UNITED STATES HISTORY 170
Rhett S. James
November 4, 2008
The Imperial Republic
Throughout the first half of the nineteenth century, as the population
of the United States grew and pressed westward, the government,
through purchase or conquest, had continually acquired new lands:
the trans-Appalachian West, the Louisiana Territory, Florida, Texas,
Oregon, California, New Mexico, Alaska. It was the nation’s “Manifest
Destiny,” many Americans believed, to expand into new realms.
In the last years of the nineteenth century, with little room left for
territorial growth on the North American continent, those who favored
expansion set their eyes beyond the nation’s shore. The United States
began to consider joining England, France, Germany, and others in the
great imperial drive that was bringing much of the non-industrial world
under the control of the industrial powers of the West.
Scholars and others found a philosophic justification for expansionism in
Charles Darwin’s theories. They contended that nations or “races,” like biological
species, struggled constantly for existence and that only the fittest could survive.
For strong nations to dominate weak ones was, therefore, in accordance with the