Growth of U.S. Global Power

Locate on a map the territories (Cuba, Puerto Rico, Philippines, Hawaii, Panama Canal Zone) acquired by the United States during its emergence as an imperial power between 1890 and 1914, and analyze the role the Spanish American War, the Philippine Revolution, the Panama Canal, the Open Door Policy, and the Roosevelt Corollary played in expanding America’s global influence and redefi ning its foreign policy.


Chapter 20: "The United States Looks Overseas":


Lesson 1: The Expanding Nation to 1898

Content Expectations: USHG 6.2.1; C4.1.1
Key Concepts: annexation, imperialism, internationalism, isolationism, nationalism
Abstract: In this lesson students review the major milestones in the evolution of American foreign policy from George Washington’s Farewell Address to the conflict within the United States over the attempt to annex Hawaii.

Begin by reviewing how the United States expanded geographically since its birth as a nation. Watch this video to consider this. After viewing the video to 1900, engage in a quick write/discussion describing how the United States expanded geographically from thirteen colonies to 1898. This is all review of your 8th grade social studies course.

Our first president – George Washington – made some early statements about America’s foreign policy in his Farewell Address. Open/download “Excerpts from George Washington’s Farewell Address”. “Think Aloud” as someone reads the excerpt aloud to the class. As you listen, highlight/underline key passages of the text. Then work with a partner to answer the following questions and make notes in the margins:
  • What were Washington’s main points regarding foreign policy?
  • What do you think motivated Washington to reach his conclusions?
  • Are any of his suggestions still applicable? If not, why not? Explain. If so, which ones? Explain.

Take 5-8 minutes to discuss your responses with your partners and then the class will engage in a general discussion about the above questions. To what extent does the class agree? To what extent does it differ?

Next, lets establish some working definitions of imperialism, isolationism, nationalism, and internationalism. Record these ideas in their notes. Imperialism can be defined as the act or process of a nation extending its control over areas beyond its borders. Isolationism is a policy or doctrine by which one country separates itself from the affairs of other nations. In an effort to remain at peace, the country avoids both foreign entanglements and responsibilities. Countries usually accomplished this by avoiding alliances, foreign economic commitments, and international agreements. The United States remained politically isolated throughout the 19th Century. Historians argue that this was possible because the United States was geographically separated from Europe. Nationalism can be defined as loyalty and devotion to a nation. Nation-states are political entities whose boundaries do not always align with ethnic, linguistic, religious, and territorial forms of identity. Be reminded that during this period in American and world history, nation-states were expanding, contracting, and being redefined. This made the process of claiming nationhood and celebrating nationalism all the more important. With respect to policy, nationalism is the doctrine of asserting the interests of one’s own nation-state as separate and distinct from the interests of other nations or the common interests of all nations. Nationalism has been one of the most important forces shaping international politics. Finally, internationalism is a broad term but for the purposes of this lesson it refers to the belief by some influential Americans in the late 19th century that the United States needed to move beyond its continental boundaries to both protect itself and help enlighten other people who would otherwise fall under the control of predatory European powers.

Divide into groups of five each and acquire copies of the chart “Foreign Policy Decisions” and the “Websites for Foreign Policy Decisions”, both of which should be one one sheet (front-to-back). Each group member should select a separate topic on the chart to investigate. Use their textbooks and the identified websites to research their topic and complete the “Description” column of the chart. Note: This part of the lesson may be assigned for homework.

After the groups have completed their research, have each group member share the results of their investigation within your small group. Record information in the appropriate section of the chart. Refer to the “Foreign Policy Views” slide (at right), or below.
  • Exclusively Expansionistic – a practice or policy that focuses solely on increasing economic or territorial size or scope of the country
  • Growing Sense of US Potential – increasing belief that the US was capable of doing something that it had not yet accomplished
  • Clear Sense of National Limitations – recognizing that economic and political realities might restrain or inhibit the achievement of potential goals
  • Reckless/Unrealistic Sense of Foreign Policy – acting despite evidence to the contrary
  • Reassessing Meaning of America’s Core Values – Revising or redefining the meaning of ideals such as liberty and equality

Discuss the following questions as a large group:
  • Which of the five topics demonstrates an exclusively expansionistic policy?
  • Which of the five topics demonstrates a growing sense of America’s potential on the international stage? Explain.
  • Which of the five topics demonstrates a clear sense of the limitations to which the nation was subject at that particular moment in its history? Explain.
  • Which of the five demonstrates a reckless or unrealistic sense of foreign policy? Explain.
  • Which of the five topics demonstrates America reassessing the meaning of its core values? How so?

