American Imperialism: World Leader or Bully Worksheet & Lesson

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This higher-level activity has students thinking critically about 10 American actions during the Age of Imperialism. It includes both a worksheet and editable Google Docs version!

Events covered include:

  • The US purchase of Alaska
  • The Annexation of Hawaii
  • Spanish-American War
  • Foraker Act
  • Platt Amendment
  • Philippine-American War
  • Open Door Notes
  • Gentleman’s Agreement of 1907
  • Building of the Panama Canal
  • Roosevelt Corollary

For each event, students must determine whether they feel the US was acting like a "world leader" promoting good or a "bully" acting in its own self-interest. Whatever their decision, they must provide evidence to back up their claim.

After completing the chart, students then determine whether America overall acted more like a World Leader or a World Bully and compose a short persuasive essay on their choice.

Also included is a student example that you could use as an answer key. However, each aspect of this is opinion-based and arguments could be made for either.

This download includes both printable and Google Docs versions of the activity! If you're in a paperless classroom or just want to integrate more digital resources, you can use the provided link to bring this resource into Google Classroom!

The Google Docs version even includes links to online resources about each event so students can research and determine how the US acted.

This resource can also be downloaded as part of my Progressive Era and Imperialism Unit Plan Bundle!

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Total Pages
3 pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
1 hour
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to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
Integrate quantitative or technical analysis (e.g., charts, research data) with qualitative analysis in print or digital text.
Analyze in detail a series of events described in a text; determine whether earlier events caused later ones or simply preceded them.
Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.
Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, attending to such features as the date and origin of the information.


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