Imperialism and an American Empire

Isolationism had been the policy of the United States since its inception. Shi: As early as 1789, John Adams had warned Congress against involving the U.S. in the affairs of Europe. "Our business with them and theirs with us is commerce, not politics, much less war." George Washington in his farewell address warned Americans to avoid "entangling alliances."

In his farewell address, Clinton attributed this quote to Thomas Jefferson’s inaugural address. Jefferson did warn against alliances; however the "entangling alliances" language was Washingtonian

After Civil war, a renewed mood of Isolationism swept the U.S. Several things allowed the U.S. to enjoy what one historian has called "free security."

· There were wide oceans on each side that served as a buffer against attack by foreign countries.

· The British Navy stood between the U.S. and the other European powers, and the U.S. had managed to maintain reasonably friendly relations with Great Britain.

· All other countries in the Western Hemisphere were militarily weak.

By the end of the 19th Century, this mood began to change. There was a growing movement that the United States should develop an "international perspective."

It was no coincidence that Imperialism was rampant in Europe at this time also, mostly in Africa and Asia. The primary motive was the quest for markets and for raw materials. The British Empire was the world’s greatest and covered all areas of the globe, leading to the expression that "the sun never sets on the British Empire."

What factors led to American Imperialism?

A. Economic Factors: Exports of farm products had been the basis of American economic growth. The original colonies only survived on the basis of exporting tobacco, indigo, lumber, etc. to Europe. Throughout the 19th century, cotton, corn, wheat, etc. had been exported. Now, technology had led to improved methods of transportation and communication, commerce moved much more quickly. There was a growing belief that American manufacturers had grown to the point that they too could compete, perhaps even outsell foreign manufacturers in the World Market.

The Question became: Should the expansion of the market for American manufactured goods lead to territorial expansion also? Should the U.S. intervene in the internal affairs of other countries? Many Americans disagreed on this point, but a small, very vocal group argued for overseas possessions regardless of the implications. Among them are people we will here more from later: Theodore Roosevelt; Henry Cabot Lodge, (Senator from Massachusetts) and certainly not least, Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan.

B. Naval Power: Mahan had been President of the Naval War College at Newport, Rhode Island. He delivered a series of lectures that were published in a volume published in 1890 known as The Influence of Sea Power upon History 1660 – 1783). In his lectures, Mahan argued:

· National greatness and prosperity "flowed" from sea power, which had a fundamentally economic purpose.

· Modern economic development called for:

o A powerful modern navy with a strong merchant marine fleet.

o Foreign commerce

o colonies

o naval bases

· With the advent of steam powered naval vessels, the U. S. should insure that there were no foreign coaling stations within 3,000 miles of the U.S. In fact, the U.S. should establish a coaling station in the Pacific, and thereby spread Western civilization into the Pacific.

· To control the Caribbean, the U.S. should build an "isthmian canal."


C. Darwinism: "Natural selection" offered a convenient argument for imperialism. If it worked for biology, it should work in human society also. Darwin himself, in The Descent of Man wrote: "There is apparently much truth in the belief that the wonderful progress of the United States, as well as the character of the people, are the results of natural selection."

John Fiske, a famous historian and Darwinian lecturer, wrote American Political Ideas. In it he stressed the superior nature of the "Anglo Saxon "institutions and peoples. He argued that the English "race," {to use his words} was destined to dominate the world with its institutions, traditions, language, even in the blood of the world’s people.

Compare that with these words:

If we divide mankind into three categories, founders of culture, bearers of culture, destroyers of culture, the Aryan alone can be considered as representing the first category. All the great civilizations of the past became decadent because the originally creative race died out, as a result of contamination of the Blood. – Adolph Hitler: Mein Kampf

D. Religion: There was the belief that Christians were to evangelize the entire world, and spread the gospel. The word "evangelist" means "messenger," gospel means "good news." Many people believed it was a divine command to spread not only Christianity, but also Anglo-Saxon culture throughout the world.

An Old Gospel Hymn of the time was entitled "The Kingdom is Coming:"

From all the dark places, of earth’s heathen races, 

Oh see, how the thick shadows fly.

The voice of salvation unto every nation.

