Justifications for expansion. Since 1870, European nations such as Great Britain, France, Belgium, Germany, and Italy had been seizing territory and establishing colonies in Africa and Asia. Several factors contributed to the United States' somewhat belated participation in this Age of Imperialism. Both industrial output and agricultural production were far exceeding the ability of the nation's consumers to absorb them, and foreign markets were thereby deemed essential to continued economic growth. Business leaders believed that huge profits could be made by selling American goods in Central and South America and Asia as well as by directly investing in the development of the natural resources of those countries. The clamor to annex Hawaii, for example, came first and foremost from the American sugar cane planters on the islands. The proponents of a strong navy also recognized the value of overseas trade. Captain Alfred Thayer
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somewhat belated participation, continued economic growth.