The United States used military and political power to dominate world trade and increase the nation’s wealth. Working together, government and big business controlled sources of raw materials, secured markets for selling finished goods, protected American manufacturers through tariffs, and controlled intellectual property through patents and regulations.
From sugar and iron ore to rubber and bananas, the industrializing United States became increasingly interested in raw materials from around the world. By the late 1800s, the U.S. government was involved in politics abroad, especially in the Caribbean, South America, and the Pacific, often propping up undemocratic governments in an effort to support American business interests.
American tariffs influenced Hawaiian sugar competitiveness, and the sugar industry dominated Hawaiian politics. Seeking annexation, American business leaders, with the visible support of U.S. soldiers, deposed Hawai‘i’s queen in 1893. In 1898 Hawai‘i was annexed as a territory.
Made in the USA
Americans have always debated the buying, selling, and manufacture of their goods: from promoting the use of homespun cloth during the Revolutionary War to protesting the loss of manufacturing jobs in 1890. The passionate disputes revealed much about the variety of American perspectives and the balance between the values of opportunity, competition, and common good.
In the late 1800s, investing in large factories and specialized machinery, businesses increased efficiency and the quantities produced. Seeking to increase sales and create an outlet for their mass produced goods, they expanded to national and then international markets.
International politics and relationships sometimes effected how intellectual property rights were enforced.
The aspirin patent expired in 1917, and the trademark was lost in a 1921 court decision. Competitors could now market generic acetylsalicylic acid as aspirin.