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American imperialism at the turn of the 20th century

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Please explain to me what caused the surge of US "imperialism" at the turn of the 20th century and what it tells us about America's place in the world at the turn of the 20th century? Also explain to me what the debate over "empire" tell us about the clash of US idealism and self interest. Thank you.

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Solution Summary

This solution reveals what may have caused the surge of US "imperialism" at the turn of the 20th century and what it tells us about America's place in the world at the turn of the 20th century. It also explains what the debate over "empire" tells us about the clash of US idealism and self interests.

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Causes of 20th century US imperialism:

During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the United States pursued an aggressive policy of expansionism, extending its political and economic influence around the globe.

Under the pretext of responding to a bombing on the USS Maine anchored in Havana, Cuba, the U.S. went to war with Cuba's colonial overlord, Spain, in 1899. After routing Europe's weakest colonial power, the U.S. made off with all of Spain's colonial possessions in Latin America and Asia, seizing control of Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines.

The Spanish-American War marked the entrance of the U.S. into the worldwide scramble for colonies among the advanced powers. Novelist Mark Twain made no bones about what this meant:

How our hearts burned with indignation against the atrocious Spaniards. . .But when the smoke was over, the dead buried and the cost ...

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