Talk:American colonialism

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American-Mexican War of 1848[edit]

It definitely fits the timeline and the context here. Should it be mentioned? As for myself, as a Native South American half-breed person, I confess having definite biased opinions and mixed feelings about the American Imperial historic process, and would better not contribute too much to the building of this article. --Ibaman (talk) 22:14, 23 December 2020 (UTC)

IMO, absolutely. Ikan Kekek (talk) 22:27, 23 December 2020 (UTC)
Yes Done did it from memory, please copyedit. Ibaman (talk) 22:47, 23 December 2020 (UTC)


I'm not so sure we should mention them. The U.S. has bases and former bases all over the world, too many to mention. Ikan Kekek (talk) 01:39, 24 December 2020 (UTC)

I'd agree there's too many to mention, but perhaps we can have a brief statement that the U.S. continues to maintain many military bases in all corners of the world. I don't want to get into any political debates here, but some would argue that the presence of these bases is a form of American imperialism. The dog2 (talk) 05:16, 24 December 2020 (UTC)
Sure, it's worth a passing mention. Ikan Kekek (talk) 06:17, 24 December 2020 (UTC)
Agreed, no discussion. I thought it was worth mentioning together with Ecuador's dollarized economy (I've been to no other country like this), just for the record. --Ibaman (talk) 11:45, 24 December 2020 (UTC)
Cambodia has their own currency, riel, but for larger transactions (over perhaps $10), US dollars are almost always used. Most of the time you'll never see riel notes bigger than 10,000 riel (about US$2.50). ATMs used to only dispense dollars, but most now offer the option of either dollars or riel. All of my in-laws living in Cambodia, most of whom work for the government, are paid in dollars. --Yumenotsuyoshi (talk) 19:59, 24 December 2020 (UTC)
Costa Rica is another country that uses US dollars. I think there are others. Ikan Kekek (talk) 12:18, 24 December 2020 (UTC)
Costa Rica does not use US dollars. They have their own currency called the colón. Of course, like anywhere else, they will accept US dollars in tourist areas, but if you go to the local market, you have to use colones. But one other country that uses US dollars and doesn't have its own currency is East Timor. The dog2 (talk) 13:33, 24 December 2020 (UTC)
In many non-first-world countries hard currency is used for expensive and/or imported goods and services, even if they have their own currency. Usually this means the U.S. dollar. Ypsilon (talk) 13:43, 24 December 2020 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Sure. Costa Rica's economy is very dependent on ecotourism from American tourists, so at tourist establishments, prices will be quoted to you in U.S. dollars, and you would be expected to pay in U.S. dollars (though colones are of course accepted too). And I wouldn't be surprised if most people used U.S. dollars for large transactions, though I wouldn't know because for obvious reasons, I wasn't buying anything worth millions of dollars. But when I went to the Mercado Central in San José, it was colones only at the local food stalls there. The dog2 (talk) 15:14, 24 December 2020 (UTC)

In Uruguay, I noticed that things costing more than around €100 or $100 was usually priced in dollars (e.g. smartphones advertised on billboards) but probably you could pay in pesos, and there was a job ad posted everywhere around Montevideo bus station where you could earn 1200 dólares norteamericanos a month. --Ypsilon (talk) 15:52, 24 December 2020 (UTC)
ATMs in Nicaragua are usually filled with US$ as well as local currency. Not so sure about CR. But until not that long ago, the biggest note in Colones was the 10 000 note (about 20US$) which for obvious reasons made US$ attractive for larger transactions. Hobbitschuster (talk) 18:24, 24 December 2020 (UTC)
Sorry for the mistake. For the record, there are loads of countries where U.S. dollars wouldn't be accepted for payment and would have to be exchanged for local currency. Ikan Kekek (talk) 19:56, 24 December 2020 (UTC)
My feeling on U.S. dollars is that their use as the default world currency for large-scale transactions and their use in small transactions in certain countries can both be mentioned. Neither is exactly imperial, but both give the U.S. an outsize importance that reflects its former dominance in the 20th century as a result of the two world wars and the size of its economy. Ikan Kekek (talk) 22:25, 24 December 2020 (UTC)
Sure, we can mention that the U.S. dollar is the international reserve currency. But not all countries use U.S. dollars for large transactions; in both Singapore and Australia, you will be expected to pay in local currency no matter how large the transaction. US dollars are only accepted in tourist establishments and at some department stores, albeit at a highly unfavourable exchange rate. And neither does this rule apply to all developing countries; in China you'll also be expected to pay in local currency no matter how large the transaction. The dog2 (talk) 23:49, 24 December 2020 (UTC)
I'm talking about huge international transactions. Ikan Kekek (talk) 23:57, 24 December 2020 (UTC)
Oh. In that context then yes, it will be true. Go ahead and add it in then. The dog2 (talk) 00:07, 25 December 2020 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Speaking of which, should we mention how the U.S. uses the dollar as a diplomatic tool? One way in which the U.S. enforces unilateral sanctions that have not been approved by the UN is by making it illegal to do business in U.S. dollars with the country the U.S. has an axe to grind with. For instance, if you do business with Iran, you can be arrested if any of that trade was done using U.S. dollars, even if you're not a citizen or resident of either country (as the Huawei CFO has to learn the hard way). The dog2 (talk) 15:29, 25 December 2020 (UTC)

