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American Constitutionalism Heard Round the World, 1776-1989A Global Perspective$
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George Athan Billias

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780814791073

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814791073.001.0001

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Fourth Echo

Fourth Echo

American Empire

(p.223) 8 Fourth Echo
American Constitutionalism Heard Round the World, 1776-1989

George Athan Billias

NYU Press

This chapter focuses on the fourth “echo” of American constitutionalism: the Spanish-American War in 1898 which paved the way for the rise of the United States as an imperial power. After winning the Spanish-American War, the United States became a truly global power during the period between 1776 and 1900, acquiring the Philippines, Puerto Rico, the Hawaiian Islands, and the Samoan archipelage. These acquisitions enabled the U.S. to establish a major presence in both the Atlantic and the Pacific. The chapter examines the reasons why the United States became involved in the wave of imperialism. It also looks at the constitutional crisis that erupted between imperialists and anti-imperialists over the question of whether the U.S. Constitution followed the American flag wherever it flew overseas. It then considers the constitutional aspects of the United States's annexation of the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and the Northern Mariana Islands, along with the incorporation of Alaska and Hawaii as states in the Union. Finally, it assesses American imperialism in protectorates such as Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic.

Keywords:   protectorates, American constitutionalism, Spanish-American War, United States, Philippines, Puerto Rico, U.S. Constitution, American flag, Northern Mariana Islands, American imperialism

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