Beyond Empire
: The Transformation of U.S Trade and Commercial Policy toward Latin America during the Administrations of William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt

  • Elizabeth Davidson

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    This thesis examines the economic relationship between the United States and Latin America during the presidencies of William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt. It argues that U.S. trade and commercial policy sought to create a closer and more equal partnership with Latin American nations and throughout the Western Hemisphere. This thesis provides an original contribution to knowledge as it moves away from existing histories where the dominant consensus is that of imperialism and the desire to expand the American empire. Instead, it explores the potential for partnership and relations based on common interests. Latin America is a particularly significant region to consider as the relationship between the United States and Latin America was not always cordial and in some cases could be described as tempestuous. McKinley and Roosevelt advocated military intervention when U.S. interests were threatened, a foreign policy that enhanced U.S. power in the Western Hemisphere but alienated the U.S. from sister republics. As a consequence, the State Department sought to realign relations and build rapport with the people of Latin America. This thesis considers three key diplomatic conferences on inter-American trade, commerce, and infrastructure from the perspective of the United States in order to indicate the intentions of U.S. foreign policy in the region. The use of these conferences as a tool for determining intentions presents a unique aspect of study in the history of U.S.-Latin American relations. The content of these conferences allows for a further deliberation of methods of communication, tariffs, debts, and reciprocity, and how these were used as diplomatic tools in U.S. foreign policy. Investigating economic policy also facilitates new perspectives on American material interests and the idea of empire. This thesis explains how the United States could remain economically dominant in the Western Hemisphere and share political power.
    Date of Award7 Jul 2021
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Roehampton
    SupervisorMichael Patrick Cullinane (Supervisor) & Caroline Sharples (Co-Supervisor)


    • Hegemony
    • Empire
    • economic policy
    • Partnership
    • foreign policy
    • Latin America
    • United States
    • William McKinley
    • Theodore Roosevelt
    • Elihu Root
    • Pan-American Conference

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