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09-29-20 Blog Post

Imperialism is an ideology that does not stem from the US though for a time we adopted the framework soon after the revolution had been won. Why? Why would America adopt a policy that represented everything that they hated about Britain? Why start a nation reborn on the foundation that reminds us of the very life we wanted to escape?

 

Imperialism offers an opportunity at expansion at rapid rates. It was through imperialism that nearly every world power gained and acquired new territory. A major way in which America used imperialism to quickly rise as a world power was through military force. The Spanish-American War was The US’s  way of quickly acquiring foreign territory. With their victory over Spain they colonized Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines. While thinking about imperialism, and specifically American imperialism, it begs the question of what that says about who we are as a nation. In the defense of American imperialism, as a newborn nation, we were vulnerable. With world powers like France and the threat of Britain returning to begin a second war, it is in fact fair to say that The United States were in need of expanding and growing their new born empire, but at what cost? Does that threat in and of it self make imperialism acceptable? I’m not sure.

 

When thinking about what American Imperialism says about the US as a country, I think it is no wonder we view ourselves as so important. American exceptionalism in my eyes is a result of professing the narrative that the United States is “big”, “strong”, and “brave”. Through American imperialism we shaped the minds of our ancestors into believing we were inconceivably stronger than all other nations. On top of this, we had just taken down arguably the strongest nation in the world, granting us our freedom. Not only was Britain a world power, but we were nothing more than a collection of colonists that in no way should have been able to defeat the British military. All things considered I think our American exceptionalism stems from the birth of our nation.

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2 Comments

  1. Annie Waters Annie Waters

    I really appreciate your points on the interactions between American imperialism, American exceptionalism, and the Revolutionary history of America. It’s truly very puzzling that America would condone imperialism after itself rebelling against its British imperialist regime (a trend Dr. Bezio revealed is common in the pattern of imperialism.) My only suggestion (albeit only somewhat informed) as to why this might have been justified relates to Zinn’s portrayal of the American Revolution as a fight for elite power. If the elite class during the revolutionary period denounced British influence out of economic motives and only used moral motives as a way to frame the Revolution to be more appealing to the lower class, it might be reasonable to think that a similar elite class later in America’s history would have no problem exploiting colonized nations’ conflicts to further extend their economic power. If America was against British imperialism primarily for the sake of its own economic power, it stands to reason that it would be motivated in partaking in its own imperialism to amplify that power.

  2. Jeffrey Sprung Jeffrey Sprung

    I agree with your point that American Exceptionalism in the United States derives from our defeat of the British in the Revolutionary War. I believe that this victory engrained the beliefs that America is a superior country in the world for centuries to come. I am wondering if there is anyway to avoid believing in American Exceptionalism due to our military success in the world? We won the Revolutionary War and both WWI and WW2 (among other wars) so I believe that it is difficult to not possess the ideals of American Exceptionalism due to our power and influence in the history of the world.

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