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Imperial America: U.S. Global Expansion, 1890-1915

How and why did the United States embark on a process of global imperial expansion?

In 1898, the United States defeated Spain in a war that led to the United States claiming control over Spain’s colonial territories of Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and Guam. In an era defined by global imperial conquest, the War of 1898 signaled U.S. leaders’ intentions to construct the nation’s own overseas colonial empire. The story of turn-of-the-century U.S. imperialism is often told as if it were a major departure from the nation’s historical record both before and since. In contrast, Imperial America connects turn-of-the-century imperialism to the settler colonial process of nineteenth-century westward expansion and to the various forms of neocolonialism, or “informal” imperialism, that characterized the U.S. empire throughout the twentieth century and even up to today. Students will consider the social, political, cultural, and economic transformations that drove U.S. imperial expansion and reflect on the meaning, purpose, and history of U.S. imperialism. Students will also examine the viewpoints and experiences of the various peoples who resisted U.S. imperial expansion and explore the long-term effects of U.S. imperialism in Latin America, the Caribbean, East Asia, and the Pacific.

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