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U.S. History 1865-1900: Expansion of America's Empire

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An explanation of the various causes and consequences that helped to make the United States a world power with global interests and responsibilities between 1865 to around 1900. The specific areas of focus for territorial expansion are Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam or the Philippines.

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As Great Britain, Germany, France and other nations of Europe scrambled to establish colonies in Africa and Asia, America stood alone in the Western Hemisphere as an emerging world superpower.

Before examining each of the individual cases, here's a quick and useful overview of why America was motivated to expand its global influence.

Economic and military power are the two main advantages of acquiring new territory (other countries), but evangelical missionaries often preceded those powered interests. For some this was true humanitarianism, but a culture of bigotry often influenced imperial undertakings. Many 19th century thinkers believed in what British poet Rudyard Kipling called the "White Man's Burden," meaning the powerful nations had an obligation to overtake "lesser peoples" and offer them civilization.

National prestige increased by gaining new territory for business markets, naval and military bases, and the basic idea of geopolitics, the idea that land equals power. The more land a nation gets, the less it's available to other powerful rivals.

The purchase of Alaska by the United States was the first major empire-building move. ...

Solution Summary

This brief essay focuses on American military expansion in the latter half of the 19th century. The specific focus of this territorial gain is on the economic and miltary growth that resulted during what is often called the high period of United States imperialism.