The spanish American war was a changing point for America because it highlighted the nation’s growing military might to the world. When Vice President, Theodore Roosevelt took office after President William McKinley was assassinated, he quickly moved to capitalize on America’s new-found influence.
- War broke out between the Japanese and Russia in 1904. American leaders were concerned that the Japanese might move into the Philippines, an American colony. President Roosevelt met with Russian and Japanese leaders in Portsmouth, New Hampshire to work out a treaty of peace, ending the fighting between the two countries. Roosevelt was awarded the Nobel Prize for his efforts and the U.S., for the first time, took on the role of mediator between warring countries.
- President Roosevelt often quoted an old African proverb, “Walk softly and carry a big stick,” which means, “Work for peace, but be prepared for war.” In December, 1907, he sent a group of 16 battleships on a world-wide cruise. “The Great White Fleet,” as it was called, gave the world a clear picture of the U.S.’s military might – or big stick.
- European powers were interested in expanding trade with China, which as the world’s most populous country, was a rich source of business. The European leaders wanted to restrict China’s trade so that certain areas of China would trade with certain parts of Europe. Secretary of State, John Hay, saw that the U.S. would be left out of these business arrangements. He sent letters to European leaders asking them to allow free trade for all countries with China. The European leaders consented, another sign that they recognized America’s strength.
- After the Spanish-American War, the U.S. gained the Philippines and Hawaii, giving it more power and influence in the Pacific and Asia. The navy wanted a way to send ships easily from the Atlantic to Pacific Oceans. President Roosevelt authorized the building of the Panama Canal, a 40-mile long canal that ran through the Isthmus of Panama. The U.S. government paid Panama $10 million plus an annual fee of $250,000.
- Capitalize: take advantage of
- Assassinate: murder of a prominent leader
- Restrict: limit
Questions and Answers
Question: How long did it take to build the Panama Canal?
Answer: The French originally started work on the Panama Canal, but that venture failed. Americans took over the project in 1904 and completed it in 1914. Over 25,000 workers died during the building of the canal, most from tropical diseases or accidents.
Visit Time Magazine Kids to see the Panama Canal today.
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