The US economy and position in the world have greatly developed during the last century. This turn-off started at the very end of the 19th century. The reestablishment of the US army and navy performed the main part of the success in the Spanish-American War and World War I, which predetermined further progress in the development of the country.
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The person, who performed the most essential part of the transformation and reorganization of the Navy was a United States Navy flag officer, scientist, and strategist Alfred Thayer Mahan. “He invented a concept of the sea power, which was based upon the statement that world would be controlled by the country with the most powerful navy. His work resulted in the professionalization of the diplomatic corps and improving communication between Washington and diplomats” (Oakes, 573). Besides, the following three international events are also a manifestation of Mahan’s concepts: the annexation of Hawaii, the Spanish-American War, and the building of the Panama Canal.
During all its history the US accepted the most ambitious representatives of the European nations who were not able to fulfill themselves completely in the Old World. Thus, America proposed to them wide possibilities for self-affirmation. In that way, the American “tremendous surge of national self-confidence, debouching into super-nationalism”(Lukacs 2) was born. By the end of the 19-th century, the epoch of the world predominance of Great Britain had finished, and the world needed a new powerful leader. The American nation, which had already become a prime power on the American Continent, grew up enough to manifest its rights on the leadership in the world. The successful wars in the Western Hemisphere with the former sub counties, like Spain and the UK, showed the power of the new world leader.
But the long American way to world supremacy started on the Pacific archipelago of Hawaii. During a few centuries, this island was a monarchy, till 1891, when the last powerful king Kalākaua died. His sister, Liliʻuokalani, succeeded him on the throne but was betrayed and overthrown by the Committee of Safety. This organization sought the US annexation. Thus, in 1893, the United States Government Minister John L. Stevens ordered U.S. Marines to land on the island. The abruptness of the annexation showed the aggressiveness of the US international affairs course.
Then the conflict shifted closer to the US borders in the Caribbean Sea. Cuba was the last of the Spanish colonies, and the people of Cuba started their war for independence. Soon the US supported the Cuban guerillas to disrupt Spain’s economics. The US Navy blocked the island and the army landed there and won several battles. Thus in 1898, the Spain government was forced to the humiliating peace treaty. And the US got Cuba, Guam, the Philippines, and some other former Spanish lands. According to Lukacs, the “war with Spain marked the first year of the American century”. As for me I completely agree with the statement as this conflict aimed at manifesting the American right for the world predominance. The simplicity of American success demonstrated the new leader to the entire world.
Later, America proceeded to establish its leadership in Europe during World War I. The casus belli became an attack of the US Navy by the German submarine. Thus, the USA had the full right to declare war on Germany and its alliances. The successful end of the war also promised great benefits to America. After the exhaustive years of war, all the European countries needed financial credits from the US for renewing the economics. The US president Wilson declared his Fourteen Points speech at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919. This document took many ideas of Progressivism like democracy, open agreements, free trade, and self-determination. One of the manifested points was absolute freedom of navigation upon the seas. Thus, the US fulfilled the main aim of Mahan’s doctrine, and the entry into the war was fully justified.
Therefore, the successful course of US international affairs between 1890 and 1920 resulted in the re-establishment of the state economy, army, and position in the world. The US role changed from the big, potential but weak country to the giant of world industry and politics.
Lukacs, John. “The meaning of ’98.” American Heritage. American Heritage Mag., 1998. Web.
Oakes, James, Michael McGerr, Jan Ellen Lewis, Nick Cullather and Jeanne Boydston. Of the People: A History of the United States. London, Oxford: Higher Education Group, 2006.