(AP)  The Imperial Republic  p. 531-549; 584-587


                                The Rough Riders                                                U.S.S. Maine

Turning its interest from the continental United States to the world at large, America in the years after the Civil War fought a war with Spain and acquired a far-flung empire.  By 1900, American possessions included Alaska, Hawaii, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and a string of Pacific islands.  In addition, Cuba was essentially an American protectorate.  The United States suddenly found itself a world power, with worldwide responsibilities and burdens.  The empire had been acquired for economic and philosophical reasons including expansionism, which could provide an outlet for a perceived glut of American goods and an arena in which to demonstrate the superiority of Western civilization.  To accommodate its new role, the nation had to devise ways to improve its military establishment and govern its overseas territories.

Brinkley, Alan (2007). American history: A survey. New York, New York: McGraw Hill. 

A New Place in the World: 1865-1914

1866 Trans-Atlantic cable completed.

1867 United States purchases Alaska from Russia.

1868 Cuban nationalists launch war for independence.

1875 United States eliminates tariffs on Hawaiian sugar.

1887 United States acquires rights to use Pearl Harbor as a naval base.

1890 Alfred Thayer Mahan publishes The Influence of Sea Power Upon History.

1895 Venezuela Crisis.

1896 William McKinley defeats William Jennings Bryan for president. Spain sends troops to Cuba; launches reconcentrado policy.

1898 Explosion of the Maine and start of the Spanish-American War. Annexation of Hawaii. Anti-Imperialist League formed.

1899 Filipino nationalists declare war on the United States. Secretary of State John Hay sends his first "Open Door Note."

1900 Foraker Act declares Puerto Rico an "unincorporated territory" of the United States. China?s Boxer Rebellion prompts Hay?s second "Open Door Note." President McKinley wins reelection.

1901 Platt amendment grants Cuba independence, with strings attached. Supreme Court rules in the Insular Cases. Assassination of President McKinley; Teddy Roosevelt becomes president.

1902 Most Filipino rebels surrender to the United States.

1903 Panama declares independence.

1904 Senate approves construction of the Panama Canal. President Roosevelt issues the Roosevelt Corollary.

1905 President Roosevelt mediates the Russo-Japanese War.

1907 The "Gentlemen?s Agreement" ends Japanese immigration to the United States.

1913 Completion of the Panama Canal.

1914 American forces occupy Vera Cruz, Mexico.

1915 United States sends marines into Haiti; occupation lasts until 1934.

1916 United States sends marines into the Dominican Republic. Punitive Expedition pursues Pancho Villa into Mexico.

1917 Puerto Ricans become citizens of the United States.

During the 1890s, the United States became much more directly involved in world politics than it had been prior to that point. While the United States was never in a strict sense isolationist, seeking commercial and other opportunities abroad since the end of the American Revolution, the nation's leaders sought to remain aloof from political commitments abroad throughout the nineteenth century (preferring to focus on expansion across the North American continent). Washington's farewell address had urged Americans to avoid permanent political connections with Europe, but was less concerned with the dangers of commercial expansion. American foreign policy during the 1890s, influenced by a series of strategic, economic, and ideological motives, brought the country much more heavily into the realm of international affairs.

War and Diplomacy:
American expansion during the 1890s brought the United States into a war with Spain, one that was successful militarily (largely as a result of Spain's military weakness), but that also exposed many of the underlying weaknesses of the American military and later spurred a series of reforms in an effort to modernize the nation's military establishment. The United States also fought a bloody but lesser-known conflict against the Philippines between 1898 and 1902 in an effort to bring those islands under American control.

Politics and Citizenship:
American expansion played a role in the growth of the modern state and helped to change the political experience that many Americans underwent. As the United States undertook new international responsibilities, the role of the government naturally began to expand (although this was a slow and halting process, significant elements existed in ,the 1890s). President William McKinley, once seen as a relatively weak leader, helped to set in motion the creation of the modern presidency. The media played an important role in shaping public opinion on foreign policy and other issues, as more and more Americans had access to newspapers and magazines.

American Identity: The 1890s helped to change significantly both domestic and foreign views of the American national character. The United States had long prided itself on its ability to remain aloof from world affairs and from the selfish imperialism of the European powers. Territorial acquisitions in Puerto Rico, the Philippines, Hawaii, and indirect control over Cuba transformed the United States into an imperial republic. This would have far-reaching implications for America's world role throughout the rest of the twentieth century. A wide-ranging debate over the implications of this course divided the nation and foreshadowed the debates over World War I, World War II, and the Cold War. McKinley's reelection in 1900 was considered by many to be a mandate from the American people in support of United States imperialism.

George, J. & Brown, J. (2007). AP achiever: Advanced placement american history exam preparation guide.  McGraw Hill.

Digital History

American Becomes a World Power
During the 1890s, the United States showed little interest in foreign affairs. Its army, with just 28,000 soldiers, was one-twentieth the size of France's or Germany's. Its 10,000-man navy was a sixth the size of Britain's and half the size of Spain's. Toward the end of the 19th century, interest in foreign affairs mounted. Some worried that the United States was being left behind in the scramble for territory, markets, raw materials, and outlets for investment. Others, such as the naval strategist Alfred Thayer Mahan, believed that national prosperity depended on control of sea lanes. Still others believed that the United States had a special mission to uplift backwards peoples. Beginning in the late 1880s, a new assertiveness characterized American foreign policy, evident in disputes with Germany, Chile, and Britain. In 1893, Americans in Hawaii forced Queen Liliuokalani to abdicate; the United States annexed Hawaii five years later. War with Spain in 1898 led to the acquisition of Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines, where the United States confronted a two-year insurrection. Fear that the United States was being shut out of trade with China led Secretary of State John Hay to issue the 1899 Open Door Note. The Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine declared that the United States would exercise ?international police power? in the Western Hemisphere. The United States assisted Panama in securing its independence from Columbia in order to build a canal across the Isthmus of Panama. The U.S. occupied Nicaragua for 20 years, Haiti for 19 years, and the Dominican Republic for 8 years.

Lecture Outlines

The Spanish American War

Chapter Notes


The United States and the Caribbean 1877-1920

The War Against Spain in the Philippines 1898

The Open Door Policy: the U.S. and China