Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 11th grade October 2001

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The idea of America's mission has influenced American foreign policy innumerable times in the last century. America's mission today is recognized as its duty to democratize the world. Believers in "America's mission" are convinced of American elitism and the strength of American foundations and institutions. The concept of America's mission evolved during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. McKinley formulated the earliest variant of America's mission based on the Monroe Doctrine. He used it to justify war with Spain and the continued holding of its colonies after the war. Deeply influenced by the ideas of American social as well as racial supremacy, Roosevelt added his corollary to the Monroe Doctrine, which added all of Latin America to the sphere of influence and domination. Wilson took the idea of America's mission to heart, incorporated today's crucial elements of democracy and capitalism, and brought the whole world into its domain. Thus, the idea of America's mission both influenced foreign policy and developed extensively during the administrations of McKinley, Roosevelt, and Wilson.

The Monroe Doctrine can be thought of as the earliest idea of America's mission in the world. It prohibited European intervention and influence in the sovereign areas of the New World but allowed continued control over existing colonies and possessions. Olney, Secretary of State under Cleveland, used the Monroe doctrine with devastating effect on the British during the Venezuela Crisis. He laid out in uncertain terms, the vehement opposition of the United States to any extension of European influence in the Americas. However, the Monroe Doctrine left McKinley in a quandary regarding Cuba. The Doctrine clearly allowed Europe to maintain existing colonies in the Americas. However, the excesses committed by the Spanish military infuriated public opinion in the United States. Almost everyone desired intervention albeit for different reasons: humanists...

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