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Students must write a research paper–using both primary and secondary sources–that answers the following question:

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J.A. Hobson, a British theorist, and Vladimir Lenin, the Russian revolutionary and leader of the Bolshevik (later Communist Party) in the Soviet Union, both criticized late 19th century imperialism as a capitalist conspiracy by “big business” to subjugate colonies for pure economic gain.  Colonies provided cheap raw materials and guaranteed markets for European and U.S. “trusts and monopolies”.  But what about ideological factors such as the idea of the “Civilizing Mission” or Manifest Destiny? By the late 19th century, the U.S. joined other European powers in constructing an empire. The question is this: what were the primary motivations and factors that led to the U.S. shift from isolationism and continental expansion to imperialism by the late 19th and early 20th centuries? 

  • The length of the paper should be 4-5 pages (approximately 1500-1700 words not including citations).
  • The paper must be typed in Times New Roman 12-point font and double-spaced.
  • For background information please see American Promise, Chapter 20 .  You must provide at least 3 outside sources (besides the two assigned texts), at least one of which must be a primary source.
  • All sources must be correctly cited using the Chicago Manual of Style. You must also provide a separate Bibliography at the end of your paper.  Please go to Student Resources for a link to the Chicago Manual of Style.


– Language is clearly organized. Word usage, spelling, and punctuation are excellent. Provides a complex and sophisticated thesis with supporting evidence.

-Should discuss and analyze the historical context and components of U.S. Imperialism.

-Correct use of citations, correct and specific reference made to supplementary sources.

-Concepts, assumptions, and conclusions are clearly and thoroughly expressed. Analysis is logical and thorough. Complete support of either ideological motivations or material motivations for U.S. Imperialism. Or even discuss a blending of the two through chronology or circumstance (a sign of a more sophisticated essay).