The Poet

The Poet

Academic Page; Profits, the Basis of America’s World Power by Ronald Porter ©2017

Okay, I know nobody cares about academic writing these days. However, i want to provide a variety of types of writing so, I post a page of scholastic work along with the creative writing. So, here is a Semester thesis paper i wrote for a history class back in 2006. Yes I did get an A grade and I hated having to use MLA notation instead of the much better APA system. It's like using a horse and buggy instead of an automobile.

Ronald S. Porter
Hist-204, History of Western Civilization After 1776
Instructor: Britt Justman
Thesis paper
Profits the Basis of America’s World Power
December 8, 2006 

The United States of America did not become a world power by accident. Its rise from an agrarian based society to a superpower was the result of a plan created to accomplish that very purpose. The political, economic and military might with which the U.S. dominated the world stage in the twentieth century originates in a strategy concocted prior to the American civil war. As American industry grew and the frontier vanished, the capitalists of the United States began looking to foreign lands as new markets in which to sell their products. A plan emerged to make our nation able to compete in those new markets. The same plan ensured an increase in military and political might as well. As a result it was the desire for profit, on the part of American businesses, that made the United States the lone superpower in the world today.
One man, Alfred Thayer Mahan, designed the blueprint for America’s ascendancy to world power. Mahan graduated from the Newport Naval War College in1859 and headed the Newport Naval War College for more than twenty years. He wrote several major books, in which he summarized his beliefs, which made him the most influential naval strategist of his era. It was Mahan who pointed how vital a large navy was to any nation striving for world power. He also demonstrated, in his books, how important was the connection between a strong navy and economic growth.

 Divine, et al. America Past and Present. (p. 610)
Mahan presented a simple and persuasive argument: industrialism produced large surpluses of both agricultural and manufactured goods, markets must be found for these surpluses and this involved distant ports, to carry products to far away markets the United States needed a large merchant fleet, a large navy to protect it and coaling stations and repair yards to service both fleets.
 Ibid Mahan’s analysis of history concluded that great powers were those that had strong navies and merchant marines. Further he contended that to maintain such fleets a nation needed stations under their own control where the ships could be serviced. He believed the U.S. must acquire such coaling stations throughout the world and urged the U.S. forward in building a strong navy
 Alfred Thayer Mahan Mahan believed all great nations were involved worldwide struggle for power and that to compete in that struggle the U.S. had to expand. To accomplish this the United States needed “… strategic bases, a powerful oceangoing navy, a canal across the isthmus to link the East Coast with the Pacific, and Hawaii as a way station on the route to Asia.”
At that time Hawaii was America’s one sole to Asia markets. American missionaries had gone there in 1820 to Christianize the natives and other settlers had quickly followed. These settlers and their children came to dominate the political and economic life of the Islands. It was economic policy that allowed the United States to strengthen its connections with Hawaii and ultimately annex the chain of islands. The reciprocity treaty of 1875 ensured that Hawaiian sugar could enter the states duty free. However it also ensured that the Hawaiian monarchy could not make any economic or territorial concessions to other countries, effectively making it an American protectorate. And, the treaty gave the U.S. exclusive use of the harbor at Pearl Harbor. America now had a coaling station from which it could carry its goods to market in Asia. Hawaii become increasingly economically dependent on the U.S. at the same time that white Hawaiians were gaining more political influence. A conflict with a new monarch, the strongly nationalistic Queen Liliuokalani, led to a revolt by American residents of Hawaii. The Americans asked for help from the United States, U.S. forces intervened allowing the Americans to seize control.
 Ibid. (pp.608-609) The imposition of U.S. power over Hawaii turned on the axis of American economic expansion. With Hawaii under U.S. dominance the first phase was completed.
 An uprising flared in Cuba, against its rulers in Spain, in 1898. When the U.S. battleship Maine exploded in Havana Harbor, American blamed the Spanish and declared war on Spain, on April 25, 1898. Spain, already declining in international power quickly was defeated in what some Americans came to regard as “a splendid little” war.
 Wright, (p. 5) The war had lasted ten weeks from June to August and, fighting ended with the signing of the protocol of Peace on August 12. On December 10 of the same year The Treaty of Paris, between Spain and the United States was signed, bringing about the formal end to the conflict. The treaty ceded several former Spanish territories to the United States and America became, for the first time, a colonial empire.
 Devine. (pp. 613; 620)
The consolidation of the new American empire had begun before the conclusion of the “Splendid Little War”. By a joint resolution of the two Houses of Congress (bypassing the treaty process which called for a two-thirds majority in the Senate), Hawaii was annexed on July 7. This was done at the urging of prominent Americans who asserted that the “Hawaiian Islands were necessary to the defense of the Philippines which in turn were necessary to defend American interests in the Far East”.
 Wright (p. 5)
“In 1898, at the end of the Spanish American War, the United States was thrust into the mainstream of international affairs and gained status as a world power, acquiring as possessions the Philippines and Guam in the Pacific, then Puerto Rico in the Caribbean.”
 McKiney. (¶4)          

