I study the intellectual justification for American imperialism in the late nineteenth century. Often thought as quintessentially anti-imperial, the United States, in the period, acquired a collection of colonies and overseas territories including the Philippines, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Guam, as well as a collection of naval bases across the Pacific. This imperial project is often dismissed as either exceptionally benevolent or as an aberration in an otherwise anti-imperialist foreign policy; however, it was conducted within the same intellectual climate (as well as with the same levels of brutality) as the British or French empires.
I seek to place the concept of a racially defined world peace at the heart of this American empire project. Rather than being a hallmark of pacifism, world peace in this period signified peaceful conduct among white nations and was a vital justification for the pervasive concept of an imperial civilising mission. I see world peace as instrumental in the development of a broader politics of transnational white identity which emerged in this period. Transnational whiteness was a vehicle that allowed America to engage in imperial comparison, competition and cooperation as it emerged as a global power in the Age of Empire.