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Meeting the EnemyAmerican Exceptionalism and International Law$
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Natsu Taylor Saito

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780814798362

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814798362.001.0001

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American Imperial Expansion

American Imperial Expansion

Colonizing the Continent

(p.106) 5 A Manifest Destiny
Meeting the Enemy

Natsu Taylor Saito

NYU Press

This chapter examines the legal justifications accompanying the United States's imperialist project of acquiring external colonies as part of its “civilizing mission.” It begins with an overview of the theory of “scientific” racism that emerged in the nineteenth century and its ideological role in the expansion of U.S. imperialism, particularly its acquisition of overseas “possessions.” In particular, it considers how the theory of evolution set the stage for the American eugenics movement that promoted white supremacy as both natural and inevitable. It also explores how economic pressures for colonial expansion fueled the acquisitions of empire at the turn of the century, with particular emphasis on the exceptionalist claims underlying the incorporation of imperialism into America's interpretations of constitutional as well as international law.

Keywords:   imperialism, United States, civilizing mission, scientific racism, evolution, eugenics movement, white supremacy, colonial expansion, international law

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