Anti-Imperialists | (2023)

ANTI-IMPERIALISTS. This term is used generally to connote those who resisted or disapproved of American colonialist impulses at various moments and especially those who opposed U.S. colonial expansion after the Spanish-American War. Although a number of anti-imperialists had first opposed the acquisition of island territories during the administration of Ulysses Grant, and others survived to proclaim the faith in the 1920s, anti-imperialism as a movement is limited to the years 1898–1900.

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Many anti-imperialists rejected organizational activity, but a majority claimed membership in one of the branches of the Anti-Imperialist League, which was founded in Boston in November 1898. By 1900 the league claimed to have 30,000 members and more than half a million contributors. Its primary goal was the education of public opinion. The league published hundreds of pamphlets denouncing the acquisition of an island empire and the abandonment of America's unique "mission" to hold before the nations of the world the model of a free and self-governing society. Its members included reformers, educators, labor leaders, and Democratic politicians. George S. Boutwell, Erving Winslow, Edwin Burritt Smith, David Starr Jordan, and Carl Schurz were prominent leaders of the league, and its chief financial contributor was Andrew Carnegie. Other important anti-imperialists included William Jennings Bryan and ex-presidents Benjamin Harrison and Grover Cleveland.

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Although diverse in motives and party affiliation, the anti-imperialists shared common fears and beliefs. They were convinced that imperialism threatened the ideals and institutions of their own country, and many believed that it was unjust to dictate the political goals and institutions of foreign peoples. Although many anti-imperialists shared the racial bias of their imperialist opponents and some urged the expansion of foreign markets as a solution to domestic surplus, for most, racial "difference" did not require racial subordination, nor did trade expansion demand Gunboat Diplomacy. The anti-imperialists typically insisted that it was as wrong for a republic to have colonies as it was for a representative government to have subject peoples. Tyranny abroad, they believed, could only undermine democracy at home. They offered arguments against the constitutionality, economic wisdom, and strategic safety of a policy of insular imperialism. Colonial expansion not only denied the practice of the past, it would waste American resources, undermine the Monroe Doctrine, and embroil the United States in the rivalries of the European powers. Although hampered by having to preach a doctrine of abnegation to a nation of optimists and weakened by a failure to agree on a single policy alternative for the disposition of the Philippine Islands, the anti-imperialists were participants in one of the most intelligently reasoned debates in American history.

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Even though they were important as a moral and educational force, the anti-imperialists must be classified among the political failures of American history. Their labors, along with the heavy cost of the Philippine Insurrection, may have helped to check the territorial ambitions of the more zealous imperialists, but none of the anti-imperialists' immediate goals were secured. The new island territories were officially annexed; President William McKinley easily won reelection in 1900 despite the opposition of the Anti-Imperialist League, and the Philippine Insurrection was mercilessly crushed.

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Beisner, Robert L. Twelve Against Empire: The Anti-Imperialists, 1898–1900. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1968. Reprint, Chicago: Imprint, 1992.

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Tompkins, E. Berkeley. Anti-Imperialism in the United States: The Great Debate, 1890–1920. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1970.

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See alsoImperialism ; andvol. 9:Anti-Imperialist League Platform .

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What is the definition of anti-imperialists? ›

ˌan-tē- : characterized by or expressing opposition to or hostility toward imperialist policies and institutions. In one of the great ironies of history, what became the established religion of empire started as an anti-imperial movement.

Who were the anti-imperialists and what did they believe? ›

The anti-imperialists opposed forced expansion, believing that imperialism violated the fundamental principle that just republican government must derive from "consent of the governed." The League argued that such activity would necessitate the abandonment of American ideals of self-government and non-intervention— ...

What were the main arguments of the anti-imperialists? ›

The league argued against militarization and the creation of an overseas American Empire and asserted that the principles the United States had been founded upon needed to extend to foreign policy as well.

Who were four anti-imperialists? ›

It included among its members such notables as Andrew Carnegie, Mark Twain, William James, David Starr Jordan, and Samuel Gompers with George S. Boutwell, former secretary of the Treasury and Massachusetts, as its president.

What is an example of anti-imperialist? ›

In the United States. An early use of the term "anti-imperialist" occurred after the United States entered the Spanish–American War in 1898. Most activists supported the war itself, but opposed the annexation of new territory, especially the Philippines.

What divided imperialists and anti-imperialists? ›

Imperialists also argued that they had a mission to civilize other areas of the world. Anti-imperialists disagreed with that, believing that imperialism was too expensive, invasive, and distracted governments from improving and defending the homeland.

