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Imperial America: U.S. Global Expansion (1890-1914)

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 U.S. claiming control over Spain’s colonial territories of Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and Guam. In an era defined by imperial conquest, the War of 1898 signaled U.S. leaders’ intentions to construct the nation’s own overseas colonial empire. The story of American imperialism is often told as only a temporarily period of colonial expansion that departed from the nation’s foreign policy. 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 “informal” imperialism that would characterize the U.S. empire throughout the twentieth century. Students explore and balance accounts of elite decision makers in Washington, D.C., with local experiences and cultural expressions of the inhabitants of American colonial territories. Students consider the social, political, cultural, and economic transformations experienced by Americans and those affected by American imperialism.

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