The Rise of the Nationalistic Empire of the United States: Post-War Between the States

A comprehensive analysis of the causes and factors of the onerous empire building by the post-War Between the States United States as distinguished from European nations cannot be accomplished in a brief essay. Nevertheless, a brief overview can be provided. And perhaps a better understanding of the origins of the monstrosity which exits today and why it continues to wield enormous power over a population and throughout the world can be explained.

By the late 19th century, a race to Imperialism was in full swing in Europe. As had been true throughout human history, the vice of greed and an insatiable lust for political power were two factors in those involved. This race included the nations of Britain, France, Russia, Germany, and a non-European nation, the emerging Japan. In the aforementioned European nations, the non interventionism and free trade advocated by the classic liberals such as John Locke, were either being ignored or had been forgotten by those in government, and much of the populace. Simultaneously, the constitution drafted and ratified for the formation of a constitutional Republic had already been swept away, in blood, by the Nationalists in the United States. The establishment of colonies and vast armies to dominate them had become nearly commonplace among the powerful nations of Europe of the time. However, one European global power, Spain, was in decline by the very late 19th century, having lost much of its empire due to outbreaks of civil war. All that remained under control, outside its proper and legal boundaries, was Cuba and the Philippines.

Also, by the late 19th century, a noteworthy historian of the United States, Fredrick Jackson Turner had declared the “American westward movement” over. More importantly, he advocated that the United States should seek expansion beyond its borders of the time. [1] Moreover, in 1890, The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, a work by Admiral Alfred Taylor Mahan, of the US Navel War College, was published. It was then soon translated into several foreign languages. And was read by Imperialist in Germany and Britain as well as elsewhere. [2] The thesis proposed by Mahan was that as an empire expands, it must spread its economic endeavors to foreign lands. And, to accomplish this, there must be secure foreign ports and the protection of a navy. [3] In the United States, the Assistant Secretary of the Navy, under president William McKinley, who was Theodore Roosevelt was highly influenced by this work. And via the influence of Roosevelt, the Nationalist government of the United States began to heavily fund a modern navy. [4] This factor when combined with Roosevelt’s rabid belief that his generation must have war, in order to prove its mettle, made for the spark to ignite a struggle for colonies with European powers.

Additionally, there was still a generation, in the Southern United States, which could recognize the tyranny and unlawful power of the National government which had emerged from the War Between the States. Thus, per se, that war had failed to unite the nation in either a de jure or de facto way in spite of Reconstruction. The idea of “Americanism” did not permeate the Southern mind until shortly before the Spanish American War. (Note that the war is even called “American” although no such nation or people existed). Nevertheless, Nationalists such as Theodore Roosevelt and the purveyor of propaganda William Randolph Hearst viewed war as a method of uniting all citizens, within the geo-political United States, for one cause.

Further south, at the time, many Cubans had rebelled against the yoke of tyranny from Spain. And had failed. Furthermore, Spain had become unable to loan funding to the growers of sugar cane. The growers had turned to investors in the United States. Thus, rather dubious financial interests began to see much potential profit in imposing usury upon the Cuban farmers. And a few Cuban dissidents had taken residence in the United States. Moreover, propagandists, such as Hearst, saw a golden opportunity to manipulate the newly defined citizenry (via the 14th Amendment) of the United States into support of an unjustifiable war against Spain. It was, for example, portrayed in cartoons as  a villain and Cuba as a lady in distress in the New York Journal. Hearst exploited and sensationalized several events in Cuba to promote military aggression against Spain over Cuba. United States president William McKinley was even duped by Hearst’s “yellow journalism” concerning the release of a “martyr damsel”. [5]

In the midst of the plethora of propaganda, perhaps a precedent for future “false flag” events such as the “Reich-stag Fire” and the “Gulf of Tonkin” was set. In an act which symbolized aggression, a ship of the US Navy, the USS Maine, had been sent to harbor in Havana Bay of Cuba. An explosion occurred on the ship in February of 1898. And the ship sank. Hearst and other publishers of newspapers in the United States, blamed Spain for the explosion without any verifiable evidence. (It was discovered almost a century later that the cause of the explosion likely occurred as a result of boilers on the ship). The “newstories” had a powerful impact throughout the United States on the public mind both Southern and Northern—it appeared as that there was no choice but to go to war against Spain. The purposes being two-fold, to avenge the USS Maine and to set the Cuban rebels free from Spanish rule. [6]

Image result for spanish american war propaganda

To the east, in the Philippines, there were harbors which commanded the waterways to Asia, especially China. Spain had ruled there since the 16th century. In 1896, the oppressive taxation by Spain had finally become too much for some of the Filipino people. And approximately 20,000 of them rebelled. Spain had over-extended its military resources in Cuba, and could not afford the expense of crushing the rebellion in the Philippines. Thus, compromising reforms were proposed by Spain. However, these events were outside the public conscience in the United States. [7] The propagandists and war mongers were busy drumming up support for military intervention in Cuba, which was much closer geographically. It should never be doubted, however, that significant financial and political powers were acutely aware of the potential profit from controlling ports in the Philippines.

