The Spanish–American War and the Development of U.S. Imperialism

1898–1933

Authored by: Thomas Schoonover

The Routledge Handbook of American Military and Diplomatic History

Print publication date:  June  2013
Online publication date:  August  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415888479
eBook ISBN: 9781135070991
Adobe ISBN: 9781135071028

10.4324/9781135070991.ch4

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Abstract

Cannon and rifle shots accented U.S. appearance on the stage of world imperialism in the last decade of the nineteenth century. The maturing of this martial-imperial thrust required about four decades. A conflux of processes of socio-economic reform movements and military activity shaped U.S. expansionism. Three developments in particular marked the late nineteenth-and early twentieth-century American political economy: a persistent movement west, numerous European immigrants, and the rapid growth of a technological-industrial economy. The United States adapted European liberalism, affirmed a U.S. mission, and gradually adopted materialism as the nation’s measure of success. U.S. society continued to claim that the nation’s bedrock was liberty and freedom, but it responded more effectively to material objectives and it lauded material accumulation. Idealism, generally secondary, served self-deception and image-shaping. Those accumulating wealth fine-tuned the political process around wealth and materialism. 1

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