Acquisition of Empire 2

The Acquisition of Empire
European Colonial Expansion
Forces Driving Expansion
 Economic
 A search for markets
 “Safety Valve”
 Security
 Aggressive Nationalism
 Prestige
 Colonies as status symbols
The “Boom” and “Bust” Business Cycle
The Search for Markets
Sen. Albert Beveridge: “We are raising more than we
can consume…making more than we can use. We must
find new markets for our produce, new occupation for
our capital, new work for our labor.”
James G. Blaine: “What we want are the markets of
these neighbors of ours that lie to the south of us. We
want the $400,000,000 annually which today go to
England, France, Germany, and other countries. With
these markets secured new life would be given to our
manufacturies, the product of the Western farmer
would be in demand, the reasons for and inducements
to strikers, with all their attendant evils, would cease.”
Security Concerns
Expansion overseas seen as a way to divert and defuse
internal tensions (RE: Blaine quote)
Proponents of Social Darwinism feared that U.S. was
falling behind Europe
1870s & 1880s saw beginning of a naval arms race in
U.S. Navy, second largest in world at end of WBTS,
had atrophied
 In 1880, ranked 12th behind Chile
 Could not compete in either quantity or quality
Some began to argue that European navies were a threat
to the U.S.
 Threat to American cities and trade
 Feared European colonies in violation of Monroe Doctrine
Early Acquisitions
Purchased in 1867
Removed a European power (Russia) from western
Pago Pago
Part of Samoan Islands
Naval basing rights acquired in unequal treaty in 1878
American planters overthrew local government in 1893
Naval Officers’ Concerns
Slow promotions
Professional embarrassment
Valid security concerns
Influence of Sea Power on History
The Influence of Sea Power Upon History is an influential treatise on naval warfare
written in 1890 by Alfred Thayer Mahan that details the role of sea power
throughout history and discusses the various factors needed to support a strong
The book was published by Mahan while President of the US Naval War College,
and was a culmination of his ideas regarding naval warfare and its superiority.
The book examined the factors that lead to a supremacy of the seas, especially how
Britain was able to rise to its near dominance by examining such features as
geography, population, and government, and expands the definition of sea power
as comprising a strong navy and commercial fleet.
Mahan also promotes the belief that any army would succumb to a strong naval
The book then goes on to describe a series of European and American wars and how
naval power was used in each.
The arguments of Mahan's book influenced the policies of governments with regard
to naval policy for decades making President Teddy Roosevelt a supporter of
greater naval development while motivating many in the government to seek to
project American power through its navy, which led to a period of American
Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan
Influence of Sea Power on History (1890)
Security lay in command of the seas
Prosperity depended on maritime power
As U.S. production increased, she would require
overseas markets
Access to overseas markets would demand a large
merchant marine
U.S. would need a large navy to protect her
merchant marine
a large navy would require shipyards and coaling
stations overseas (colonies)
Colonies would provide overseas markets and
would need a large navy to protect them
Spanish Colonial Possessions
Countdown to War - 1898
January 25 - U.S.S. Maine arrives in Havana harbor
February 9 - Letter intercepted from Spanish minister
February 15 - Maine mysteriously blows up and sinks
March 17 - Sen. Proctor returns from Cuba w/ scathing
report of Spanish misrule
March 28 - Navy Board of Inquiry concludes Maine sunk by
March 28 - U.S. offers final compromise
March 31 - Spain offers partial acceptance of U.S. ultimatum
April 11 - McKinley sends war message to Congress
April 20 - War resolution passes. Gives Spain until April 23 to
free Cuba
April 23 - Spain breaks diplomatic relations and declares
war on U.S.
April 25 - U.S. declares war on Spain
25 JANUARY 1898
16 FEBRUARY 1898
McKinley’s War Aims
1. Stop the suffering of the Cuban people
2. Protect American property
3. Restore American commerce
The Teller Ammendment
“The United States hereby disclaims any disposition
or intention to exercise sovereignty, jurisdiction, or
control over said island except for the pacification
thereof, and asserts its determination, when it is
accomplished, to leave the government and control
of the island to its people.”
Buildup to War
1. American economic interest in Cuba
2. Cuba in an almost constant state of rebellion
against Spain
3. Open rebellion broke out in 1895
4. Public pressure on McKinley
5. Spanish duplicity