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Please critique my DBQ!

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ABTBluebird's picture
Joined: Jan 2007
Please critique my DBQ!

Here is a DBQ that I wrote in class today. It took me about 40 minutes to write after oranizing it for 15 minutes. I also used a limited amount of notes.

At the end of the DBQ I ran out of time, so I don't think the quality is very good. In addition to other comments, how could I have more effectively ended this? Also, this is my first DBQ (I blame this on my horrible teacher), and I don't know if I gave reference to the documents in the right way.

I also wrote 2 essays that are in the thread titled AP essay exam practice questions.

Don't worry, I know I have posted 3 things in the past week to be critqued, but I won't normally do this!

Thanks for any insight you give!

The question was:
Was U.S. imperialism at the turn of the twentieth century based on arrogance and superiority or did it reflect a humanitarian concern for the nations of South American and the Pacific?

DBQ—Imperialism (late 1800s/early1900s)
At the turn of the twentieth century, America turned away from isolationism to become an imperial power. Although there were many causes for this sudden change in United States policy, the major one was the arrogance and superiority of the confident U. S.
The U.S. had finished with reconstruction following the Civil War. Eyes now turned from domestic struggles to conflicts abroad. Many Americans felt that America either had to expand or explode. There was a new sense of power felt that had been brought on by the increasing wealth, population, and productive capacity of the country. The Yellow Press published scandals and portrayed imperialism as manly adventures. This brought the public to thirst for new territory. Missionaries wanted to convert and civilize foreign nations. Believers in Darwinism saw imperialism as necessary; it was right for the strongest and the fittest to lord over the weak. America, stronger and more powerful than ever, was up to the challenge. As illustrated in Document G, Alfred Tayler Mahan defines sea power as key to dominance. He convinced Americans that wealth and greatness depended on a country’s navy. An excited America viewed outside territories with lust. Uncle Sam readied himself to order new possessions (Doc. B) from McKinley. This would later cause political indigestion.
From the outset, a new aggressive national mood was present. America was willing to risk war over small squabbles, as shown in 18889 with Germany over the Samoan Islands, in 1891 with Ital over the lynching of 11 Americans, in 1892 with Chile over two American deaths, and in 1893 with Canada over seal hunting. Americans were impatient and became “war-mad.” This is shown in the Maine explosion. The U.S. Maine had been sent to Havana harbor to protect Americans in Cuba. When the ship exploded, Americans accepted the least likely explanation that Spain had exploded it. Even though evidence was against this (the explosion really was due to an internal problem on the ship), the U.S. declared war on Spain.
In the Venezuelan/Guiana dispute, Richard Olney used the Monroe Doctrine to say that in trying to take over more land in the area, Britain was defying the Monroe Doctrine. He proclaimed the U.S. now called the tune in the Western Hemisphere. This is illustrated in Doc. D. The U.S. passed the Big Sister Policy, which rallied Latin American nations behind the U.S. and opened Latin American markets to Yankee traders. America saw itself as the new leading power in the world.
At the outset of the Spanish-American war, Dewey and his fleet defeated the Spanish fleet at Mila Port at the Philippines. During the treaty that ended the war, McKinley bowed to the public demand of acquiring this territory. The Filipinos were very poor, and they were not given freedom. McKinley refused to give them their independence. America had gotten into the war with Spain because the latter was misruling Cuba. This was bad for the U.S>; she had an investment of $50 million and an annual trade stake of $100 million in it. Also, shipping routes of the West Indies, the Gulf of Mexico, and the future canal were at stake. America fought of this with the excuse that it wanted democracy for Cubans. When it eventually set Cuba free in 1902 (honoring the Teller Amendment), it passed the Platt Amendment. As shown in Doc. H, this document allowed the U.S. to intervene in Cuba if its independence was threatened. Also, Cuba had to sell/lease coaling or naval stations to the U.S. America just couldn’t let go. She wanted to have a say in Cuban affairs and take advantage of Cuba’s coaling/naval stations. In the Foraker Act of 1900, America only gave a limited degree of popular sovereignty to the newly acquired Puerto Rico. It belatedly granted citizenship. The U.S. didn’t give the freedom Puerto Rico desired—this went against America’s earliest Democratic principles.
Some though that U.S. imperialism was based on humanitarian concern for Latin American countries. McKinley himself denied any U.S. feeling of land hunger and said America held nations for the welfare of their economy and prosperity. He also said they would only intervene in necessary (Doc. 5). This is not true; as shown in the Platt Amendment and near-war experiences of the late 1800s, America was war-mad.
The platform of the Anti-Imperialist League sums up the situation well (Doc. A). America was hostile to liberty, disloyal, engaged in militarism, and went against the 1776 spirit in dealing with the Philippines. Any claims of a genuine humanitarian concern are thrust aside when the evidence is closely examined. The new and prosperous U.S., for better or for worse, lad awoken and was hungry for more power.

ABTBluebird's picture
Joined: Jan 2007


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