For the majority of our history, America has played a small role in world affairs. In the late 1800's, the United States was abandoning isolationism and emerging as a new power on the global stage. During the Age of Imperialism, from the mid-1800s through the early 1900's, European nations were extending their influence across the world by establishing colonies in Asia and Africa. Following European success, the U.S. also began to consider the benefits of imperialism, a policy of expanding a country's power and influence through diplomacy and military force. The U.S. needed more economic market due to its surplus of goods. It used militarism to protect its global trade networks. Nationalism and Social Darwinism were used to spread American culture to civilizations they felt were inferior. All these factors played an important role in American imperialism, which was mainly caused by a need for economic gain.
One reason for the rush to grab colonies was the desire for raw materials and natural resources. In contrast to other world powers, the resource-rich United States was less concerned about shortages of raw materials in the 19th century. The problem was a surplus of goods. The booming U.S. economy of the late 1800's was producing more goods than Americans could consume. Farmers complained that excess production resulted in declining crop prices and profits. Industrialists warned that American factories would close and unemployment would rise. To prevent this, they urged expanding trade into overseas markets where American commodities could be sold. Senator Albert J. Beveridge quoted, "Today we are raising more [crops] than we can consume. Today we are making more than we can use.Therefore we must find new markets for our produce, new occupation for our capital, new work for our labor,"" explaining economically why the United States needed to become a world power. With markets around the world, imperialist nations needed to build a strong military.