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American Expansionism

Updated on May 9, 2013

Expansionism is the act of expanding an empire, wanting and taking more. This was the way Britain had become the long ago super power that Americans came from. There were many reasons for wanting to expand America and many ways suggested, but the gist always came down to wanting more. America chose to expand quite like their British counterparts by taking over other smaller countries resources, as well as bringing them in as a customer. This form of expansionism is referred to as Imperialism.

America was seeing a boom from the industrial revolution, so much so that there was way too much surplus goods and it negatively affected the economy in the 1870’s, as well as a few years prior to our time set. With the new age of mass production of goods, America was simply making more items than there were consumers for them, they needed to find more people to buy their goods to continue on the growth that was desired. Cheap labor was not a problem with immigrants flooding the country, paired with little to no business regulation. Undoubtedly, making a perfect recipe for mass production of cheaply made goods.

Not only was there more industrial made products to find a consumer for, there was also a lot of extra food. Mechanism of farming equipment made farmers yields a lot higher than there ever was, thus America needed more places to unload their excess crops as well. One farmer was able to tend to larger plots of land, thus creating a much larger amount of surplus they were unable to sell in America, or at least not for the price they desired.

Beyond wanting to sell their wares, expansionism was a way for wealthy Americans to acquire the raw materials they thought was needed, or at least make money off of other country’s resources by way of investments. This can be seen time and time again from this point in history, well in to current years. It was only a bit over a decade ago that America robbed Argentina of most of their public resources through “investments.” Namely high yield loans that in the end bankrupted the country, sending it in to chaos and standard of living plummeting. America in the 1890’s had their eyes on small islands and countries that could produce valuable crops that they wanted like sugar and tobacco and they wanted to dictate what the islanders could grow. If the prospective island was unable to grow life sustaining food, then they would be forced to buy their products from America, paired with a monopoly on crops that were allowed to sell.

America also wanted to firmly put their foot in the door as the World’s super power and acquisitions did just that. Whether it was by force, coercion or last resort, America expanded itself through the Pacific islands and the Asiatic markets, as well as the Caribbean and Latin markets. I suppose part of it was to merely take the trade from Britain, but maybe more so, the desire to control everything. This includes global trading, resources, labor, basically everything and everyone.

Still there was other reasons for expansionism in this country at the time in History, idealism. This was the idea that we are so much better off, that we must spread our greatness around. This included Christianity and democracy. Some even go as far to suggest, Darwinism, the survival of the fittest. In the Darwin outlook, Anglo-Saxon descendants are the superior race which in turn made it our “duty” to help all the lower races to live the way we do. However, many of the countries America “helps” will never live up to that standard, and some find themselves far worse off than they were to start. Christianity projects a sense of need to speak the gospel and spread it to those that have not had the chance to learn yet. Democracy was coveted by many smaller countries being controlled by larger ones, the idea that the people could elect their own leaders as opposed to total dictatorship.

In reality, expansionism is what has made this country the large sprawling empire that it is, whether that be good or bad. Decisions that were made in this time have literally written our history for the country we live in today. Expansionism was needed for America to live the type of life they had carved out and with the influx of immigrants, they were getting bigger by the moment. To keep the economy healthy and everyone with jobs, they had to find more people to add to their empire and buy their goods. The raise in commerce helped sustain the residents, as well as all that came to this country to make a better life for themselves.


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    • Unifiniti profile image

      Unifiniti 4 years ago

      kaiyan717 that's a GREAT hub, I don't see a lot of other topics on American Expansionism - could you write a history of American expansionism?

    • ajwrites57 profile image

      AJ 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

      kaiyan717 Interesting summary of a topic that is rarely mentioned today. Appreciate your efforts in this Hub!