See this web page for details on the Annexation of Hawaii.

Have students use the right hand column of the chart to record information from the class discussion.

Conclude by writing in your 6.2 Notes a response to the following question: Did American expansion during the 19th Century contradict the core values of the United States? If so, explain how? If not, explain why you think it did not.

Lesson 2: “Yellow Journalism” and the Spanish-American War

Content Expectations: USHG 6.2.1; C3.5.1; C3.5.5; C3.5.7; C3.5.9; C4.1.1; C4.1.2
Key Concepts: imperialism, nationalism, yellow journalism
Abstract: As the 19th century came to a close the American people were engaged in a dispute over the United States’ role on the international stage. The public discussion was both amplified and distorted by the most powerful newspapers of the time. These publications employed increasingly sensationalistic methods which have come to be known as “yellow journalism” after the period’s popular cartoon character, “the yellow kid”.

ACT Reading Prep - "Yellow Journalism".
Paul Revere's Boston Massacre
Sensational Article 1
Sensational Article 2
Examining the Source Handout

Journalistic, literary or artistic effort to persuade or influence public opinion did not begin in the 19th century. There is abundant evidence of its use during the American Revolution and the early history of the United States. It was also used during Antiquity. Julius Caesar’s Commentaries on both the Gallic and Roman Civil Wars are early examples of self-promotion. Remind students of the term “Boston Massacre” and the engraving by Paul Revere. Consider:
  • From whose perspective is this event described? How do you know?
  • What in the image that makes you believe it is from this perspective?
  • What in the words used makes you believe it is from this perspective?
  • How would the drawing differ if it was trying to demonstrate another side to the story? What would be different? What suggestions would you make to change the image?
  • How might this image have influenced public opinion about the British?

We are surrounded by propaganda everyday from advertisements to news shows. Propaganda has propelled our country to war in the past. This was so in the Spanish-American War. Engage in a class discussion of the assigned reading using the following questions:
  • What benefits did American society gain from the marketing techniques used by Hearst and Pulitzer? Explain.
  • What negative consequences derived from the techniques used by Hearst and Pulitzer? Explain.

Find text of the First Amendment. The First Amendment clearly states that the Press in the United States must be a “free” one. Briefly discuss the meaning of “free”. Then arrange into a "fishbowl discussion" with six seats in the center of the room and the remainder of the seats around the perimeter of the inner circle. Have six students engage in an in-depth discussion using the questions (no one else talks!):
  • The First Amendment clearly states that the Press in the United States must be a “free” one. What exactly is the Press “free from” or “free” of?
  • Does the First Amendment give editors and owners the right to conduct business the way that Hearst and Pulitzer did on the eve of the Spanish-American War?
  • In what ways did the media influence the public agenda and ultimately public policy at the end of the 19th Century?
  • In what ways do the media influence the public agenda and ultimately public policy today?
  • If the media can influence public agenda and ultimately public policy, what responsibilities do the media have to the public? Who polices them?
  • What responsibility do citizens have as consumers of the press?

During the discussion, record some of the more insightful student answers or ideas on the board and see if the class can amend or elaborate upon these responses. Encourage students on the outside of the fishbowl to join in the discussion by tapping and replacing students from the inner group once they have made at least three statements. Debrief the discussion by informing the class that the leading newspapers in the United States in 1898 played a major role in convincing the American public that war with the Spanish Empire was an ethical, political, and an economic necessity.

After you read about the causes and consequences of the Spanish-American War in your textbooks, choose one of the two articles provided and read it. Consider the tone and overall expression that the article has. What is the message that the article is sending?

Share the results of their investigations. Respond in their 6.2 Notes to the following question: How did the role of a free press influence the America’s growth of global power?

Lesson 3: Growth of the United States as a Global Power, 1898-1914

Content Expectations: USHG 6.2.1; C4.1.1; C4.1.3
Key Concepts: annexation, imperialism, internationalism, nationalism, national interest
Abstract: As the 20th century began the United States under President William McKinley had acquired an overseas empire and adopted an approach to China known as the “Open Door Policy”. McKinley was assassinated in 1901 and was succeeded by his Vice President, Theodore Roosevelt, one of the more forceful and energetic men to hold the office. Roosevelt’s presidential successors were William Howard Taft and Woodrow Wilson, both of whom adopted varying measures to consolidate and promote America’s position as an international power.

