Humanities in Class: Webinar Series

The Blessings of Civilization: The Roots of American Imperialism

Paul A. Kramer (Associate Professor of History, Vanderbilt University)

October 11, 2011

For most of the nineteenth century the United States followed the foreign policy enunciated by George Washington: avoid entangling alliances. By the 1890s, however, two forces thrust the nation more squarely into world affairs: the European competition for colonial territory and the search for overseas markets. Adding to the impulse to look beyond our borders was the sense that the United States had reached its maturity. The frontier and the limitless possibilities it represented were no longer available. However, when the United States inherited the remnants of the Spanish empire after the Spanish-American War, a new frontier beckoned: Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines. This seminar explores what America did with its new possessions, the justifications Americans offered for their actions, and the debates those justifications provoked.

Subjects
History / Political Science / American History / Foreign Policy / American Imperialism / United States Government /