America and Imperialism: The Growth of Imperial Ideas
Historian Paul Kennedy has called the emergence of the U.S. as player on world stage the most decisive change in late 19th century. America saw herself with a "special moral endowment" and felt justified in projecting influence beyond her borders. Americans still avoid "entangling alliances" but feel free to get more actively involved
* 1861-65: America preoccupied with the Civil War. Spain refuses to recognize Monroe Doctrine, attempts to retake the Dominican Republic. U.S. unable to assist revolution, but Spain withdraws in 1865.
* U.S. also notices frequent fighting in Mexico, but stays out. European powers involved because of debts owed by Mexico. Spain and Great Britain eventually withdraw, but France (Napoleon III) stays on.
* 1866-67 Napoleon III and Mexico. Archduke Maximilian of Austria named Emperor of Mexico. General Philip Sheridan and 50,000 troops sent to border. 12 February 1866: Ultimatum; Napoleon pulls out in 1867; Maximilian shot by firing squad, seen as victory for Monroe Doctrine.
* 1867 William Seward purchases Alaska for $7.2 million. Anti-expansionism loose; venture called Seward's Ice Box. Seward also negotiates treaty to buy the Virgin Islands from Denmark for $7.6 million, but the Senate says no. The U.S. occupies Midway Island.
* 1870 President Grant wants to annex the Dominican Republic, sends agent to negotiate agreement. Secretary of State Fish is not enthusiastic abut idea. The Cabinet disapproves, but Grant is undeterred. Senate rejects formal treaty despite Grant's lobbying. Grant angry over rejection.
* 1871 Alabama Claims. During Civil War British built Confederate raiders destroyed 100,000 tons of U.S. shipping. Johnson-Clarendon Convention negotiated by Seward to adjudicate claims (1869) is rejected by the Senate 53-1. Grant's Secretary of State Fish reopens issue. Treaty of Washington of 8 May agrees to submit claims to international tribunal (Italy, Switzerland, Brazil, G.B., U.S.) which awards U.S. $15.5 million. British had failed "due diligence" test. Outstanding achievement of the Grant administration.
* 1873 The Virginius Affair. An insurrection known as the Ten Years War broke out in Cuba in 1868. Cuban independence was declared and a provisional government established, but its status was uncertain when Grant took office. A U.S. mediation plan died, and Secretary of State Fish worked to avoid U.S. intervention. In 1873 more trouble erupted from U.S. filibustering in Cuba to aid rebels. The Virginius, a gun runner for Cuban rebels, was captured by the Spanish, who executed the crew, including some Americans. Just before being hanged ship's Captain Fry sent a pathetic letter to his wife, which was published in a NYC newspaper. War fever flared, coastal cities armed and prepared, but war was averted as Fish moderated U.S. demands. Cuba later paid an indemnity of $80k for the families of executed Americans. Bloodshed continued in Cuba until 1878, when Spain enforced peace, but the incident is a hint of future U.S. trouble with Spain over Cuba.
* 1881 Secretary of State James G. Blaine wants to strengthen U.S. exports, increase U.S. prestige and influence in Latin America at the expense of Europe. He invites nations to conference in Washington, leaves office when Arthur becomes President, conference never comes off.
* 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act restricts Chinese immigration for 10 years following much anti-Chinese agitation in the U.S. In 1885 a massacre of Chinese in Wyoming was followed by anti-Chinese agitation in Washington Territory. Many Chinese returned home, spread stories about treatment by Americans. Additional treaties extend exclusion, and anti-American feelings persist into 1900s.
* 1888 "Mr. Blaine's Congress"-attempt at Latin-American-U.S. cooperation derided, but seeds were planted which later lead to the Pan American Union & Organization of American States. Blaine also tries to modify the 1850 Clayton-Bulwer Treaty-invokes Monroe Doctrine when European nations show interest in building Panama canal, talk with Colombia.
