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Discussion #4: American Imperial Expansion

The Republican victory in 1896 gave heart to proponents of prosperity through foreign trade.   McKinley sought neither war nor colonies, but many in his party wanted both. Called “jingos,” they included Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Theodore Roosevelt; John Hay, the ambassador to London, and senators Albert Beveridge and Henry Cabot Lodge.  Britain, France, and Germany were seizing territory around the world, and jingos believed the United States needed to do the same for strategic, religious, and economic reasons. 

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In order to prepare for this discussion forum::

· Review and identify the relevant sections of Chapter 21 that support your discussion. 

· Read the linked document, taken from an article by Senator Henry Cabot Lodge (R-MASS), in the 1895 issue of  Forum  magazine. What motives for imperialism are reflected in Lodge’s article?

After you have completed your readings post your response to only ONE of the following questions.

1. Several reasons are proposed explaining why the United States decided to join the “Imperialist Club”.  Which argument was the strongest, and which argument was the weakest?  Explain your position.

2. Is there any evidence to support Kristin Hoganson’s argument regarding the role of gender and the Spanish-American War? (Suggestion:  students might want to review the previous chapter for a discussion on this topic).  Discuss if you agree or disagree with her argument.  Make sure to support your position.

3. In your opinion, do Lodge’s arguments support the need for the United States to acquire an imperial empire?  Explain your position.

Henry Cabot Lodge

In the interests of our commerce and of our fullest development, we

should build the Nicaragua Canal, and for the protection of that canal

and for the sake of our commercial supremacy in the Pacific we should

control the Hawaiian Islands and maintain our influence in Samoa.

England has studded the West Indies with strong places which are a

standing menace to our Atlantic seaboard. We should have among those

islands at least one strong naval station, and when the Nicaragua Canal

is built, the island of Cuba, still sparsely settled and of almost

unbounded fertility, will become to us a necessity. Commerce follows

the flag, and we should build up a navy strong enough to give protection

to Americans in every quarter of the globe and sufficiently powerful to

put our coasts beyond the possibility of successful attack.

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 march.

For more than thirty years we have been so much absorbed with

grave domestic questions that we have lost sight of these vast interests

which lie just outside our borders. They ought to be neglected no longer.

They are not only of material importance but they are matters which

concern our greatness as a nation and our future as a great example.

They appeal to our national honor and dignity and to the pride of country

and of race.

Henry Cabot Lodge, Forum, March 1895.

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