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Walter LaFeber : The Pacific Century
Walter LaFeber I think most Americans believed in 1900 that they were very well positioned to take advantage of what was going on in the world. Within a very short period of time, literally months, the United States had become a major power in the Pacific and on the Asian mainland. And the Secretary of State, John Haye, said that whoever understood China would have the key to world politics for the next five centuries. And now McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt thought that they were beginning to understand China. Roosevelt said that this was going to be the, quote, "Pacific Century", unquote. And as a result of McKinley's diplomacy in the previous 24 months, it looked as though the United States was going to be in an excellent position with a very important naval base in the Philippines in order to take advantage of this Pacific Century. So I think Americans were looking westward. We were no longer looking eastward. We were looking westward as we had throughout much of the 19th century, only now west was no longer the Rocky Mountains and California, as it had been earlier. West was now Hawaii, which we had just annexed in 1898. West was the Philippines, west was Asia. This was our New West, as it became known in 1899 and 1900. This was the west that was going to be the important arena, "the great theater in the world hereafter", as one American politician put it, and it looked as though the United States was going to be able to play a major role in that theater.

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