Shadowing British imperialism: Origins of the U.S. open door policy, 1890-1899



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Free trade ideology found in the U.S. Open Door Policy originated from free trade advocates championing British Liberalism. Examining free trade advocates’ rhetoric in U.S. periodicals between 1890 and 1899 revealed that free trade ideology traveled from Great Britain to the United States. Each chapter provided evidence that ideas from Great Britain influenced the free trade debates. Additionally, each period displayed different themes. Between 1890 and 1894 free trade advocates introduced British Liberal ideology to the United States. Between 1895 and 1896 the Venezuelan Crisis reinforced that free trade advocates in Great Britain and the United States worked together. The Venezuelan Crisis also established divisions between free trade advocates, and affected how free trade advocates would champion free trade in the future. Between 1897 and 1899 the free trade debates presented dichotomous themes. Free trade advocates established connections between Great Britain and the United States in order to persuade Americans that free trade would work in the United States. At the same time, American free trade advocates placed boundaries on the comparisons between the two nations. Thus, the dichotomous themes produced the nationalized uniqueness found in the U.S. Open Door Policy.

U.S. imperialists’ by late 1899 adopted aspects of free trade advocates’ ideas. This was the greatest consequence of the free trade debates. Specifically, the free trade debates helped American imperialists conceive obtaining markets through new tactics. American imperialists, frustrated with their colonial bouts, adopted aspects of free trade advocates’ ideology. American imperialists incorporated free trade advocates ideas into a policy that would supposedly obtain markets without territorial acquisitions or colonies. American imperialists were able to adopt free trade advocates’ ideas, because fundamentally, both groups held similar views about race, capitalism, and the desire for U.S. global domination. Thus, the free trade advocates leant to the creation of the U.S. Open Door Policy, a shadow of British imperialism.