Discuss American exceptionalism and its overall effects. Explain the beliefs surrounding this topic, and state whether you believe this is a positive or negative ideology. American Exceptionalism was a principle belief of American society, that depicted citizens of the United States to have a superior role in society compared to people of other nations. Americans, without fear of judgement, heavily promoted the notion that America was an outstanding country that heavily differed from all others, due to its exceptional god-favored heritage and flourishing history. Exceptionalism, along with other beliefs that coincided with it such as nationalism and patriotism, was a key principle in the push towards America transforming into an empire, and largely affected the leaders of the United States. Gender and age biases were always a prominent part of american society, but American Exceptionalism definitely further supported this belief. A prominent quote that I believe very accurately outlines the beliefs of American Exceptionalism was presented by the president, Woodrow Wilson.
He made his beliefs known with the grand statement of, “They are children and we are men in these deep matters of government.” The careful choice of words in this statement, describing others as children and referring to themselves as men, alludes to the perception of foreigners and minorities by the United States, and how Americans genuinely believed they had to supervise other nations. Americans viewed minorities to be weaklings, who did not have the capabilities to control themselves, and were not able to deal with worldly politics. They thought Latin Americans needed to be watched closely, and compared them to the likes of stressed women and children. This racial hierarchy was heavily prevalent in American society, and was used as a justification for the dominance and American Exceptionalism ideology commonly displayed by the US. Americans also thought that when other countries were under their command, they were better off than they were previously and actually steadily improved. I believe this to be an overall toxic mindset, as people who have intervened in other nation’s lands have no right to say they left it better than they were before. Essentially, Americans believed they were doing charitable acts and by inserting themselves into weaker nations, they were simply giving off their liberty and prosperity to those who are not as lucky as they are. In conclusion, i believe American exceptionalism was an overall negative ideology and way of thinking. It is rather bold and arrogant to assume that America is distinctly different than all other nations, and should be held to a different standard. A recurrent principal theme of American Exceptionalism was the overarching idea that the United States had a distinct calling to transform the world, and spread their influence. I believe this to be arrogant,
Discuss factors, such as the De Lome Letter, USS Maine, yellow journalism, etc, and in your opinion describe how these events led to the Spanish American war. State your beliefs on how the Spanish-American war would have been different if some events didn’t occur/ were changed.
Many factors ultimately contributed to the eventual beginning of the Spanish American war, such as prominent events and concepts that characterized the time period such as the De Lome Letter, the USS Maine, and yellow journalism. Firstly, the De Lome Letter was a letter sent by Spanish Government official, Senor Don Enrique Dupuy De Lome, to Cuba expressing his opinions on President McKinley, describing him as “weak”. The letter also called on and encouraged the Cubans to fight. However, his letter was leaked and was published heavily by the American press, and all his beliefs were exposed to the public. Although De Lome’s opinions was shared by many Americans, they were ultimately enraged to hear such beliefs from a prominent foreigner, and enthusiasm for entering war with spain became widespread. This incident influenced the president to rethink his views on the current situation of war, and was only worsened when USS blew up just a few days later. To make matters worse for the Spanish, the De Lome Letter was published with eye-catching headlines such as ,”Worst Insult to the United States in its History,” which ultimately ties into yellow journalism, as the events leading up to, as well as the actual events, of the Spanish American war were often highly dramatized and sensationalized by the press. If the United States decided to enter war with spain, it would benefit many yellow journalist, as going to war would ultimately sell copies and produce striking headlines. So naturally, they continued to publish these stories regardless of the negative effects it produced. These newspapers highly overemphasized these events and overall contributed in why the United States decided to engage in war.
I believe if yellow journalism were to not exist, or rather stories be more accurate, I doubt the war could have been avoided altogether, as there were simply too many factors put into play. However, I do believe it played a key role in instigating and producing hostility among various nations, which did add fuel to the fire. Yellow journalism ultimately swayed public opinion in favor of the war, which is why I believe it to be a principal reason for the Spanish American war. The events leading up to the Spanish War stirred numerous amounts of “fake news” and speculations that were at times simply not true, such as the USS Maine explosion. The USS Maine exploded for unknown circumstances, but was almost immediately blamed on the Spanish, despite it actually being a malfunction internally in the ship that the Spanish had nothing to do with. This was ultimately another factor that led to American involvement in the Spanish American war.