* 1888 Several nations, including the U.S., are interested in Samoa-which lies along route to Australia. In 1878 a new Samoan Treaty of Amity and Commerce was made which gave the U.S. rights to Pago-Pago harbor. In 1884 Germans tried to force a new treaty on the Samoans; tension arose among U.S.-G.B.-Germany. Fighting breaks out 1888; in 1889 trouble between Germany, Great Britain, U.S. avoided when typhoon destroys ships. Tripartite protectorate established. 1899 partitioning: German, British, American Samoa. U.S. formally becomes owner 1929.
* 1891 Trouble with Italy over Mafia activity in New Orleans. 11 Italians (3 Italian citizens) lynched. U.S. says the issue is a matter of state law; Italy angry. Nothing comes of it.
* 1891-92. Chilean Dispute. Arms runners supplying Chilean civil war captured by American ship. Resentment in Chile breaks out when U.S.S. Baltimore visits Chile. Two U.S. sailors killed, 17 wounded. Harrison mentions war, prepares message. Chile slow to react, claims it's a drunken brawl among sailors. Eventually resolved with $75,000 indemnity.
* 1895 The Venezuelan Boundary dispute: The Monroe Doctrine revisited. A dispute erupts over the British Guiana-Venezuela boundary. The U.S. offers mediation, British reject idea, which stirs Anglophobia in the U.S. Secretary of State Olney declares: "The U.S. is practically sovereign" in the western hemisphere. G.B. answers that the Monroe Doctrine has no force in law. Cleveland lays correspondence before Congress. G.B., concerned over rivalry with Germany, S.A. (Boer War), finally decides in its own best interest to give in. ("War would be an absurdity"-Chamberlain.) An example of "Jingoism."
* 1895 Approach of the Spanish-American War. In 1895 fighting flares up in Cuba; Spain sends 50,000 troops; Spanish gunboat fires on U.S. steamer, causes hubbub in U.S. Developments in Cuba affect U.S. economy, especially after Panic of 1893. Americans are predisposed to aid Cuban rebels in fight for independence. Revolutionists carry out propaganda campaign, destruction of sugar mills in order to induce American intervention. Revolutionary junta in NYC spreads propaganda; American citizens interfering in Cuba.
* 1896 General Valeriano Weyler arrives in Cuba, establishes concentration camps. Republicans adopt imperialist platform, McKinley elected. Election distracts, but concentration camps renew interest, result in demonstrations. Congress calls for recognition of Cubans' belligerent rights; McKinley offers to mediate with Spain for Cuban independence. Spain declines but otherwise tries to meet U.S. demands. McKinley plays for time. American ambassadors working in opposite directions: Woodford in Madrid (peace), Lee in Havana (war.)
* Yellow Journalism makes itself felt in Cuban conflict. Newspapers practice sensationalism, exaggeration. William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer vie for readers in circulation war. Consider war as their personal property; one editor goes "raving crazy." Hearst to photographer: "You take care of the pictures, I'll take care of the war." Historian Page Smith calls press behavior "disgraceful."
* 1897 Spain wants to avoid war, recalls Weyler, reforms policies. When U.S. protests treatment of American citizens (former Cubans) Spain offers remedies. Spanish loyalists and rebels both unhappy at good relations between Spain, U.S. Navalists (Roosevelt, Lodge) urge firmness.
* 1898 Spanish loyalists shout "Viva Weyler!" Lee requests warships to Key West, Maine sent to Havana-provocative act. While Maine at anchor in Havana a letter insulting to President McKinley written by Spanish minister De Lome is stolen from U.S. mails by an insurrectionist spy and turned over to a Hearst reporter, published in Journal. Outrages Americans. De Lome resigns. One week later, February 15, the Maine, which had been dispatched as a "friendly act of courtesy" to "protect American lives and property" blew up. Not known for sure who or what caused it; Spanish least likely. Yellow Press: "Remember the Maine! To hell with Spain!"
* 1898 The U.S. declares war on Spain. [Read McKinley's message] The Teller Amendment is added declaring America's intention not to annex Cuba.
The Spanish-American War was a brief conflict won handily by the united States over an inept Spanish army and navy. Thanks to the encouragement of expansionists and the reckless behavior of the yellow press, Americans enthusiastically supported the war. Many young men volunteered, but the regular U.S. Army, which had done little but fight Indians since the Civil war, was ill prepared to manage the fighting.
