Grenville week 3 notes

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31 Dec 2010

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1. The emergence of the United States as a world power
growth of population, and of industrial and agricultural production of US, were phenomenal as their sustained increase through 19th and
20th centuries, overcoming 2 depressions in mid-1870s and mid-1890s as well as serious depression of 1930s, is one of “economic
wonders” of modern history
in 1880, the total population of US was about same as Germanys 10 years later and only 5 million more than Germanys at same time,
thus, in population the US only just ranked in the same league as the largest of the European nations; but, from then on, the US’s rapid
outdistancing of previously comparable countries was one fundamental reason for the emergence of the US as a superpower
crucial factor in growth of population was another feature of New World, large-scale emigration from Europe, which was driven largely
by poverty and hope of better life, accounting for more than 13 million between 1900 and 1914 alone—most of them were peasants from
central and southern Europe; majority of these ‘new immigrants(to distinguish them from ‘old immigrants’ from Britain, Ireland,
Germany, and Scandinavia) settled in towns where they preferred to join their countrymen who had kept close together in cities and
found unskilled industrial work; immigrants contributed significantly to growth of major cities, reinforced economic expansion and
helped to bring about mass market which is characteristic of 20th-century America
rich cultural variety, diversity of ethnic groups from West and East, as well as sheer numbers of immigrants, are among unique features of
national growth
in 20th century the shared experiences of two world wars were powerful influences in making for more toleration and mutual
acceptance—one of the most significant aspects of the development of the US for world history
age distribution of immigrants and their tendency to have larger families than American-born kept increase of population at much higher
level than could otherwise be sustained, but at same time, the immigrants added immensely to the vitality of the US
vast continent of US was singularly blessed in all its resources—fertile land, forests, coal, iron, and oil—and their simultaneous
successful development provided dynamic of American economic growth that no European nation could match, and meant that
Americans were less dependent on imports or exports than any other advanced Western nation
in early 20th century, American business nevertheless expanded American exports to industrialized Europe, seeing this as a necessary
insurance against a glut in the market at home—yet these exports were only a small proportion of America’s total production, which was
protected at home by a high tariff
America’s explosive growth was not achieved without severe political and social tensions, which was the other side of the optimism
expressed at the turn of the century about the future as people began to ask who would control the destinies of the US
western farmers were exposed to the vagaries of the seasons and also to the increases and falls of world grain prices
southern US remained relatively stagnant, unable to diversify after the worldwide drop in cotton prices, which meant that cotton could no
longer yield the same profit as before the civil war
American workers in the mines and factories also tried to organize to meet the increased power of business
socialism as a political force had developed in the US as well as in Europe during the 19th century, and for a short time while after 1872
the headquarters of Marx’s First International was in New York, but the Socialist Labour Party of North America could not establish
itself as a serious force in politics
after depressed 1880s and mid-1890s farmers, who had been a major force behind the rising challenge to eastern business dominance,
became quiescent
from 1897 until 1914 they enjoyed a short ‘golden age’ of prosperity, the value of their crops doubling during this period
looking at US as a whole, the only safe generalisation is that the problems that forced themselves on the attention of people varied
enormously from one region to another, as did the responses of those in power in any particular state
Theodore Roosevelt—first president to pay role as world statesman; as in his domestic policy, where he was inhibited by political
constraints, so in his ‘world’ diplomacy he was circumscribed by America’s lack of military power and unwillingness of American
people to make sacrifices to back up a ‘large’ American foreign policy; succeeded in drawing international attention to US and to his own
role as diplomatist; made America’s presence felt, but what really lay behind these great-power posturings was apprehension that
conditions that had given US security for past century were passing away
for this feeling, which actually anticipated dangers that still lay in future, there were 2 principal reason: the likely direction of European
imperialism and the consequence of America’s own flirtation with imperialism at the turn of the century—both can be seen clearly at
work during the course of a war just won, the “splendid little” Spanish-American war of 1898
American response to European imperialism, which had led to partition of Africa and China, was to try to anticipate a serious challenge
to the Monroe Doctrine, with its declaration of US opposition to any further European colonial extension within the western hemisphere
danger—Europeans might next seek to extend their influence in the Caribbean and Central America and so surrounded the US with
armed bases
Captain A. T. Mahan was writing at this time of such a danger since crucial strategic regions of significance in world trade would
inevitably become areas of great-power rivalry—one artery of trade would be canal (later Panama Canal) which it was planned to
construct across the isthmus of Central America; backward and weak independent Caribbean island states were easy prey for intending
European imperialist; island of Cuba was particularly sensitive spot
imperialism was inextricably bound up with this defensive attitude—Americans intervened and made themselves gendarmes of
Cuba—after war with Spain in 1898, Cuba, though proclaimed independent republic, became virtual protectorate of US; naval base was
constructed on island and land needed for it was ceded to US; American presence was intended to ensure that no European power could
take over Cuba or reach inner naval defences of US before meeting navy in western Atlantic; imposed conditions on Cuba which allowed
US to intervene in case of internal discord
another Caribbean island, Puerto Rico, was simply annexed for similar strategic reasons
in 1904, Theodore Roosevelt extended right of US to act as a policeman throughout Central and Latin America, invoking Monroe
Doctrine as justification
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