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During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries the United States pursued an aggressive policy of expansionism extending its political and economic influence around the globe After temporarily resolving the problems of Reconstruction and Industrialization Americans began to resume the course of expansion The horrors of the Civil War had interrupted the original Manifest Destiny that began in the 1840s Now as pioneers settled the last western frontiers expansionists looked yet farther to the west -- toward Asia and the Pacific A leading expansionist Captain Alfred T Mahan cautioned that the Pacific could be entered and controlled only by a vigorous contest As head of the Naval War College Mahan believed that Americas survival depended upon a strong navy He argued that a strong navy would require island possessions to serve as naval bases The time had come Mahan wrote for Americans to turn their eyes outward instead of inward only to seek the welfare of the country American ships had long been active in the Pacific and the New England whaling fleets scoured the ocean in search of their prey The China trade had been enriching Yankee merchants since 1784 Japan however had effectively closed its doors to outsiders and it restricted foreign ships to a small part of Nagasaki Commodore Matthew C Perry commander of the United States naval forces in the China seas was a staunch expansionist Back in 1852 he warned President Fillmore that the British who had already taken control of Hong Kong and Singapore would soon control all trade in the area Perry recommended that the United States take active measures to secure a number of ports of refuge in Japan President Fillmore agreed with Perry In 1853 he ordered the Commodore to open negotiations with the Emperor of Japan and by February of the following year the United States presence in Asia had been officially established As ships crossed the vast ocean to trade in Asia islands in
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