Was the United States of America One of the First Nations to Practice Imperialism?
Debate Rounds (4)
Imperialism can be defined as a nation's will to impose its influence and expand it borders (usually by military force) to acquire wealth, territory, and labor as well as to spread said nation's ideology, religious beliefs, etc.
It can be argued that since the colonization of (soon-to-be) American land, conflict with the native tribe ensued. In which it can also be argued that since the colonization to the birth of the independent union, tensions where high due to the settler's want of all the land between the seas. It is true that in the Revolutionary War, the patriots considered some tribes to be allies, though this mutual agreement of military effort in exchange for the promise of not settling west of the Mississippi River did not last past the war.
Though the idea of Manifest Destiny was clearly defined and exemplified in 1844 by John O'Sullivan, the feeling of the American People's destiny to spread from sea to sea can be dated back as early as 1803 with the Louisiana Purchase.
With the recent acquisition of territory, the American Army was sent west to defeat the Native American tribes, a series of events that became to be known as the American-Indian Wars. These wars were devastating to the natives, pushing them all the way back to Mexican borders, with the exception of land reserves set by the US government. On these reserves, the native people were taught the ways of the white man, being introduced to monotheism, the English language, and many other things attributed to the American People. This is an example of the American People IMPOSING THEIR RELIGIOUS IDEAS AND INTELLECT UPON DIFFERENT PEOPLE, an obvious form of Imperialism.
Further, The Mexican American War saw the United States acquire California, Texas, New Mexico, and many other (soon-to-be) states. The Mexican People living there were used, among the natives, as slaves, contributing to the wealth of the United States.
In the War of 1812, the United States attempted an unneeded invasion of Canada, another example of the American People's desire to spread their borders.
Looking back on the definition of Imperialism, the United States made attempts to convert natives and Mexicans to Christianity, taught the natives their philosophies of life, enslaved Mexicans and natives alike, thus increasing their total revenue, as well as acquiring huge amounts of land from France in the Louisiana Purchase, then pushing the natives out of that land. After that, they conquered huge amounts of land at the expense of Mexico, putting them to the task of cheap labor, especially at the discovery of gold in 1848 in California, and the tedious job of laying down railroad track.
While it is true that earlier, the empires of Britain of France had small reserves of land in Africa, but the majority of the land to eventually be owned by them wouldn't be conquered or even DISCOVERED until the mid-to-late 19th Century, and France didn't gain control of West Africa until 1912. Meanwhile, America was practicing Imperialism (arguably) from the period of 1800 all the way into the middle of the 20th Century.
In conclusion, I state that based of the definition of Imperialism, and the given dates at which European nations widely began the practice of Imperialism clearly defines the notion of The United States of America Being One of the First Nations to Practice Imperialism.
Cited Works and Websites:
The question is "Was the United States of America one of the first nations to practice imperialism?" Which I am going to try to convince whoever may be reading this debate that, the United States was NOT among the first nations to practice imperialism.
First of all, I will agree with my opponent"s definition of Imperialism: "a nation's will to impose its influence and expand it borders (usually by military force) to acquire wealth, territory, and labor as well as to spread said nation's ideology, religious beliefs, etc.
The two arguments I will support in this debate are the following:
-Imperialism has been practiced for centuries
-There is no difference between the Manifest Destiny and the Founding of the original 13 colonies, as it pertains to imperialism directed to Native Americans.
On to the first point: Imperialism has been practiced nearly since the beginning of civilization.
Throughout history, we see cases of societies, practicing imperialism. The Roman Empire attacked, and annexed many nations, groups, and cities, specifically Carthage. In the early years of Rome, they were bordered by the city. In the Punic wars, Rome directly demonstrated Imperialism by conquering Carthage. Although Carthage was burned to the ground, the land and wealth, as well as power that Rome gained fits our definition of imperialism, just as much as Americans fighting the Indians.
There were many other instances of Rome conquering nations, and forcing them to practice their religion of polytheism. Including Britannia, Hispania, Gallia, Achaea, and plenty more.