Come over and help us they cry. 

The Kingdom is coming, oh tell ye the story

God’s banner exalted shall be.

The Earth shall be full of his honor and glory,

Like waters that cover the sea.

Josiah Strong, a Congregationalist Minister who wrote a book, "Our Country: Its Possible Future and Its Present Crisis."  Strong argued that "Anglo Saxons " embodied two great ideas: civil liberty and "a pure, spiritual Christianity." He argued that the Anglo-Saxon was "divinely commissioned to be, in a peculiar sense, his brother’s keeper."

Manifest Destiny was interwoven throughout all of this. People had believed that it was God’s will that America occupy the entire continent; it wasn’t that much of a reach to suggest that American culture, and more particularly the Anglo-Saxon Race, should dominate the entire world.

America’s first expansion was into Asia and the Pacific. William H. Seward, Secretary of State under Lincoln and later Andrew Johnson, had said that the United States must inevitably exercise commercial domination on the Pacific Ocean and its islands and continents. But, to do that, he had to first remove all foreign interests.

He first tried to stir up sentiment in British Columbia to join the U.S. In the meantime, in 1866, he learned that Russia was willing to sell Alaska; and bought it in 1867 for $7.2 million. Seward’s reason for doing so was to remove Russia, the newest colonial power, from the New World. Many people made fun of the purchase, and called it "Seward’s Icebox," or "Seward’s Folly." It proved to be the best bargain for the U.S. since the Louisiana Purchase.

Those who followed Seward also looked for ports in the Pacific Island. The first major development was in 1878, when the Island of Samoa signed a treaty with the U.S., which allowed the U.S. to build a naval base at Pago Pago. Germany and Great Britain had similar interests in other Islands in the Samoan chain, and an uneasy partnership existed between the three countries.

Hawaii: A large number of American missionaries had settled in Hawaii. The islands were more important strategically to the U.S. than was Samoa. If another major power were to occupy the Islands, it might pose a threat to American commercial interests; even to American defense.

1885: U.S. entered into a reciprocal trade agreement with Hawaii; under which Hawaii promised that none of its territory would be leased or granted to a third party.

1887: Agreement was amended to allow the U.S. to operate a naval base at Pearl Harbor near Honolulu.

White planters in Hawaii had built fortunes using cheap Asian labor to work on Sugar plantations. In 1887, Americans on the Island forced the King of Hawaii to accept a constitution that created a Constitutional monarchy.

Things changed with the McKinley Tariff. It allowed sugar from all countries to be traded as a favored item, and even placed a subsidy of 2¢ per pound. This created an economic crisis in Hawaii, which sold tremendous amounts of sugar to the U.S., and the economic crisis caused a political crisis as well.

1891, Queen Liliuokalani became Queen, and tried to reclaim power that her brother had surrendered as King. As a result, the White population seized a revolt and seized power. The American minister had called in the Marines to support the whites.

The minister sent a report to Washington in which he said "The Hawaiian pear is now fully ripe, and this is the golden hour for the United States to pluck it."

A new government in Hawaii sent a delegation to Washington asking that the U.S. annex Hawaii. The idea was not well received in Washington; there was considerable sentiment that the marines and other U.S. citizens had acted improperly.

On July 4, 1894: The Republic of Hawaii was proclaimed by the provisional Hawaiian government. The constitution had a standing provision for American annexation. When McKinley became President in 1897, he was looking for an excuse to annex the islands, and he got it when the Japanese sent warships to Hawaii. (They were hoping to take over the Island also) He sent Warships also, and asked the Senate to approve a treaty to annex Hawaii. The Senate could not muster the necessary 2/3 vote, so McKinley used a Joint Resolution of Congress which only required a simple majority. Hawaii was annexed in the summer of 1898.

Two Other Issues Presented themselves:

· Sealing in the Bering Sea. Many foreign fleets, mostly Canadians, had engaged in pelagic (oceanic) sealing, for sealskins. It was difficult to distinguish between males and females, and as a result, many seal pups were lost when their mothers were killed.

At first, the U.S. declared the Bering a closed sea under U.S. dominion. A big bluster developed between the U.S. and Canada, Later, an agreement was reached that declared the Bering an open sea, but prohibited sealing within 60 miles of the Pribilof Islands.

