The Importance of American Imperialism

After the Spanish-American War in 1898, imperialism became a popular and important topic in America. American grew with the annexation of Hawaii, Commodore’s victory in the Philippines and the US now possessing Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Philippine islands. However, controversies and conflicts arose on whether Americans should support imperialism.

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Carl Schurz, the leader of the liberal reform wing of the Republican Party and one of the leading opponents of overseas American expansion, argued against imperialism. He believed it was wrong that the people thought they must establish rein over a country, like the Philippines, to make it successful by preparing them for self-government. “Self-government is learned only by exercising it upon one’s own responsibility…” He used the United States as one example with their fight for freedom and then their stumbling beginning with the government. He continued to explain, with the Philippines, that America was not benefiting financially either. Profit from trading with the Philippines would be less than the cost of building and maintaining the island after conquering it. The excuse of a foot in these islands also did not strengthen the argument in Schurz’s point of view. These coaling stations, docks for fleets, and facilities for the establishment of commercial housed and depots could be earned by granting the Filipinos independence and becoming allies. Giving up the island for selfgovernment would save and preserve America’s honor, self-respect, interests, and democracy.

Other significant figures, like Mark Twain and Alfred T. Mahan also disagreed with imperialism. Mark Twain compared America’s conquering of lands as the European game which was uncharacteristic and foreign to the traditional American game. He believed once we took the Philippines, the next step would be Cuba and then American would not be able to start. This choice would not benefit American or the conquered nation. Mahan did not believe unprepared America could not handle and control imperialism. He sided against creating the Panama Canal because he felt the U.S. did not have a strong enough navy nor willing to create a powerful navy. An object like the Panama Canal could only be controlled by a powerful sea force. American will lose all the benefit from creating this short-cut passage between the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea.

However, people like Henry Cabot lodge, Republican senator from Massachusetts, supported American imperialism. He believed America’s duty was to stop the fighting, restore the peace, and end the chaos. To do this, they needed to reestablish an experienced and knowledgeable government. After the natives calms down and the nations ran smoothly, the US would give the country self-government and then independence, allowing the people, trained by Americans, to rule. The Philippines would also be a great place for natural resources and for market training, once the islands developed commercially and economically. Overall, it was America’s right, honor, and responsibility, by fate, to govern the Philippines. “I would have it fulfilled what I think it its manifest destiny if it is not false to the laws which govern it.”

I agree with Carl Schurz as regards to the welfare of America. I also agree with America trying to help the Philippines, but not to force or suppress the natives under the Americana government. It damaged America’s significant image and what it stood for. No trading or resource benefits could outweigh what the rest of the world though of America.

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The Importance of American Imperialism. (2022, Sep 29). Retrieved November 30, 2022 , from

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