American Empire

In this unit we will examine the territorial and economic expansion of the United States in the late 19th early 20th century. Examining primary and secondary sources, we will study the events leading to America’s conflict with Spain, the debate surrounding the annexation of the Philippines, and America’s expanding role in Latin America and Asia. We will then examine contemporary world politics through the lens of imperialism

Among the essential questions that will guide the unit are,

1. Under what circumstances is one country justified in becoming involved in the affairs of another?
2. What is the role of media in a democratic society?
3. Can a country be a democracy and Empire at the same time?
4. Is the United States currently an empire?

The Unit will culminate in a research paper (PBAT) and exam.

Brown University, "Choices" Curriculum: Origins of global power
Brown University, "Choices" Curriculum: Spanish American War
Brown University, "Choices" Curriculum: Walk Away From Empire
Brown University, "Choices" Curriculum: Seize an Empire
Distant Possessions: The Parting of the Ways By Andrew Carnegie
ALBERT J. BEVERIDGE : In Support of an American Empire
Imperialism -- Its Dangers and Wrongs By Samuel Gompers, President of the American Federation of Labor
It Rests with the People By William Jennings Bryan
"Benevolent Assimilation" Proclamation of President William McKinley
Letter to the Secretary of State By Felipe Agoncillo
The Monroe Doctrine And The Panama Canal." Theodore Roosevelt: An Autobiography, New York: The MacMillan Company 1913
The Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine Theodore Roosevelt, 1904, 1905
Media Used: 
PBS Documentary: Crucible of Empire
Significant Assignments: 

Assessing U.S. Foreign Policy

Beginning in the final decade of the 19th century, the role of the United States in world affairs was fundamentally transformed. As American economic, military and diplomatic power expanded to levels unthinkable a generation earlier, the period witnessed the annexation of Hawaii, war with Spain, annexation and insurrection in the Philippines, intervention in China, the building of the Panama Canal, and continued U.S. military and diplomatic intervention in the Caribbean and South America. This period also saw a conflict at home as a debate raged in America regarding the nation’s proper role overseas.

In this paper, you will make an argument assessing American foreign policy during this period

Chose one of the following arguments:

1. American foreign policy during this period was a natural continuation of our history up to that point.
2. American foreign policy during this period represented a reversal of our historical norms.
3. American foreign policy during this period was based on economic self-interest.
4. Both Imperialist and Anti-Imperialist arguments centered on issues of race.
5. American foreign policy had, in general, the best interests of other people in mind.
6. Annexing the Philippines was a logical and moral decision for United States at that time.
7. Annexing the Philippines was a moral and practical disaster for the Unites States.
8. The United States could be classified as a Empire during this period
9. The United States could not be classified an Empire during this period.
10. Modern U.S. foreign policy mirrors its policy during the late 18th early 20th century.

The paper must use a minimum of four primary source documents. Additional research is recommended but not required.

The paper must be 5-7 pages. 12 font standard margins.

The first draft is due on February 23. Final draft is due on March 2. The will not be opportunities to rewrite this paper

Imperialism Exam

1. List at least two arguments for the annexation of the Philippines provided by Albert Beveridge. Which argument does he pay particular attention to and why?

2. Explain how racism played a role in both imperialist and anti-imperialist arguments.

3. Explain how the anti-imperialist arguments of Andrew Carnegie made sense considering his position in American Society and the anti-imperialist arguments of Samuel Gompers made sense considering his position in American Society.

4. What was the “Open Door Note”? How did it represent a different vision of colonialization in the U.S. as opposed to Europe?

5. How are the Monroe Doctrine and the Roosevelt Corollary similar in terms of U.S. Foreign Policy? How are they different?

6. Newspaper Robber Barron William Randolph Hearst told his reporters heading to Cuba in 1898,

“You supply the pictures, and I’ll supply the war”

Based on our discussion about the “yellow press,” what do you think Hearst was talking about?

7. Name three connections between the strategies used by American forces the Philippines and those suggested by Secretary of State Donald Rumsefeld’s Memo to the President?

8. Why does William Jennings Bryan see imperialism as a threat to American Democracy?

9. How does president McKinley argue that American can still be democratic while colonizing the Philippines?

10. In a 2003 speech president Bush declared

…America has put our power at the service of principle. We believe that liberty is the design of nature; we believe that liberty is the direction of history. We believe that human fulfillment and excellence come in the responsible exercise of liberty. And we believe that freedom -- the freedom we prize -- is not for us alone, it is the right and the capacity of all mankind.

Explain specifically how this quote connects to the notion of White Man’s Burden.

Extra Credit:

. “U.S. Imperialism is a natural continuation of Manifest Destiny”

a. How could one argue this statement is accurate?
b. How could one argue imperialism represents something very different than Manifest destiny?

Sample PBATs: 
Research Paper Assessing U.S. Foreign Policy (see above)