What are the two best reasons to support anti imperialism? ›

Citizens of European countries with large militaries have fewer rights and freedoms than Americans. A large military is a threat to our democracy. European countries are constantly at war with each other over colonial possessions. Lets avoid such wars by not taking colonies.

What do imperialists believe? ›

Imperialism is the state policy, practice, or advocacy of extending power and dominion, especially by direct territorial acquisition or by gaining political and economic control of other areas, often through employing hard power (economic and military power), but also soft power (cultural and diplomatic power).

Do you think the imperialists were justified? ›

Imperialism was justified using various beliefs, including Social Darwinism, nationalism, the idea of a "civilizing mission," and the goal of converting indigenous populations to a particular religion. These ideologies were used to legitimize the subjugation of other cultures, races, and religions.

What were some of the arguments raised by the anti-imperialists against imperialism? ›

Following the Spanish-American War, anti-imperialists argued that imperialism was morally and politically wrong. Many also saw that racism, the idea that a person's intelligence and character are based on race, was part of imperialism. They argued that imperialism promoted the white, Anglo-Saxon race above all others.

What was the main argument in favor of US imperialism? ›

Answer and Explanation: The most important argument in favor of US imperialism was the financial gain to be had by giving American businesses access to colonial resources and markets.

How did imperialists justify their rule? ›

In the 1800s, European nations acquired great wealth and power from both the natural resources of the lands they conquered and the forced labor of the people from whom they took the land. Imperialists used ideas from eugenics and Social Darwinism to justify their conquests.

Who were the three main imperialist powers? ›

The period between the 18th and 20th centuries in European history is known as the Age of Imperialism. The most active European countries in terms of imperialism were Britain, France, and Germany.

Who were the main imperialists? ›

Between the 15th century and the middle of the 18th, England, France, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain built empires in the Americas, India, and the East Indies. Russia, Italy, Germany, the United States, and Japan became imperial powers in the period from the middle of the 19th century to World War I.

Who was the most important person in imperialism? ›

No. 1: Ghengis Khan (c. 1162-1227) A brilliant and innovative military strategist who united the nomadic tribes of northeast Asia in the 13th century and then turned west and south until the Mongol empire occupied much of modern central Asia and China.

What are 3 examples of US imperialism? ›

U.S. imperialism took a variety of forms in the early 20th century, ranging from colonies in Puerto Rico and the Philippines to protectorates in Cuba, Panama, and other countries in Latin America, and open door policies such as that in China.

Is the US considered imperialist? ›

Although use of the term is controversial, the enormous power of the United States is beyond dispute and most scholars agree that even if the U.S. is not actually an empire, its foreign policy could at various points in its history be characterized as imperial.

What are the four 4 types of imperialism? ›

TEHRAN Today there are at least four types of imperialism in the world, military, political, economic, and cultural. In the past the imperialistic countries used military and political imperialism to establish themselves, and then initiated economic and cultural imperialism.

What are the two theories of imperialism? ›

"(1) the concentration of production and capital has developed to such a high stage that it has created monopolies which play a decisive role in economic life" "(2) the merging of bank capital with industrial capital, and the creation, on the basis of this 'finance capital' of a financial oligarchy"

Who were the biggest imperialists of the war? ›

The British Empire was by far the largest, spanning around one-quarter of the globe at one point. 3. The pre-war period saw European powers scramble to acquire the new colonial possessions. Much of this occurred in Africa, where Britain, France and Germany all vied for land and control.

What were 3 arguments in favor of imperialism? ›

They wanted to improve their reputation among other European countries. They wanted to increase their political power and prestige. Every country was in competition with its rivals. You took territory – simply to prevent your rival from getting it!

What are two negatives of imperialism? ›

New religions were forced upon and native belief was discredited. Most traditional culture and languages were simply wiped away. Natural resources were exploited, without giving actual due. Labor was discriminated and forced into slavery, and had their basic rights taken away.

What is the main purpose of imperialism? ›

Imperialism is when a country extends its power into other territories for economic or political gain. The goal of imperialism is to acquire resources, often through exploitation and force. Motives for imperialism include economic, cultural, political, moral, and exploratory control.

What are the 5 reasons for imperialism? ›

What are the Five Motives for Imperialism? The conquering and occupying of countries around the world was driven by five main motives: exploratory, economic, political, ideological, and religious.

What are the 5 characteristics of imperialism? ›

My analysis is structured according to Lenin's five characteristics of imperialism: (1) the role of economic concentration; (2) the dominance of finance capital; (3) the importance of capital export; (4) the spatial stratification of the world as result of corporate dominance; and (5) the political dimension of the ...

Did imperialism benefit the United States? ›

Economically, imperialism led to the acquisition of new markets and the expansion of trade, which led to increased economic growth. For example, the acquisition of Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines after the Spanish-American War gave the United States control over new markets for trade and investment.

