Branching Off from Home #1

For our last unit in Honors History 10, the theme is “People, Places, and Power”. These three ideas can all connect to one another, and are related. The “People” aspect focuses on how people and their actions can affect an event. How people come together and react to certain events can reflect on their culture and shows what their common goal is. The “Place” aspect is how where one lives can effect their ideas and how they respond to certain events. “Power” can combine the two, and also determine the ownership of each. Power can be found by many road- economically, militarily, or even religiously. When given these terms and themes, we were next given topics to choose from that connected to the topic. I chose “Imperialism: America” because this was one that I did not know a lot about. I did not really know that America used imperialism, so I thought it would be interesting to learn about it. When Ms. Gallagher was describing each topic, this one seemed the most interesting because she said that although we think America never took over other countries because of out patriotic and “freedom for all” beliefs, we did.


Key Terms/Phrases

Imperialism: When stronger nations attempt to create empires by dominating weaker nations- economically, politically, culturally, or militarily 

Nationalism: devotion to one’s nation

Annex: to join a new territory to an existing country 

Monroe Doctrine: Document that declared the United States neutral in European Wars. It also warned other nations not to interfere in the Western Hemisphere.

Natural resources: Resources that come from the earth, for example rubber and petroleum. Usually come from underdeveloped countries 

Manifest Destiny: American settlers thought they were destined to expand throughout the continent.

Captain Alfred T. Mahan: argued America’s economic future hinged on gaining new markets abroad. The US needed a powerful navy to protect these markets from foreign rivals.

Naval Act of 1889: called for the construction of more naval artillery- made the United State’s navy one of the most powerful in the world.

Theodore Roosevelt: President of the United States from 1901-1909. Thought imperialism would increase the American spirit.

Jingoism: burst of American pride and the desire for an aggressive foreign policy. 

Platt Amendment: stated they America would remove troops from Cuba only if Cuba would not enter any foreign agreements and allow the US to form naval bases and intervene whenever necessary.

Teller Amendment: Promised that that the United States wouldn’t annex Cuba.

Sphere of influence: an area of economic or military control 

The Cuban Rebellion: rebelled against Spain, but then the US came in and took over led to

The Treaty of Paris: Gave the US the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Guam. They became “unincorporated” territories of the US, which meant they weren’t intended for eventual statehood. 

Surplus products: products that the citizens of America were not able to use, and needed to be traded to other markets


Enduring Understandings

1. Countries who wanted to gain power globally would do it by gaining control of people and places outside of their territory.

  • The Spanish-American War led to America taking Cuba away from Spain. Cuba gained independence from Spain, but because The US won the war they got control over Cuba: “Many Cubans felt that the United States had betrayed its goal of securing independence from Cuba. To some, it seemed that the United States had simply replaced Spain as Cuba’s sovereign nation” (America textbook, 594).
  • America annexed Hawaii because they needed it for naval reasons: “After briefly considering whether the Hawaiian people wished to be annexed, Congress was swayed by arguments that the United States needed naval stations in Hawaii in order to protect its world trade” (America textbook, 595).

2. In a country’s decision to gain power over other countries, the citizens of the country trying to take over debate the validity of taking over places and people of the other countries.

  • Some thought it was a good idea, because it would help the economy of America: “The profit system, with it natural tendency for expansionism, had already begun to look overseas. The severe depression that began in 1893 strengthened an idea developing within the political and financial elite of the country” (The Empire of the People, 297).
  • People also thought it was a good idea because it would unite the country: “And would not a foreign adventure deflect some of the rebellious energy that went into strikes and protest movements towards an external enemy? Would it not unit people with government, with the armed forces, instead of against them?” (The Empire of the People, 297).
  • Some did not support the idea of America taking over other countries (like Cuba), because they thought that it was unnecessary and would ruin the Cuban’s way of life: “’We assume that what we like and practice, and what we think better, must come as a welcome blessing to Spanish-Americans and Filipinos. This is grossly and obviously untrue. They hate our ways. They are hostile to our ideas. Our religion, language, institutions, and manners offend them’ –William G. Sumner, Yale University professor, in a 1898 speech” (America textbook, 605). 

3. People used the power of the press to influence the idea of taking over places outside of ones country.

  • Journalists covering the Spanish-American war hyperbolized war stories about Cuban rebels to get American’s support for the US to intervene: “Their sensational headlines and stories, known as yellow journalism, whipped up American public opinion in favor of the rebels.” (America textbook, 591).
  • Socialist newspapers warned that the hype created from the sinking of the Maine was really for America to advance their power: “A gigantic…and cunningly-devised scheme is being worked ostensibly to place the United States in the front rank as a naval and military power. The real reason is that the capitalists will have the whole thing and, when any workingmen dare to ask for the living wage… they will be shot down like dogs in the street” (The Craftsman, The Empire of the People, 307).


My topic, “Imperialism: America” connects to the theme “People, Places, and Power” because it shows how America took over people and places that weren’t their own to gain power. With the Spanish-American War, America took Cuba from Spain by saying that Cuba should be free. But, America took over Cuba and their people to advance their own military power. Having Cuba allowed them to put naval bases to protect America as they went out further conquering other areas (America textbook, 585). America also took over people and places to gain economic power. A statistic given in The Emperor and the People said, “While it was true that in 1898, 90 percent of American products were sold at home, the 10 percent sold abroad amounted to a billion dollars” (301). This shows how imperialism was a great economic gain for America. This topic connects very well to the theme of “People, Places, and Power” because it shows how power can be gained through people and places.


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