In This Chapter
Jingoism, imperialism, and “yellow journalism”
The Spanish-American War
The Wilson administration and entry into World War I
In his Farewell Address of 1797, George Washington cautioned his fellow Americans to avoid “foreign entanglements”; for a century thereafter, the nation did just that. The United States, insulated from the European and Eastern powers by great oceans, maintained a foreign policy of strict isolation. The one chink in this isolationist armor was Central and South America. President James Monroe promulgated his Monroe Doctrine in 1823, essentially declaring the entire Western Hemisphere off-limits to European powers with designs on creating new colonies. In the course of the 19th century, the United States became the de facto major power of the hemisphere. During the century, too, while other nations amassed far-flung empires throughout the world, the United States expanded exclusively across its vast continent.
By the end of the century, the nation extended from “sea to shining sea,” and a significant number of Americans (some called them “patriots,” others “imperialists,” and still others “jingoists”) started thinking that it should extend even farther. Not content with the United States as a force in this hemisphere, these individuals wanted to see it on an equal footing with the great European powers of the world.