SURF

Sophia Brown-Heidenreich

The Samoan Crisis and the Development of U.S. Imperialism

Among U.S. foreign policy historians, the Spanish-American War of 1898 marks a commonly accepted turning point for the course of U.S. expansion and the countrys status as a great power in the European-led international system. Newer scholarship, however, has reevaluated the wars centrality for American imperial ascendance, and this project seeks to contribute to these efforts by scrutinizing an earlier moment in American history. Through an analysis of a conflict which brought the Cleveland administration to the brink of war with Bismarcks Germany, I intend to examine the intellectual influences upon the evolving and centralizing American federal government. Such influences, evident in the response to the Samoan Crisis of 18871889, enabled the projection of American power overseasenabled, in other words, American imperialism. By examining the ideas circulating among legislators and government reformers at the time, this project strives to understand just how imperially-minded the U.S. was in the post-Civil War years and how conceptions of European colonization affected their own foreign policy choices.

Message to Sponsor

I would like to thank the Wishek Fund for granting me the opportunity to research a field of history that is not only so relevant to the lives of millions, but also one that is marked by unexplored corners that I have had the privilege of daylighting. SURF not only made it possible for me to dedicate myself wholeheartedly to the study of imperialism, but also gave me the tools to do so properly. An outstandingly well-organized program, SURF made me feel lucky to have been connected to the graduate student mentors who aided my academic pursuits during this time. Moreover, I have been inspired to do further research on this topic and beyond by the other scholars around me. I will be continuing this research for my senior thesis and hope not only to use it as a part of my graduate school application but also to see it published. Thank you so much for supporting me in this moment of intellectual growth.
  • Major: History
  • Sponsor: Wishek Fund
  • Mentor: Daniel Sargent