Imperialism is the establishment of political and economic dominance over other nations. Many nations took part in colonial empires including the U.S. during the nineteenth century. America, on its own, is not supposed to be an empire. It was a rebel colony initially being the first system to dispose British rule.
Imperialism was first practiced in Samoa which motivated the rest of the America. The United States had positive motives when they got involved in the task. Their reason for participation was to control economy and compete with other industrialized nations as well as to maintain their reputation in other countries. Another motive was to obtain a constant market for gainful investments. There was also the religious motivation with the desire to introduce Christianity to foreign and traditional cultures (Streich, 2009, p.1).
Americans viewed imperialism as a way of uplifting the uncivilized people in the world in a moral way. Production was very high and America needed to protect its expanding foreign markets. Hawaii had been dominated by Americans way before the war. America had already started investing in Cuba’s natural resources while Hawaii’s best ports, already under America’s control, was used to access China for efficient trading. The state’s secretary pressured Europeans to stop blocking America’s participation in China’s trade.
America had a war with Spain in 1898 which after its conclusion, America was given the ownership of Cuba, Philippines and Puerto Rico which were previous possessions of Spain. America wanted an efficient and easier access of its navy to the Pacific and the Caribbean oceans.
A negotiation between American officials and Britain confirmed the America’s domination and regulation over the canal. A French canal company official gave Americans a central section of Panama to build the canal. He also gave America rights to take more land or use troops on Panama when necessary.
The Panamanians were to be given their independence only if they accepted the treaty, but they refused to sign it so the Americans took ownership of the canal region (Bella, 2003, p.1). The United States therefore destroyed all European empires after taking over Cuba and Philippines from Spain.
They built a navy ready for European in case they became troublesome or destabilized. In 1939 to 1945, the then American president, Roosevelt, extracted British colonies including the Caribbean and West Africa and in exchange He offered assistance to Britain during war. After years after the World War II, America was already exercising authority and power in Belgian Congo which was previously dominated by Britain, and French Indochina (Selfa, 1999, p.1).
Despite the fact that many Americans believed in overseas expansion, many other Americans opposed the move. They formed the American anti-imperialism league in 1899. However, their campaigns were not successful. The league argued that the imperialism policy was intimidating to personal liberty.
They argued that all human races no matter the color have the right to live and pursue happiness at all times. The group maintained that the government should obtain their rightful powers from the citizen’s consent. They insisted that forced control is criminal assault and lack of devotion to government principles.
The league firmly condemned the national administration in the Philippines and demanded an immediate stop to the discrimination against human liberty. They required Spain to initiate the process since it was one of the first countries to practice imperialism. They had the aim of forming a congress that would officially inform the Philippines of America’s intentions to grant them their rightful independence.
The group also disapproved strongly the American soldiers for being involved in an unjust war. Their arguments were based on the fact that the United States had always detested international laws which allowed forceful control o f the weak by the strong party. The obligation of nation’s citizens to support its government during hazardous moments did not fit applicably for this situation of imperialism (Halsall, 1997, p.1).
An obvious outcome is America now stretches from Atlanta the Pacific. With this entire region where there are no import and export tax barriers, it has been quite easy for America to increase its per capita. However, America was left with the heritage of oppression which is no different from slavery.
However, some positive effects have been felt especially through the Panama Canal that was constructed then which has helped improve the region’s economy. Transportation and communication services were extensively improved. Uncivilized areas got the opportunity of adopting higher livelihood values. The countries that were colonized were affected negatively as well especially in the economic sector where most of the key and productive elements are up to date owned or controlled by foreign economic agencies.
Imperialism can never be a good practice no matter the circumstances. It does not matter whether the imperialistic country has good intentions or not. If any nation at all feels the need to offer help to another country, it should do so in a better way and certainly not by controlling the other depriving them of their freedom and rights. Assistance can be offered as ideas and policies that the country should implement on its own depending on what suits the situation it is faced with.
Bella, R. (2003). Imperialism, American style. Retrieved January 6, 2011, from,
Halsall, P. (1997). American Anti-Imperialist League, 1899. Retrieved January 6, 2011,
Selfa, L. (1999). U.S. Imperialism: A Century of Slaughter. Retrieved January 6, 2011,
Streich, M. (2009). American Imperialism in the 1890s. Retrieved January 6, 2011, from,