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US foreign policy – HS 571

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modern history
Boston College

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  1. Introduction
  2. Policy of true imperialism
  3. Booming of the American industry
  4. Passage of the Monroe Doctrine in 1823
  5. The conflict with Spain concerning Cuba
  6. Conclusions of the Opium War in 1842
  7. The Open Door Policy with China
  8. Conclusion

When the United States passed the Monroe Doctrine in 1823, the country gave warning to foreign nations that the Western Hemisphere shall be free from European imperialism. While the doctrine was passed on behalf of the rest of the Americas, it gave the US complete control over the foreign markets, giving United States businesses a monopoly over trade. During the period from the passage of this doctrine until the outbreak of World War I, the foreign policy of the United States was governed solely on the search for new markets. Diplomatic historian R.W Van Alstyne's thesis concerning the expansion of the country perfectly explains the policy of the US during this period. While not the only motive in each event of foreign policy economic expansion was the dominating theme. Foreign policy examples such as the Spanish-American War, the Open Door Notes, and the Panama Canal all highlight the American desire for economic expansion. Furthermore, in each case this desire was supplemented by different moral and military obligations. Following this period of expansion the United States became a true power in all of the world's markets.

[...] Since 1894, when the insurrection began, the United States' trade with Cuba had been cut in half and American businessmen had lost $40 million worth of investments.[1] Moreover, the US was also seeking to gain control over the Philippines in the Pacific. This territory would open the doors to the unexplored markets of Asia. In April of 1898 the United States entered into the war against Spain and achieved victory by August. By the terms of the peace treaty signed in Paris, the United States gained the Philippines, Guam, and Puerto Rico and also granted the Cubans independence, but with various restrictions placed upon this new nation. [...]

[...] The treaty with Great Britain was signed in June 1846 and gave the US territory to the 49th parallel. While this early event in American history was a true example of US expansion, it gives an idea about the lengths America would go to help in economic expansion. Throughout the late 19th Century, American industry was booming. Sparked by new technological advances that made mass production normality, the country began to build up enormous surpluses of both industrial products and agricultural harvests. [...]

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