Essay on America's Expansion in the 19th Century

Published: 2021-08-11
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Harvey Mudd College
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During the 19th century, England, France, Spain, Portugal and the Ottoman had dominated a large section of the world. The major powers had imposed their imperialism concepts seeking economic and political dominance in the countries. The empires justified their imperialism by arguing that they would help civilize the people from the countries where they rule through their colonial administration. In the 1870s, Americans looked at imperialism as a concept that would foster social, economic and political growth (Fitzmaurice 130). The U.S. thus signed treaties as a form of foreign policy which became a type of economic imperialism with the Caribbean and Latin American nations. The U.S. developed strong imperialistic policies in Haiti, Cuba, Virgin Islands, Dominican Republic, Panama and Spain dominated Puerto Rico (Gobat 115). The imperialistic policies implemented by the U.S. led to more negative effects on the invaded territories. I, thus, condemn Americans way of creating an empire by 1900.


The Americans invasion of territories in the Caribbean lead to an outbreak of war with the dominating powers (Farmer 889). The war contributed to the killing of a large number of civilians who are the indigenous population. For example, the wars fought in Cuba and Philippines led to the killing of many people including the military and civilians. The war was opposed to the wish of the majority population since the invasion was made without consulting the indigenous populations like the invasion of Hawaii and Samoa (Farmer 889). America also created more enemies than friends through their invasions.

The imperialism policies led to the division of Americans as there was a group that supported the imperialistic America and others that did not support the ideology (Gobat 250). During the late 19th century, a large number of Americans were vocal about the policies set up. America thus moved on developing their policies with a divided nation. Most Americans argued that the policies could not even define the people who were entitled to enjoy citizen rights and also it could not define the political and economic liberty.

American imperialism encouraged the outbreak of world war I. America was in conflict with powerful nations in Europe that also aspired to be imperialists thus creating a larger conflict where nations had to fight against each other (Fitzmaurice 140). The World War I contributed to a large number of deaths and also a slow economic growth in many countries around the world. World War I also contributed to World War II, and thus the instability in the whole world can be linked to America's desire for imperialism.


In conclusion, American expansionism was supported by some Americans and rejected by others. At first, it was seen to promote economic growth in both countries involved. However, expansionism/imperialism led to more harm than good to the world. I, thus, condemn American's move aimed at creating an empire since it was at the expense of the world economy and civilian population. American expansionism policies led to deaths of civilians and also an outbreak of world war I. America should have worked on a different way to grow their economy and seek political mileage. The effects of American imperialism are still felt in the Caribbean until present. Even though the policies were negative towards global peace and stability, the outward expansionism policy has helped the U.S. developed its economy and built a superpower to dominate the world economy.

Works Cited

Fitzmaurice, Andrew. "AHR Forum: Liberalism and Empire in Nineteenth-Century International Law." American Historical Review, vol. 117, no. 1, Feb. 2012, pp. 122-140. EBSCOhost,

Gobat, Michel. "The Invention of Latin America: A Transnational History of Anti-Imperialism, Democracy, and Race." American Historical Review, vol. 118, no. 5, Dec. 2013, pp. 1345-1375. EBSCOhost,

Farmer, Alan. "The Eisenhower Presidency 1953-1961/American Expansionism 1783-1860 (Book)." History Review, no. 50, Dec. 2004, p. 52. EBSCOhost,

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