Historic Imperialism Term Paper

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imperialism is necessary for cultures to progress. The United States is not often thought of as an imperialistic nation, because we like to think that we would not subjugate or take over other countries. However, that is just what we did when our forefathers came to this country and shoved aside the Native Americans. We subjugated and eradicated a culture and way of life, and that is the textbook definition of imperialism. Imperialism is wrong and shameful, but it seems that as much it may be hard to say, it is necessary for securing our way of life, and it is crucial in developing new trade and commerce.

First, it is necessary to define imperialism. Imperialism is the name for larger, more powerful nations to take over smaller, weaker nations, usually because of the promise of wealth or resources they can exploit. There is a long history of imperialism throughout the world, from the Spanish conquest of Mexico in the 1500s, to the American conquest of the Philippines and Hawaii in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Often, it is the native peoples who suffer the most during an imperialistic takeover. They lose their way of life and their culture, and they are often put to work as slaves in the aggressor's business, whatever it is. For example, Belgium took over the Congo in Africa because of its vast resources of rubber, and they forced the natives to work for them, treating them like slaves. If the natives resisted, they simply killed them. A historic report on the Congo states, "When I asked what would become of these women if their husbands failed to bring in the right quantity of rubber . ., he said at once that then they would be kept there until their husbands had redeemed them" (Casement). That is the nature of imperialism, and why we do not like to see ourselves as an imperialist nation.

However, the American Revolution, and even before the Revolution, was a prime time for American imperialism, mostly against the Native Americans. A group of authors write, "We have betrayed the legacy of the American Revolution, or worse, that we have been living up to
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a darker side of that legacy, ravishing the Vietnamese just as the Founding Fathers ravished the Indians, British, French, or Spanish who got in their way" (Gerlach, Dolph, and Nicholls 127). The first colonists who stepped on to the continent from Great Britain were imperialists, because they came here for monetary gain and a better life, and they immediately pushed the Natives off their lands and created towns like they had left in England. The situation just picked up speed when the country began to expand westward. We simply regarded it as our "destiny" to take over the country, and whenever anyone disagreed, we relocated them, like the Indians from the south who were settled in Oklahoma during the "Trail of Tears" march. Was this treatment necessary? If we had not displaced the Natives and controlled them, they may have risen up against us and taken back their lands. In that case, even more violence would have been necessary, and the country might have collapsed. That type of treatment is not necessary in our modern society, but then, it seemed necessary for the good of the nation as a whole, so it became our policy without realizing it.

The Westward Expansion movement is another classic example of American imperialism. As we moved westward, we simply displaced the Natives and created towns, cities, and farms wherever we wanted them. While the population of the country was increasing, and we needed more territory, we felt somehow that we were destined to expand -- that it was our right, somehow. Another writer notes, "The problem of Indian removal that will define the imperialism of the following century. Through his frustrated attempts to conceal an ineradicable presence of imperial violence, the underlying aggression and destructiveness of the ideology of the 'empire of virtue' is revealed" (Kutchen 109). Our leaders even tried to explain it as "democratic colonialism." Another writer states, "Here Jefferson argues not only that democracy and colonial expansion are compatible, but that the former springs from the latter. Such 'democratic colonialism' is not, therefore, incompatible with membership of the British Empire" (Macphee). Thus, we attempted to rationalize our actions as somehow fitting our democracy, an idea that seems quite self-serving today. Was this behavior necessary? For the good of the nation and its…

Sources Used in Documents:


Alam, M.S. "U.S. Imperialism and the Third World." Northeastern University. 2006. 14 Dec. 2009.


Amin, Samir. "Imperialism and Globalization." Monthly Review June 2001: 6.

Bonner, Robert E. "Slavery, Confederate Diplomacy and the Racialist Mission of Henry Hotze." Civil War History 51.3 (2005): 288+.

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