The Navy, on the other hand, was in good trim, having been built up beginning with the Harrison administration in response to the writings of Mahan and the support of other "navalists" like Theodore Roosevelt. The Navy foguht well from the beginning when Commodore Dewey destroyed the Spanish fleet in Manila Bay in the Philippines, and was continued when Admirals Sampson and Schley defeated another Spanish fleet off the coast of Cuba. Although plagues by inefficiency, disease and disorder, the Army, bolstered by volunteers such as the famous "Rough Riders," fought bravely enough to defeat a hapless Spanish army near Santiago. American tropps also occupied Puerto Rico. The Treaty of Paris that ended the war granted independence to Cuba; Spain turned over Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippine Islands to the United States, for which the U.S. paid $20 million to Spain.
The "Splendid Little War" lasted only four months, the fighting itself only weeks. African American soldiers, many of them veterans of the Indian wars with the 9th and 10th cavalry, played a vital role for the Americans and contributed to the victory. The presence of Black troops in camps and departure areas in the Southern states caused several incidents in which the troops reacted against discriminatory policies.
Thanks to Dewey's victory in Manila, American military forces occupied the Philippine Islands. Philippine revolutionary Emilio Aguinaldo refused to exchange Spanish occupation for American and continued his insurrection against the new American "invaders." The result was one of the ugliest wars in American history, and the war and the annexation of the Philippines created a large controversy over America's role as an imperial power. Imperialists argued that the U.S. had a duty to help civilize and control the underdeveloped parts of the world, but Anti-Imperialist League was founded that opposed America's acquisition of colonies as anti-democratic and destructive of American ideals. The result of the debate and the ugly Philippine insurrection was that the U.S. promised eventual independence to the Philippines and also eventually allowed Puerto Rico to determine its own destiny, which is still being decided.
Hawaii: A Classic Case of Economic Imperialism
American interest in the Hawaiian Islands goes back to post-revolutionary days when American trader first started traversing the Pacific. Hawaii was a convenient stopping-off place for ship bound for China and Japan. American missionaries arrived in the islands in the early 19th century, and the scenery, climate and valuable crops like sugar and fruits attracted attention. Although American did not make any move to annex or otherwise control Hawaii, American policy consistently sought to keep others from extending their influence over the islands.
* 1842 Secretary of State Daniel Webster recognizes the importance of Hawaii for the United States. Native Hawaiians want to resist foreign intervention and see the U.S as an ally in that effort. The U.S. makes no attempt to annex Hawaii, but rejects foreign influence.
* 1843 A British naval officer attempts annexation of Hawaii but his efforts are disavowed.
* 1848 After territory is added from the Mexican War, including California, Hawaii becomes even more important.
* 1849 The U.S. formally recognizes Hawaiian independence, talk of annexation starts but comes to nothing.
* 1875 The U.S. signs a reciprocity trade treaty with Hawaii which admits Hawaiian sugar to the U.S. duty free. Under the terms of the treaty no Hawaiian territory is to be disposed of to a third party.
* 1884 Reciprocity Treaty renewed.
* 1887 Rights to naval base at Pearl Harbor added to the agreement between the U.S. and Hawaii. Later that year a revolution of white (mostly American) planters forces Hawaiian King Kalakua to create a constitutional government which becomes dominated by minority white Americans. By 1890 the Americans control 2/3 of the land in Hawaii.
* 1890 The McKinley Tariff ends the favorable sugar trade situation for Hawaii, resulting in large losses for American planters. Americans also lose power when Queen Liliuokalani, a strong Hawaiian nationalist, accedes to the throne in 1891. An educated woman, (She wrote "Aloha Oe") she claims that "Hawaii is for the Hawaiians!" and opposes political reforms.
* 1893 A white citizens' revolt is led by Sanford Dole, who forms a "Committee of Safety" to overthrow the native government. U.S. diplomat Stevens violates law by improperly ordering U.S. Marines ashore from a warship, threatening the government. Dole becomes president of a new provisional government.