Lesson 3 Resources/Handouts
Causes and Consequences of the Spanish-American War
World - Political Map
Open Door Policy Reading Activity
Presidential Approaches to Foreign Policy
The Change in Manifest Destiny

How and why did America’s role on the international stage change? This is the focus of the next few lessons in this unit. Lets review the causes of the Spanish-American War using the document “The Spanish American War” either from the resources above or the presentation at right. Try to brainstorm about some of the potential consequences of an America victory in the Spanish-American War. Use the handout to verify responses. The Platt Amendment is a result of the Spanish-American War. The amendment defines the relationship between the United States and Cuba, allowing the US influence over Cuban affairs and land claims. Let's also consider the following questions:
  • What consequence most surprises you? Why?
  • What consequence is a typical consequence of victory in a conflict? Why?
  • If the United States’ involvement in the Spanish-American War was allegedly to promote Cuban independence, why was it important to the US to have such an influence in Cuba?

Acquire a “World-Political Map” from the resources above and print or get a hard copy and work with a partner to locate Cuba, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Guam, Wake Island and the Philippines on the map. As a pair, choose one of those regions and investigate US involvement in that region at the turn of the century and annotate brief description of it on the back of the map. Students should use their textbook and any other web resource as a reference.

Pulling it together, let's use a class wall map of the world to explore US involvement in the places listed above, with each pair sharing the results of their research. As a pair shares, the remainder of the class should take notes on the back of their maps or on your 6.2 notes. After all locations are described, let's discuss how America’s acquisition or involvement in these locations positioned the United States to be recognized as both a world and imperial power.

With the Spanish-American War, the United States became increasingly visible in world affairs, and the foreign policy positions of subsequent presidents reflected this shift. Read about the “Open Door Policy” using the handout “Open Door Policy,” located in resources above. Take notes in the left-hand column and record your thoughts about the reading in the right-hand column. This could be assigned as homework. After the reading, we'll discuss the Open Door Policy and whether it was another example of imperialistic behavior or an attempt to promote “economic freedom”. Support their position with reasoning.

Acquire a copy of “Presidential Approaches to Foreign Policy” located in the resources above. Take notes during a brief lecture about the different foreign policy approaches of Presidents T. Roosevelt, Taft, and Wilson and put your notes in the corresponding cell in the table on the handout. For additional information, the following websites may be helpful background for teachers:

Acquire a copy of “The Change in Manifest Destiny,” from the resources above. We will review the meaning of Manifest Destiny during the 19th Century. Explain that in 1899 Rudyard Kipling wrote “The White Man’s Burden.” The poem explained that the responsibility of colonizers was to help primitive people and “fill full the mouth of famine and bid the sickness cease.” Divide students into small groups and read the poem together (linked above). Engage in a small group discussion that considers how the meaning of Manifest Destiny changed in light of US imperialism and the foreign policies explained earlier in the lesson. Discuss how this “burden” or “responsibility” may have changed the meaning of Manifest Destiny for Americans. After a few minutes, have the groups share their conclusions with the rest of the class. Through the discussion, guide students in completing the chart under the New Manifest Destiny column.

Have students engage in a conversation line in which they discuss America’s changing role on the international stage. To do this, write the following question on the board or overhead transparency:
“How and why did America’s role on the international stage change?”

Divide students into two equal lines facing each other. Have one side talk for two or three minutes (be specific with a timer) about America’s changing role. Then have the other side talk, giving them the same time limit. Note that the students not speaking should conduct themselves as good listeners and not interject at all. Then, slide the students in one line down three students (students at the end of the line will move to the other line) so that students now have a new partner. Repeat the process allowing each side of the line to address the issue again. Finally, have students slide down the line again and repeat the discussion. It is preferable that students have three attempts at answering the question. Their answers will become more thoughtful and detailed each time. Debrief the exercise by asking students how the content of their conversations changed.

Conclude the lesson by writing in your 6.2 Notes in response to the following question: Is it possible for a nation to genuinely pursue and promote freedom at home and restrict it abroad? Explain.