· The Venezuelan Boundary Dispute: There was a long-standing dispute between Great Britain and Venezuela as to the border of British Guiana. The dispute became even more important when gold was discovered in the disputed area. America suggested arbitration, but no one forced the issue.

In 1895, Cleveland’s Secretary of State, Richard Olney sent a note in which he invoked the Monroe Doctrine—he basically said that Great Britain should not interfere in affairs in the New World. Olney referred to it as a "twenty-inch gun" note.

Olney hoped the British would reply quickly, given the tone of the note, but the British ignored it for four months. They assumed it was for domestic consumption, to keep the folks back home happy. When they did answer, they rejected Olney’s demand for arbitration, and said that the Monroe Doctrine was not recognized International Law, and had no standing under any circumstances in a boundary dispute.

War fever suddenly swept the Country. Theodore Roosevelt said "this country needs a war." Everybody knew this wasn’t such a good idea; the British had more pressing problems in South Africa, public interest in the U.S. also had gone elsewhere; and the matter was finally settled by an international commission in 189 which put the line almost where the British had offered to put it in the first place.

Throughout the second half of the 19th century, Cubans had repeatedly revolted against the Spanish (Cuba was a part of the dying Spanish Western Empire); and American investments in Cuba had constantly grown. These interests primarily were in Sugar and in mining. In fact, the U.S. traded with Cuba more than Spain did.

A major insurrection happened on February 24, 1895 over Sugar prices. Many Americans supported the Cubans and often compared the insurrection to the American battle for Independence.

Cuban insurrections and conditions were fertile soil for newspaper copy, and two major New York Newspapers were engaged in a major struggle to gain circulation. Said one journalist, "It was a battle of gigantic proportions in which the sufferings of Cuba merely chanced to furnish some of the most convenient ammunition.

The publishers and their respective newspapers were:

· William Randolph Hearst – New York Journal

· Joseph Pulitzer—New York World.

A comic strip of the time aided publication. It was known as "The Yellow Kid." It often appeared in Newspapers that specialized in sensationalism, so this time of journalism became known as "yellow journalism."

Hearst was the champion at sensationalism. He wrote editorials calling the Spanish General "Weyler the brute, the devastator of haciendas, the destroyer of men." He grossly overstated the abuse of Cuban insurrectionists.

The most famous anecdote of the situation is when Hearst sent Frederick Remington, a famous photographer of the day (many of his pictures of the Wild West are quite famous) to take pictures of atrocities committed in the "Cuban Civil War." When Remington reached Cuba, he found no war in progress, and wired Hearst that there was no War to photograph. Hearst presumably wired him back: "You furnish the pictures; I’ll furnish the war."

America’s position towards Cuba had long been one of staying out of local affairs; particularly while Cleveland was President. This all changed when McKinley took office. He had ran on a campaign for:

· An independent Cuba

· American Control of Hawaii

· An Isthmian Canal.

January 25, 1898, the USS Maine steamed into Havana Harbor on a presumed "courtesy call." The Spanish were not happy for the ship to be there, but there is no evidence that they did anything other than make it and its crew feel welcome.

While the Maine was docked, Hearst released the text of a letter stolen from the Post Office by a Cuban Spy in which the Spanish minister to the U.S. called McKinley "weak and a bidder for the admiration of the crowd." That was hardly as bad as what Theodore Roosevelt (a member of McKinley’s own party) said about him: He called him "white livered" and said he had "no more backbone than a chocolate éclair." The difference was, Roosevelt’s comments did not get published.

February 15, 1898 (six days later), while the Captain was writing a letter to his wife, and many of the men were on shore leave at a dance sponsored by the Spanish, the Maine exploded and sank. Two hundred sixty six men died; most of them asleep.

The Captain himself advised against public opinion until further report, but a number of people already wanted war with Spain, and saw no reason to wait. Roosevelt called the sinking "an act of dirty treachery on the part of the Spaniards." There was no evidence of Spanish treachery, indeed, at the time of the explosion, a number of Cuban workmen on the dock jumped into the burning water to rescue sailors at the risk of their own lives; hardly the work of people wanting to sink it.

