American Foreign Policy in the Late 19th/Early 20th Century

Timeline created by Martha Brozyna
In History
  • US Purchases Alaska from Russia

    Secretary of State, William Seward bought Alaska for $7.2 million. Seward envisioned an American Empire that would stretch from south into Latin America and west to the shores of Asia.
  • Cubans Seek Independence from Spain

    Cubans begin to fight first of 3 wars with Spain for their independence.
  • USS Maine Explodes

    As the press released information about Spanish atrocities against the Cubans, Pres. McKinley sent the battleship to Havana. The situation seemed to be defused until the ship was destroyed and the entire crew of 266 men died. The press blamed the Spanish, while later evidence showed that the explosion was probably caused internally and not by Spanish torpedoes. This event will lead to war.
  • Teddy Roosevelt and His Rough Riders Go to Cuba

    Future Pres. Roosevelt recruited a group of Ivy League grads, cowboys, NYC policmen to fight in the Spanish American War. While the Rough Riders captured public attention, other units were more effective. Although an African American unit, played the crucial role in capturing San Juan Hill, this battle was associated with the Rough Riders thanks to Roosevelt's self-serving and well-promoted account of the conflict.
  • Filipino Insurgents Declare Independence from Spain

    Cooperating with the Americans, the Filipinos led by Emilio Aguinaldo drove the Spanish out of many of the Philippine islands. The insurgents helped to guide the Americans into Manila Bay, which brought Aguinaldo from Hong Kong, in order to lead a native uprising against Spain. Aguinaldo established local governments with appointed provincial governors.
  • Spanish American War Begins

    The US intervenes in Cuba. Although the war between Spain and the US ended after 10 weeks, there were difficulties along the way. Many in the American army were poorly trained, led, and supplied. More than 5,000 Americans died of illness and accidents brought on by mismanagement by the War Department while only 379 killed in actual battle.
  • Philippine-American War Begins

    After the defeat of Spain in the Philippines, Pres. McKinley would not recognize an independent Philippines. He didn't believe that the country was ready, which resulted in the outbreak of war. Within a few months, the American army had defeated the Filipino army, but they were not victorious. Aguinaldo and his advisers shifted to guerrilla tactics, striking suddenly and then melting into the jungle or friendly native villages. There were atrocities committed on both sides.
  • Secretary John Hay Announces Open Door Policy with China

    This policy established free trade between the US and China and attempted to bring in the major European and Asian nations in recognizing the territorial integrity of China. Nations possessing a sphere of influence would respect the rights of other nations in that sphere. Moreover, the Chinese government would continue to collect tariff duties in all spheres.
  • Taft Becomes Governor of the Philippines

    In March 1901, 5 American soldiers tricked their way into Aguinaldo's camp in the mountains and took him prisoner. Back in Manila, he signed a proclamation urging his people to end fighting. In July, authority was transferred from the army to William Taft, who became governor. McKinley reaffirmed his purpose to grant the Filipinos self-government as soon as they were "deemed" ready for it.
  • US Seeks to Buy Land from Colombia for Canal

    Pres. Teddy Roosevelt attempted to get Colombia to sell a canal zone to the US, as it had earlier agreed to do, for $10 million and an annual payment of $250,000; Colombia sought more money. Roosevelt exploited the Panamanians anger at Colombia by enticing them to revolt. American forces ensured that Colombia would be unable to land troops in Panama.
  • Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty

    Panama granted the US control of a canal zone 10 miles wide across the Isthmus of Panama. In return, the US guaranteed the independence of Panama and agreed to pay the same fees offered Colombia. Panama became a US protectorate, which it remained until 1939.
  • Roosevelt Articulates Corollary in State of the Union Address

    Because of European involvement in Latin American affairs, Roosevelt stated that the US needed to be an international police. This was in reaction to Venezuela defaulting on loans to Europe causing the British and German to blockade it In 1905 Roosevelt invoked his corollary and imposed American management of debts in the Dominican Republic.
  • Treaty of Portsmouth Negotiated

    In 1904, Russian and Japan went to war over Manchuria (northeastern China). Concerned about the balance of power in the area, Roosevelt mediated the conflict because, over time, Russian was losing and Japan was becoming financially drained. In the treaty, Japan got control half the Russian island of Sakhalin, control of Russia's sphere of influence in Manchuria and domination over Korea. Roosevelt won the Nobel Peace Prize for his involvement.
  • First Example of "Dollar Diplomacy" by Pres. Taft

    Taft proposed "substituting dollars for bullets" by using government action to encourage private American investments in Latin America to promote development and stability. Between 1909 and 1913, American investments in the Caribbean increased to a total of $1.5 billion. This policy, though, failed to improve conditions for most Latin Americans.