world power

For most of the 19th century the United States existed in the shadow of Europe, mostly untouched by European affairs since the end of the Napoleonic wars. Europe stayed out of American affairs, and the United States left Europe into its own devices. The concept of Manifest Destiny generally meant that an American Empire was to be created in North America. A major step in that direction was the Mexican-American War of 1845-1848, which added a huge amount of territory to the southwest section of the country. Other boundary adjustments expanded the nation into what became known as the “Lower 48.” Alaska was added in 1867, Hawaii in 1898. The nation had plenty of room for its growing population, an abundance of natural resources, and markets for its industrial and agricultural products in the booming cities in the eastern half of the country.

WHITE FLEETBeginning around 1870, the major European powers and Japan looked outward for territories to exploit through colonization or political and economic influence. Sometimes called the age of neo-colonialism, this era generated competition among the major powers, which often led to serious conflicts. As as the industrial revolution generated enormous changes in transportation and communication, American leaders began to rethink traditional American policy of isolationism. America found itself more and more connected with the rest of the world. Thus the rise in status of the U.S. as a World Power was centered around the growth of the U.S. Navy. As the writings of Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan turned America's eyes outward, America became a player in the great game of Empire and a factor on the world stage. At first American interests were necessarily concentrated in the Caribbean and Pacific regions. Following the Spanish-American War, However, America gained an overseas empire. America's entry into World War I—the Great War—in 1917 created another new era in American foreign affairs as President Wilson assumed an international leadership role in his attempt the “make the world safe for democracy.” America had become a world power.

american imperialism





Sage History Home World War 1: The Great War Progressive Era Updated March 30, 2020