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Maggie Otradovec Blog Post 9/30

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.

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  1. Kayla O'Connell Kayla O'Connell

    I agree that without imperialism we wouldn’t be the country we are today. It’s crazy to think how all of these important, yet negative events have impacted the trajectory of our country. I wonder how different the country would really be today if we never had revolutions, imperialism or slavery.

  2. Delaney Demaret Delaney Demaret

    Do you think that imperialism exists only as a past ideology? I think I would argue that since the entire basis of American foreign policy is based on imperialism, it still shows up in our world presence today. Thus, we can still work to dismantle the harms of our imperialist tendencies. I think that our growing awareness of the harms the United States has caused is more than simply a learning opportunity- it is a call for reflection on our currently military and economic foreign policies.

  3. William Coben William Coben

    I think the point you made about us not being where we are today without imperialism is interesting and very true. It is odd to think about the fact that negatively connotated events are the same events that put us where we are. Counterintuitive.

  4. Alexander Barnett Alexander Barnett

    It’s almost a double-edged sword when it comes to talking about events such as imperialism. one hand you want to say that the way other countries imposed their will was wrong, but it’s hard to know if we would be anywhere near where we are now in terms of advancement without imperialism.

  5. Samuel Hussey Samuel Hussey

    Imperialism was definitely a controversial time period for our country that allowed for economic expansion and growth from a macro perspective but also had suffering and racism from a micro perspective. Imperialism definitely was not invented by the United States, as you pointed out, and we were simply following the trends of the times and getting our feet in the international trading pool. I do find it ironic that only a few decades after we fought a war to end slavery, we annexed and invaded smaller territories and marginalized them for their race, claiming they were inferior.

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