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American Imperialism 1875-1900

"American Imperialism, Altruism or Aggression?" compares the interpretations of events in the United States from 1875 to the early 1900s from the perspectives of contemporary historians James A. Field, Jr., Walter LaFeber, and Robert L. Beisner. The editors cite a number of early historians, such as Samuel Flagg Bemis, Julius W. Pratt, and Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan who viewed American Imperialism as the result of a mix of religious, humanitarian, and economic ingredients. However, early historians did agree in part that foreign policy was influenced by domestic economic considerations.

Both early and contemporary historians included in this chapter identified a number of issues relevant to the events which occurred during this period in American history. Depending on their orientation, some historians discussed this period based on written records, documentation, and remaining physical evidence. Other historians like William Appleman Williams, LaFeber, and Seisner to a lesser extent, viewed American Imperialism as it was influenced by American society and the leaders at the time. Charles and Mary Beard and Mahan believed that, although events were influenced by society and its leaders, economic interests exerted the greatest influence. Field agreed with Bemis' basic theory that America's success in battle shifted the public's attention to imperialism and its implications for economic growth. However, Field interprets the issues of the time as much more complex and global than many other historians.

For example, President McKinley asked for a declaration of war despite Spain's acceptance of his demands because of the threat to American businesses' investments in, and trade with, Cuba. According to Progressive Era historians, the Beards, the danger to America's economic interests in the region clearly caused the war (164). Following the Spanish-American War, the United States emerged with a protectorate over Cuba and...

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American Imperialism 1875-1900. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 15:38, May 20, 2019, from