People: US Becomes A World Power

Sanford Dole was born in Honolulu to missionary parents. After completing his education and receiving an honorary law degree, he returned to Hawaii as a businessman and public official when Hawaii was an independent kingdom, a republic, a protectorate and later a territory of the United States. At first, he was able to work with both the Hawaiian royalty and the immigrants who lived in the islands. Dole was named President of the Provisional Government of the Republic of Hawaii after Queen Liliuokalani was overthrown. When Grover Cleveland was elected president, Cleveland attempted to restore the monarchy, and plans for the annexation of Hawaii by the United States were delayed. When annexation finally occurred in 1898, Dole led negotiations requiring the U.S. government to pay off the accumulated national debt of both the Kingdom of Hawaii and the Republic of Hawaii. He successfully demanded that public lands be held as a public trust for the residents of Hawaii. He became Hawaii’s first territorial governor and then a presiding judge for the U.S. District Court for Hawaii. His cousin John founded the famous Hawaiian Pineapple Company which later became Dole Pineapple Company.
Born in Massachusetts, Henry Cabot Lodge, Sr. later earned his law degree from Harvard. He began his political career as a member of the state legislature and then moved to the U.S. House of Representatives. In 1893, he became a U.S. Senator where he served until his death. As a conservative Republican, he supported expansion for the United States as a way to establish the country as a world power. Forming a close alliance with Teddy Roosevelt, he endorsed the building of the Panama Canal, war with Spain in 1898, and acquisition of the Philippines as well as other territories in the Pacific. He believed for the United States to be a factor in international trade and diplomacy, it must have a strong army and navy. This would require the building of military bases to protect the merchant marines as they sailed to the Far East and points in between. He clashed often with President Wilson and later led the charge to reject the Treaty of Versailles and its League of Nations at the conclusion of WWI. Lodge feared joining the international League of Nations as it might force the U.S. into war without Congressional approval. Lodge also worked for immigration restrictions during this time as he was worried that the growing number of immigrants would not be able to become what he called, “100 % American.”
Born in West Point, New York, Alfred Thayer Mahan went on to become one of the most important military strategists of the 19th and early 20th centuries. He fought in the American Civil War as a Union naval officer and later served in the 1880s as President of the Naval War College at Newport, Rhode Island. Educated at the U.S. Naval Academy, he became an admiral and noted naval historian. His book, The Influence of Sea Power on History, published in 1890, detailed the important relationship between a strong navy and successful world commerce. Mahan asserted that the nation with the strongest navy would control the globe. His books were widely read in the U.S., Britain, Japan, and Germany and influenced the buildup of navies before World War I. Both Teddy Roosevelt and Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, Sr. were strongly influenced by Mahan’s theory with regards to United States foreign policy.
Born in Missouri, Pershing began his career as a school teacher. In 1882, he took a competitive exam for an appointment to West Point and won the appointment. There he made a name for himself as a person with excellent leadership qualities. His early military career included guarding the frontier against the Sioux and Apaches in the last days of the Indian wars, fighting in Cuba during the Spanish-American War, and fighting in the Philippines in 1903. In 1895, he took command of a troop of the 10th Cavalry Regiment, one of the original Buffalo Soldier regiments composed of African Americans. It was then that he got his nickname, “Black Jack.” In 1915, he was sent to the Mexican border to capture the revolutionary Mexican leader, Pancho Villa. With America’s entry into World War I in 1917, Pershing was named Commander-in-Chief of the American Expeditionary Forces. Upon arriving in Europe, he demanded that his troops fight as an independent American army rather than being blended in with the British and French. His troops were instrumental in the defeat of the Germans in the critical battle of Argonne Forest.
Theodore Roosevelt, born in New York in 1858, was serving as Vice President when President William McKinley was assassinated. With this event, Roosevelt became the youngest person ever to become President. His views on foreign affairs were summed up with the proverb he often called his motto, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” Roosevelt was willing to interfere in the affairs of other nations when it benefited the United States.

At home, Roosevelt expanded the federal government’s power of eminent domain. He signed laws establishing five national parks. Explaining his fight for a “square deal” for Americans, he used authority under the Sherman Anti-Trust Act to take on consolidated companies that took away consumers’ choices. He worked to protect companies from extreme demands from labor unions. He urged federal lawmakers to enact legislation protecting workers, including child labor laws and a bill providing workmen’s compensation for all federal employees. He proposed laws regulating the nation’s food supply. In response, Congress passed the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, paving the way for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Roosevelt became famous for using the “bully pulpit” to advance his ideas.

Roosevelt had his critics. While the Founders believed that powers not granted to the federal government were forbidden, Roosevelt claimed that powers not forbidden were granted. Many charged that the many regulatory agencies he proposed threatened liberty. President William Howard Taft, who succeeded Theodore Roosevelt as President in 1908, said that Roosevelt’s view of “ascribing an undefined … power to the President” was “an unsafe doctrine” that could do “injustice to private right.” Some later historians have called Roosevelt an activist president, because of the way his actions increased the power of the federal government over states and individuals’ lives.

Woodrow Wilson was born in Virginia. He earned law and doctoral degrees at prestigious universities before becoming a political science professor and later president of Princeton University. He served as Governor of New Jersey, and in 1912 was elected President of the United States. Alice Paul organized a women’s suffrage parade for the day before his inauguration.

A number of Progressive reforms took place during his administration, in the form of legislation and amendments to the Constitution. The Sixteenth Amendment was ratified a month before he took office; President Wilson gained Congress’s approval for a graduated federal income tax. The Seventeenth and Eighteenth Amendments followed. Congress heeded Wilson’s call to amend the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. Finally, Wilson lent his support to women’s suffrage, and in 1920 the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified.

Though he initially attempted to keep the United States out of World War I, he asked Congress to declare war on Germany in 1917. He acted as Commander in Chief of the military and two years later negotiated the Treaty of Versailles, which included his plan for the League of Nations. The Senate did not approve the treaty, however, so the League of Nations began without the United States as a member. President Wilson won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1920.

Alvin York, born in 1887, was a Congressional Medal of Honor winner who fought in World War I. He grew up learning to shoot and developed into an expert marksman. Although he was originally a pacifist, a friend convinced him that the Bible said it was okay to serve in the military. As a soldier in World War I, he gained notoriety by his performance in the Battle of Argonne Forest where he attacked the Germans. When members of his group were unable to proceed, he went after the Germans by himself. He killed 17 through sniper fire and then 7 by pistol. He was successful in taking 132 prisoners on his own. He died in 1964.