What is American Colonialism?
American colonialism refers to the control and exploitation of territories and peoples of the Americas by Europeans, chiefly from the United States of America, from the period of colonization during the 17th century through to the early 20th century Colonialism is a phenomenon that has shaped the history, culture and economics of many countries. It involves a range of policies and practices including political, economic, social and cultural domination of the people and territories being colonized. American colonialism brought with it ideas of trade and commerce, power and domination, and even ideas of racial and cultural superiority.
Examples of American Colonialism
1. The United States and the Spanish-American War: The Spanish-American War was the first major conflict in which the United States directly intervened in the internal affairs of another nation. The war was fought between the U.S. and Spain and resulted in the U.S. acquiring control of several Spanish colonies in the Caribbean and the Pacific. This was a major example of American colonialism as it ushered in a period of U.S. economic and political control of formerly Spanish-controlled territories.
2. The US and the Philippines: The US acquired the Philippines from Spain after the Spanish-American War and maintained political and economic control over the islands for nearly 50 years. During this period the US imposed its own economic policies, infrastructure and cultural norms. The Philippines, as an American colony, became an important strategic location for the US military, and a major source of minerals, timber and agricultural products for the American economy.
3. US and Puerto Rico: Puerto Rico was ceded to the US in 1898 as part of the Treaty of Paris which ended the Spanish-American War. The US maintained political and economic control of Puerto Rico until 1952, when it was granted commonwealth status. During its years as a US colony, Puerto Rico experienced a period of rapid economic development and social reforms, although these reforms came at the cost of an American cultural and political imposition.
4. US and Hawaii: Hawaii was an independent kingdom until 1898 when it was annexed by the US. The US maintained control of all aspects of Hawaii’s government and economy until 1959 when it was granted statehood. During the years of American colonialism in Hawaii, the US imposed its own laws, customs, and economy on the islands, and limited the political and economic rights of native Hawaiians.
5. US and Guam: Guam was claimed by the US in 1898 and remains an unincorporated territory of the US to this day. The US has maintained political and economic control over Guam, and has imposed its own laws, customs and economy on the island and its people. While Guam has seen some economic growth since becoming an American colony, many of the native Chamorro people’s political and economic rights have been limited.