American Imperialism When the early Americans fulfilled their destiny by expanding itself from sea to shining sea, it still did not feel complete. While the nation now touched both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, the 1890s brought about an era where an intense need to expand for trade and natural resources. The expansion ideology was fueled by Social Darwinism and the desire for a stronger military. Social Darwinism supported the idea of natural selection; strong nations should control weaker ones (Bowles, 2011). A stronger military would call for the building of a larger navy as well as establishing an American military presence around the world. The first major expansion outside of the continental US was the purchase of Alaska in 1865, but expansion across the ocean finally came when a little kingdom called Hawai’i entered the picture.
From the beginning of America’s dealings with Hawaii, it looks like America took the ideals of social Darwinism to heart by completely taking over the “weaker” nation. Trade between America and the Kingdom of Hawai’i, under the leadership of King David Kalākaua, increased when the Reciprocity Treaty of 1875 came into play. The treaty gave Hawai’i duty free access to the US market for sugar and other products grown in the Kingdom of Hawai’i in return for the Pu’u Loa area, which later became known as Pearl Harbor naval base (Reciprocity Treaty, 1875). This area gave the US a place to stage its naval fleet; control of Hawai’i would be both economically and militarily vital. Upon the death of Kalākaua, his sister Lili’uokalani assumed the throne. As Queen of Hawai’i, she was pressed by the people to draft a new constitution to replace the 1887 Constitution of the Kingdom of Hawai’i. The 1887 Constitution, also known as the “Bayonet Constitution,” which was signed by Kalākaua under threat of military action, robbed the Hawaiian monarchy of much of its power by transforming it into a constitutional monarchy (Hawaiian Constitution, 1887). Queen Lili’uokalani wanted to restore the monarchy to its previous power, but ultimately, the Kingdom of Hawai’i was overthrown by an anti-monarchial group comprised mostly of Americans. Queen Lili’uokalani abdicated her throne peacefully, but not without protest. Lili’uokalani wrote a letter to Sanford Dole, the president of the emplaced provisional government, which states:
I, LILIUOKALANI, by the Grace of God, and under the Constitution of the Hawaiian Kingdom, Queen, do hereby solemnly protest against any and all acts done against myself and the constitutional Government of the Hawaiian Kingdom by certain persons claiming to have established a Provisional Government of and for this Kingdom. That I yield to the superior force of the United States of America whose Minister Plenipotentiary, His Excellency John L. Stevens, has caused United States troops to be landed at Honolulu and declared that he would support the said Provisional Government. Now to avoid any collision of armed forces, and perhaps the loss of life, I do this under protest, and impelled by said force yield my authority until such time as the Government of the United States shall, upon facts being presented to it, undo the action of its representative and reinstate me in the