The "Understand" section is already considerably longer and better developed that the "Destinations" section. And the Destinations section doesn't list a single actual site that a traveller could visit. This isn't much of a travel article at all. I think it is a big mistake for Wikivoyage to host non-travel guide articles that allow people to write whatever they want without the constraints of references to reliable sources. We should look at cutting down the Understand section to serve as an introduction to the travel information. As Wikivoyage:Article skeleton templates/Sections says about the Understand section,
"Keep in mind that all of this information should be useful for travellers. For example, the 'history' section should not compete with ample Wikipedia articles, but help the traveller to link specific places and events to a larger historical period."
Ground Zero (talk) 15:51, 25 December 2020 (UTC)
I have added links in a new section to places that travellers can visit, but it is still really skimpy. I have also made some proposals below for focusing the article on its subject, and to move it away from being a personal essay about American history. Ground Zero (talk) 16:38, 25 December 2020 (UTC)
Yes, let's cut down the "Understand" section and focus on travel advice. —Granger (talk · contribs) 17:32, 25 December 2020 (UTC)

Non-contiguous U.S. states[edit]

I think they should be disregarded in the context of overseas colonialism, or at least no more regarded in a colonial context than any other U.S. states - every single one of them is on land grabbed from native peoples who lived there before the white man conquered it. So I'd like to delete "The non-contiguous American states of Alaska and Hawaii should not be disregarded in this context." at the end of the "American overseas territories" subsection. They are states, not colonies. Any objection? Ikan Kekek (talk) 06:34, 24 December 2020 (UTC)

I wouldn't mind deleting the sentence, but since Ibaman was the one who added it, let's wait and see what he says. The dog2 (talk) 07:49, 24 December 2020 (UTC)
OK. Ikan Kekek (talk) 07:51, 24 December 2020 (UTC)
no objection. --Ibaman (talk) 11:46, 24 December 2020 (UTC)
Cool. Ikan Kekek (talk) 12:18, 24 December 2020 (UTC)


Doesn't the U.S. have some troops in Syria? I recall Trump announcing the withdrawal of the U.S. troops from the Kurdish area, but keeping some U.S. troops in other parts of Syria to secure U.S. control of the oil fields. And as of now, the Syrian Civil War is still ongoing, with Asaad being backed by Russia, so it doesn't look as if the Saudi-American coalition will be able to win the war and install a U.S.-friendly regime anytime soon. The dog2 (talk) 17:54, 24 December 2020 (UTC)

Yes, but I don't think it qualifies for a quagmire, so far. The Trump Administration isn't trying to overthrow Assad, anyway. Ikan Kekek (talk) 19:54, 24 December 2020 (UTC)

Focusing on travel-related aspects of the history[edit]

The first paragraph of the Understand section isn't about the American Empire; its about American history:

"What became the United States of America was first founded as a series of British settler colonies, the first one being Virginia, which was founded in 1607 with the first successful British settlement at Jamestown. Thirteen of those colonies would declare independence as the U.S.A. in 1776, starting the American War of Independence, as a result of opposition to taxes levied on the colonists by the British crown and a lack of representation in Parliament. The British would eventually recognize American independence in 1783."

