restricted access Uncle Sam's War of 1898 and Globalization
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36Historically Speaking · September/October 2004 Thomas Haskell, Objectivity is Not Neutrality: Explanatory Schemes in History (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998), 145-173; John T. McGreevy, "Faith Histories," in Andrea Sterk, ed., Religion, Scholarship, andHigherEducation: Perspectives , Models, and Future Prospects (University ofNotre Dame Press, 2002), 63-75. 5 Cynthia Gorney,ArticlesofFaith:A FrontlineHistory ofthe Abortion Wars (Simon and Schuster, 1994); David Garrow, Liberty and Sexuality: The Right to Privacy and the Making ofRoe v. Wade (Scribner's, 1994). 6 Christopher Shannon,A WorldMade SafeforDifference : Cold WarIntellectualsandthe PoliticsofIdentity (Rowman and Littlefield, 2001 ), xi-xxii. 7 For some of the same concerns from a different angle, Walter Johnson, "On Agency," Journal of SocialHistory 37 (2003): 113-124. Uncle Sam's War of 1 898 and Globalization Thomas Schoonover Most Americans have considered the Spanish-American War (a better term is the War of 1898) as a conflict that took place in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines and as a dispute between the United States and Spain. The conventional emphasis upon Cuba and Puerto Rico has made iteasyto thinkofthiswarprimarily in domestic terms. This viewpoint seemed patently misleading to me while in graduate school. The War of 1898 incorporated permanent global engagements into U.S. foreign relations. The War of 1898 and its aftermath formalized the transfer ofleadership—unwillingly on the part ofSpain, most of Europe, and Japan—in the ongoing quest for access to wealth in Asia and the Pacific. This passage of power to the United States occurred within the context of its competitive relationship with other states in the North Atlantic region and in the Caribbean and Pacific basins. Since the 17th century, Protestant North Americans considered the Catholic colonies to the south and west and all the non-Christian areas of the Pacific basin as a challenge to their religion , security, commercial activity, and culture . U.S. growth and transformation across the continent pointed to the resilient tradition of British colonial expansion. In the 1780s U.S. vessels hunted whales and seals, and other ships traded in Pacific and East Asian waters. Soon, missionaries undertook to "civilize" the Pacific islanders and East Asians (and U.S. sailors), while U.S. warships departed to explore the Pacific, protect U.S. interests, and tutor those Pacific basin dwellers who failed to adopt U.S. civilizing and material instructions. At times, these ships were used to protect U.S. objectives from the Chinese,Japanese, and Europeans who proposed alternative visions for the Pacific basin. These expansive impulses generated tensions and conflict in both the Caribbean and Pacific basins in the course ofthe century-and-a-halfafter 1776. The U.S. stake in the Pacific basin increased with exploration and westward migration. The U.S. government nudged The War of1898 was not an aberration. . . . the countryrelentlesslytoward the Pacific— the John Ledyard (a seaman, adventurer, intellectual, and friend ofThomasJefferson) mission of 1794-95, the Louisiana Purchase, the Lewis and Clark Expedition, the War of 1812, theJohn QuincyAdams-Luis de Onís treaty (1819), the settlement of the Willamette valley (Oregon), the Great U.S. Exploring Expedition (1838-1842), the Mexican War, the Oregon settlement, the 1849 gold rush, the free soil land policy, and the Indian wars. Itwas neither accidental nor odd thatU.S. entrepreneurs and officials leapt to the west coast of the continent and established ties with the Pacific islands, China, and Japan before the West was settled. The sea was a cheaper and faster means oftransportation from coast to coast than the overland routes. New England, the Mid-Atlantic States, the West, and the Northwest all supplied goods and services to the Pacific and East Asia. 19th-century liberal development— industrialization, technology, and mass production and distribution—accelerated material accumulation. It dislocated human and material values, however, and added urgency to the national and international competition for scarce factors related to production. Improved communications had an impact on every nation's expansion in the 19th century. Between 1840 and 1900, telegraph technology reduced, for example, the time-lapse for a response to a London-to-india message from two years to about ninety minutes. And these cables became ever more reliable. This represented a more meaningful reduction in communications' time than the...


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