Democracy and Empire

            When I think about American imperialism, it can go both ways. We, as America were first permanently settled on in 1607 in Jamestown, Virginia by Englishmen. Through the 17th century, the population of America grew vastly due to the European indentured servants being shipped to work for five to seven years before they would be able to afford their own estate. Skipping over decades, the Americas were eventually controlled by Europeans from the east coast to some Midwest. The American Indian groups were still more western at this point due to Europeans forcing them farther out as population grew and sickness spread. Slavery was the best thing going for America at the time because of the production they brought. The United States was established in the 18th century although none of the native people had any part in the constitution. America was imperialized first and now we are the United States and have been for hundreds of years.

In a different light, the United States is guilty of many acts of imperialism. A relatively recent example would be the annexation of Hawaii late in the 19th century. An empire, America became in the 1800s, seeking international markets to conduct business with and eventually force will and concepts like Christianity and democracy on their people. American exceptionalism is why imperialism became an American thing, we thought of ourselves as different from others and that our agenda was always “better”. In Hawaii, their last monarch was overthrown largely by American citizens who opposed their new Constitution. The Unites States gained possession of all ports, buildings, harbors, military equipment and public property from the Hawaiian government. This resulted in Hawaii becoming the 50th state.

In comparison to Ancient Athens, the Americans were doing the same things as the Athenians just on a broader scale due to technology and intelligence. Athens was a part of the Delian league which started as a coercive group that eventually the Athenians grew to control. They didn’t allow states to withdraw from the league or it was some form of betrayal. Everyone had to pay tributes and taxes to be in. The prices were too high for many causing them to leave. The treasury of the Delian league began in Delos but it was moved to Athens to supposedly protect it from Persia. Others believe it was just a strategy to easily fund the elaborate building projects.

The Athenian empire began to use the league’s navy for its own purposes causing tension with the smaller states. The only places really accessible by water were Greek city-states anyway so what was there to seize by water if it wasn’t the enemy? The overarching control of the Athenian empire on the league eventually led to “internal” conflict which led to the Peloponnesian war.

In comparison, America and Athens have many differences from what I notice. The Athenian were pretty much imperializing their neighbors and people of their own league for selfish reasons to uplift themselves. They also were not the most powerful and had an enemy that could ruin their plans if need be, which is what Sparta did. America doesn’t have an archenemy that can just calm the storm we create. The United States runs the world and there is no competition we fear. We can imperialize and be an empire if we want because that’s where our level of advancement is. Others and Athens in 400s BC cannot and did not have the influence and power of the U.S.

-Mykol Brooks

–   589 words

RTTP Threshold of Democracy Gamebook

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