Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Gaines M. Foster


After the depression of 1893, some New South prophets advocated a more assertive, foreign policy as a means to attain regional economic uplift. With the objective of obtaining overseas markets, some of the prophets even supported the use of force to create American colonies as an appropriate goal of American foreign policy. The acquisition of new territories, and hence, new markets, the prophets maintained, would be an economic boon to southern producers of cotton, textiles, and other goods. And the economic stimulus accompanying an increase in foreign trade would lift the region out of poverty, promote the growth of southern port cities, and provide additional capital for the modernization of the South. Most southerners, however, did not share this optimistic vision in the potential of overseas expansion to cure many of the South's most serious problems. Instead, an aggressive, assertive foreign policy produced more fear and anxiety than hope. From their own historic experience with African slavery, Civil War, defeat, humiliation, and Reconstruction, most southerners found it difficult to fully embrace the imperialist vision. Southern white racism, the fear of expanded federal power (especially the creation of a large military and bureaucracy to administer colonies), opposition to increased taxes to support overseas expansion, and suspicion of Republican motives, all contributed to produce widespread opposition to the nation's expansionist policies. While most in the region supported McKinley's declaration of war against Spain in 1898 as a means to prove the South's loyalty to the Union and liberate Cuba from harsh Spanish rule, the experience of war did little to allay southern suspicions and fears. McKinley's handling of the war, the paucity of opportunities for southern soldiers and firms, and the degeneration of the war to liberate Cuba into one to conquer the Philippines, proved disappointing to the South. Consequently, traditional attitudes were reasserted and blended with the New South desire for trade to produce a southern foreign policy consensus that rejected the use of force in favor of neocolonialism.