The Birth of American Imperialism by Thomas DiLorenzo

In The Costs of War (edited by John Denson), historian Joseph Stromberg referred to the Spanish-American War of 1898 as a “trial run” for the American empire. The war had nothing to do with national defense and was purely an act of imperialism on the part of the U.S. government, which gained control over Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippine Islands.

It led the renowned late nineteenth-century libertarian scholar, William Graham Sumner of Yale, to compose a famous essay entitled “The Conquest of the United States by Spain.” The essay described how the war transformed America from a constitutional republic into an imperialist power, just like the old Spanish Empire it defeated in the war.

Sumner also forecast what was to come, and what America is today: the policeman of the world, with a military presence in over 100 countries, with endless meddling in the affairs of just about everyone on the planet. As he wrote in War and Other Essays, “We were told that we needed Hawaii in order to secure California. What shall we now take in order to secure the Philippines? . . . . We shall need to take China, Japan, and the East Indies . . . . in order to ‘secure’ what we have. Of course this means that . . . we must take the whole earth in order to be safe on any party of it, and the fallacy stands exposed.”

Stromberg’s analysis of the importance of the Spanish-American War as a “trial run” for American imperialism is an astute analysis, but the real trial run actually occurred more than thirty years earlier during what Stromberg called the U.S. government’s war against “internal independent nations,” i.e., the Plains Indians. That is where the real template of American imperialism was set, with its demonization of the Indians as inhuman “wild beasts”; the mass murder of everyone and everything, women, children, and animals included; and the policy of unconditional surrender. Indeed, it may even be argued that the War to Prevent Southern Independence was inself a “trial run” for the twenty-five year war on the Plains Indians.

Sherman’s War of Extermination

As soon as the War to Prevent Southern Independence was concluded the U.S. government commenced a new war against the Plains Indians. On June 27, 1865, barely two months after the end of the war, General William Tecumseh Sherman was given command of the Military District of the Missouri, which was one of five military divisions the government had divided the country into. There was never any attempt to hide the fact that the war against the Plains Indians was, first and foremost, an indirect subsidy to the government-subsidized transcontinental railroads. Railroad corporations were the financial backbone of the Republican Party, which essentially monopolized national politics from 1865 to 1913, beginning with the election of the first Republican President, the renowned railroad industry lawyer/lobbyist, Abraham Lincoln of the Illinois Central.

General Sherman wrote in his memoirs (p. 775) that as soon as the war ended, “My thoughts and feelings at once reverted to the construction of the great Pacific Railway . . . . I put myself in communication with the parties engaged in the work, visiting them in person, and I assured them that I would afford them all possible assistance and encouragement.” “We are not going to let a few thieving, ragged Indians check and stop the progress [of the railroads],” Sherman wrote to Ulysses S. Grant in 1867 (See Michael Fellman, Citizen Sherman, p. 264).

Lincoln’s old personal friend Grenville Dodge, who he had appointed as a military general, initially recommended that slaves be made of the Indians so that they could be forced to dig the railroad beds from Iowa to California (See Dee Brown, Hear that Lonesome Whistle Blow, p. 64). The government decided instead to try to murder as many Indians as possible, women and children included, and then to imprison the survivors in concentration camps euphemistically called “reservations.”

When he became president, Grant made his old pal Sherman the commanding general of the U.S. Army and another “Civil War” luminary, General Phillip Sheridan, assumed command on the ground in the West.

“Thus the great triumvirate of the Union Civil War effort,” writes Fellman (P. 260), “formulated and enacted military Indian policy until reaching, by the 1880s, what Sherman sometimes referred to as ‘the final solution of the Indian problem’” (emphasis added). Other former Union Army officers joined in the slaughter. This included John Pope, O.O. Howard, Nelson Miles, Alfred Terry, E.O.C. Ord, C.C. Augur, Edward Canby, George Armstrong Custer, Benjamin Garrison, and Winfield Scott Hancock…..


via The Birth of American Imperialism by Thomas DiLorenzo.




Empire of Liberty – McMaken





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About Gunny G

GnySgt USMC (Ret.) 1952--'72 PC: History, Poly-Tiks, Military, Stories, Controversial, Unusual, Humorous, etc.... "Simplify...y'know!"
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