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An Example of Social Darwinism in Our World History

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Darwinism is the “survival of the fittest” belief of natural selection in evolution. Social Darwinism is the belief that wealth and power naturally goes to the most deserving. The Social Darwinism belief system was used as a rationale in the late 1800s and early 1900s for expanding the American empire and controlling the inhabitants of those lands who were viewed as inferior and in need of guidance.

At the end of the Spanish American War, Spain signed over control of the Philippines to the United States. Instead of granting the Filipino people the independence to govern themselves, the U.S proceeded to govern the country. This was met with resistance by many Filipinos and led to a few years of fighting between the two sides before the U.S. came out of it as the victor in 1902, with most of the rebellion stopped. If the Philippines weren’t in a prime spot as a harbor along the route to China, a country viewed as a potentially huge market for trade, the American government probably would have been less likely to consider controlling the Philippines. The U.S then set out to Americanize the Filipinos through an education system taught with English as the primary language. Because the Filipino culture was viewed as inferior to Imperialists, teaching them the American way was seen as a duty to uplift these people. More than “uplifting” these people, Americanization would be a means to maintain control and lessen further rebellions.

In 1823, a doctrine known as the Monroe Doctrine was established to state the United States’ policy on colonialism. The Doctrine originally stated that European countries couldn’t colonize the Americas, that America would stay out of European affairs unless America’s rights were directly affected, and any attempted colonization of US soil would be deemed a threat (, Monroe Doctrine). Fearing that Europe would intervene in Latin America to collect on debts, President Theodore Roosevelt added an amendment in 1904 to the Monroe Doctrine known as the Roosevelt Corollary. This amendment warned Latin American countries to keep their politics and finances stable or else “risk intervention by some civilized nation”. The Roosevelt Corollary was used as justification for numerous interventions in Latin American countries. American troops were sent to quell unrest in these countries, and set up ports and bases in order to further American influence in the region. American authorities also controlled the politics in these countries and transferred the European owed debts to U.S. banks.

Some used the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution’s guarantee of self-determination as an argument against imperial control of nations against their will. Other various arguments concentrated on what were seen as the probable negative effects at home, including a fear of cheap labor being imported to America. Because of disagreements when it came to domestic issues, it was difficult for anti-imperialists to team up as one strong force speaking out against American Imperialism. While the quest for domination around the globe increased American political power and economic control, this came at the price of other cultures and the right of these people to run their own countries as they saw fit.

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An Example of Social Darwinism in Our World History. (2018, May 19). GradesFixer. Retrieved October 4, 2022, from
“An Example of Social Darwinism in Our World History.” GradesFixer, 19 May 2018,
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