Humanitarian Motives in 1890s American Imperialism
An examination of how much humanitarian concerns played a role in American diplomacy in the 1890s.
“American foreign policy was the result of a multitude of causes. Among the most important influences upon American foreign policy were business and popular sentiment. Business desired an expansionist policy to provide a market for their exports. Popular sentiment also demanded empire; the atrocities of foreign butchers, such as Weyler in Cuba, were intolerable and the humanitarian nature of the American character required that the United States act decisively. At times, these two forces worked in opposition to each other. For instance, American businessmen with over $50 million invested in Cuba and that imported over $100 million worth of goods annually feared that military action in Cuba could jeopardize their interests. The eventual outbreak of the Spanish-American war, incited in part by rage of Spain’s inhumane policies, proves the power of humanitarianism in shaping diplomacy during the late nineteenth century.”