Turner, Mahan, and the Roots of Empire

A timeline shows important events of the era. In 1893, Turner presents his Frontier Thesis; a photograph of Frederick Jackson Turner is shown. In 1898, the U.S. annexes Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines, and fights the Spanish-American War; a photograph of Queen Liliuokalani and a photograph of American troops raising the U.S. flag at Fort San Antonio Abad in Manila are shown. In 1899, Hay crafts the Open Door policy regarding trade in China. In 1900, the Boxer Rebellion erupts in China; a photograph of several soldiers of the Chinese Imperial Army is shown. In 1901, Congress approves the Platt Amendment regarding Cuba. In 1903, the U.S. obtains rights to build the Panama Canal; a photograph of the construction of the Panama Canal is shown. In 1904, Roosevelt announces the Roosevelt Corollary.

During the time of Reconstruction, the U.S. government showed no significant initiative in foreign affairs. Western expansion and the goal of Manifest Destiny still held the country’s attention, and American missionaries proselytized as far abroad as China, India, the Korean Peninsula, and Africa, but reconstruction efforts took up most of the nation’s resources. As the century came to a close, however, a variety of factors, from the closing of the American frontier to the country’s increased industrial production, led the United States to look beyond its borders. Countries in Europe were building their empires through global power and trade, and the United States did not want to be left behind.