It could be replaced by a sentence at the beginning of the next paragraph, "After 13 British colonies declared their independence in 1776 as the United States of America, the young country began a long period of territorial expansion."

This paragraph is about failed expansionistm that didn't contribute to an American Empire:

"The United States tried to invade British Canada in the War of 1812 and was repelled; the two powers eventually made peace, and the US-Canada border is famously the world's longest demilitarized one, to this day."

Let's delete it to focus on what the article it about.

This paragraph is about looting, not empire-building:

"The Americans also defeated the Chinese as part of the Eight-Nation Alliance alongside the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Austria-Hungary and Japan during the Boxer Rebellion from 1899-1901, looting many artifacts in the process; many of these looted artifacts can be seen today in various American museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and the Penn Museum in Philadelphia."

Let's delete it.

I don't think that resolving border disputes counts as empire-building:

"The Alaska boundary dispute between the United States and the United Kingdom, which then controlled Canada's foreign relations, had existed between the Russian Empire and the UK since 1821, and was inherited by the United States as a consequence of the Alaska Purchase in 1867. By the time of the 1897–98 Klondike Gold Rush, it became crucial. It was resolved by arbitration in 1903. The final resolution is said to have come from Theodore Roosevelt's "big stick" posture: Canada did not get its own outlet from the Yukon gold fields to the sea. The disappointment and anger in Canada was directed less at the U.S. and more at the British government, for betraying Canadian interests in favor of healthier Anglo-American relations."

The Alaska Purchase of 1867 should be dealt with in a couple of lines in the proper chronology, i.e., before the Spanish-American War, not after World War I. Ground Zero (talk) 16:04, 25 December 2020 (UTC)

for the record, the gist of the paragraph and its position is the crisis with the UK spurred by the Klondike gold rush, and the mentioning of TR's "speak softly and carry a big stick" stance, which is relevant for this historic moment. I thought of mentioning as well the 1859 "Pig War", aka the Pig Episode, the Pig and Potato War, the San Juan Boundary Dispute and the Northwestern Boundary Dispute, and the precise island between Vancouver and Seattle where it happened, but yes it would be too excessive. --Ibaman (talk) 02:47, 26 December 2020 (UTC)
My intention for creating this article was to have something along the lines of our articles for the other colonial empires, such as the British, French, Dutch, Spanish and Portuguese empires. So I think we need to give a sufficient background in the first paragraph. After all, American colonialism was really an extension of European colonialism; it was Native Americans going around the world to establish colonies. It was white people with a European cultural background (Liberia was the exception, of course, but those black colonists had adopted European customs, and saw the non-Westernised native Africans as inferior) that set up the modern governing structures of the United States, and subsequently went overseas to establish American colonies. The dog2 (talk) 19:02, 25 December 2020 (UTC)
The article about the British Empire has a very brief "Understand" section that doesn't mention things like the rapacity of the British East India Company and the fact that the British were the most ruthless drug dealers in history in conducting two wars to force China to buy opium from India. I think Ground Zero has a strong argument, and if you want to keep more background, it should be made much briefer. Instead, we should think more about what to include that can be visited. For example, there's a statue of Seward at the southwest corner of Madison Square Park in Manhattan. Ikan Kekek (talk) 20:36, 25 December 2020 (UTC)
@Ikan Kekek: I don't mind if you want to expand the Understand section of the British Empire to include more about the British East India company. Of course, the British colonial empire was much bigger than the American one, so there would be a lot more to cover, meaning that it would need to necessitate some cuts. And the things they did of course varied; British rule was rather benign, albeit still white supremacist, in Singapore and Hong Kong, but extremely horrible for the indigenous people in Africa, India, the Americas and Australia. As for this article, sure, go ahead and trim some of the background. I was also a bit on the fence about including the bit about the Eight-Nation Alliance in China, so I won't make a fuss if you want to take it out. But we have to make it clear that it was people of white European heritage that were the behind American colonialism, and not the Native Americans. After all, independence was achieved under a government run by the white colonists, and not the Native Americans. The dog2 (talk) 21:13, 25 December 2020 (UTC)
Really, do you think that any of our readers will think that the American Empire was founded by Native Americans? I would love to meet someone like that some day. It would be fascinating to talk to them. Ground Zero (talk) 21:23, 25 December 2020 (UTC)
I'm not suggesting that we should add information about the various severe colonial depredations of the British, although the English-created famines in India and Ireland could be covered by way of explaining monuments to their victims, for example. Instead, we're discussing tightening up this article to have more of a travel focus. Ikan Kekek (talk) 22:00, 25 December 2020 (UTC)

