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Why had the US not focused on expansion and imperialist action throughout much of the late 1800s?
The realization that engaging in expansion and imperialism was going to lead to foreign entanglements and require large military expenditures.
Business leaders and politicians felt that the financial rewards from overseas expansion were minimal.
It was seen as un-American and anti-democratic to take over other area and make their citizens American subjects.
There were far more important things for the US to focus on at home, such as Reconstruction and business growth.
Expansion overseas meant taking over non-white peoples, who were seen as inferior peoples and not as potential citizens.