The US Becomes a World Power
|1875||Hawaiian sugar exempted from U.S. tariffs|
|1880s||French begin to dig Panama Canal|
|1893||Queen Liliuokalani abdicates|
United States annexes Hawaii
Battleship Maine explodes off Cuba
Open Door Policy
United States acquires control over Samoa
Philippine Government Act
|1905||Roosevelt brokers peace treaty between Russia and Japan|
|1914||Panama Canal completed|
|1916||Jones Act of 1916|
|1917||Jones Act of 1917|
The United States Becomes a World Power
Although the United States had acquired an empire, it was one continuous tract of land (plus the Alaska territory). Unlike the great European powers, the United States had not traveled the world, acquiring faraway colonies. This changed as the nineteenth century gave way to the twentieth. The United States had several motives for acquiring colonies. The first was to gain trade partners on favorable terms. The second was to establish naval bases. The third was simply to prove to the world that it was a great power.
The United States produced all the wheat and manufactured goods its people needed, but it did not have the right climate to produce other necessities, such as coffee, sugar, and rubber. Colonies could provide these raw materials; they would also serve as a market for surplus wheat and manufactured goods. When a nation controls a colony, that nation can dictate the terms of trade—it can purchase colonial raw materials at low prices and sell its own goods to the colonists at high prices.
The United States acquired a highly desirable colony in the central Pacific Ocean—the sugar-producing Hawaiian Islands. Hawaii became a U.S. territory and served as both a trading partner and a strategically important naval base. As a result of the Spanish-American War, the United States acquired the territories of Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines. It also made Cuba a protectorate.
In 1903, the United States took control of a narrow slice of the Isthmus of Panama, where a canal that connected the Pacific and Atlantic oceans was under construction. The United States hired Caribbean workers to complete the job, and the Panama Canal opened with great fanfare in 1914. This period also saw the beginning of the tendency of the United States to be “the police- man of the world” with its continual uninvited interference in the affairs of Latin American nations.
Practice questions for these concepts can be found at: The US Becomes a World Power Practice Test