Having acquired the bases to project American merchant and military fleets into the Asia, the United States used political means to create new markets for the surpluses it produced. China, at the end of the nineteenth century, was in a shambles both politically and economically. The imperial nations were seeking to cut the weak giant into “spheres of influence” in which each would exercise sole trading rights. Having secured a springboard into China, President McKinley now pursed an “open door” policy that would allow all nations to trade in the Chinese market. Secretary of State John Hay circulated diplomatic notes among the major powers calling for the establishment of equal trading rights to all nations in all of China and recognition of China’s sovereignty. This was designed neutralize the power of countries who had existing spheres of influence, putting all nations on an equal footing. Although none of the nations involved endorsed the policy, Hay announced to the world that the agreement had been made.
 The Open Door Policy. (¶ 2-3) By this subterfuge the United States, which had no sphere of influence in China, gained for itself equal access to Chinese markets and their profits. Had the U.S. not done so it possibly would have been excluded from future commercial activities in China: “Hay was simply trying to protect the prospects of American businessmen and investors.”
 Ibid (¶ 5)
The Spanish American War had made the United States a world economic and military power. Experiences during the war had also made clear the need for more rapid deployment of her naval fleet. It took in excess of two months to go from New York to California by traveling around cape horn. The final piece of Mahan’s plan, a canal across the isthmus, would reduce the voyage by 8,000 miles.
 Panama and the Canal. (¶ 2)
The U.S. had long been interested in the ideal of a canal across Central America. France had started construction of a canal across Panama in the 1880’s but had given up after experiencing engineering problems, tropical diseases and a diminishing treasury. The French difficulties had shifted interest, on the part of Congress, toward Nicaragua. Backers of the Panama route contributed heavily to the Republican Party and lobbied against the Nicaragua plan. The Panama route won the backing of Republican President Teddy Roosevelt and his secretary of state John Hay. When Columbia balked at providing the land needed for construction the United States backed a Panamanian revolt, with military might, and negotiated a treaty with the newly formed Republic to move forward with construction. In 1904, construction on the Panama Canal began. That same year the United States acquired the harbor at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. A naval base was established there, from which America could project its naval force eastward into the Atlantic, west into the Gulf of Mexico and south to Central and South America. The base at Guantanamo has always been and continues to be one of America’s key strategic bases.
As America established its coaling stations in the Caribbean and Pacific it also grew the Navy that would use them. In the 1870s the United States had had almost no naval power. By 1880 of the two thousands vessels belonging to the U.S. Navy only forty-eight could even fire a gun. Things changed in the 1880s, as a group of rising young officers, disciples of Alfred Mahan, argued the need for fast aggressive fleets capable of fighting across seas. Noting the growing fleets of great powers like France, Great Britain and Germany, advocates of naval expansion contended that U.S. needed a big navy to protect its economic interests in the Caribbean and Pacific.
Mahan inspired a generation of policymakers in the U.S. including Benjamin F. Tracy, who became secretary of the navy in 1889. In this role he created the Naval Reserve, ordered construction of the first American submarine and organized the Bureau of Construction and repair to design and build new ships. Tracy also made changes in naval armaments and munitions, adopting heavy rapid-fire guns, smokeless powder and heavy armor. His highest priority was to build a fleet of far ranging battleships capable of attacking enemies far from home. Allied with other big-navy supporters he pushed Congress to provide such a fleet. Tracy wanted an Atlantic fleet of twelve battleships along with a Pacific fleet of eight. In the end he got four first class battleships. However Tracy continued to push for greater naval power and with great success. When he entered office in 1889 the U.S had the world’s twelfth ranked navy. In 1893, when he left office the American navy was seventh and rising. By 1900 the United States ranked third in naval power with seventeen steel battleships, six armored cruisers and numerous smaller vessels.
 Devine, (p.610-611)
The goal for which Benjamin Tracy strove, U.S. naval supremacy at sea was achieved in the early twentieth century thanks to the efforts of another Mahan disciple, Theodore Roosevelt.  Roosevelt served as Assistant secretary of the navy during the Spanish American War and as vice president during the second McKinley term. When McKinley was assassinated in September 1901, this avid advocate of naval power ascended to the office of President of the United States.
