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The Role of Spanish American War in American International Trade

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The role of the international trade in the American foreign policy before the year 1914 can be divided into two major facts other than the major points mentioned in the book’s chapter for the past two decades, and this was according to the journal published by the Cambridge University Press in 2017 entitled Protectionist Empire: Trade, Tariffs, and United States Foreign Policy. First would be that there was this widespread belief among American elites that foreign markets were of great significance for national prosperity, and second, the tariff was among the most important and disruptive political issues back in the day. Between the past two decades, the United States acquired colonies abroad, built battleships and interfered the most in Latin America and East Asia.

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When the U.S. government was in its reformation time, it showed no interest in dealing with foreign affairs at that time. But when the Civil War ended in the past decades, the United States switched from being an isolated country to welcoming a big expansion. The nation’s isolated point of view has originated from the scraps of the Civil War and its need to recover itself economically and mentally. This made the United States move ahead with a foreign policy agenda in the past decades after the Civil War. Businesses, missionaries, and reformers were advocates of an expanded foreign policy and envisions an American empire by exporting their factory-built goods, tobacco products and even oil, and to secure the access to raw materials, they even sought generous trade agreements. American historian, Frederick Turner and Naval strategist, Alfred Thayer Mahan were two of the most significant in the country’s move toward foreign expansion and this has greatly influenced the country’s readiness to create an American Empire.

One critical milestone in the United States’ development as an empire was the Spanish-American War, which was known to be significant since its war against Mexico. And this was a great importance in the country’s desire to expand further its global reach. The war lasted about ten weeks, which has a clear goal, and that is to help free Cuba from the Spanish control. Other than simply freeing Cubans and the protection of America, the military strategists sought to expand Mahan’s vision of additional bases in the Pacific Ocean to reach as far as Asia. This strategy was seen to benefit American industrialists who were thinking of expanding their markets to China. We will know ‘why China’ in the next points. Because of that engagement to Spain, the United States was able to gain their territories to Latin America and Asia. As the war ended, Spanish and American diplomats made a peace treaty in Paris, and as the peace negotiations took place, Spain now then recognized Cuba’s independence, as well as America’s control over Puerto Rico and Guam. After the end of the Spanish-American war and the successful treaty with Spain, the United States continued to take over other territories. The takeover of the Spanish colonies of Guam and Puerto Rico, as well as the Philippines and combined with Hawaii, that of Samoa, and the Wake Island made the United States as the strongest world power. Now even though some known people in the United States disagreed with the idea of building an American Empire, their opinions were disregarded as the American population as well as the government understood that it was a form of prosperity and progress.

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After the United States’ shift from isolation to expansion, and its victory from the Spanish-American war, the Industrial Revolution paved its way to giving the American businesses an edge in delivering goods that are of good quality but at lower costs as well as the pursuit of an open door policy with China. One of the basic goals of the American foreign policy has been maintaining the rights of all countries to trade with China on equal terms. This was discussed on a journal published by The Association for Asian Studies in the year 1940s. Now going back, so why China? Back in the days of Christopher Colombus, Westerners have been dreaming of the fleeting ‘China Market’. American business were not the only ones seeking opportunities, but countries like Great Britain, Japan, Germany, France, and Russia also hoped to make it to dealing with China. Unfortunately, when the British Empire militarily persuaded the Chinese empire for the Indian opium and accept it in exchange with its tea, this then lead them to an open door policy in China which was forced to them, which gave foreign nations free and equal access to ports in China. This started then each country gaining there own influence in China where they could control the markets. The US government interfered after seeing it. Although European nations wanted a share of China’s market, the US on the other hand wanted the whole of it, but without the territorial boundaries or sphere of influence that other countries have imposed. That paved the way for Open Door Notes, which was United States’ form of expression of interests. These notes were in a way the bridge to removing all spheres and opening all doors to free trade that would give fair advantages to one country over another. In reality, it really favored the United States because American companies were producing high quality goods at lower costs, thus filling the Chinese market with more American goods kicking out other countries from the market. How smart. In the end, China was welcoming of this idea because it preserved its government and territorial integrity.

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