Isolationism, Intervention, and Imperialism: Assignment sample essay

Monroe Doctrine: statement issued by President James Monroe stating that the Western Hemisphere was off limits to further European intervention Intervention: involvement by a foreign power in the affairs of another nation, typically to achieve the stronger power’s aims Sphere of Influence: an area or region over which a country has significant cultural, economic, military, or political influence Isolationism: policy of refraining from involvement in global affairs Expansionism: policy of growing a nation’s physical territory or political influence Imperialism: policy of creating colonies in weaker nations in order to generate raw materials and have access to new markets Turner’s Thesis. –

An idea advanced by historian Frederick Jackson Turner that argued that Americans should seek a new frontier, one in foreign lands; because this would help Americans maintain their inventive and energetic spirits Big Stick Policy: foreign policy under Theodore Roosevelt that used U.S. power to police foreign nations, particularly those in Latin America Roosevelt Corollary: policy put forth by Roosevelt stating the United States would intervene in Latin America on behalf of foreign powers if Latin American nations did not meet their agreements Dollar diplomacy: foreign policy under William Howard Taft that used U.S. economic power to try to shape international affairs Natural resources: materials such as oil, natural gas, lumber, gold, copper, waterways, and fertile soil that are native to a given place and can be used for economic benefits Markets: places where manufactured goods can be bought and sold

Secretary of State William H. Seward signed the treaty to purchase Alaska from Russia for $7.2 million in 1867. Many Americans thought buying Alaska was a mistake. Alaska was barren and covered with ice. They called it names such as “Seward’s Folly” and the “Polar Garden.” The Russians agreed. They had decided to sell Alaska because they did not think it was profitable. But the purchase grew the nation by about 600,000 square miles—about twice the size of Texas—for only about two cents an acre. Despite low expectations, Alaska was rich with natural resources such as lumber, gold, copper, and other metals. Oil and natural gas were discovered in Alaska, which continues
to fuel battles between conservationists and energy and mining interests. The discovery of gold in Alaska in the 1890s led to a gold rush. It also encouraged the development of Seattle as a major port. Pacific Islands – Midway, Samoa, Guam

After the Civil War, U.S. expansionism into the Pacific began. Merchant ships sought places to refuel. Missionaries wished to spread Christianity around the globe. The United States began expanding in the Pacific with the occupation of the Midway Islands, located about 3,000 miles west of California. Just as merchants needed ports to refuel their trading ships, the U.S. Navy needed safe harbors abroad. The United States began working to gain control of strategic ports in the Pacific in order to meet this need. Small islands that had been mostly ignored by imperial powers thus became more valuable. Before long, the United States had established rights in Pacific island nations including the Marshall Islands and Guam. U.S. traders and missionaries stopped in Samoa en route to Australia. Rivalries among the United States, Britain, and Germany became heated in 1878 after Samoa gave the United States permission to build a military base in Pago Pago. To settle this dispute—but without consulting the Samoans—the United States and Germany divided up the islands. Britain agreed to withdraw in return for the rights to other Pacific islands. In 1899, this division was complete. The United States annexed its portion of Samoa. Hawaii

Missionaries and whalers were the first Americans to stop on the Hawaiian Islands. Some eventually settled there. American settlers also began growing sugar and selling it to the United States. Sugar became Hawaii’s most important export. Former Americans came to dominate both Hawaii’s economy and its government. In 1875, the United States and Hawaii agreed to give the United States favored-nation status. This allowed Hawaiian sugar to be imported to the United States without tariffs. In 1887, the United States pressured the Hawaiian government to allow the United States to establish a naval base at Pearl Harbor in exchange for renewing this agreement.

This agreement ended when Congress passed the McKinley Tariff of 1890. Under pressure from U.S. sugar growers, Congress revoked Hawaii’s special privilege and forced Hawaiian sugar growers to compete with U.S. and Cuban sugar producers. As a result, Hawaii faced a severe economic depression. To get around this tariff, planters in Hawaii plotted to make Hawaii a territory of the United States. Political turmoil followed as American Hawaiians clashed with the native government under Queen Liliuokalani. Over the next decade, sugar growers and other U.S. interests pushed to have the Hawaiian Islands annexed by the United States. Hawaii became a U.S. territory in 1900. Japan

Americans wanted to begin trading with Japan to grow their profitable Pacific trade. Japan also offered a place for fisherman in the commercial whaling industry to refuel. But for two centuries, Japan had isolated itself from the rest of the world. It limited outside influence by restricting trade with all but a few Dutch and Chinese traders. Japan also prohibited foreigners from entering the country. This changed on March 31, 1854, when U.S. Commodore Matthew Perry landed in Japan. Aware that it would be unable to defend itself and perhaps fearing war, Japan agreed to a treaty of friendship. China

In the mid-1800s, China opened its ports to trade with the United States and Europe. However, China’s leaders were unable to keep foreign powers from taking over its territory. In 1895, Japan attacked China, taking over a large Chinese peninsula. China was severely weakened, and the European powers took advantage. In the late 1890s, European powers carved out spheres of influence in China. These gave European nations favorable-trade status. Many U.S. business and government leaders worried that they were not given equal access, so the United States proposed an Open Door Policy with China. This policy allowed all nations to trade freely in China. But European governments realized that the policy would greatly benefit the United States and take away the power that European nations had accumulated. Thus, they were reluctant to accept this policy. In 1899, a group of Chinese martial artists led the Boxer Rebellion. This violent uprising against foreign influence in China was put down two months later. By then, however, more than 200 foreigners had been killed. Not wanting another bloody rebellion, European powers then accepted the Open Door Policy. The policy respected China’s borders and vowed to maintain its independence. Venezuela

Venezuela and Great Britain had long disputed the boundary separating Venezuela and British Guiana. After a 509-ounce gold nugget was found in the disputed territory, tensions rose. Both countries claimed the gold was discovered in their territory. Eager to enforce the Monroe Doctrine and to keep Britain from gaining more land in the Western Hemisphere, President Grover Cleveland attempted to intervene. Eventually a neutral arbitrator settled the dispute. But the message to the world that the United States would enforce the Monroe Doctrine was clear. Virgin Islands

When the Europeans began colonizing the Americas, many countries targeted the Virgin Islands in the Caribbean Sea. The Dutch claimed the islands, divided them into plantations, and began to grow sugarcane there. The Virgin Islands were an important stop on the Triangular Trade routes that passed from Europe to Africa and the Americas. After slavery was abolished on the islands and the sugarcane plantations began to fail, the United States set its sights on the territory in the late 1800s. By 1917, the United States had bought the Islands from the Dutch. At the beginning of U.S. occupation of the islands, the U.S. Navy controlled the territory. Alaska purchased from Russia acquire land and resources

Samoa agreed to split rights with Germany acquire ports in the Pacific China instituted Open Door Policy gain trading rights in China Cuba refused to support revolution maintain isolationist ideals Dominican Republic sent financial adviser Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine Hawaii refused to, but eventually did annex maintain isolationist ideals; gain valuable resources Japan opened trading gain trading partner

Venezuela and British Guiana tried to intervene in dispute gained Monroe Doctrine Virgin Islands purchased from Denmark acquire land, military ports, and resources

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