American Imperialism: Turner, Mahan, Spencer, and Fisk
Frederick Jackson Turner, Alfred T. Mahan, Herbert Spencer, and John Fiske were all important intellectuals who influenced American imperialism from 1890 to 1914. Frederick Jackson Turner started The Frontier Thesis, which is about an argument for the American democracy that was formed by the American Frontier. Alfred Thayer Mahan was a Captain in 1890, and he published a book called The Influence of Sea Power upon History, then a book after that called The Influence of Sea Power upon the French Revolution and Empire.
The Ideas and Philosophies of Intellectuals
Herbert Spencer was a British philosopher and sociologist; he contributed a very large part of his intellectual life in the Victorian era. He was one of the key ingredients in making the evolutionary theory in the mid-nineteenth century. Herbert was looked upon as Charles Darwin. John Fiske supported the structuralist perspective that the consciousness was constructed by a historical, social, and cultural element. He was concerned with how culture promoted meanings that reflected ideologies.
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Frederick’s philosophies were very significant at the beginning of American Imperialism. His thesis is very important because it not only ended the American Frontier but also took two important forces and made it the new frontier. He made the new frontier to create liberty and to get rid of old ways of doing things. The new thesis had made individualism and rough justice into the ideas of many individuals.
Herbert Spencer was much like Charles Darwin in a way. Charles Darwin came up with the natural selection theory, and Herbert came up with the theory to justify imperialism and racist policies. They completed the thesis by saying that the fittest individuals had competed for where they were in the social hierarchy spectrum. This one idea had made the ideas of imperialists bigger and stronger. This theory made the spectrum between rich and poor bigger than ever.
Alfred Thayer Mahan wrote a book in the 1890s claiming that sea power over nations made them better throughout the course of time. He had declared that naval power was the main ingredient to dominance and the expansion of imperialism. John Fiske believed that if individuals spoke English, they would be superior characters. Many people believed John Fiske’s ideas were like the ideas of Manifest Destiny.
Frederick Jackson Turner had said that American Democracy was formed by the American frontier. In today’s world, you can figure out that democracy was not founded by the American frontier. The earliest democracy was named after an individual called Cleisthenes. You could say it came to light by an individual called Thomas Patterson. His philosophy is not used much in today’s world.
Alfred T. Mahan’s philosophy is still used today. The thought of the sea having power is great in this nation today. The United States fights on water; the water can be peaceful, and because of his philosophy, today, our naval officers are ready and prepared. Herbert Spencer’s philosophy is still used today. The theory of evolution is still being taught today. He developed and applied the theory of evolution to philosophy and the study of psychology.
Frederick Jackson Turner, Alfred T. Mahan, Herbert Spencer, and John Fiske were all great philosophers. Each one contributed to the world with their individual theories. Each individual, regardless of their theories, contributes to today’s world. They, at one point in time, were believed to be true.
- Turner, F. J. (1893). The significance of the frontier in American history. Annual Report of the American Historical Association, 227-238.
- Mahan, A. T. (1890). The influence of sea power upon history, 1660-1783. Little, Brown.
- Mahan, A. T. (1892). The influence of sea power upon the French Revolution and Empire, 1793-1812. Little, Brown.
- Spencer, H. (1855). Principles of psychology. D. Appleton and Company.
- Fiske, J. (1897). The idea of God as affected by modern knowledge. Houghton, Mifflin.