The Birth of an American Empire

The last decade of the 19th century was a time of great hope and anxiety. The major European empires and Japan threatened to exclude U.S. businesses from vital overseas markets and challenge U.S. security in the Western Hemisphere. Yet Americans shared the general optimism of the era that science, commerce and civilization had reached the point where great power conflict might be prevented or at least limited by international cooperation.

Guiding Questions

Why did Americans explore the possibilities of national expansion and imperialism in the late 19th century?

Did the Spanish-American War define a fundamental shift in American foreign policy? In what way?

What purpose did the Open Door Notes serve for American foreign policy?

Learning Objectives

After completing this unit, students should be able to

define imperialism and explain how it impacted America

articulate the differences between the imperialists/expansionists and the anti-imperialists

list the causes of the Spanish American War.

relate the war to the larger political debate over American imperialism

articulate the key positions of people in the controversy over the Philippines.

analyze the short-term successes and failures of the Open Door Notes