Sophia Brown-Heidenreich Humanities and Social Science
The Samoan Crisis and the Development of U.S. Imperialism
Among U.S. foreign policy historians, the Spanish-American War of 1898 marks a commonly accepted turning point for the course of U.S. expansion and the countrys status as a great power in the European-led international system. Newer scholarship, however, has reevaluated the wars centrality for American imperial ascendance, and this project seeks to contribute to these efforts by scrutinizing an earlier moment in American history. Through an analysis of a conflict which brought the Cleveland administration to the brink of war with Bismarcks Germany, I intend to examine the intellectual influences upon the evolving and centralizing American federal government. Such influences, evident in the response to the Samoan Crisis of 18871889, enabled the projection of American power overseasenabled, in other words, American imperialism. By examining the ideas circulating among legislators and government reformers at the time, this project strives to understand just how imperially-minded the U.S. was in the post-Civil War years and how conceptions of European colonization affected their own foreign policy choices.