From the “Bully Pulpit” of Executive Office Roosevelt led the nation into the top ranks of the world’s naval powers. The Atlantic Fleet of sixteen battleships was, according to Secretary of the Navy Victor H. Metcalf “ weight and numbers combined, the most powerful fleet of battle ships under one command in any navy.”
 Renehan. (p. 8)
The wisdom of growing a big navy was demonstrated numerous times during the twentieth century. The United States Navy played crucial roles in two world wars. It carried hundreds of thousands of American troops across the Atlantic in both wars. The navy helped to deliver Allied forces to Normandy on D-Day. And, it was the U.S. naval forces that broke the power of the Japanese in the Pacific in World War Two. When the American invasion fleet that retook the Philippines destroyed three out of four Japanese aircraft carriers in Leyte Gulf, on October 20, 1944, it was the turning point of the war.
 Devine. (p. 802) As a child, I watched one television as American battleships turned back Russian ships seeking to deliver atomic missiles to Cuba. In conflicts in both Korea and Vietnam the United States projected its military force into Asia using Naval bases in the Philippines. And in two Gulf Wars I have watched American Carrier forces deliver troops, serve as bases for air warfare, and carry thousands of tons of munitions and Armaments into distant parts of the world.
 The modern United States Navy has almost three hundred ships and over four thousand operational aircraft. Active duty and reserve naval personnel consists of over a half million men and women.
 United States Navy (p. 1) From a single fleet at the close of the Spanish American War, America’s navy has grown to two main fleets, the Atlantic Fleet and the Pacific Fleet, each consisting of smaller numbered fleets. The Coast Guard is the US 1st fleet, intended to guard America’s shores in case of emergency. The 2nd fleet is found in the Atlantic Ocean, the 3rd Fleet covers the Eastern and Northern Pacific, the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans are patrolled by the US 7th fleet and, the US 6th Fleet operates in the Mediterranean Sea and. Stationed in the Middle East is the US 5th Fleet,
 Ibid. (p. 2) which supports the U.S military forces currently fighting in Iraq.
Iraq sits atop an estimated one fourth of the world’s oil reserves. I have heard oil referred to as “the fuel of industry”.  In today’s world with rapidly developing countries such as China, and established industrial nations in Europe and North America, oil is a vital ingredient in worldwide economic strength. And, America’s economic power depends, in large part, on the free flow of oil. Political or military instability interferes with the delivery of oil from that region and threatens U.S economic interests. The US 5th Fleet plays a key role in America’s attempts to stabilize that region. Meanwhile millions of tons of goods worth billions of dollars flow between the United States and China and Southeast Asia. Should North Korea’s nuclear ambitions threaten to destabilize that region it is logical to conclude that the United States Navy will play a part in attempting to ensure the continued flow of trade goods, vital to the American economy
In conclusion, it is clear that The United States’ rise the status of a world superpower did not happen by accident. Over the course of a century and a half, it has developed as a direct result of following the design of Alfred Thayer Mahan. Though our nation has returned the canal across the Isthmus to the Panamanian people, the rest of the Mahan blueprint remains in place. Guantanamo Bay in the Caribbean, Subic Bay in the Philippines, and American “coaling stations”
 LaRocque, (p. 1). in such far away places as Saudi Arabia and Okinawa ensure that our nation can project military force to any point on the globe. And, with these naval forces we are able to protect our merchant fleets, which carry our surpluses to foreign markets and return exotic goods to our own. So it remains ships, merchant ships and war ships that form the basis of United States world power. What remains to be seen is how well this nineteenth century doctrine can remain effective today in the twenty-first century.

Devine, Robert A., T.H. Breen, George M. Fredrickson, R. Hal Williams, Ariela J. Gross, and H. W. Brands. America Past and Present Seventh Edition, Pearson/ Longman, New York, NY (2005).
LaRocque, Rear Admiral Gene. Uncle Sam’s Foreign Military Bases: From an interview originally broadcast, 20, Oct. 1991. Accessed December 5, 2006, from:
McKiney, Journalist Second Class Mike. The Cruise of the Great White Fleet. Accessed December 1, 2006 from:
Renehan, Edward J. Jr. Theodore Roosevelt and the Navy by The Theodore Roosevelt Association. Accessed December 8, 2006, from:
United States Navy. United States Navy. Accessed December 8, 2006, from:
U.S. History.Com. Alfred Thayer Mahan. Accessed December 1, 2006, from:
U.S. History.Com. Panama and the Canal. Accessed December 1, 2006, from:
U.S. History.Com. The Open Door Policy. Accessed December 1,2006, from:
Wright, J.G. A Page of American Imperialism, Wright Archive, New International, 3-3, June 1936, (pp. 86-89). Accessed December 1, 2006, from:

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