One of the most important ideas in America was manifest destiny. It was the belief the nation had to grow from a bunch of East Coast states and undeveloped Appalachia to the Pacific Ocean, never mind the many Native American tribes in between.
Even in 1776 people on the East Coast saw Middle America as empty flyover country.
But if US leaders had gotten their way, American territory would extend beyond it’s already large scope. School children might now be memorizing capitals of these territories.
The close history of the US and Canada makes talk of annexation or merger inevitable. But while most of Canada stuck with the British Empire in 1776, in the intervening years historical events have made Canadians want to join America.
Not to be confused with what liberals want to do when a Republican is elected President.
- The 1850 Montreal Annexation Manifesto – Americans living in the Eastern Townships of Quebec felt cut off from the main trade with Britain and proposed a merger with the United States to better their economic and political situation.
- 1860s – US Secretary of State William Seward proposed acquiring British North America (western portions of Canada) from Britain. The proposal got support from the Times of London and the newspapers of Vancouver Island. A proposed Annexation Bill of 1866 never got out of committee, but the bill led to Britain formally adding its western territories to Canada.
- Mid-20th Century – Newfoundland was a dominion separate from Canada that dissolved its government during the Great Depression and was run by the British. In 1948 Britain arrange a vote to decide the future. The Economic Union Party proposed a merger with the United States instead of joining Canada or autonomy. The campaign did not succeed and in a runoff election Newfoundland joined Canada.
2. Latin America
Before the US settled for occasional interventions into Latin America on behalf of fruit companies, there were real attempts to annex parts of the country. William Walker was the leader of the filibusters, a group of Americans that wanted to extend US slavery into Mexico. His first foray was an unsuccessful attempt to start a colony in Mexico to join the US as a slave state, which ended up with him on trial for violating a US neutrality agreement with Mexico.
He was found not guilty based on the “It was only Mexicans I was harming” argument.
This was followed by a Nicaragua campaign, where he managed to control the country for two years. He attempted to retake Nicaragua twice, with the final attempt in ending when he was captured and executed in Honduras.
3. The Dominican Republic
It wasn’t just slave holders that wanted Latin American land. During Reconstruction President Grant thought the South was too backward to allow former slaves to integrate and annexing the Dominican Republic would give a place for slaves to go to get away from the Ku Klux Klan. Also, Grant could not conceive how taking over part of the island of Hispaniola and shipping black people there could ever be bad.
Haiti? I never heard of it.
The treaty to buy the island was blocked in the Senate by abolitionist Senator Sumner, who saw the plan as an imperial overreach by the US government.
4. US Wanted to Buy Greenland
During the Cold War more time was spent figuring out where to place military bases instead of any actual fighting. Right after World War II the US determined that bases in Greenland would be needed to counter any attack over the Arctic.
Pfft, have they even seen a Risk Board? Greenland is two spaces away from Russia.
Several proposals, including trading oil rich parts of Alaska or giving $100 million in gold were proposed. The proposal was given to Denmark’s foreign minister Gustav Rasmussen, who never responded back, probably because he foresaw the coming of Sarah Palin.
5. Any Island With Bird Poop On it
In 1856, the United States signed the Guano Islands Act, which allowed any US citizen to claim any island in world with bird poop on it for the United States. Guano, which was collected bird poop, was a source for fertilizer and saltpeter for gunpowder. This only applied to islands not claimed or inhabited by people of other nations.
And, as the judge explained, it does not apply to luxury cars.
Over 100 claims have been made under the act and it is still in effect, meaning that you don’t need millions to buy a private island, just the drive to go find bird poop on a rock somewhere.