The growth of the industrial economy in the US had widespread implications for how the US interacted with the rest of the Western World around them. The industrial revolution in Europe had fundamentally changed how different countries interacted and relied on each other for not just trade exports, raw materials, labor and production technology but also for domestic imports. The industrial revolution changed the way that production could be expanded, leading to increased interaction between countries. For the US, the industrial revolution changed the way that cities manufactured groups and how domestically the country interacted. The railroad network fundamentally changed how goods were delivered and unskilled labor became fully utilized across the country. The changes in the industrial economy of the US during 1865 and 1930 permeated to different foreign relations and different mechanisms of trade. The industrial revolution created new obstacles that forced the Americans to look elsewhere in the world. The large scale production of larger quantities of merchandise required more raw materials as well as more markets to deliver to. As a result, the Americans began to look towards other areas.
Many changes occurred with the rapid growth of the industrial economy. The potential of the wealth of natural resources of the United States became fully realized as coal, oil and iron became integral aspects of production across the country and the world, forming empires for those who managed it and turning them into millionaires. By 1900, the United States became the foremost producer of steel, supplying one third of the world’s supply, especially with the founding of the Bessemer- Kelly process which processed steel cheaply and efficiently. This industrial expansion was matched with abundant natural resources used in making of steel such as coal, iron and fuel ((Kennedy, Cohen & Bailey, 2006), making the United States a leader in exporting resources for production in other countries.
The growth in the industrial economy also gave the United States more power and standing in international relations as well as a liquid capital generated from trade and growth. As a result, the US was able to expand their interests in the guise of “manifest destiny”. This included the purchase of Alaska and Hawaii as well as US expansion in the Pacific such as Cuba, the Dominican Republic, the Virgin Islands, Samoa and the Midway Islands, which allowed them to gain more natural resources to fuel expansion as well as gain footholds in other areas of the world. Secondly, the expansion in the Pacific allowed the US to pursue more favorable trade agreements that allowed them to seek new markets and raw materials (“America’s rise to world power,” 2011). This expansion showed that the industrial economic growth allowed the US to develop more over reaching interests abroad and changed how the US related to the rest of the world outside their borders.
In Cuba, the United States developed huge financial interests in mining and sugar capabilities that became jeopardized by the Spanish in the Cuban war for independence. As a result, the US became involved in Cuba in the Spanish American War. By working with the rebels and calling for the rights of Cubans, the United States also sought to guard their own economic interests of expansion. Ultimately, the Spanish American War, with the Treaty of Paris in 1898, not only gave Cuba independence from Spain but also allowed the United States to expand even further into the Pacific. The US was able to buy Guam, the Philippines and Puerto Rico for $20 million (“American’s rise to world power,” 2011).
This war and purchase also established the US as a naval power in the Pacific with both interest and responsibility in becoming a “gatekeeper” to the rest of the world as part of enforcing the Monroe Doctrine. This included intervention in the Boxer Rebellion in China as well as American involvement in the Russo Japanese War. President Roosevelt intervened on behalf of the economic interests of both the United States and Western Europe, ending the Russo-Japanese War with the Treaty of Portsmouth and establishing American dominance and reputation as a mediator in other countries. This also established an open door policy in which all countries were allowed to trade with China to drive their own economic development (“America’s rise to world power,” 2011).
In South America, trade interests from the rapid economic growth spurred the United States to negotiate for the ability to develop trade routes in Colombia, notably through the Panama Canal. The Hay-Buneau- Varilla Treaty allowed the United States to build a 10 mile strip in Panama in return for $10 million with $250,000 annually. The Panama Canal allowed the US to trade with South America as well as gave America dominance and control over trade in South America. It also established Roosevelt’s “big stick” diplomacy, which was perceived as an imperialistic dominance over smaller, less powerful nations especially in Latin America (“America’s rise to world power,” 2012).
Most of all, the economic expansion and growth of the time period established the United States as the land of opportunity. As a country that seemed to generate more and more millionaires during the late 19th century, to immigrants from the rest of the world, the US became seen as the land of riches and of opportunity. As a result, combined with the need for labor, Chinese immigrants arrived to build railroads while other cultures and ethnicities stayed to work in factories and aid in expansion.
In conclusion, the economic growth of the United States created shifting perspectives on the US role in diplomacy. The growth of industry and trade from 1865 to the 1930s created a need for raw materials as well as markets for the US to expand to. As a result, the US developed international interests in Asia that changed the role of the US from indifference to gatekeeper. This in turn started to facilitate US involvement in other countries and wars in order to further their own interests, shaping many of the events in the world we see today.
Kennedy, D, Cohen, L, & Bailey, T. (2006). The American pageant, a history of the republic. (13 Ed.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin College Div. Retrieved from http://www.emayzine.com/lectures/Indust~1.htm
America’s rise to world power 1865-1920. (2012, February 19). Retrieved from http://www.academicamerican.com/recongildedage/topics/gildedagepolitics.html