This further ignited the desire for war, and although reluctantly, it led president Mckinley to declare war, stating spain was a, “constant menace to our peace.” If the USS Maine did not explode, I believe the United States would not have declared war at that time. However, with that being said, I think whether or not the ship exploded, America would have still declared war on the Spanish sooner or later. I believe whether or not it exploded really does not matter, as along with the De Lome Letter, America’s desire to enter war was steadily increasing, and the USS Maine explosion was only the final pushing point. Although the De Lome Letter was not distinctly stated as a reason for McKinley entering the war, many speculated it’s influence played a key part as well. In conclusion, I believe whether or not some of these events occur does not really effect whether the Spanish American war happened or not. I think it was ultimately inevitable as hostility was already running high among nations. Taking into account the De Lomé Letter and the USS Maine, combined with the effects of yellow journalism, America was ultimately just further fueled into entering war with Spain.
Discuss Unrestricted submarine warfare, and its effects on the war. In your own opinion, state how it contributed to the US involvement in the war, and why it was frowned upon by the international community.
Unrestricted Submarine warfare was an unprecedented reoccurring issue in the buildup of World War one. Some would even argue its effects ruined the chance of neutrality for Americans all together. In the beginning of 1915 German submarines, commonly referred to as U-Boats, sank numerous ships, such as the British Lusitania, and injured/killed many people. This obviously did not go over well, and eventually led to the Germans promising that they would no longer inflict damage on other ships without notice. Despite taking this pledge, the Germans once again led unwarranted attacks against the innocent in 1916, including another famous boat of this time, the Sussex. This only further pushed the Americans closer to war. President Woodrow Wilson commanded the Germans to cease these assaults, or America will cut diplomatic relations with them. Once more, they claimed they would refrain from attacking other ships without justification, although on the contrary, Germanic leaders were actually unsure whether or not to actually stop Unrestricted Submarine Warfare.
Many who were in opposition feared damaging their relationship with the US, but others stated there was simply no other option. They believe that if Germany were to destroy the British supply ships, they’d be able to win the war before the Germans had ultimately been exhausted. They ultimately concluded the negative connotations of these attacks would be worth it in the end, even if it caused US involvement in the war. So despite the two previous vows that Germany would cease unrestricted submarine warfare, in the early 1917, they continued their relentless attacks. Every warship spotted in a war zone, regardless of the circumstances, was attacked. This obviously not only affected America, but was also frowned upon by most of the international community due to the damaging effects and casualties. It ultimately caused typically common and safe practices such as trade and tourism becoming extremely dangerous and hard to do, as the constant threat of being sunk by U-Boats war always present. This was the last straw for the United States, as Wilson followed through with his threat of cutting diplomatic relations with Germany. Not much later, WIlson announce his numerous claims in the justification of entering war against the Germans.
He declared that the Germans engaged in warfare against mankind, and accused Germany of several offenses such as infringing on the freedom of the ocean, interfering with commerce, unrightfully conversing with mexico, and outright violating human rights by murdering countless Americans. With a congressional vote of 373 to 50, The US entered World war one against Germany. Once hesitant and wishing to avoid war and conflict, Unrestricted Submarine Warfare fueled Woodrow Wilson and was a main culprit in American involvement in the war. In conclusion, Unrestricted Submarine Warfare was definitely a principal reason in pushing the United States into war. German U-Boats caused a great loss of life, and despite countless public outcry and it being ordered to stop, Unrestricted Submarine Warfare continued. The Germans time and time again going back on their word was like rubbing salt in a wound for Americans. If Unrestricted Submarine Warfare did not occur, or was squashed at the beginning, I believe the United States would have refrained from entering the war. Despite initially claiming when world war one first began the US would remain neutral, president woodrow wilson joined the war on the side of the allies, which in my opinion can mostly be credited due to Unrestricted Submarine Warfare.
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