[Unindent] I made a start here. How should we handle the legacy of Native American culture and life? Should we focus on states that were taken directly from Native American tribes or also mention the Pueblos in New Mexico and the Navajo Nation? There's also the Indigenous cultures of North America article, which I will add a "See also" link to. Ikan Kekek (talk) 22:38, 25 December 2020 (UTC)

I've tried to trim it down somewhat. For the destinations, I think we should try to focus on sites that are a reminder of the legacy of American colonial rule. The dog2 (talk) 00:33, 26 December 2020 (UTC)
Occupation of Indian Territory is a huge part of American colonialism, although we could keep it mostly in a different topic. Ikan Kekek (talk) 00:43, 26 December 2020 (UTC)
In that case, maybe we can include some sites that commemorate genocides of the Native Americans. The dog2 (talk) 00:55, 26 December 2020 (UTC)
I don't know. As I said, we could cover those in a separate topic. I think memorials to perpetrators of genocide and land-theft as well as victims should be covered. Ikan Kekek (talk) 00:57, 26 December 2020 (UTC)
Sure, I have no objection to covering those. The dog2 (talk) 01:06, 26 December 2020 (UTC)


Should Florida be mentioned? I guess so? It was fully occupied by the U.S. in 1821, though with 2 wars against the Seminoles still to be fought; see w:Florida#Joining the United States; Indian removal. Ikan Kekek (talk) 00:56, 26 December 2020 (UTC)

That could count as colonisation, so sure, I think it can be covered. The dog2 (talk) 01:07, 26 December 2020 (UTC)
Yes Done I started a paragraph on this. --Ibaman (talk) 02:44, 26 December 2020 (UTC)


Do we really need one? Also, it's really not so clear in this context that George H. W. Bush is talking about imperialism. Ikan Kekek (talk) 02:13, 26 December 2020 (UTC)

I was trying to do something in line with the British Empire and Portuguese Empire article. At least my interpretation of George H. W. Bush's quote is that it is a nod to American exceptionalism. And my impression is that even today, no American politician can get elected without at least paying lip service to American exceptionalism. The dog2 (talk) 02:17, 26 December 2020 (UTC)
American exceptionalism isn't mainly about empire. Isolationists also believe in that. Ikan Kekek (talk) 02:41, 26 December 2020 (UTC)
I see. I was under the impression that American exceptionalism says that if say, China invades another country and kills millions of civilians, that's wrong, but if America does it, it's the right thing because America is doing it for freedom and democracy. But anyway, feel free to replace it with a better quote if you can think of one. The dog2 (talk) 02:51, 26 December 2020 (UTC)
That's one version. Another version is that America is exceptional because it's a shining example of democracy and freedom, etc. Do the other "empire" articles have quotes? I don't think quotes are essential. Ikan Kekek (talk) 04:04, 26 December 2020 (UTC)
If you're talking about the articles on colonialism, then it's mixed. The British Empire, Portuguese Empire, Swedish Empire, French Colonial Empire, Russian Empire and Japanese colonial empire articles have quotes, while the Dutch Empire and Spanish Empire articles do not. We do not yet have any articles on the German, Italian, Austro-Hungarian, Belgian and Danish colonial empires. I agree that the quotes are inessential, but where suitable ones can be found, they add colour to the article, thus contributing to our policy of lively writing. The dog2 (talk) 04:37, 26 December 2020 (UTC)
I consider an unsuitable quote worse than none. May we please delete the George H.W. Bush quote? Ikan Kekek (talk) 05:24, 26 December 2020 (UTC)
I think the quote is apt for summing up the history of U.S. foreign policy (the idea that America is never wrong no matter how high the civilian body count is from its foreign interventionist wars), but let's see what others say. The dog2 (talk) 05:52, 26 December 2020 (UTC)
The quote is out of context. That's what you think it's about, but nothing makes it clear. Ikan Kekek (talk) 05:59, 26 December 2020 (UTC)
Besides, is the point of this article to condemn U.S. foreign policy or to describe U.S. colonialism in order to mention interesting travel destinations that show aspects of it? If the point is the former, the article should be deleted, as Wikivoyage doesn't exist to condemn or praise any power. Ikan Kekek (talk) 06:01, 26 December 2020 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Its purpose is certainly the former, at least the way I've envisioned it. I've in fact been adding bits about how American colonialism has left a cultural imprint on its former colonial possessions, and I've for the most part been trying to keep political stuff out of it. The dog2 (talk) 06:05, 26 December 2020 (UTC)