To quote from my opponent, the romans having conquered these lands began "IMPOSING THEIR RELIGIOUS IDEAS AND INTELLECT UPON DIFFERENT PEOPLE, an obvious form of Imperialism."
Other ancient empires practicing imperialism include; The Aztecs, Mongolia, Egypt, and the city states of the city states of the Fertile Crescent.
America was not "one of the first nations to practice imperialism" because they came thousands of years after the first nations had practiced imperialism.
Next, there wasn"t much change in the treatment of Native Americans before and after America had become independent. When the colonies were founded, Land was token from the Natives, Christianity was spread, and the culture was imposed on them. After America had achieved its independence, not much had changed, expect Americans began to expand further west and were more aggressive. Yet the practice of imperialism happened before American independence.
In conclusion, Imperialism has been practiced many times in history, and thousands of years have passed between the first empires and their conquest of nations, and independent America"s first interactions with Native American states. Furthermore, England"s imperialism with the Native American"s differ very little from the independent United States of America.
Sources and Citations:
I would also like to begin this round by specifying how each round will work, which I failed to do last time.
ROUND 1: opening arguments
ROUND 2: responding arguments
ROUND 3: rebuttals (no new arguments may be presented)
ROUND 4: closing statements (no new arguments may be presented)
My opponent claims that Imperialism is born ripe with the start of civilization, giving specific examples of: The Romans, The Aztecs, Mongolia, Egypt, and the city states of the Fertile Crescent.
The compelling argument put forth is that many other very ancient empires practiced Imperialism, much before American Land was even discovered.
For this round I will make the argument that there is a clear distinction between what empires were practicing in the Age Of Imperialism and what empires practiced thousands of years before, which cannot be considered Imperialism.
To have a more formal definition of Imperialism, I will turn upon the dictionary for the definition, in which it is stated, "Imperialism is an unequal human and territorial relationship, usually in the form of an empire, based on ideas of superiority and practices of dominance, and involving the extension of authority and control of one state or people over another."
Historians have widely accepted the fact that the argument of, "colonialism is an expression of imperialism and cannot exist without the latter." is of complete truth. Based on this fact, Rome cannot be considered imperial because they did not have colonies, and while on that subject, The Aztecs didn't have colonies either, nor did The Mongols, The Egyptians or any of the city-states of the Fertile Crescent.
Further, after conquering Carthage and many other civilizations, the Roman Government DID NOT enslave they people, and while it is true that they were not religiously tolerant, the Romans in no other way discriminated against those who were conquered. They clear distinction between what the Romans were doing and what 19th Century Imperial countries were doing is that after defeating enemies to the Romans, those who were conquered BECAME Roman, and by the government, were considered Roman. When Britain took over the Zulu nation, the populous were enslaved and put to work. They Zulus were never considered British citizens, and had no rights or representation in the British Government, a great difference between those conquered by the Romans.
For a little interjection here, it should be worth noting that after checking my opponents sources, none of them provides documented evidence that the Egyptian or Aztec Empires were Imperial or implemented imperial ideologies into their societies or governments.
To address the second point of my opponent, the claim is made that, "There is no difference between the Manifest Destiny and the Founding of the original 13 colonies, as it pertains to imperialism directed to Native Americans."
When English settlers first arrived to the eastern American coast, they had no idea that the native people had even settled there, and thus could not came to North America to defeat and enslave the natives. Further, Manifest Destiny is an ideology that the American People have a duty to settle for the Atlantic Coast it the Pacific Coast, not that it is their duty to eradicate the Native People. Also, the 13 colonies were founded in order to increase the wealth and prosperity of Britain.
In conclusion, there are very clear distinctions between what the ancient civilizations practiced and what the empires during the Age Of Imperialism practiced, and cannot be considered Imperialism. Also, the ideas of Manifest Destiny and the choice of colonization of North American land are two very different subjects and cannot be accurately compared to each other in order to prove a point.
