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America as a World Power From 1890 to 1920, Essay Example

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America became a world power during this period because it was reaping the benefits of a stronger political and economic union. Until about 1890, there were basically two Americas, divided politically and economically. High tariffs (like the “Tariff of Abominations” of 1828) had long ensured that the agricultural South would be politically opposed to the industrial North. This divide contributed to the Civil War (1861-1865). By 1890, it was increasingly being understood that high tariffs caused more problems then they solved. In the years ahead they were gradually lowered as the income tax (1913) replaced the revenue that the reduced tariffs lost. But 1890 also marked a new divide, between the industrial East and the Midwest.  Its cause was a growing economic deflation, leading to agitation by farmers for the use of silver-backed money. Gold strikes, such as in Alaska and South Africa, eventually brought America economic peace and growing unification. With this stability came the benefits of American technology in communication, transportation, energy, indoor plumbing, scientific medicine, and many others.

Growing prosperity built a stronger military. America fought and won the Spanish American War (1898), and was the decisive factor in the Allied victory in World War I (1914-1918).  That war did not harm America economically, but it ruined Europe. This meant that America had millions of new customers for its foodstuffs and industrial products. Also by then it had a lot of money to lend to help Europe rebuild. By 1920, the world’s financial capital had begun its move from London to New York. Pax Americana was on the way.

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