I think you mean it's the latter? Ikan Kekek (talk) 06:54, 26 December 2020 (UTC)
Oh yeah, sorry for the mistake. The dog2 (talk) 06:55, 26 December 2020 (UTC)
So the thing is, to state my own viewpoint for a second, George H.W. Bush said a lot of extreme-sounding shit amounting to posturing to show that he wasn't a "wimp" (which he was accused of being) and assassinate the character of his opponent, Governor Dukakis of Massachusetts, in his 1988 campaign speeches, and this is one example. If it is used to sum up U.S. foreign policy, it would appear to a lot of readers to strongly condemn it without anything else being stated. I think it's ill-placed because it's out of context and also a really nasty-sounding quote. Also, he certainly didn't send U.S. troops to actually take over anyplace as a colony, though aside from his leadership of an international coalition against Iraq under U.N. auspices (or at least support), he did invade Panama to kidnap its leader and had a previous track record as head of the CIA, so I would never dispute that he was an imperialist in the post-colonial (neo-colonial, if you like) sense. Ikan Kekek (talk) 09:51, 26 December 2020 (UTC)
I agree with Ikan Kekek – leave this quote out. —Granger (talk · contribs) 10:38, 26 December 2020 (UTC)
If we want a quote for this article, Theodore Roosevelt's "Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far" might be a better choice. —Granger (talk · contribs) 11:38, 26 December 2020 (UTC)
I'm happy with Granger's suggestion to swap for a quote from Theodore Roosevelt. The dog2 (talk) 15:07, 26 December 2020 (UTC)
Me too. Ikan Kekek (talk) 18:40, 26 December 2020 (UTC)
Yes Done The dog2 (talk) 19:59, 26 December 2020 (UTC)

Smithsonian museums[edit]

It would be too long for the main text, but let me record the impressions of my visits to the American Indian museum at the National Mall. There are a lot of informative displays about many tribes, how they lived, how they made contact with white people, the dates of the signment of agreements with U.S. government, what were the terms of agreement, and what really happened afterwards. It's really poignant, a contrast with the dazzling architecture of the building, the garden with native crops and smart informative displays, the food court with historically accurate and very tasty Native food available, the souvenir shop where I was glad to see for sale many books I've already read. Right next door is the Botanic Garden, a shining jewel of a touristic attraction, where I finally satisfied my curiosity about what are paw-paws (Asimina triloba, Annonaceae, forever my favorite botanic family of edible fruits). The square across the street has the most beautiful vegetable garden ever, and I actually had a most amusing and long, more than two hours, conversation with a gardener there on official duty, about native and imported crops of leaves, fruits, roots and red peppers, in North and South America (he had been to Brazil). The Smithsonian Castle's gardens, meticulously trimmed and plaqued, and adjacent museums of world art are in the must-see category, as well as the American History museum. And why not talk about the National Portrait Gallery and the Summer Evening parades at Marine Barracks. --Ibaman (talk) 02:38, 26 December 2020 (UTC)

Imperialism vs. isolationism[edit]

I'm comfortable with speaking of the American empire, but I daresay, most Americans are not, and while "Manifest Destiny", meaning a supposedly God-given mission to win the territory that is now the U.S. from the Atlantic to the Pacific, is central to the country's history, many Americans are very uncomfortable with the idea of overseas wars. There was a lot of opposition to the U.S. entry into World War I, followed by a disbanding of the overwhelming majority of the standing army, and then it took a direct attack on a navy base on U.S. territory with many casualties to overcome opposition to U.S. involvement in World War II. In a travel article, I don't think it bears more than glancing mention that many Americans have historically been isolationist and that most Americans do not consider the country to be an empire, but I feel that not mentioning that at all would be problematic. And furthermore, I'd repeat that American exceptionalism is not at all solely imperialistic but also and maybe even more so an attitude of isolationists. I think American exceptionalism is far enough from the topic not to merit inclusion, though we could discuss this, but in a topic called "American Empire", mentioning that few Americans consider the country an empire seems crucial to understanding, and therefore IMO belongs in "Understand".