Works and Sources Cited:
First of all, I will once again agree upon my opponent"s NEW definition: "Imperialism is an unequal human and territorial relationship, usually in the form of an empire, based on ideas of superiority and practices of dominance, and involving the extension of authority and control of one state or people over another."
I will address my opponent"s claim that there were no sources cited for this paragraph:
"Other ancient empires practicing imperialism include; The Aztecs, Mongolia, Egypt, and the city states of the city states of the Fertile Crescent."
I did not cite this as a source, though I probably should have, because it is in the standard common core curriculum of our public schools. The book I got this information from is at this site:
You will be able to see instances of empires being built and fitting our mutually agreed upon definition of imperialism in the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th units, before America was even a nation.
While the word imperialism was not used, it fits our definition. It is not justified saying that imperialism was not practiced before the "age of imperialism". The age of imperialism was a peak in imperialism, but not the first time it was used.
To address the colonialism argument that my opponent has made; "colonialism is an expression of imperialism and cannot exist without the latter." This is completely irrelevant to the definition of imperialism. Imperialism operates from the center, it is a state policy, and is developed for ideological as well as financial reasons whereas colonialism is nothing more than development for settlement or commercial intentions. 
Imperialism according to our agreed upon definition, has nothing to do with colonialism, and therefore, should render my opponent"s argument on that topic invalid.
And to address my opponent"s claim that Rome did not take slaves, so they are not imperial, is completely wrong.
Slavery is not part of imperialism, and while it may be used in imperialistic nations, it is not a requirement for an imperial nation. I shall refer back to our mutually agreed upon definition; ""an empire, based on ideas of superiority and practices of dominance, and involving the extension of authority and control of one state or people over another."
The romans expressed dominance over Carthage, but not slavery. That does not render then "non-imperial"
In conclusion, Imperialism has been practiced for thousands of years, and this imperialism has directly fit our mutually agreed upon definition. It"s that simple. The same ideas of imperialism that my opponent refers to in America were expressed years before the lands of America were to be discovered by Europeans. America was not one of the first nations to practice imperialism for that reason.
 Gilmartin, Mary. Gallaher, C. et al., 2008. Key Concepts in Political Geography, Sage Publications Ltd. : Imperialism/Colonialism. pg.116
He claims that, "You will be able to see instances of empires being built and fitting our mutually agreed upon definition of imperialism in the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th centuries"", yet gives no such examples of empires.
He claims that, "the colonialism argument that my opponent has made" is completely irrelevant to the definition of imperialism." And that, "Imperialism operates from the center, it is a state policy, and is developed for ideological as well as financial reasons whereas colonialism is nothing more than development for settlement or commercial intentions."
He argues that colonies are developed for "settlement or commercial intentions", but on the other hand, "Imperialism"is developed for ideological as well as financial reasons"" Commercial derives from the word commerce, defined as: an interchange of goods or commodities, especially on a large scale between different countries (foreign commerce) or between different parts of the same country (domestic commerce) trade; business. While financial is defined as: pertaining to monetary receipts and expenditures; pertaining or relating to money matters. From these definitions it can very clearly deduced that commercial intentions ARE a financial reason for colonizing. By this point, my opponents argument is rendered invalid.
Also to the point that the Romans did take slaves. While this is somewhat true, they did not enslave the entire population, and many of those who were conquered did get rights, as opposed to Imperialism, they were just used as laborers and had no rights. Because they did take some slaves does not identify them as imperial, because not all were taken as slaves. All of the Zulu people were enslaved and given no rights.
In conclusion, Colonialism is a form of Imperialism, and the two are very closely related, as expressed by my opponents definition. Also, slavery does not define Imperial nations, but is one of many factors that does, such as not having representation in government, which some conquered roman people did have.
History has practiced imperialism long before America.
This first point is the key point to this debate. I want to clarify my last argument. The website I posted is the history textbook that I have used to support my point. I stated that the 2nd to 7th UNIT demonstrated civilizations practicing imperialism, according to our definition. Sorry for that confusion.