Even so, the yellow press needed no evidence; they had all they needed. They published headlines that read Remember the Maine!

In 1976, the Rickover Commission (headed by Adm. Hyman Rickover) examined all the evidence and concluded that a spark in the Maine’s Coal Bunker together with an accumulation of coal dust had created an explosion. The Coal Bunker was adjacent to the powder magazine, which made it even worse.

McKinley tried hard to avoid war, as did most of the business interests in Cuba, but the public excitement and outrage was too much. Among those promoting war were Theodore Roosevelt and Henry Cabot Lodge. Roosevelt was infuriated each time it looked as if war would be avoided. He said at one point, "We will have this war for the freedom of Cuba in spite of the timidity of the commercial interests."

Spain tried hard to avoid war, it sent messages that were tantamount to surrender; but it came too late. Too much momentum and popular pressure for war had built up. The public had been whipped up into a frenzy, and probably must bear responsibility for the outbreak of war.

On April 22, McKinley announced a blockade of Cuba, which was an act of war. This was an act of war, so Spain declared war on the U.S. on April 24. Congress was determined to be the first (sort of "you can’t fire me; I quit") so it declared war on April 25, but backdated the declaration to April 21.

The War lasted only four months. John Hay, the Secretary of State, called it a "Splendid Little War." Importantly, the war marked:

· The end of Spain’s once great New World Empire, and

· The Emergence of the United States as a World Power.

Even before the war got underway, Roosevelt was eyeing the Philippines. He was Undersecretary of War at the time, and waited until his boss had gone home for the day, and sent a wire to the Commander of the Pacific Fleet, Commodore George Dewey, to steam to Manila Harbor.

The Battle of Manila Bay was a fiasco for the Spanish; they only tried to get their ships out of the harbor so that it wouldn’t be blocked. The Spanish lost 381 men and Dewey suffered only 8 men wounded. On August 13, he entered Manila, and held it.

One of the few memorable moments of the War was Dewey’s statement to his first mate: "You may fire when ready, Gridley."

In the Cuban campaign, Theodore Roosevelt was determined to "get in on the fun," and "act on my preachings." He quit the War Department, and ordered a custom made uniform from Brooks Brothers, and put together a volunteer regiment of Ivy League athletes, ex convicts, Indians and Sharpshooters from the west. These were the "Rough-Riders." They didn’t ride, because the horses had been sent to the wrong place. They fought on foot.

Roosevelt did manage to shoot one Spaniard. He commented later that when he shot the man, he "doubled up neatly as a jackrabbit."

Over 274, 000 Americans fought in the war, and 5,462 died; only 379 in battle, the rest from typhoid, malaria, dysentery, or yellow fever.

Peace negotiations opened in Paris, which ultimately led to the Treaty of Paris of 1898. The Major issue at the treaty was the Philippines. There had been no interest in the Philippines before this time, in fact McKinley had said he couldn’t even find them on the map. But when Dewey took the Philippines, suddenly the commercial possibilities appeared. Not only that, Missionary societies saw an opportunity to save their "little brown brothers." They were suddenly intent on either ‘saving Asia or getting rich there."

McKinley delivered a speech to a group of Methodists in which he said: 

It came to me late at night this way—I don’t know how it was, but it came. (1) that we should not give them back to Spain—that would be cowardly and dishonorable; (2) that we could not turn them over to France or Germany—our commercial rivals in the Orient—that would be bad business and discreditable; (3)that we could not leave them to themselves—they were unfit for self government—and they would soon have anarchy and misrule over there worse than Spain was, and (4) that there was nothing left for us to do but to take them all, and to educate The Filipinos, and uplift and civilize and Christianize them, and by God’s grace do the very best We could by them, as our fellowmen for whom Christ also died. And then I went to bed and slept soundly.

Shi notes that in one brief statement, McKinley had summarized the motivating ideas of imperialism: (1) national honor, (2) commerce, (3) racial superiority, and (4) altruism.

Interestingly, the U.S. had no interest in the Philippines before the War, and even had seized them after an Armistice had been declared. But once they had seized them, they were not inclined to turn loose.