By the way, I think "empire" shouldn't be capitalized, as this is not an official name. Ikan Kekek (talk) 04:03, 26 December 2020 (UTC)

Certainly, a definition of what "American exceptionalism" means is beyond the scope of this article. But I think in the last paragraph where foreign interventionism is mentioned, we can add some information stating that the U.S. was quite isolationist in the period between the two world wars, though that is not completely accurate either as it was still involved in regime change operations in Latin America. I think it's fine to say that few Americans consider the country and empire, but let's also acknowledge reality here, that U.S. had (and some would argue, still has) colonial possessions. In that regard, you can say what you want, but it doesn't change the fact that the U.S. at least was an empire at some point in its history.
I would agree though that many Americans outside the political establishment are quite uncomfortable with fighting wars in foreign countries, and I've found from my experience talking to people here that a surprisingly large number of conservatives outside the political establishment are actually non-interventionists. The dog2 (talk) 04:42, 26 December 2020 (UTC)
You notice that I'm not debating the realities of U.S. foreign policy, but the point is that the powers that be don't call it an empire and the people don't accept it as an empire. And you're quite right that many people on the right are isolationist. Ikan Kekek (talk) 05:21, 26 December 2020 (UTC)
So what do you suggest then? My initial purpose for creating this article was to cover American former (and current) colonial possessions along the lines of the articles about other colonial empires. Nobody in the right frame of mind, be it Democrat or Republican, will deny that the Philippines under American rule was a colony. The dog2 (talk) 05:28, 26 December 2020 (UTC)
What part of what I've posted above is confusing you? I made a suggestion above, right? Ikan Kekek (talk) 05:35, 26 December 2020 (UTC)
There's a lot to cover, but yes, I agreed with you on including something stating that many Americans were historically isolationist. But for me, why should we capitalise "Empire" in the terms "British Empire" or "Spanish Empire" but not "American Empire"? The dog2 (talk) 05:51, 26 December 2020 (UTC)
Because "British Empire" was an official name. We don't capitalize the 2nd words of unofficial names. Ikan Kekek (talk) 05:58, 26 December 2020 (UTC)
OK, in that case go ahead and change it. Or if you think it would be less politically charged, "American colonial empire" might work too. The dog2 (talk) 06:06, 26 December 2020 (UTC)
Either would work. Should we take a vote? Ikan Kekek (talk) 06:55, 26 December 2020 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Sure. I have no preference for either one, so let's see what others say. The dog2 (talk) 07:00, 26 December 2020 (UTC)

One more thing to add though. We should be careful with terminology. Although there is significant overlap between non-interventionism and isolationism, they're not the same thing. The dog2 (talk) 08:37, 26 December 2020 (UTC)
You probably know that the usual distinctions that are made in the U.S. are between isolationism and internationalism and between hawks and doves, which is a different pairing. You also probably know that internationalism can be either imperialist and/or internationalist in the sense of emphasizing diplomacy and cooperating on a more equitable basis with other countries in international groupings. But this is really not a travel-related discussion. Ikan Kekek (talk) 09:38, 26 December 2020 (UTC)
I'm not suggesting that we include all these definitions in the article. I'm just saying that we need to be careful of our choice of terminology. After all, isolationism also implies eschewing diplomacy and multilateralism, and just doing whatever you want, which is essentially what Trump's "America First" policy is about. Non-interventionism just means not getting involved in other countries' conflicts or domestic politics, but does not necessarily mean pulling out of international organisations or treaties. The dog2 (talk) 18:35, 26 December 2020 (UTC)
I don't think a genuine isolationist would risk war with Iran. Isolationism means exactly what you said but also means not fighting unless your country is attacked. Ikan Kekek (talk) 18:41, 26 December 2020 (UTC)


