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Early Imperialism
Level 2
Essential Questions
Why did the United States engage in imperialism?
How did the U.S. gain territories world wide?
Imperialism: the process by which one state possessing superior
military strength and more advanced technology imposes its control
over the land, resources, and population of a less developed region
Age of Imperialism: the period between 1870 and 1914
Great White Fleet: a name given to the U.S. Navy at the beginning of
the 20th century because the ships were painted white
Monroe Doctrine: a policy of the U.S. that European countries should
not attempt to gain control of Latin American countries
Seward's Folly: the nickname that many gave to the purchase of Alaska
The Five Ds of Imperialism
● Dollars
 US started to produce more than it could consume; new colonial markets were needed to expand economy
 Businessmen upset about Panic of ‘93 began to invest overseas increasing total national exports from $392
million in 1870 to $1.4 billion in 1900
● Defense
 Naval bases were needed to defend national interests
 Pacific islands made excellent naval bases
● Democracy
 US believed political ideals should be spread to countries with unstable or oppressive governments
 Colonized in the name of freedom and liberty
● Darwinism
 Extended Social Darwinism to nations, saying the strongest nations should colonize and dominate weaker
● Destiny
 Taking the concept of Manifest Destiny outside the continent
 Divinely ordained right of the US to annex other territories
The Great White Fleet
● Captain Alfred Mahan, of the United States
Navy, argued that the United States needed a
larger navy to protect American merchant
● A bigger navy would need more bases
throughout the world.
● Congress had begun to enlarge and
modernized the navy. New steam powered
and steel hulled ships were being built.
● The navy ships were called the Great White
Fleet because they were painted white.
● The Great White Fleet was used as show of
power and might of the United States.
● President Theodore Roosevelt once said “
Speak softly but carry a Big Stick”
 Strong navy could protect colonies from
foreign nations
Colonies would provide new markets
for goods
Britain established itself as number one
superpower by colonizing India and
huge portions of Africa
France and Russia were gaining
United States fell behind when it came
to power and world influence because
of lack of colonies
The US Navy eventually became third
most powerful by 1900
Colonial divisions of each continent by European powers in 1900
Latin America
● In October 1889, James Blaine founded the Pan-American Union
● Pan-American Union was very weak but it helped unite the stronger
Latin American countries of North America
● America actively intervened in Latin American affairs and upheld
Monroe Doctrine
● The U.S. almost went to war with Britain over boundary between
Venezuela and British Guiana
● Roosevelt Corollary amended Monroe Doctrine saying that US could
pay off debts of poorer Latin American countries on their behalf
 Samoa became one of the first
targets for American imperialists
because of the strategic harbor at
Pago Pago
 For ten years, US, Germany, and
Great Britain eyed Samoa almost
going to war over it
 In 1899, US and Germany split
Samoa and gave Britain other
islands in the Pacific
 American planters and missionaries first arrive
in 1820
Planters establish sugar trade with China under
King Kamehameha I
Pearl Harbor opened in 1887
Queen Liluokalani, a powerful nationalist
elected in 1891, revolted against American
Planters appeal to US government which sends
Marines to peacefully overthrow the queen
After Liluokalani abdicates, Republic of Hawaii
is set up in 1893 and later annexed by President
McKinley in 1898
A portrait of the regal Queen Liluokalani; her character was
greatly admired by all including President Cleveland who
called her overthrow “despicable”
 Secretary of State Seward convinces
the Senate to purchase Alaska from
Russia in 1867 for 2 cents per acre
 Critics ridiculed Alaska calling it
Seward’s Folly
 Eventually, rich deposits of gold,
timber, and fish were found in
Alaska sparking several gold rushes;
Seward had the last laugh
Review Questions
● What are the five reasons for Imperialism?
● What was the two purposes of the Great White Fleet?
● What is the importance of gaining control of Samoa?
● How did Hawaii become part of the U.S.?
● What was Seward’s Folly?

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