Why was the U.S. more anti-imperialist than the other Great Powers were?

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
13,832
SoCal
#1
Why was the U.S. more anti-imperialist than the other Great Powers were?

In the U.S. in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, there was a lot of opposition to imperialism. For instance, William Jennings Bryan ran--in part--on an anti-imperialist platform and got 45.5% of the total nationwide vote. Also, opposition to imperialism in the U.S. was not limited to the Democratic Party--for instance, Republican U.S. Senator George Frisbie Hoar had this to say about the Philippine-American War:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Frisbie_Hoar#Political_and_legal_career

"You have sacrificed nearly ten thousand American lives—the flower of our youth. You have devastated provinces. You have slain uncounted thousands of the people you desire to benefit. You have established reconcentration camps. Your generals are coming home from their harvest bringing sheaves with them, in the shape of other thousands of sick and wounded and insane to drag out miserable lives, wrecked in body and mind. You make the American flag in the eyes of a numerous people the emblem of sacrilege in Christian churches, and of the burning of human dwellings, and of the horror of the water torture. Your practical statesmanship which disdains to take George Washington and Abraham Lincoln or the soldiers of the Revolution or of the Civil War as models, has looked in some cases to Spain for your example. I believe—nay, I know—that in general our officers and soldiers are humane. But in some cases they have carried on your warfare with a mixture of American ingenuity and Castilian cruelty. Your practical statesmanship has succeeded in converting a people who three years ago were ready to kiss the hem of the garment of the American and to welcome him as a liberator, who thronged after your men when they landed on those islands with benediction and gratitude, into sullen and irreconcilable enemies, possessed of a hatred which centuries can not eradicate."

Even the U.S.'s acquisition of the Philippines and Puerto Rico were extremely controversial in the late 1890s.

Why was the U.S. more anti-imperialist during this time than the other Great Powers were?

Was it because of its own history being a British colony, or was there another reason for this?
 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
8,049
#2
The US was interested in economic imperialism not old fashion bayonets and flags imperialism.

British support for Imperialism declined as more people got the vote. Imperialism was the agenda of a small elite who mostly ran things.
 
Likes: Yôḥānān

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
13,832
SoCal
#3
The US was interested in economic imperialism not old fashion bayonets and flags imperialism.
So, the U.S. back then was similar to the China of today whereas the Britain of back then was similar to the Russia of today?

British support for Imperialism declined as more people got the vote. Imperialism was the agenda of a small elite who mostly ran things.
Britain acquired some additional colonies after the end of World War I, though.
 
Oct 2016
884
Merryland
#4
USA was founded on liberty and independence from empire
natural sympathy for nations wanting same.

and frankly we could afford to be anti-colonial. we had a continent full of resources; old Europe needed raw materials and markets and places to put excess population.

in the case of Latin America there was some self-preservation. USA did not want Imperial powers meddling with their neighbors with eyes possibly on USA territory. hence the Monroe Doctrine.
 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
8,049
#5
So, the U.S. back then was similar to the China of today whereas the Britain of back then was similar to the Russia of today?
I dont think those comparisons hold up or are useful in this context.

take China, US policy was the "open door" but the fully expected this policy to lead to US dominance of Chinese trade, US decision makers were often driven by economic concerns, and were confident if US penetration and development of markets without direct imperialism.

The British expansion of Empire was actually often a bottom up drive rather than Government policy. Some British adventurer goes out and creates a situation and often some exploitation , profitable venture and drags the government to support the further extension of Empire. The British Empire can for a significant degree be an Accidental empire. (though of course there were many deliberate actions as well). the actions of Rhodes can be seen as some of the last of this attempt rto move the Empire in a bottom up fashion.

The Britishe Empire for a lot of history as a large Empire was a loose affliction of landed aristocracy/mercantile/industrial interests ( they basically evolved together, money and wealth bringing people into the ruling class) with the crown controlling the Military. The actions and policy were not centrally controlled to large extent.

Most of the colonies were loss makers. India being the massive exception, though loss maker for the crown or the nation overall isn't necessarily the case for those private interests which often went ahead and dragged that British Empire to protect their interests,

You can say sort of the US war of Independence was a war fought by the crown without much support from the landed gentry who did not see their interests vitally evolved, the essential economic relationship with the US colonies did not really change with independence.

Britain acquired some additional colonies after the end of World War I, though.
Yeah but at the point the franchise had not been extended that happened after those decisions, and I would argue there was a lag effect on British politics of the franchise extension, there was no an immediate complete change of politicians and power structures, the effects of the franchise extension and the greater interest and involvement in politics took time to actually impact British policy, but by the End of the Second World War teh electorate was mostly done with Imperialism, the voting out of Churchill largely reflects this attitude, he was in many respects a man formed from an earlier time.
 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
8,049
#6
USA was founded on liberty and independence from empire
natural sympathy for nations wanting same.

and frankly we could afford to be anti-colonial. we had a continent full of resources; old Europe needed raw materials and markets and places to put excess population.

in the case of Latin America there was some self-preservation. USA did not want Imperial powers meddling with their neighbors with eyes possibly on USA territory. hence the Monroe Doctrine.
I think people remain people, across time and geography. Vested economic interests are nearly always part of policy. I did not find the US founding fathers and US foreign policy to be an exception to this rule. Sure there was some idealism at times, it's a mix.
 
Jun 2013
734
Agraphur
#7
Hm isn't it rather obvious? USA didn't go global imperialism because it had an entire continent of native lands to subjugate and colonize. One very rich in strategically important raw materials as well.

European Imperialism was driven by a population boom caused by industrialization. A boom which provided the USA with millions of settlers to consolidate it's gains. You need surplus people to land grab and the USA had vast spaces to fill already.
Once the conquest of the America was completed in 1880:s the USA joined the global race. Of course then the good stuff was taken by the European powers so they had to take Cuba and Philippines etc from the bottom feeder and since these weren't stone age people subjugating them were costly compared to the Indians.
So in general the North-American continent itself and the lack of uncontested soft targets made overseas armed imperialism unattractive.
The European powers needed oil, fertilizers, rare minerals etc and overseas colonies provided them. The USA had them at home.
 
Aug 2010
15,105
Welsh Marches
#8
Yes, it seems to me that the USA was just as imperialistic as Europe, only in another way, it expanded over its own continent, at the expense of the orginal inhabitants and of Mexico. At the same time, this allowed (some) Americans to assume a sense of moral superiority with reagrd to the European mode of imperialism which was by no exempt from hypocrisy (as one can also find in the following century under a somewhat different form when the USA was displacing the Europeans as a world power). So this question is far more complicated than it appears at first sight.
 
Likes: Tulius
Oct 2016
884
Merryland
#9
Once the conquest of the America was completed in 1880:s the USA joined the global race. Of course then the good stuff was taken by the European powers so they had to take Cuba and Philippines etc from the bottom feeder and since these weren't stone age people subjugating them were costly compared to the Indians.
USA give Cuba independence almost immediately and gave the Philippines independence later, in both cases voluntarily. if anything the Spanish-American war was one of anti-imperialism.