"American Empire" is not an official name, and very few Americans would recognize the term (unlike British Empire, for example), so per our rules on capitalization, at the very least, we should make the second word lowercase. But since we should change the name, anyway, let's discuss whether to rename this article (1) "American empire", (2) "American colonial empire" or (3) something else not yet suggested. I'm not sure I have a preference between the two new names mentioned above. Ikan Kekek (talk) 17:56, 27 December 2020 (UTC)

No preference for me between the first two. The dog2 (talk) 18:46, 27 December 2020 (UTC)
I agree that "American Empire" is not a very recognizable title. I'm not entirely clear what the intended scope of this article is. "American expansion" would cover part of it (but probably not the American concessions in China, for instance). "American colonialism" would cover part of it too (but maybe not St. Augustine). I'm not sure Chapultepec Castle fits under any of these titles. What is the intended scope/topic of this article? —Granger (talk · contribs) 19:32, 27 December 2020 (UTC)
At this point, it seems to cover the conquest and acquisition of territory starting with the Louisiana Purchase, so for the overwhelming majority of the existence of the U.S.A., with a special focus so far on covering the remnants of previous rulers, although plans have been discussed to include sights like the statue of Seward in Madison Square Park, Manhattan. Do you think the topic is too broad or just not focused enough at this point? Ikan Kekek (talk) 19:44, 27 December 2020 (UTC)
That makes sense. Maybe "American expansion" then, with the concessions in China and anything similar relegated to a separate section in recognition that they're not quite the same as the others. I think that would be a more recognizable term and easier to focus an article around. I'll add that it strikes me as odd to describe Florida and Louisiana as part of an "American Empire" – it may be accurate from some theoretical standpoint, but not many people think of them that way. —Granger (talk · contribs) 19:54, 27 December 2020 (UTC)
Initially, my intention was for it to be somewhere along the lines of the articles of other colonial empires, like the British Empire, Spanish Empire, Dutch Empire, Portuguese Empire and French Colonial Empire articles. The difference though is that in those empires, most of their colonies have since achieved independence, but for the U.S., most of its former colonies are now states. Of course, there are exceptions like Liberia and the Philippines. It's certainly a complex subject because while we certainly wouldn't consider Hawaii a colony today, it was a colony when first acquired by the U.S., and was only granted statehood in 1959. And pretty much all of the U.S. outside the original 13 British colonies were American colonies before they were granted statehood. The dog2 (talk) 19:59, 27 December 2020 (UTC)
[Edit conflict:] I agree. I think "American expansion" is a term that's much more recognizable, and it also has the virtue of not seeming confrontational to some Americans who might want to push back on the idea that the U.S. is an empire. Ikan Kekek (talk) 20:00, 27 December 2020 (UTC)
Right, but of course the 13 colonies were also colonies. Ikan Kekek (talk) 20:01, 27 December 2020 (UTC)
Also, if you think about it, Russian Empire deals with the times of the Tsar, who was officially and in practice an emperor, whereas the U.S. is an empire in only a figurative sense, and therefore, what we're covering is expansion, not the Imperial Palaces of the nonexistent U.S. kings. Ikan Kekek (talk) 20:04, 27 December 2020 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── I lean more towards calling it "American colonialism" because the U.S. had (and some would argue, still has) colonies, and this was what I intended for this article to cover. And of course, the original 13 colonies were colonies, but they were British colonies, not American colonies. The dog2 (talk) 20:08, 27 December 2020 (UTC)