Under the final terms of the treaty:

· Cuba was liberated (it never was part of the U.S.)

· The U.S. received Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines.

· The U.S. paid Spain $20 million. This was for the Philippines; and Spain probably would have sold it for that amount without the war; they needed the money.

There was much opposition to the treaty in the Senate. The primary group opposed was called the American AntiImperialist League. (Mostly Democrats and Populists). Among those who argued against the Treaty:

· Andrew Carnegie –paid all the bills of the League.

· Samuel Gompers – the Union leader. (Strange that he and Carnegie would agree).

· Jane Addams

· William James—the Philosopher. James said that the drive for power had caused the nation to "puke up its ancient soul."

· Mark Twain –wrote a treatise entitled "To the Person sitting in Darkness."

Arguments against the Treaty included:

Ø Acquisition of the Philippines would undermine Democracy itself.

Ø The logic of the Monroe Doctrine was undermined.

Ø It was inconsistent to liberate Cuba and annex the Philippines.

Ø The Philippines were almost impossible to defend—it might be the "Achilles Heel" of the U.S.

There can be no question but that commercial concerns as well as missionary concerns were the prevailing factors in the U.S. insistence on keeping the Philippines.

The treaty finally passed when William Jennings Bryan. He said that it would lead to Philippine independence. One month later, a resolution for Philippine Independence was killed in the Senate by the tie-breaking vote of the Vice President.

The same month that the Treaty was published, Rudyard Kipling published a poem in McClure’s magazine in which he called the American people to a new duty. The poem is called The White Man’s Burden.

Freedom was not granted to the Philippines until September 17, 1934, and then there was a ten-year period before they could elect their first President.

The United States continued also to exercise control over Cuba, and kept troops there; but finally agreed to the election of a Cuban government. However, among the terms of the agreement, the United States was allowed to keep land for coaling or naval stations; which led to the American Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, which is still in operation.

Important: The end of the Spanish –American War marks the emergence of the United States as a World Power 

Japan had emerged as a World Power at the same time as the U.S. Japan had defeated the Chinese in the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95. It had picked up a number of islands off the Chinese coast, including the Island of Formosa (Now Taiwan).

China’s weakness had become evident during the war, and the great powers of the West suddenly scrambled for "spheres of influence" in China. They considered it the last frontier for Imperialist expansion.

· Russia built a railroad across Manchuria.

· Germany moved into Shantung

· France and Britain also added territory.

The U.S. also hoped for trade in China; but the problem was, the European powers could impose Tariffs on trade with other countries in order to protect their own interests. This could ruin any U.S. chances at trade.

The British had more to lose than the U.S. as they had occupied Hong Kong since 1840. After the Spanish American War, they suggested that the U.S. and Britain take joint action to preserve the integrity of China. Twice the proposal was submitted to the Senate by way of treaty, and both times it was rejected, as it appeared to be something of an "entangling alliance."

Interestingly, the U.S. was not willing to get involved with another Country on equal footing; but was more than willing to stake it’s own claim.

Finally, in 1899, Secretary of State John Hay sent a Diplomatic Note to London, Berlin, and St. Petersburg, and still later to Tokyo, Rome and Paris with a proposal to

Ø Keep China open to trade with all countries on an equal basis.

Ø There would be no interference by any country with another’s sphere of influence.

Ø Chinese authorities could collect tariffs on an equal basis, and

Ø No favoritism would be shown to a country’s own nationalists in harbor dues or railroad charges.

Hays requested that each of the powers accept this. Only Great Britain accepted Hay’s proposal, but none denied it, so Hays announced that everyone had accepted it. It was a bit of a reach, but no one called him a liar.

The idea behind the Open Door policy was to protect American Business interests; and it also stirred up the anti-imperialists. But it had no legal standing; it was not much more than a pious affirmation.

The Japanese were concerned about the Russians, and asked Hay how the U.S. intended to enforce its policy. His reply was that the U.S. was "not prepared…to enforce these views on the east by any demonstration which could present a character of hostility to any other power." In other words, they didn’t intend to.

