In chapter twelve of Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States, he talks about the history of expansion in the United States, which helped shape America. People, such as Theodore Roosevelt and Captain A. T. Mahan of the U. S. navy, wanted expansion brought upon America. Mahan used propaganda to influence other powerful leaders within the United States. Commercial farmers began to demand expansion in the United States. Manufactured goods were becoming overproduced in America, so the need for foreign markets and trade became prominent.
By 1893, America was the second largest trading country.
Theodore Roosevelt welcomed war as a means for expansion overseas. According to Zinn, President Roosevelt wrote to a friend in the year 1897: “In the strict confidence . . . I should welcome almost any war, for I think this country needs one. ” The movement towards expansion was popular among the upper class Americans (military men, politicians, businessmen, etc. ). Howard Zinn stated that many people, like philosopher William James, thought that Roosevelt obsessed over war and treated peace as a condition of blubberlike and swollen ignobility.
President Roosevelt was conscious of America’s trade with China. American trade and influence was an important key to shaping American policy in the Asian countries. America became greatly interested in helping Cuba as an appeal of expansion during the reign of Cleveland and McKinley as presidents. Cuba was at a revolt against the Spaniards for independence during the time. Americans gave Cuba popular support because they were fighting for liberation.
There was fear that Cuba might turn into a black republic similar to Haiti.
The U. S. battleship Maine, a representation of the interest in Cuba, was destroyed by an unknown explosion. President McKinley did not want war, but was moving towards that direction, Zinn exclaimed. After a long battle, Cuba became a part of America. The Filipinos rose up in a bloody revolution against America for their independence, which would take America three years to overcome and crush. Angered African American soldiers deserted American troops and joined with the Filipinos.
They were furious because the term “nigger” was used by the white troops. Posters were used by the Filipinos as a way to lure the black soldiers in their direction and fight against the white American troops. Back in the United States, the African- Americans of Massachusetts wrote a letter to President McKinley addressing their overlooked unfair treatment. In the years to come, the American people would become impatient and unpatriotic because of the attention that was being turned towards issues outside of America.