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Imperialist Reasoning

Read the quotes, excerpts, and political cartoons below. As you read them, write a list of possible explanations for why each author or speaker supported America’s imperial ambitions in the 1890’s.

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“Up to and including 1880, the country had a frontier of settlement, but at present the unsettled area has bene so broken into…that there can hardly be said to be a frontier line.”

– Superintendent of the Census, 1890

Possible Explanations:

Possible Explanations for why the author of this cartoon supported Imperialism:

“God has not been preparing the English-speaking and Teutonic people for a thousand years for nothing but vain and idle self-admiration. No! he has made us the master organizers of the world to establish systems where chaos reigns…He has made us adept in government that we may administer government among savages and senile peoples.”

– Albert T. Beveridge

Possible Explanations:

“There is one thing that neither time nor education can change. You may change the leopard’s spots, but you will never change the different qualities of the races which God has created in order that they may fulfill separate and distinct mission in the cultivation and civilization of the world.”

– John W. Daniel

Possible Explanations:

“If it is commercialism to want the possession of a strategic point [The Philippines] giving the American people an opportunity to maintain a foothold in the markets of that great Eastern country [China], for God’s sake let us have commercialism.

– Senator Mark Hanna

Possible Explanations:

“The tendency of modern times is toward consolidation. It is apparent in capital and labor alike, and it is also true of nations. Small states are of the past and have no future. The modern movement is all toward the concentration of people and territory into great nations and large dominions. The great nations are rapidly absorbing for their future expansion and their present defense all the waste places of the earth. It is a movement which makes for civilization and the advancement of the race. As one of the great nations of the world, the United States must not fall out of the line of the march.”

– Henry Cabot Lodge

Possible Explanations:

“Whether we will it or no, Americans must now look outward. The growing production of the country demands it. An increasing volume of public sentiment demands it. The position of the United States, between the two Old Worlds and the two great oceans, makes the same claim which will soon be strengthened by the creation of the new link joining the Atlantic and Pacific (Panama Canal). The tendency will be maintained and increased by the growth of the European colonies in the Pacific, by the advancing civilization of Japan, and by the rapid peopling of the Pacific States. Three things are needful: First, protection of chief harbors, by fortifications and coast defense ships… Secondly, naval force, the arm of offensive power, which alone enables a country to extend its influence outward. Thirdly, no foreign state should henceforth acquire a coaling station within three thousand miles of San Francisco.

– Alfred T. Mahan

Possible Explanations:

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