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American Empire

American Empire is an informal, emotionally freighted term that is used to collectively describe the United States' influence and trends toward political expansion beyond the bounds of continental North America, an extension of the expansive American theme of 'Manifest Destiny'.

Table of contents
1 Expansion
2 See also
3 Book
4 Alternate history
5 Style designation


Unlike many other powerful western nations, the United States had historically not been a country that has participated in traditional imperialist expansion or conquests. This changed following the Spanish American War, which was partially provoked by American politicians and businessmen, like William Randolph Hearst, interested in European-style expansionism. After the war, the defeated Kingdom of Spain agreed to cede most of her colonial possessions to the control of the United States.

The following areas have at one time or another been part of a sort of "American Empire," that is to say colonies that were annexed to the United States, yet not granted statehood or self-rule.

There is also the odd case of Liberia, a nation founded in part by American slaves who were returned to Africa.

Many of America's former colonies have since become independent countries, states of the American union, or self-governing commonwealths.

Contemporary use of the term

Today, what many consider to be the "American Empire" does not fit historical definitions of imperialism and colonialism, but the United States influence takes on different and discreet forms. America's military presence by itself is breathtaking and influential. According to researchers [1], around the world, the United States maintains 750 military bases or installations staffed by American military personnel in roughly 130 countries. The economic influence of American corporations is also substantial.


The term "American Empire" is mostly used as derogatory expression to personify America's military and cultural presence in most nations. American Empire is a book by Andrew J. Bacevich that says the United States started to act like an Empire after the end of the Cold War.

Many statesmen, scholars, and supporters within the United States insist that America "is" and "should be" an empire in every sense. This is exemplified by the neoconservative Project for the New American Century, which became influential in the 2003 decision to invade Iraq. As stated in PNAC's principles:

We need to accept responsibility for America's unique role in preserving and extending an international order friendly to our security, our prosperity, and our principles. [1]

However, many in opposition to this view value a diversity, and reject the notion of a single dominating superpower in order to maintain "balance", "equality", "mutual respect", and "harmony" among all nations around the world.

See also


In the book Empire by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, the USA is seen as central for the development and constitution of a new global regime of power and sovereignty, termed empire by Hardt and Negri. The book builds on neomarxist, postcolonial, postmodern ideas and globalization theories. The empire of Hardt and Negri shouldn't be equalled with the American Empire described in this article.

Alternate history

American Empire is also the name of an alternate history trilogy by Harry Turtledove - see American Empire (Harry Turtledove).

Style designation

American Empire describes the French-inspired Neo-classical style of American furniture and decoration that was initiated just before 1800 and is most famously exemplified by the furniture of Duncan Phyfe and Paris-trained Honoré Lannuier. Two major centers of American Empire style cabinet-making were New York and Baltimore. Simplified versions of American Empire furniture, with plain veneers and panels of stencilled decoration, an American version of Central European Biedermeier style, continued to be made in conservative centers past the mid-century.