Why did the US claim to be imperialist? ›

Both a desire for new markets for its industrial products and a belief in the racial and cultural superiority of Americans motivated the United States' imperial mission.

Was imperialism a good idea? ›

Imperialism is never considered as a good cause and effect. At first when it occurs it may seem as a positive effect, but in the long run, for example in this case it was a negative effect.

How did the United States respond to imperialism? ›

To curb European imperialism in the Americas, the U.S. issued the Monroe Doctrine. The stated goal was to help protect Latin America from European control. However, it actually led to the U.S. exerting its own control of Latin America without conflict from European powers.

What were 3 economic arguments raised by the anti-imperialists? ›

What were three economic arguments raised by the anti imperialists? Expansion involved too many costs. Maintains the armed forces required more taxation, debt and possibly compulsory, or required military service.

What did anti-imperialists believe quizlet? ›

Anti-imperialists believe that powers of the government should be derived from the people. The subjugation of any people goes against the principles of democracy.

What is the best explanation of imperialism? ›

Imperialism is the state policy, practice, or advocacy of extending power and dominion, especially by direct territorial acquisition or by gaining political and economic control of other territories and peoples.

Does imperialism still exist today? ›

Answer and Explanation: Yes, imperialism still exists. It rarely takes the form of military aggression to control territory, however. Instead, it is usually cultural or economic imperialism.

What is difference between imperialism and colonialism? ›

Colonialism is where one country physically exerts complete control over another country and Imperialism is formal or informal economic and political domination of one country over the other. In a nutshell, colonialism can be thought of as the practice of domination and imperialism as an idea behind the practice.

Who benefited most from imperialism? ›

Answer and Explanation: European colonial powers benefited most from imperialism. These included: Spain, Portugal, France, Britain, Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands.

Who justified imperialism? ›

Americans justified imperialistic behavior by: Claiming that it was their responsibility. Americans and Europeans both claimed that it was their responsibility as superior races to uplift, civilize and Christianize native peoples. This was known as the White Mans Burden and was based upon the ideas of social Darwinism.

What is imperialism in simple words? ›

uncountable noun. Imperialism is a system in which a rich and powerful country controls other countries, or a desire for control over other countries. ...

Who caused American imperialism? ›

American imperialism took off from 1900 to 1914 under the leadership of Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and Woodrow Wilson.

Who was America's leading advocate for imperialism? ›

Admiral Alfred Thayer Mahan, President of the Naval War College, was America's leading advocate for imperial expansion. Theodore Roosevelt was one of Mahan's followers.

What country has the most colonizers? ›

According to, across the world, the dominance of the French as a colonial power was only overshadowed by the British. Between the 19th and 20th centuries, France ruled over colonies that span about 4,980,000 sq.

What is an imperialist person? ›

Imperialistic countries are those that are so determined to build their political and economic power that their governments take advantage of less powerful countries, as well as their own citizens.

What is anti-imperialist quizlet? ›

Terms in this set (4)

Anti-Imperialists. those who opposed annexation of the Phillipines, declaring it unconstitutional to do so.

What is imperialism called today? ›

Colonialism in modern usage also tends to imply a degree of geographic separation between the colony and the imperial power.

What arguments did anti-imperialists use quizlet? ›

Three arguments made against American expansion made by the Anti-Imperialists were that it was unconstitutional to annex other countries. They also said that it was a violation of the Declaration of Independence and would bring unfit people into the US.

What was the main goal of the Anti-Imperialist League quizlet? ›

What was the Anti-Imperialist League? An organization formed in 1898 to fight the Treaty of Paris ending the Spanish-American War. Members opposed acquiring overseas colonies, believing it would subvert American ideals and institutions.

Is anti-imperialism and anti colonialism the same? ›

Anti-imperialism and anti-colonialism denote opposition to empire. Whereas the latter has been mostly understood as opposition to formal colonial rule in a narrow sense, the former has come to be defined ever more expansively.

What were 3 main arguments made against expansion by anti-imperialists? ›

They offered arguments against the constitutionality, economic wisdom, and strategic safety of a policy of insular imperialism.

What were imperialist beliefs? ›

Imperialist ideas

Imperialism is an idea—a belief that a society has a right, and perhaps a duty, to conquer or dominate other places and rule or subjugate other people. But the word is also often used to describe things that actually happen because of these ideas.

Who caused imperialism? ›

Imperialism results from a complex of causes in which in varying degrees economic pressures, human aggressiveness and greed, the search for security, the drive for power and prestige, nationalist emotions, humanitarianism, and many other factors are effective.


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