United States Imperialism
The policy in which stronger nations
extend their economic, political, or
military control over weaker
By 1890, continental US is complete with
the announcement of end of frontier
If the United States wanted
to expand in 1900 where
might it have sought new
The Age of Empire
Global Competition
Most Americans warmed to the idea of
expansion over seas.
With the belief in manifest destiny they
had already pushed the U.S. border to the
Pacific Ocean.
3 Factors fueled the new American
 Desire
for military strength
 Thirst
for new markets
 Belief
in cultural superiority
Desire for Military Strength
The ablest and most effective
apostle of imperialism was
Alfred T. Mahan.
Admiral Mahan urged
government officials to build up
American naval power in order
to compete with other powerful
As a result of Mahan’s input, the
U.S. built nine steel-hulled
The construction of modern
battleships such as the USS
Maine transformed the country
into the third largest naval
Thirst for New Markets
By 1900
advancements in
technology enabled
American farms and
factories to produce
more than American
citizens could
consume. Imperialist
viewed foreign trade
as a solution to over
Belief in Cultural Superiority
Cultural factors were
also used to justify
imperialism. They
argued that the
United States had a
responsibility to
spread Christianity
and “civilization” to
the “inferior peoples”
of the world.
In 1867, the U.S. arranged to buy Alaska from
Russia for $7.2 million. In 1959, Alaska
became a state. For about two cents an acre,
the U.S. had acquired a land rich in timber,
minerals, and, as it turns out, oil.
U.S. acquires Hawaii:
◦ 1. Americans developed the sugar
◦ 2. U.S. built a naval station there.
Name of naval base?
◦ 3. Americans staged a revolution to
depose the Native Rulers.
◦ 4. Americans dominate Hawaiian
◦ 5. Queen Liliuokalani surrendered
Hawaii to the United States in
American Expansion
The Spanish-American War
The U.S. had long held an interest in
Diplomats recommended that President
Pierce buy Cuba from Spain.
Spain responded by saying that they
would rather see Cuba sunk in the ocean.
Cubans rebelled against Spain and
American sympathies went out to the
Cuban people.
American capitalists began investing
millions of dollars in large sugar cane
plantations on the island.
The Emerging Imperial Nation
Jose Marti
Anti-Spanish sentiment in Cuba soon
erupted into a second conflict.
 Using guerilla warfare, Jose Marti, a Cuban
poet and journalist, began deliberately
destroying American sugar mills and
 Marti hoped the tactics would provoke
the U.S. to help the rebels achieve Cuba
Libre!-A free Cuba.
War Fever Escalates
In 1896, Spain responded to the Cuban
revolt by sending General Valeriano
Weyler to Cuba to restore order.
 Wyler tried to crush the rebellion by
capturing and placing rebels into barbedwire concentration camps.
 Thousands would die in these camps from
hunger and disease.
Yellow Journalism
Weyler’s actions fueled a war over newspaper
circulation between William Randolph Hurst who
published the New York Journal and Joseph Pulitzer who
published New York World.
Both printed exaggerated accounts—by reporters of
“Butcher” Weyler’s brutality. Stories of poison wells, and
children being thrown to the sharks deepened American
sympathy for the rebels.
When Hurst sent a gifted artist to Cuba to draw the
sketches’ of the reporters stories the artist told Hurst
that war between Cuba and the U.S. was unlikely. Hurst
responded” You furnish the pictures and I’ll furnish the
The De Lome Letter
William McKinley took office in 1897 and
demand for American intervention in Cuba
were on the rise.
 McKinley, wanting to avoid a war with Spain,
tried diplomatic means to resolve the crisis.
 At first his efforts seem to succeed. Weyler was
recalled, modified the concentration camp
policy, and offered Cuba limited selfgovernment.
The De Lome letter cont.
However, the New York Journal published a
private letter written by Enrique de
Lome, the Spanish minister to the United
The letter criticized President McKinley
calling him “weak”. Americans were angry
over the insult.
USS Maine
A few days after the publication of the De
Lome letter American’s resentment toward
Spain turned to outrage.
 McKinley had ordered the USS Maine to
Havana, Cuba to bring home Americans who
were in danger from the fighting and to protect
American property.
 On February 15 1898 the ship blew up in the
harbor of Havana.
 To this day no one knows for sure why the
Maine exploded but American newspapers were
quick to blame Spain.
The USS Maine
War with Spain Erupts
There was no holding back the forces that
wanted war. “Remember the Maine!”
Became the rallying cry for American
intervention in Cuba.
April 20 1898 U.S. declares war on Cuba.
The War in the Philippines
The first battle took place on the
Philippine Islands.
 The first battle was at the Philippine
capital of Manila
The War in the Caribbean
U.S. was able to seal up the Spanish fleet
in the harbor of Santiago de Cuba.
 Problems with U.S. War effort:
◦ 1. Shortage of Modern Rifles and Ammunition.
◦ 2. Heavy Cold-weather uniforms in a hot
◦ 3. Inadequate medicine and food.
◦ 4. Poor Racial Relations in the U.S. Army.
Rough Riders
Volunteer cavalry under the command of Theodore
Most known for the part they played in the capturing of
San Juan Hill.
Two days later the Spanish fleet tried to escape the
American blockade of the harbor at Santiago.
The naval battle that followed along the coast of Cuba,
ended in the destruction of the Spanish fleet.
On the heels of this victory, American troops invaded
Puerto Rico.
America in the Philippines, Puerto
Rico, and Cuba
By 1899…
The United States now had an empire
that included Cuba, Guam, Puerto Rico,
and the Philippines.
The Treaty of Paris
Ended the Spanish-American War in 1898.

United States Imperialism