* An annexation treaty is hastily sent to Washington and then submitted to the Senate by President Harrison, but is blocked by Democrats in the Senate. When Cleveland takes office he orders an investigation and withdraws the treaty pending answers. A former congressman discovers wrongdoing against Queen Liliuokalani, and Cleveland tries to restore her throne. The provisional government refuses to step down and Cleveland is unwilling to use force in the matter. The U.S. Marines are withdrawn, Cleveland refuses to resubmit the treaty and attention turns toward Cuba.
* 1894 On July 4 the Republic of Hawaii is proclaimed and is recognized by the U.S.
* 1898 Spanish-American War shines new light on Hawaii because of activity in the Pacific-Hawaii a link to the Far East. McKinley negotiates a new annexation treaty, but it is held up by anti-imperialists in the Senate. The U.S. annexes Hawaii by a joint resolution of Congress, approved by McKinley July 7, accepted by Congress in August. Hawaii becomes U.S. territory June 14, 1900.
The Open Door
In 1900 Secretary of State John Hay announced what became known as the "Open Door" policy with regard to China. His intention was that no European nation was to create a sphere of influence in China to the exclusion of other nations. America is once again willing to look outward and intervene overseas to further her own economic and political interests.
The U.S. occupies Puerto Rico with a force under General Miles in 1898. The Foraker Act of 1900 attaches Puerto Rico as unincorporated territory with an elective legislature, governor and council appointed by the President. In 1909 a split develops between an independence movement and supporters of U.S. statehood. The 1917 Jones Act creates of Puerto Rico an "organized but unincorporated territory." Puerto Ricans have U.S. citizenship. Modifications to laws give Puerto Ricans the right to elect their own governor in 1947. Puerto Rico is now "free" but must obey the U.S. Constitution. In 1952 the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is established: statehood and independence options are still available and under debate at the present time.
Guam has a naval officer as governor until World War II. In 1950 Guam is organized as a territory and has one delegate to Congress.
Cuba is occupied by the United States following the war. Reforms are initiated in Public Administration and Public Health reforms initiated. Health agencies are directed by General Leonard Wood. Doctors Walter Reed and William Gorgas exterminate yellow fever in Cuba and push education and other reforms. A constitutional convention is called in 1900 to set up Cuban government, and Americans withdraw in 1902. As part of the legislation at the end of the war the Platt Amendment was added which placed certain restrictions on Cuba:
* Cuba can make no treaties without U.S. agreement
* Cuba can not create indebtedness beyond means to pay.
* The U.S. may intervene in Cuba to maintain law and order.
* The U.S. will run a sanitation program.
* The U.S. granted rights to a naval base at Guantanamo Bay until 1999
The Panama Canal. The Spanish-American War showed the need for an isthmian canal. Various issues arise:
* The 1850 Clayton-Bulwer Treaty has to be set aside
* Where will the canal be built? Panama or Nicaragua? French De Lesseps company still has rights in Panama, wants to salvage something; drops price from $109 million to $40 million when it sees that the U.S. House prefers the Nicaraguan route.
* Panama is part of Colombia. The Hay-Herran Treaty offers Colombia $10 million, $250,000 rent, 99-year lease, etc. Colombia holds out for $25 million, Colombian Senate rejects treaty unanimously.
* President Roosevelt tacitly supports revolution in Panama with American warships.
* Panama declares independence on November 4th, 1903. U.S. recognizes on 6th. Hay-Buneau-Varilla Treaty signed November 18th. U.S. guarantees Panamanian independence.
* In 1904 the Hay-Buneau-Varilla Treaty is ratified February 23. U.S. buys De Lesseps Company rights for $40 million. Ten-mile-wide zone guaranteed in perpetuity. The deal costs Colombia $40 million; $25 million guilt money eventually paid in 1921. Much resentment among Latin American nations over TR's "big stick" diplomacy. At home people call it "disgraceful" or "piracy." In cabinet meeting Elihu Root says to TR, "You were accused of seduction but proved you were guilty of rape."
* TR later says: "I took the Canal Zone, started the canal and let Congress debate me." Ends justified means. Wanted "to make the dirt fly" before 1904 election.
* Canal completed in 1914 at cost of $400 million-one of the world's engineering wonders.
History 122 Part 2