Imperialism And War : American Foreign Affairs

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Imperialism and War: American Foreign Affairs 1865-1920 After the Civil War Americans got busy expanding internally. With the frontier to conquer and virtually unlimited resources, they had little reason to look elsewhere. Americans generally had a high level of disdain for Europe, although wealthy Americans were often educated there and respected European cultural achievements in art, music and literature. Americans also felt secure from external threat because of their geographic isolation between two oceans, which gave them a sense of invulnerability. Until very late in the 19th century Americans remained essentially indifferent to foreign policy and world affairs. What interests America did have overseas were generally focused in the…show more content…
America had always been driven by the idea of “manifest destiny,” which was at first the idea that the U.S. was to expand over the whole continent of North America, “from the Isthmus of Panama to the Arctic Circle.” While Canada and Mexico seemed impervious to further expansion by Americans, at least there had been the rest of the mainland to fill up. With the ending of the frontier and the completion of the settlement of the West the impulse to further expansion spilled out over America’s borders. Shortly after the end of the Civil War the U.S. purchased Alaska and began to develop commercial interests in the Caribbean and the Pacific in places like Cuba, Hawaii, Midway, Samoa, the Virgin Islands and the Dominican Republic. A great part of the impetus for expansion came from a rather unlikely source, naval officer Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan. Founder of the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, Captain Mahan began to write widely read and applauded books and articles that called for America to develop its strength on the basis of sea power, which he found to have been a decisive force throughout history in making nations and empires great and long lasting. Mahan wrote a number of books based on the theme of the “Influence of Sea Power Upon History.” Mahan’s basic idea was that to remain great and strong in an ever more competitive world, America needed a powerful maritime force, both naval and commercial, and an overseas infrastructure
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