Imperialists vs. Anti-Imperialists The United States has had a long tradition of territorial expansion across the continent so it is easy to understand why the notion of imperialism was so easily accepted by such a large number of people. And to back this imperialist sentiment we had things like the Monroe Doctrine, the Manifest Destiny, Social Darwinism, overabundance of industrial goods, and the military advantages of acquiring new territory. There were others who felt much differently about the concept of imperialism. The other group of people felt it was wrong so they formed the Anti-Imperialist League. The Anti-Imperialist League fought and campaigned against imperialism. And aiding the anti-imperialist sentiment were the struggles for Cuban and Filipino independence, the true meaning of independence, and greedy capitalist.
Whenever we felt the need to expand our boundaries and acquire new territories we would purchase, negotiate, or conquer the desired land. These were the methods we used to acquire territories like Florida, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, California, and Oregon, from England, France, and Spain. Our imperialist ways are precisely the reason why we own as much of the country as we do. I mean if we would have left it up to England, France, or Spain they would still own the other half of our country. But, our imperialist motives did not stop there first we had the Monroe Doctrine, which expressed U.S. hostility towards Europeans intervening in affairs occurring in our half of the hemisphere. Later an idea called Manifest Destiny emerged this was the idea that since we were of Anglo-Saxon decent we were superior and our industrial, political, and military strength were proof of that superiority thus we carried the responsibility to extend our rule and prosperity to the less-able people. The Social Darwinism philosophy had a strong presence. Imperialists felt that we should lend a hand to the less fortunate people on the much lower levels of the social ladder and help pull them up so that they too could have a stronger society. And their new stronger society would be indebted to us for stabilizing their country, thus allowing us to abuse this relationship and make more money. The United States was faced with an economic problem American industry produced more goods than the citizens could consume. Because of this overabundance of industrial goods we needed to expand, which meant exploring and opening up new foreign markets. This was yet another reason the imperialists had for acquiring more territory or forming new close relationships with other foreign powers, like China. And of course the last claim that Americans used to support imperialism was to gain more strategic military positions by putting bases around the world. This one was especially easy for Americans to understand because it allowed us to protect our interests by keeping a portion of our power closer to those who might threaten the American hegemony.
Despite the large number of people that supported imperialism there were others who felt differently about these imperialistic ways. Those who were anti-imperialist included such people as Andrew Carnegie, Jane Addams, and Mark Twain. They felt imperialism was wrong so the Anti- Imperialist League was formed to help fight it they used methods like holding large rallies, distributing pamphlets, and petitioning Congress. A couple of events that were taking place the battles for Cuban and Filipino independence, truly expressed the feelings of the anti-imperialists. When they heard of these battles for independence they were reminded of a young nation who was outraged and eagerly fighting to be a free nation and govern itself, immediately they sympathized and became angry because it was something we fought so dearly for and yet we were denying it to someone else who just wanted the same. The word independence by definition means freedom from the influence, control, or determination of another something we ourselves fought and died for and we as a people had become so dense that we failed to realize that, instead we were so concerned with falling behind the Europeans it was almost as if the almighty dollar had taken complete control of the government and we forgot where we came from. All the Cubans and Filipinos wanted was to govern themselves, live by their own standards not somebody elses, control their economy the way they saw fit you, to have no outside interference to be completely independent. They thought we were helping them get their independence so they could be free, but the whole time we had our own plans for the Cubans and Filipinos, we simply removed one government and put another in its place. Another point made by the anti- imperialists were the greedy capitalists and their insatiable appetite to increase the size of their own fortunes. These people would consume every natural resource they could find be it gold, trees, oil, rubber, or anything they could use to help them generate more profit in American industry, they did not really care about the people of these smaller countries they were just in it to make more money and that is all they seemed to care about. You see with these imperialistic ways the greedy capitalists could exploit these countries and their people for everything they were worth and there would be no one to stop them. This was all very wrong, how could we allow something like this to happen when all these people wanted was for once, just once to be left alone.
On one side we had the imperialists who wanted to expand and build something for the future of our country. And on the other side the anti- imperialists who wanted to help the smaller countries by keeping the American government from committing the same injustice once put upon us. I truly understand the sentiment of the anti-imperialists and I cannot help but think how hypocritical we have been. But, look at the type of country we have today, how prosperous we are and how powerful a country we really are. Now ask yourself this question, what type of nation we would be living in if the imperialists had not succeeded? Would it be better or worse?
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