While America has always been an expansionist nation, witness the Louisiana Purchase, the Adams-Onis Treaty (which gave the US Florida and defined the border between Oregon and what has become California), the addition of Texas, and most obviously the War with Mexico, and this was all before the Civil War, America was not an Empire, and it had no colonies overseas, that is outside of North America.
But this changed at the end of the Nineteenth Century, and there was an exact moment when the decision was made within the government of the United States that America should become an empire, only fitting for an up and coming powerful country that was surrounded by other powerful countries that had their own colonies. If one looks at a map of Africa from around the turn of the Twentieth Century, it is obvious that Africa had been divided up amongst the European countries. This has been discussed before, about the time when the continent was divided up formally among the European powers. But America was not part of the game. Spain had been the first major European colonial power at the end of the Fifteenth Century, and it had been joined by Great Britain, France, Holland, Germany, Portugal, and Italy.
But America finally got its chance, and the name of that opportunity was the Spanish-American War, which was won by America — Spain at that time was a fading power on the world stage — and thus as part of the victory the United States got Spain’s colonies, not only Cuba, over which the battle was fought, but also Guam and the Philippines. The Secretary of State at the time was John Hay, who had started out in Government as secretary to Abraham Lincoln. (For an interesting portrayal of the young John Hay, read the novel Lincoln by Gore Vidal.) Hay, who referred to the Spanish-American War as a “splendid little war”, wrote an important document in US diplomatic history called the Open Door Notes. In this document, he declared that the rest of the world should allow an Open Door with regards to China, a weak (at the time) power that European colonies had already latched onto. The Notes, first issued on September 6, 1899, wanted those other powers to make room for the up and coming power of the United States. This was essentially a statement that the United State planned to become an Empire also.
Here is a chart for the issuing of Open Door Notes. There is nothing really spectacular about it. At noon — a good approximation of when it was issued — the Moon was transiting the Midheaven of the United States, appropriate for something that would influence and color the behavior of the country for the next 100 years. The important Neptune-Pluto conjunction of 1890 is just starting to separate, but still in the “New Moon” phase. Saturn is in the First House, a few degrees beyond the Ascendant; this was a legal (Saturn) document that had important consequences for the country, at the time only a generation removed from the Civil War and the technical end of slavery, and facing the future of the Twentieth Century. A long time depression (Panic of 1873/Panic of 1893) was just ending.
Henry Luce, publisher of Time, Life, and Fortune, had declared, in an editorial in Life magazine February 17, 1941, almost year before America entered World War II, that the Twentieth Century was the American Century, just as Spain, Holland, and Britain had their places in the Sun. In the chart for this event, we see that the transiting Sun is conjunct the natal Moon of the US, the “American People”. This is indicative of the American Century.
But the cause of the Open Door Notes and American’ decision to become an Empire was the Spanish American War. (For further details of this important decision, see the recently published book One True Flag by Stephen Kinzer). The start of the Spanish American War was the explosion of the USS Maine in the Havana Harbor. This gave rise to the statement “Remember the Maine”. Yellow journalism was popular at the time (unlike now!!) and one of the best of the publishers of newspapers at the time was William Randolph Hearst, who famously told his artist in Cuba, Frederic Remington (who is also famous for his Western paintings) who was worried that there was no real war in Cuba, that “You furnish the pictures, I’ll furnish the war”. And he did.
While it was thought at the time that the explosion on the Maine was a result of Spanish perfidy, it is now thought more likely that the explosion was the result of a boiler on the ship. But nevertheless, that explosion caused Americans, such as Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders, to invaded Cuba and battle the Spanish.
This important explosion happened on February 15, 1898, and symbolically at least, it represents the start of the American Century that Henry Luce wrote about less than half a century later. If we look at this chart, the most prominent feature is the Saturn-Pluto opposition. This blog has often written about the powerful combination of Saturn Pluto hard aspects which were found at the start of World War I, World War II, the Cold War, and the death of democracy in Chile in 1973, among many other events. But not only are these planets in opposition, but that opposition is powerfully configured with the chart of the United States: Pluto is on the Descendant of the United States, and Saturn is on the Ascendant of the country’s chart. This seem appropriate, since the explosion (Pluto) occurred outside of the country, represented by the Descendant.