That website clearly shows these empires, and if you ask yourself while reading these units “Do these nations demonstrate imperialism?” the answer is clearly “Yes”.
Let’s go step by step:
"Imperialism is an unequal human and territorial relationship, usually in the form of an empire, based on ideas of superiority and practices of dominance, and involving the extension of authority and control of one state or people over another."
In Unit 2, chapter 3, we learn about the Fertile Crescent. Many civilizations were formed around similar times. The chapter teaches about the Sumerians first, and because they were alone, there weren’t many instances of imperialism with them.
However, shortly after the Sumerians, smaller City-States were formed. They were rivals for land and power within Mesopotamia, and if a logical reader were to apply our definition to these city-states, it becomes obvious that ‘the extension of authority and control of one state or people over another’ was a recurring theme. In this primitive era, we do not have enough archeological evidence on how city-states treated captured rival states, but the foundations of imperialism were already in place 4000 years before America achieved independence.
In Unit 2, Chapter 4, we can see Egypt being invaded by Assyria. The successful invasion demonstrated ‘Unequal human and territorial relationship, based on the ideas of superiority and dominance, which involved the extension of authority and control of one state or people over another.’
We can skip down, to Unit 5, Chapter 10, where once again we see the Roman Empire. The book explains that Romans referred to outsiders as ‘Barbarians’ and near the peak of their empire, rather than conquering lands of German tribes, they instead choose to run raids, enslaving young men so that they can join the roman legions, or to work on fields, or as slaves to the wealthy partisans. This form of imperialism is also explained in Edward Gibbon’s book The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.
My point is: you can look at nearly any civilization in this common core history textbook and see examples of ancient imperialism.
Imperialism can exist without colonialism.
My opponent’s argument states that ancient imperialism is not real imperialism, because colonialism has not been practiced with it. However, I will stick to the argument that colonialism is developed for settlement or commercial intentions, and imperialism is developed for ideological as well as financial reasons. His argument states that because they are both for economic and financial motives, they cannot exist without the other.
This is based on the same backward idea that cows have a mouth and cats have mouths, so therefore they cannot exist without each other. They may be similar for the economic intent, however the two ideals are very different and very independent of each other.
We can look at my opponent’s argument, and observe him prove himself wrong:
So, if my opponent claims that America was one of the first nations to practice imperialism.
And, imperialism cannot exist without colonialism.
And, “Rome was not imperial because they did not have any colonies.”
Following his argument, it becomes apparent that America wasn’t imperial either, because they had just as many colonies as Rome.
So, we can see this is not true, and if we were to classify America as imperial, we cannot mandate that colonies are important.
Slavery is not relevant to defining a nation as imperial either.
I guess I didn’t understand my opponent’s argument here. He stated that because SOME Carthage citizens were taken as slaves, does not mean that they can be identified as imperial. Whereas, the British took ALL Zulu as slaves, which makes them imperial.
My opponent said that America was imperial because of the invasion of Native American lands. But hardly and Natives were taken as slaves, does this mean that America was not imperial either?
In conclusion, we can see examples, throughout history of imperialism being practiced. It is apparent that imperialism predated America long before any of the founding fathers were alive. It is not justified arguing that colonialism is necessary to imperialism, and slavery also does not partake in defining imperialism.
EthanJohnson forfeited this round.
Because my opponent missed the time deadline for his concluding speech, I don't have much to say.
The entire debate is centered around the fact that ancient empires have been practicing imperialism for centuries. I don't think that there has been any good evidence to deney this fact.
Colonialism, while often similar to imperialism IS NOT THE SAME. Keep in mind that this debate is over imperialism, not colonialism. If colonialism was a necessisty to imperialism, then the united states could hardly be considered imperial in the first place, and certainly not before Spain, France, England...
So, I don't believe that the claim that Americia is one of the first nations to practice imperialism is justified.
And with that, I open this debate up for voting. Thank you for reading this fascinating debate, and I hope whoever wins deserves it.
And Thank you, EthanJohnson, for being a compelling opponent, and a good sport, this was a fun debate.
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