Economic Foreign Policy of the United States

By Benjamin H. Williams | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XVI
THE OPEN DOOR AND THE CLOSED DOOR

THE GENERAL RELATION BETWEEN COLONIES AND MARKETS

The desire for markets has accounted for much of the zest shown in the competition for empires. The noble self-sacrifice displayed by the advanced industrial nations in their efforts to care for the spiritual and material interest of heathendom cannot be understood without knowledge of the fact that the "white man's burden" likewise includes the task of providing the natives with trinkets, clothes, and supplies at a substantial profit. It was the desire to dispose of surplus manufactures, according to Moon, that brought about "the imperialistic expansion of Europe in the last quarter of the nineteenth century."1 To assert that the United States has taken lands for the drab purposes of trade would undoubtedly provoke a controversy which could result in no clear decision, due to the mixed character of the motives which have generally led to American expansion. But it cannot be gainsaid that the vision of greater markets was present in the minds of American political leaders at the time of the acquisition of our insular possessions, and that our colonial tariff policy has been formed to a large extent in response to influences which have pressed for a trade monopoly.

Does Trade Follow the Flag? --After all, what is the effect of the acquisition of colonies upon trade? English Liberalism in the middle period of the nineteenth century developed the conviction that the extension of political control does not necessarily result in an increase of national trade in the acquired territory. England was at that time supreme in industry and British manufactured goods could compete on their merits successfully without the artificial aid of tariffs or navigation laws. Culbertson says of this period:

The free-trade philosophy served as a convenient means of justifying the national aims of Great Britain during the period of her commercial and manufacturing supremacy. The movement was promoted by

____________________
1
Imperialism and World Politics, p. 28.

-303-

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