Within the year, the Open Door Notes was issued, and American had a colony in the Caribbean Sea, only 90 miles from Florida, and colonies in the Pacific. Unfortunately for the United States, the colony of the Philippines was not working out well for them. Who could have guessed that the people of the Philippines, having been liberated from their Spanish masters, were not too happy with the New Boss (same as the old boss) the United States. There started a bloody colonial war between the Philippines and the United States which lasted about three years. Waterboarding was practiced by Americans on captured Philippine soldiers. In American an anti-war organization (American Anti-imperialist League founded June 15, 1898) was formed with several prominent citizen at the time, such a the author Mark Twain, industrialist Andrew Carnegie, and psychologist William James.
In the chart for the formation of the American Anti-Imperialist League, important things to notice are the Sun-Neptune conjunction (idealism) conjunct the natal Mars (war) of the United States. Also of note is Jupiter (good intentions) at the Midheaven of the country. This league, and its diverse members, was a physical statement that there were decent people in the country, even though the actions of the government denied that statement.
Another example of the American Empire happened shortly after the end of that war, when President Theodore Roosevelt sent ships near the isthmus of Panama, then part of Columbia, to prevent the Columbian soldiers from interfering with the revolution in the isthmus to separate it from the country of Columbia. Once this revolt was successful and a new country was declared, thoughts of a canal between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans were seriously considered.
And of course American troops were sent in to many Central American counties, such as Haiti which was occupied by America for nineteen years and Nicaragua which was controlled by the Americans for more than the 21 years it occupied the county, and when they left the US allowed Anastasio Somoza to control that country.
This was all between the First and Second World Wars; after the second war the United States clearly emerged as the dominant power in the world, since all the other powers had been decimated by the fighting, while the United States, protected by the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, suffered no damage whatsoever — the only real exception was the bombing of that base on the Pacific colony of Hawaii (not a state until 1959).
American was the dominant power for decades after the end of World War II. But then, at the dawn of the Twenty-First Century, the first attack on the homeland of the United States since the British burned Washington, DC during the War of 1812 occurred. This was the attack on the World Trade Towers on September 11, 2001. Here is a chart for that event on a Tuesday morning.
In this chart we see Saturn is again opposite Pluto, and again this opposition is on the Ascendant-Descendant axis of the United States chart, just as it was in the chart for the explosion of the Maine and the start of the Spanish American War. But in this case Pluto is on the Ascendant and Saturn is on the Descendant. This again makes sense, since the explosion (Pluto) occurred in that country (Ascendant) and not abroad. This represents the closing of the cycle that started with the opposition of those two planets on the United states angles at the end of the Nineteenth Century,.
These two events, the Spanish-American War and the attack on 9/11 — represent the bookends of the American Empire and the markers of the American Century, the Twentieth Century.
The previous 500 years were a time of a unipolar world, when there would be only one power that was dominant. The first of these powers was Spain that managed to get the first colonies in what was called the New World. After that Holland was the dominant power; at one time that country had a colony in the New World called New Netherlands, dominated by the city called New Amsterdam which they had purchased from the native inhabitants of that land for some trinkets. Britain was the next dominant power, and when they got that city from Holland they renamed in after the Duke of York and now it is called it New York City. Finally America became the dominant power in the world.
But we are in a new 500 year cycle, and the Unipolar moment is over. We are now in a multipolar world, where several countries are dominant at the same time. Unfortunately the United States did not get the memo, and so it is behaving as if it is still the dominant power in the world. This could result in very sticky situations as the United States behaves as if the world has not changed, and the rest of the world realizes that it has changed.
After the opposition of Saturn and Pluto at the beginning of the Twenty-First Century, which represents symbolically the culminating of a cycle which started in 1982, the beginning of the Reagan Revolution and what was called at the time the New Cold War, indicative of Reagan’s increasing hostility toward the Soviet Union, comes the following conjunction of those two planets, representing symbolically the end of the old cycle and the beginning of a new cycle. In my next post, these Saturn-Pluto cycles of the Twentieth Century will be discussed, looking forward to the upcoming start of a new cycle.