives of all
foreigners in China
• An international army, w/ US participation,
crushed the rebellion
• Hay announced that the US would opposed any
annexation of China
• The US opened an isolationist Japan to western trade
in 1853
• Commodore Matthew Perry landed US naval ships
there to end barriers to trade
• By the 1890’s, Japan had become the most westernized
and industrial nation in Asia
• In 1894, Japan invaded and defeated China
• In 1905, Japan defeated Russia in the Russo-Japanese
• T. Roosevelt won the Nobel Peace Prize for his help in
negotiating peace between Russia & Japan
America in the Caribbean
• Reasons for US Interest/Involvement:
– Security: keep Europe out of Western Hemisphere
– Economic Interests: supplies of agricultural and
raw materials; markets for US goods, investment
– CANAL: S-A War demonstrated that we need a
path from the Atlantic to the Pacific to speed up
trade and travel (and war ships)
Puerto Rico
• Became US possession at the end of S-A War
• In 1900, Congress established a civil
government there
• Governor appointed by the President
• Upper House of the Legislature chosen by the
• Lower House of the Legislature elected by the
• Cuba becomes a US “protectorate” due to the
Platt Amendment in 1900.
• U.S. forces remain in Cuba at Guantanamo Bay
• Platt Amendment was not repealed until 1930
Panama Canal
• US Pacific Fleet had to travel 16,000 miles to
get to Cuba in the S-A War
• This highlighted the need to improve travel
between the oceans
• The Isthmus of Panama is the narrowest point
between the 2 oceans
• Seems like the best place for a canal
Panama Canal
• Panama was a part of Columbia
• The US and Columbia entered into
negotiations to build a canal
• Meanwhile, Panamanian rebels were trying to
break away from Columbia
• TR struck a deal with the rebels
• Roosevelt sent US warship to Panama to
protect the rebels
Panama Canal
• The US immediately recognized an
independent Panama
• The US was granted a 10 mile strip of land
known as the Panama Canal Zone
Challenges in Building the Canal
• It will take 10 years to complete (1903-1914)
• Canal is 51 miles long
• Canal crosses 6 different elevations; had to build
a series of locks to accommodate for this
• Tropical climate!
• Dense rainforests
• Mountains
• Mudslides
• Mosquitos! Yellow Fever!
Dr. Walter Reed
• Major in the US Army Medical Corp assigned to Canal
• Discovered that “Yellow Fever” was caused by
• Yellow fever is one of the “hemorrhagic” diseases
• Fever, anorexia, chills, muscle pain, headache, and
nausea are symptoms
• Liver damage and death may result
• 20,000 deaths were attributed to Yellow Fever in
building the Panama Canal
• Worked to eliminate mosquitos and treat the sick
Dr. William Gorgas
• Surgeon General of Army Medical Corps
• Had all swamps in Canal Zone drained
• Sprayed all standing water with oil to prevent
mosquitos from breeding
• Helped to discover vaccine to prevent disease
• Still no cure today once infected
Monroe Doctrine (1823)
• America’s declaration that Europe could not
establish any new colonies in the Western
• America used this as justification to intervene
in the Caribbean to protect US economic
Roosevelt Corollary
• Also known as the “Big Stick” Policy
• Roosevelt said that, “he would walk softly and
carry a big stick”
• Roosevelt prevented Europe from using force
to collect debts from the Dominican Republic
• The US would act as “an international police
• Roosevelt used this to justify intervention in
the West indies and Central America
Taft/Dollar Diplomacy
• Taft encouraged banks to loan $ and invest in
Caribbean nations
• He used this strategy to promote US foreign
policy in the region
• When a nation, like Nicaragua, could not repay
the debt, he sent US troops to collect the $
• The US took over their railroads, customs
duties, and national bank until the debt was
Wilson and Latin America
• Followed pattern of both Roosevelt and Taft in
dealing with Haiti, Nicaragua, and Dominican
• He sent troops to protect American interests
• In 1917, Wilson purchased the American
Virgin Islands from Denmark
“Watchful Waiting”
• When Wilson became President, Mexico was
already undergoing a violent revolution
• Instead of sending troops or recognizing the
new government, Wilson waited to see what
would happen
Pancho Villa
• A leader of the rebellion in Mexico
• Brought Mexican rebels across the border to
New Mexico and murdered Americans
• Wilson sent the American Expeditionary Force
under General John J. Pershing to arrest him
• Villa eluded capture
• The US forces withdrew from Mexico in 1917
when we entered WW I

Unit 5: America Builds an Empire