US Expands Overseas

How did America create a world empire?

Industrialism had changed the United States. Americans began to
view their nation with increasing nationalism. The spirit if
expansion and imperialism was fueled by these feelings. For one
hundred years America had taken a back seat to the traditional
European powers, that many American felt, should change.

In order for America to take its rightful place amongst the worlds
power many felt we needed to control a vast imperial empire. This
empire would provide a market for our goods, raw materials for our
factories and protection for our commercial interests. The expansion
was, as previously discussed, justified by the need for our people to
expand commercially and the social Darwinist idea of the white
man’s burden
. With this need in mind eyes turned towards Spain.
Spain, a once mighty empire, still with vast colonial holdings many
of them in our Caribbean backyard, was now a much weaker nation than
us. They were ripe for the picking and a their imperial holdings
would be the spoils of victory.

I. The Spanish American War

A. Causes of the War

1. In 1895 civil war broke out in Cuba between Spain
and the Cubans.

2. Newspapers reported the brutality of the Spanish in graphic
terms. The New York Journal reported “…blood on the roadsides,
blood in the villages, blood, blood, blood!
” American newspapers
were clearly pushing the nation towards intervention in the Cuban

3. The DeLome Letter – A letter by Spanish Ambassador to the
United States Enrique DeLome was intercepted by Hearst’s newspaper
and published on the front page. The DeLome letter called President
McKinley “…weak” The DeLome letter
embarrassed McKinley and brought us one step closer to war. The
letter was published on the front pages of newspapers.

4. The Sinking of the Maine – As tensions had increased the United
States has sent it’s fleet to Cuba to protect American economic

On the night of February 15, 1898, the ship was sunk by a
tremendous explosion, and 260 lives were lost. Reports pointed to
sabotage, but responsibility for the disaster was not determined. The
New York Journal reported that a Spanish Mine had had sunk the Maine.
Other newspapers showed pictures of Spanish terrorists swimming under
the Maine and placing explosives under the ship.

Below you can see the actual newspaper
headlines published by the New York Journal

Publisher William Randolph Hearst had instructed his
photographers: “You furnish the pictures…I’ll furnish the
” Looking at these headlines it is obvious that Hearst, and
his competitor Pulitzer, published information that they could not
back up. This influenced Americans to push for war with Spain. This
biased and irresponsible reporting is known a yellow
. It is clear that the so called “yellow press” was
deeply involved in pushing the US into war.

B. Results of the War – The United States gained control of the
following lands as a result of the Spanish American war.

1. Cuba

2. Puerto Rico

3. Philippines

4. Other islands as well but these are the important ones.

Because of the vast territories gained as a result of the Spanish
American War America became an instant world power. From then on the
United States was one of, or the most, powerful nations on earth. As
a result the Spanish American War is known as “the beginning of the
American Century.

II. Other Territories Gained

A. Hawaii – Prior to the Spanish American War the
United States gained control of the Hawaiian Islands. From the early
1800’s American business interests had grown in Hawaii, a series of
islands that remained independent. In time the Dole Family was the
largest landowner and the Hawaiian Royal family more or less followed
whatever they and the United States said. In the mid 1800’s a new
queen, Queen Liliuokalani gained control of the Islands and began to
pass a series of anti American laws. As these laws hurt business the
Dole’s and other private American businessmen funded a revolution and
took over Hawaii. The USS Boston, a US battleship, sat in the Harbor
making any Hawaiian resistance impossible. In 1895 Hawaii became a US

B. Panama Canal Zone – The US, dealing with French Engineer
Phillipe Bunau-Varilla, agreed that if Panamanians revolted the US
would stop Colombia from interfering. A US fleet, led by the USS
Nashville, entered the harbor at Colon and the next day a revolution
broke out. Four days later the US government recognized Panama a
treaty was signed where Panama gave the canal zone to the US forever.
The reality is the US caused a revolution just to get what we wanted.

C. Asia – Other then the Philippines, the US did not gain much
actual territory in Asia but we did gain much of power.