Okay, American colonialism strikes me as a possibly coherent topic too. But in that case I'd suggest excluding Florida, the Louisiana purchase, and probably everything involving the acquisition of what is now the contiguous US. For most people planning a trip I don't think those fit into the same travel topic as relics of American rule in Shanghai or the Philippines. —Granger (talk · contribs) 20:43, 27 December 2020 (UTC)
The title "American colonialism" seems the most logical one to me. And I agree that the Contiguous U.S. does not apply here. --Comment by Selfie City (talk | contributions) 20:45, 27 December 2020 (UTC)
If we are to exclude the contiguous U.S., Hawaii and Alaska should be excluded too because those are states, not colonies, so they are every bit as part of the U.S. as the 48 contiguous states. I lean in favour of covering U.S. overseas territories like Puerto Rico, though whether or not Puerto Rico is a colony today is of course a matter of debate that we probably shouldn't get into here. But I would say a key difference is that residents of Hawaii and Alaska get to vote for president, while residents of Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands do not. The dog2 (talk) 20:55, 27 December 2020 (UTC)
Alaska might not be appropriate, but if I'm not mistaken, Hawaii was annexed. However, I don't know the circumstances or context of the annexation. --Comment by Selfie City (talk | contributions) 21:09, 27 December 2020 (UTC)
Yes, Hawaii was annexed, but so were Florida, Texas, California, New Mexico and so on. And much of the land France sold in the Louisiana purchase wasn't actually controlled by France; it was controlled by Native Americans, and the U.S. only gained control through wars with the Native Americans. The dog2 (talk) 21:15, 27 December 2020 (UTC)
I think excluding all the states seems reasonable and intuitive. I don't feel strongly about whether or not to include the current territories. —Granger (talk · contribs) 21:16, 27 December 2020 (UTC)
An alternative would be that we can include parts of the US outside the original 13 colonies, but only sites that are directly related to colonialism (eg. monuments to the first white settlers, monuments to the American general that conquered the area, or museums covering the genocide of the Native Americans). The original 13 colonies were British and not American colonies, so they would most certainly be outside the scope of this article. The dog2 (talk) 22:49, 27 December 2020 (UTC)
I agree that it makes sense to cover current and former territories that haven't become states in a separate topic, as outlined above. The rest of this post digresses, so I'll include it, anyway, but that's my bottom line - "American colonialism" as a topic that focuses only as described above really makes sense to me. The legacy of genocide, land theft and oppression of Native Americans could be more efficiently covered in a different topic, since it's different in both location and context than overseas colonialism. Whether that topic is a spinoff from Indigenous cultures of North America and has sections on the living cultures, homes and lives of present-day Natives as well as genocide/land theft remembrance is also something that could be discussed, but my feeling is that that "Indigenous cultures" article is probably the best place to start covering the topic. (Parenthetically, I don't think there's much debate about whether Puerto Rico is a colony after the way it's been treated in the last few years in terms of crushing debts it can't pay not being covered by the Federal government as it normally does for any state and with their not having the right to declare bankruptcy like states, per a Supreme Court decision, and then a lack of reasonable aid after the hurricanes. However, if it becomes a state, like Hawaii, it should at that point be excluded from a topic that doesn't cover states.) In terms of the coverage of the legacy of non-English colonial rule and Mexican rule of parts of what's now the U.S., some of that (particularly the sites such as buildings and forts that still exist from those times) can be covered in existing "Empires" articles about those European former mother countries, and content of the continuing vibrancy of (sub)cultures that combine heritage from those previous periods with participation in overall American society could be covered in an article that might be written about Mexican-American culture(s), the Culture(s) of Louisiana, etc., keeping in mind that we might want to be careful about starting articles without a clear idea of what and how much travel-related content would be in there. By the way, I chose "Culture of Louisiana" advisedly, as there are 3 main cultures there: Cajun, Creole and the Evangelical Protestant culture in the north of the state that's sometimes called "Redneck" (but that's a slur when not used by the people themselves). All should be mentioned in an article about the state's culture and traditions, and unless we have experts on places to visit to absorb Cajun or Creole culture, I doubt we'll have enough travel-related information to cover those cultures in separate articles at this point, though maybe eventually. Ikan Kekek (talk) 00:52, 28 December 2020 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────OK, that makes sense. So do we have a consensus to only cover current and former territories that have not become states? (And going on a tangent here, Puerto Rican statehood isn't going to happen anytime soon because the democrats do not have a supermajority in both houses on Congress, and also do not control 3/4 of the state legislatures, both of which are required to admit a new state. And the Republicans are sure to block it because Puerto Rico is a heavily blue area.) The dog2 (talk) 01:08, 28 December 2020 (UTC)

If it was as hard to admit new states as to pass new Constitutional amendments, I daresay the U.S. would be a lot smaller. Admission of a new state requires nothing but a simple majority in both Houses of Congress, and normally a constitution for the new state. That means 50 votes in the Senate with the VP breaking the tie is fine. Ikan Kekek (talk) 02:34, 28 December 2020 (UTC)