Self-Interest Vs Imperialism

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Expansion has long been a part of American history. From the Louisiana Purchase to the addition of Alaska and Hawaii, expansion has played a large role in the development of our country. However, with expansion playing the role it has in our nation’s history, imperialism was bound to make an appearance at some point. Imperialism is when a nation uses inhibited territory it has acquired to extend its power. It was prominent in the late 1800s and the early 1900s. But what was the more important factor in expanding foreign policy and imperialism during this time period, self-interest or idealism? If the evidence is examined, this becomes crystal clear. Self-interest was the most important factor in driving American foreign policy during this time…show more content…
First, there’s an editorial from the Washington Post in 1896, which says, “A new consciousness seems to have come upon us— the consciousness of strength—and with it a new appetite, the yearning to show our strength. . . . Ambition, interest, land hunger, pride, the mere joy of fighting, whatever it may be, we are animated by a new sensation.” This is implying that we wanted to show this new strength through expansion. It’s a prime example of manifest destiny and it was in that nation’s best interest to do so. Next, there is a speech from Albert J. Beveridge in 1898. In it, Beveridge says, “Today our industrial society is congested; there are more workers than there is work; there is more capital than there is investment. . . . Therefore we must find new markets for our produce, new occupation for our capital, new work for our labor. . . .” This meant that we had to expand in order to find more jobs for workers and more markets for our products, which was in that nation’s best interest. Both of these greatly show that imperialism was in the United States’ own self-interest at the…show more content…
There’s also an essay from 1919 that was originally from 1898 by William Graham Sumner. In the essay, he writes, “[The] reason why liberty, of which we Americans talk so much, is a good thing is that it means leaving people to live out their own lives in their own way, while we do the same.” What he meant by this is that the nation could let people live their own lives if they expanded, and it’s liberty to do so. He also brought up Americans talking about liberty, so this would also be in America’s self-interest. Finally, there’s Theodore Roosevelt’s message to Congress in 1904. In it, Roosevelt writes, “We would interfere with them only in the last resort, and then only if it became evident that their inability or unwillingness to do justice at home and abroad had violated the rights of the United States or had invited foreign aggression to the detriment of the entire body of American nations.” He mentioned “our southern neighbors” at the beginning of this message, which was who he referred to here. However, he specifically mentioned the rights of the United States in his message, and that he would only interfere with Mexico if he felt they violated the rights of the United States, which quite clearly showed self-interest. With this message in addition to all other documents mentioned, the main factor with foreign policy was clearly
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