American businesses looked toward the rest of the world as a pillar of support for their growing industries. Senator Alfred Beveridge believed that imperialism was justified by the demands and economic competitions among the industrial nations. Today we are raising more than we can consume. Today we are making more than we can use…
Therefore we must find new markets for our produce, new occupation for our capital, new work for our labor… Ah! As our commerce spreads, the flag of liberty will circle the globe and the highway of the ocean – carrying trade to all mankind – will be guarded by the guns of the republic. And as their thunders salute the flag, benighted (ignorant) peoples will know that the voice of liberty is speaking, at last, for them… that civilization is dawning at last, for them. — Senator Alfred Beveridge, 1898 Another reason that fueled America into imperialism was its belief in the creation of a strong naval force to contend in the growing political and military competition. Admiral Alfred T. Mahan desired military strength and argued that the U.S. Navy defend peace time shipping lanes.
He suggested that the nation strategically locate bases in the Caribbean where fleets could refuel, as well as construct a canal across the Isthmus of Panama, and acquire Hawaii and other Pacific Islands. Americans and Europeans alike held a strong, superior Anglo-Saxon belief, claiming responsibility to civilize and Christianize the world’s “inferior” peoples. This idea based on social Darwinism gave many Americans the concept of making it their duty to civilize the natives. Not only did they feel it as their responsibility to do so, many claimed it was God’s Will. Minister Josiah Strong proclaimed America must dominate the world before other nations do so before the world’s limited resources runs out.
It seems to me that God, with infinite wisdom and skill, is training the Anglo-Saxon race for an hour sure to come in the world’s future. The lands of the earth are limited, and soon will be taken. Then will the world enter upon a new stage in its history- the final competition of the races. Then this race of unequaled energy, with the majesty of numbers and the might of wealth behind it- the representative of the largest liberty, the purest Christianity, the highest civilization… will spread itself over the earth. — Minister Josiah Strong, 1885 America’s thirst for new markets, stronger military force, along with the responsibility of Christianizing others, created an empire stronger than anyone could ever imagine — an empire that provided markets for our goods, obtained raw materials, and protected the nation’s commercial interests. In the end, it’s become a nation we have come to love through its expansion, as well as come to an understanding of the justifications for it.