Initially there was reluctance within the National government of the United States. Secretary of the Navy John Long shared president McKinley’s initial reasonable and rational approach to a military response to the sinking of the USS Maine. However, in one of those strange twists in history, Long took some time off from his position, and left the war-mongering Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Theodore Roosevelt, in charge. Roosevelt sent a cable ordering the United States navy in Asia to gather at Hong Kong, a mere 600 miles from the Philippine islands. [8] The de facto result of this was that the Philippines were now included in the dispute with Spain over Cuba. And, most dangerously, it was an act of war, thus usurping the constitutional requirement that only the president is commander in chief over United States military forces and only the Congress of the United States may authorize declarations of war. (Roosevelt should have been arrested and tried for treason over his order. Moreover, he had been warned, by wiser men, before 1898, that because the Philippine islands lay just south of Japan that a United States presence there would draw the United States into a major war in the Pacific. And this is exactly what happened approximately 40 years later. Japan conquered the islands and nearly one million Philippine and some 60,00 US soldiers were killed while driving the Japanese out).

Pressure on McKinley was rising from both public and private sources concerning the USS Maine. He then asked the US Congress for 50 million dollars in order to fight Spain. The funds were granted. Then a report by the Navel Committee on the investigation of the explosion, concluded that it was caused by a submerged mine. [9] The report did not assess responsibility,  but by this time the combinations of propaganda and the ideas of empire, in the United States, created an assumption of guilt in most of the public mind.

By the time the Navel Committee report was released, several causes and factors were in place. Major banking and corporate interests in the United States were in support of the war against Spain. Much of the public, in both the North and South, had been whipped into an ignorant frenzy of support by fallacious propagandists and disingenuous politicians. The United States Navy was in place in the Pacific. The regime of president McKinley had been granted an enormous monetary sum by the US Congress to fiance the war. Spain lacked the resources to be victorious in war or even to bog matters into a stalemate. Major banking and political interests in Britain and France had no major objection to the war, as there would be enormous financial profits which they could indirectly derive from United States control of the Philippines. McKinley would next order a blockade of Havana. Spain having been a proud conquering nation itself for centuries responded as honorably as possible with a declaration of war. The US Congress would then issue a counter declaration of war. And the Cubans and Filipinos would have one form of tyranny swapped for another.

It took basically one generation to disregard the constitutional Republic which was fought and died for just a few years previously. Moreover, the ideas of John Locke were tossed aside by European powers.  The Republicanism of Thomas Jefferson swept away. The mastery of Constitutional law of John C. Calhoun forgotten. And what emerged was control of a centralized government of Nationalist ideas dating back to Hamilton. Propaganda would continue to inundate the citizenry with each generation which followed the Spanish-American War, to further tighten the yoke of tyranny upon the citizenry. Thus, what most, in the United States, view as patriotism, is merely the prop by which an oligarchy, which originated in Nationalism, (identity derived from a singular government) remains in power in the modern United States.

-By Robert Durban


  1. Jackson, Fredrick Turner. Rise of the New West.1819-1829. (Harper & Brothers. 1906.)
  2. Crucible of Empire: The Spanish American War. Copyrighted by Great Project Film Company, Inc. Originally broadcast in 1999. Retrieved @
  3. Taylor, A.T. The Influence of Sea Power Upon History 1660-1783. (Dover Military History. Reprint. 1987).
  4. Crucible of Empire: The Spanish American War. Copyrighted by Great Project Film Company, Inc. Originally broadcast in 1999. Retrieved @
  5. Ibid.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Ibid.
  8. Ibid
  9. Ibid.

2 thoughts on “The Rise of the Nationalistic Empire of the United States: Post-War Between the States

  1. There seems to be a sequence in history…

    A nation rises. Then it begins, at a certain juncture, there is a rise in power and influence.

    The cancer of empire enters it, and it begins the process of oppressing it’s neighbours, and exploiting it’s resources.

    If some level of success, at being an empire, is attained, next comes, the onset of parasites, throughout it’s gut, they setting forth a process which begins to gnaw at the empire, until it can no longer hold itself up – if no other catastrophe strikes it beforehand.

    All things rise as high as they can, and then attempt to maintain those heights, until their inevitable dissolution.

    The entities change, not the principle.


  2. Not when but if, the truth about nine e leven ever comes out,
    there may be an address to the real cancer which is killing
    the country. And it spans the globe. Bigger than empires.


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