USA 1890-1917

Overview of the USA between 1890 and 1917

HideShow resource information
  • Created by: CARL
  • Created on: 05-04-12 15:02

Explain why the principle of ‘Open Door’ in trade

Trade – the USA wanted access to markets in Asia as its wellbeing depended on exports

The USA thought that if there was an ‘Open Door’ then no one country could dominate trade (unless it was themselves)

Imperial rivalry – the USA was worried that a rival nation such as UK or other imperial

Domestic Economy – in 1900 both industry and agriculture were in a position to sell goods and crops abroad it had become the chief trading nation

Role of President – Roosevelt was keen on this issue and encouraged Sec of State to work for this by sending a second Open Door note

The most important reason is possibly the trading opportunities which countries like China presented, and Secretary of State Hay, was determined to protect USA trade and economy.

1 of 9

How far was the growth of the American economy in

Big Business was responsible:

oil transformed machinery and transport possibilities and, through the dominance of Rockefeller and large oil companies, oil was exploited to the benefit of everyone and especially the embryonic car industry

JP Morgan and his influence on banking meant it was stable and able to provide credit. Bankers used their skills to pilot mergers in the 1890s

through the work of Carnegie, steel became a major product and so too did heavy engineering, thus providing lots of employment

due to ruthless big business tactics, smaller companies which were less profitable were ruined, but it meant that in the long run the economy benefited from streamlined monopolies because they could have economy of scale. This meant that prices of goods went down and this spurred on the domestic market to buy more.

2 of 9

Other factors responsible for growth in the econom

the development of agriculture across the Plains. This came about with inventions such as barbed wire and hybrid wheat, and therefore led to the USA becoming a ‘bread basket’. This meant a surplus was produced and so exports developed.

the development of technology such as refrigeration was important to farming and the economy – especially the refrigerated rail car cheap labour from increased immigration fuelled the economy – immigrants brought extra skill from the old world to benefit the new world trade with Asia.

The government allowed corporations to grow because they fully believed in capitalism.

Trade with Asia States

Government passed laws to help big business. The government even extended protection through the Supreme Court and the 14th amendment.

3 of 9

Why did the USA go to war with Spain in 1898?

political – President McKinley was persuaded into changing his attitude towards Imperialism because of moral/religious reasons

economic – due to sugar and tobacco trade  

media – the influence of the Yellow Press  

pressure from public opinion

traditional – Manifest destiny  

geographical – sphere of influence.

Key Point

the change of attitude towards developing an Empire linked to economic reasons such as trade.

4 of 9

How far was the USA Isolationist between 1900 and

Was Isolationist...

traditional foreign policy factor set down by George Washington and elements of the Monroe Doctrine. The USA was mostly isolationist

Personal factor. In the Taft years there was less interference with foreign nations than with some other Presidents

moral factor. Under Wilson (pre First World War) there was initially a return to complete isolationism because of his idealism. Although this was official Presidential policy the USA remained concerned about events in South America

public opinion factor. In 1914, on the outbreak of the First World War, the USA was sympathetic to Great Britain but officially they remained neutral until 1917. They wished to avoid ‘entangling alliances’

fear factor. The USA goes back to isolationism with regards to Europe after they War when it rejects the League of Nations. No more deaths. Hence the return to ‘normalcy’ meaning isolationism.

5 of 9

Not isolationist between 1900 and 1920

Was not Isolationist

the growth of Imperialism in Asia and Latin America. This can be supported with information about growth of the navy, Open Door in China and events in Panama economic factor. Taft developed Dollar Diplomacy. defence - Wilson intervened in Mexico in 1916 where he sought to look after Americans caught up in a revolution. traditional foreign policy factor. The USA took on European nations if their economic interests/sphere of interest were in danger of being interfered with as in Cuba, Venezuela and China by Great Britain and Spain. International factor - The sinking of the Lusitania and the Zimmerman telegram caused the US to come out of isolation. moral factor - Post First World War, Wilson stayed out of isolationism by attending the Treaty talks at Versailles and with his attempt to get the USA to join the League of Nations.

USA was officially isolationist for some of the period they are involved in a number of international events throughout this period and build up an Empire. This depends on which part of the world and which President being considered as the extent of isolationism varies.

6 of 9

Explain why was the USA isolationist between 1918

influence of Republicans support for isolationism (links to horrors of WW1)

traditional foreign policy which was based on avoiding foreign entanglements was very significant amongst politicians

peace was better for business and the repayment of loans.  

the decline in popularity of Woodrow Wilson

number of American dead during the First World War

disillusionment with the peace making at Versailles from 1919, e.g. greed and behaviour of ‘old world politicians’

lack of support for League of Nations.  

explain how economic reasons were the most important factor because of the money made from the First World War and how the USA could return to prosperity by staying out of further ‘foreign entanglements’ in Europe.

7 of 9

Explain why the USA built the Panama Canal

Work on the Panama Canal was completed in 1914. It was built for a number of reasons.

It was strategically important because it allowed passage of the USA navy between the East and West coasts and therefore they were able to defend the USA more efficiently.

Naval power was considered very important in this period. It allowed trade with the Far East, especially for the industry on the East coast. President Roosevelt, who had originally arranged the money for the building of the canal, saw this as important to the prestige of the USA.

The Panama Canal speeded up sea journeys because ships no longer had to go all the way around South America.

Therefore it also speeded up communication, especially between the West coast and the Caribbean.

8 of 9

How important was the role of President McKinley i

role was important because he set the tone for future presidents; he honestly believed that what he was doing was right, especially with regards to Christian values. However, McKinley was a reluctant imperialist.

Prior to McKinley there were other events and presidents that played a part in the development of Imperialism. President Harrison was the first president to try and annex Hawaii. President Cleveland stepped into the Venezuelan Crisis. Subsequently, President Roosevelt initiated the

Open Door Policy with regards to the Far East. Taft continued many of Roosevelt’s policies. Wilson was one of the least Imperialist presidents, but even he got involved in Mexico.

However, there were other motivating factors for Imperialism, such as Imperial rivalry with European nations such as Germany and Great Britain. US industry needed markets once the end of the frontier had been declared in 1890. Therefore trade agreements were important if industry was to expand. McMahon had written a book on the USA navy and this was influential

in government circles since the navy was the key to developing imperialism. Social Darwinism

had circulated and it fitted in with the theory of Manifest Destiny. A desire to spread Christian

values was also persuasive in the development of an empire

9 of 9


No comments have yet been made

Similar History resources:

See all History resources »See all America - 19th and 20th century resources »