In 1900, a group of Chinese Nationalists called the "Fists of Righteous Harmony" (but whom the West called the "Boxers") rebelled, and attacked foreign embassies in Peking. An international force, including Americans, mobilized to relieve the embassy compound. Hay was afraid that this might give European powers an excuse to partition China; and revised the Open Door Policy stating that the U.S. wanted a solution that would "Preserve Chinese territorial and administrative sovereignty." The rebellion was put down, and the European powers settled for an indemnity of $333 million. The U.S. received $25 million; refunded $11 million to China, and placed most of the balance in a fund for Chinese students in American colleges.

Theodore Roosevelt did more to transform the role of the U.S. in world affairs than any other American of his time. The U.S. had come out of the Spanish – American war a world power, and he insisted that this led to major new responsibilities. He stretched the Constitution and executive power to the limit, but by doing so, he pushed a reluctant U.S. to the center of world affairs.

Roosevelt was born in 1858 to a wealthy New York family. He was fluent in German, and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Harvard in 1858. He was sickly as a child and had poor eyesight, but built himself up by sheer willpower, and became something of a boxer, wrestler, mountain climber, and a hunter. He was fiercely competitive, and never hesitated to express his opinion on any subject. He suffered a tragedy early on when his mother, only aged 48, and his wife, aged 22, both died within 11 hours of each other. IN attempt to recover, Roosevelt moved west and took up cattle farming in the Dakota Territory. He played the part of a cowboy with gusto, and never got over it. One time, someone tried to give him a hard time about wearing glasses, and he laid the guy out with one punch.

Roosevelt’s favorite expression was "By Godfrey." NO ONE EVER called him "Teddy," he disliked that name intensely, and quickly corrected anyone who called him that by saying, "My name is Theodore." On a hunting trip, he refused to shoot a bear cub, hence the name "Teddy Bear." On another trip to Memphis, Tenn., he stayed at the Maxwell House Hotel. The following morning at breakfast, he remarked, "that coffee is good to the last drop." Hence the slogan for Maxwell House Coffee: "Good to the Last Drop."

Election of 1900:

Ø Democrats: Re-nominated William Jennings Bryan. He tried to make Imperialism the issue of the Campaign. He condemned the Philippine conflict as an "unnecessary war," and said the U.S. had gone against it’s own principles.

Ø Republicans: Re-nominated McKinley. They were glad to make Imperialism the issue. Roosevelt was nominated for Vice President, because of his role in the Philippine and Cuban campaigns. The Republicans won.

September 6, 1901, McKinley attended a reception at the Pan American Exposition in Buffalo, New York. He was shaking hands in the "Hall of Music." When an anarchist named Leon Czolgosz shot him with a pistol concealed in a handkerchief in his hand. He died six days later from complications. Originally, the Doctors were blamed for not draining the wound; but it now appears that he died from shock; medical knowledge at the time did not allow for intravenous fluids to prevent shock. Suddenly, Roosevelt was President. At the time, he was six weeks short of his 43rd Birthday; to this day, the youngest person to ever be President.

Upon learning of McKinley’s death, Mark Hanna said, "Now look, that damned cowboy is President of the United States."

Roosevelt pronounced his motto to be: "Speak softly, and carry a big stick."

Roosevelt was not only energetic, he had an unshakeable opinion of his righteousness, and a tendency to cast everything in moral tones. He often delivered fist-smacking speeches on righteousness, honesty, civic duty, and strenuosity.

The Panama Canal: Ever since Balboa had crossed Panama in 1513 and reached the Pacific, there had been dreams of a canal to connect the two oceans. Gold seekers in 1849 had crossed the Isthmus on their way to California on occasion. There were to obstacles to the construction of a Canal:

· The Bidlack Treaty: (1848): The U.S. guaranteed the sovereignty of Colombia over Panama. (Panama was a province and territory of Colombia.)

· The Clayton-Bulwer Treaty: (1850): The U.S. and Great Britain agreed that no canal would be built across the isthmus without mutual consent. This obstacle was removed by the Hay-Pauncefoot Treaty.

The same French Company that had dug the Suez Canal attempted to build a canal across Panama. The effort was a disaster. They worked from 1881 – 1887, spent $300 million, and lost over 20,000 lives; and only dug one-third across the isthmus. They offered to sell their holdings to the U.S., for $109 million.

