Emergence of the USA as a Major World Power:
(1) The forces that have led to the emergence of imperialism in Europe and later in Japan also led to the emergence of the United States as a major imperialist power by the half of the 19th century. The U.S.A. signed a treaty with China in 1844 on the lines that some European countries had forced on China after the Opium War. After the U.S.-Spanish War, the Philippines had become a U.S. colony. The U.S.A. had also taken Port Rico and Guan (in the Pacific) from Spain and Cuba, though independent in name, had in fact become an appendage of the United States. When the scramble for colonies began, the leaders of the U.S.A. declared that she ‘must not fall out of the line of march’. They also claimed like the European imperialism countries, the right to ‘civilize’ the backward countries of the world and of course, to interfere in the affairs of other countries to protect their markets and investments.
(2) When Britain and France were busy increasing their influence in China the United States feared that China would be completely parcelled out in exclusive spheres of influence and that its trade with China would be shut off. The United States, therefore, suggested the policy known as the ‘Open Door’. This policy is also described as the ‘Me too’ policy. According to this policy, all countries would have equal rights to trade anywhere in China. Britain supported the United States thinking that this policy would discourage the annexation of China by Japan and Russia, the two countries that could most easily send their armies to the mainland.
(3) The United States joined in the race of imperialist expansion in South-East Asia in the late nineteenth century. A revolt of the Cubans in the Caribbean against Spanish rule led the United States into a war with Spain. There was a revolt of the Filipinos against Spanish rule and the United States occupied Cuba and the Philippines. The Filipinos revolted against the American occupation but were suppressed and the Philippines became an American possession. The United States paid 20 million dollars to Spain for the Philippines.
(4) During the period from the 1890s to the early years of the twentieth century, the United States spread its control, direct and indirect over South America and the Pacific. In 1893, the President of the United States had proclaimed the Monroe Doctrine which warned the European powers against any attempt to extend their power in the Western Hemisphere. In 1895, the Monroe Doctrine was given a new meaning. There was a territorial dispute between British Guiana (now Guyana) and Nicaragua and the British threatened to send her troops against Nicaragua. The U.S. government forced Britain not to send her troops and declared, “Today the United States is practically sovereign on this continent”. A new corollary was added to the Monroe Doctrine in 1904 by U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt. Britain and Germany had imposed a naval blockade of Venezuela as she had failed to repay the loan which she had taken from them. Roosevelt forced Britain and Germany to lift the blockade and declared that the United States alone had the right to intervene in the affairs of her neighbouring countries if they were unable to maintain on their own.
(5) The United States of America took control of the finances of the Dominion Republic which she retained for thirty years and occupied that country in 1916 for eight years.
(6) In 1906, U.S. troops were sent to Nicaragua in support of a revolt that had been inspired by an American mining company. The United States secured from the government which had been installed there the right to intervene in that country to protect American interests.
(7) In 1915, U.S. troops were sent to Haiti and remained there till 1934. In Mexico, where the United States had huge investments. Francisco Madero, a popular leader was deposed with the support of the United States. The intervention by the United States in Mexico continued for several years. The policy of the United States was described as the ‘Big Stick’ and one of an ‘international policeman’.
(8) The U.S.A. played a vital role in the framing of peace treaties after the First World War. President Woodrow Wilson put famous ‘Fourteen Points‘ before the European powers. The economy of the U.S.A. became very strong during the days of the First World War. She made tremendous industrial progress during this period and she was beginning to make heavy investments in Europe. The U.S.A had acquired the most dreadful acquisition that ultimately resulted in the widespread devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The condemnable act of the U.S.A made it supreme power in the eyes of other countries of the world.
(9) America also extended its control in the Pacific during this period. The islands of Hawaii have been important for American shipping and for trade with China. The United States’ economic and commercial influence gradually increased in these islands and with the settling of Americans there, particularly as sugar planters, these islands became closely tied ‘to the economy of United States’. The United States had secured the exclusive use of Pearl Harbour as a naval station. In 1893, the American residents in the Hawaii islands revolted against the queen of Hawaii and asked for the annexation of the islands by the United States. By 1898 Hawaii had been annexed by the United States. Later, it became one of the states of the United States.
(10) The United States also extended control over other islands in the Pacific. There was rivalry among the United States, Britain and Germany over Samoan lands. In 1899, Germany and the United States divided these islands between themselves and as ‘compensation’ Britain was given islands elsewhere in the Pacific.