America did not invent imperialism. Imperialism existed for centuries before the American Revolution, and if it was not for British imperialism, there would have been no Thirteen Colonies to have a revolution. The Crash Course video only briefly mentions America’s investment in expansion, and mainly focuses on Europe. After all, America had to learn it from someone. However, that isn’t to say that America did not have imperialistic tendencies.
Late 19th century America was desperate to grow and to make a name for itself. After the Battle of Wounded Knee solidified the U.S.’ control of what we now refer to as the continental United States, so when depression hit in 1893, overseas markets became increasingly appealing. Under the administrations of McKinley and Roosevelt, America adopted an “Open Door Policy” and became involved in China and Cuba. However, this form of imperialism was intended more for economic purposes rather than land and colonies. Not surprisingly, involvement led to conflict such as the Cuban Revolution (in which America supported Cuba, not Spain), the Spanish-American War and violent conflict in the Philippines. Imperialism was deeply racist, horribly violent and overall destructive.
Despite this, imperialism, as terrible as it was, led to modern globalization and the world as we know it today. We wouldn’t be here without imperialism, for better or for worse. No, America is not perfect. It never has been, and it probably never will be. However, the beauty of America is that it has the capacity to have that “positive role on the world stage” that the article “The Myth of American Exceptionalism” mentions, even if it doesn’t always fulfill it. We cannot go back and change the atrocities committed during the initial colonization of America, the revolution, slavery, the Civil War or the era of American imperialism. We can only learn and grow from it.