In the meantime, a commission appointed by McKinley had decided that a better route was across Nicaragua. There was a huge lake that could be connected on either end; the terrain was more level, and it would cost less. The French company then lowered its price to $40 million, and sent letters to Congressmen with a postage stamp showing a volcano erupting in Venezuela. . . a subtle hint.

Secretary of State Hay opened negotiations with Colombia for a Canal Zone for $10 million in cash and $250,000 per year. The Senate ratified the treaty; but the Colombian Senate refused, and held out for $25 million in cash. Roosevelt went into a rage, punctuated with references to "dagoes" and "contemptible little creatures."

In the meantime, the French canal company sent a representative, named Bunau-Varilla to Washington and talked about a revolt of Panamanians from Colombia. The Panamanians were particularly upset over the treaty. A scheme was hatched to have an American warship call at Panama.

The day after the warship arrived, Panama staged a revolt. The Colombian soldiers could not cross the jungle, and could not get to Panama by sea, as American warships blocked the sea- lanes. Several days later, Roosevelt received the first Panamanian ambassador, who happened to be named Buanu-Varilla, and signed a treaty by which the U.S. recognized Panama as an independent country, and granted the U.S. exclusive rights to the Canal Zone.

Roosevelt asked his Attorney General for a legal opinion saying that his actions were legal and constitutional. He replied, "Mr. President, if I were you, I would not have any taint of legality about it."

The whole thing had been a needless diplomatic blunder; Roosevelt had deeply offended the Colombians, who broke diplomatic relations with the U.S. Later, during the Harding Administration, when the U.S. needed Venezuelan oil, the U.S. paid Venezuela $25 million, but did not apologize.

In 1904, Congress created an "Isthmian Canal Commission," to handle construction. Roosevelt told the Commission to "make the dirt fly." The Canal finally opened on August 15, 1914, less than two weeks after World War I broke out.

The Roosevelt Corollary: Stability in the Caribbean was always a problem. Quite often when a Caribbean government was unable to pay its debts, a convenient excuse arose for foreign intervention.

Such an event occurred in 1904 in the Dominican Republic. In his address to Congress in 1903, Roosevelt set forth what became known as the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine. It basically said that, since the Monroe Doctrine prohibited intervention by Europeans, the U.S. would be justified in intervening first to stop others from doing so.

His words were that "adherence of the United States to the Monroe Doctrine may force the United States, however reluctantly, in flagrant cases of such wrongdoing or impotence, to the exercise of an international peace power."

The Russo-Japanese War: A dispute broke out between Japan and Russia over influence in Korea and China. Roosevelt agreed to sponsor a peace conference at Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Neither side was willing to even speak to the other; but Roosevelt used his personal bullying technique to get the delegates to talk. The end result was the Treaty of Portsmouth which settled the war. The agreement gave almost all concessions to the Japanese. Roosevelt was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating the settlement.

Afterwards, relations with Japan deteriorated; and racial animosity on the West Coast soon appeared. Roosevelt had to personally intervene to cool things down.

Africa: The German Kaiser, Wilhelm II, had made a speech in Tangiers, Morocco, critical of British and French interests in the area. It appeared that another war might break out, and Roosevelt intervened again; this time elbowing the parties to a meeting at  Algeciras, Spain.

The end result was the Act of Algeciras, signed in 1906:

· Affirmed the Independence of Morocco.

· Guaranteed an open door policy for trade.

All of this seems strangely peacemaking for a man who loved to rattle his saber and seemed to love the idea of fighting and of a war.

Roosevelt wasn’t quite through; he wanted one more big bang. So in 1907, he sent the entire fleet of the United States Navy (second only in strength to the British Navy) on a round the world grand tour. He said he was ready for a "feast, a frolic, or a fight." This was called the "Great White Fleet." His purpose was to impress the Japanese, in case they got any ideas; but the Fleet was received more warmly in Japan than anywhere.

There is some argument that Roosevelt’s imperialistic ambitions put the U.S. on a course that led to its involvement in future world wars. Certainly if the U.S. had not been involved in Hawaii, etc., conflict with the Japanese would have been less likely. It is an intriguing idea.