Dominion from Sea to Sea

Dominion from Sea to Sea: Pacific Ascendancy and American Power

Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 608
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  • Book Info
    Dominion from Sea to Sea
    Book Description:

    America is the first world power to inhabit an immense land mass open at both ends to the world's two largest oceans-the Atlantic and the Pacific. This gives America a great competitive advantage often overlooked by Atlanticists, whose focus remains overwhelmingly fixed on America's relationship with Europe. Bruce Cumings challenges the Atlanticist perspective in this innovative new history, arguing that relations with Asia influenced our history greatly.

    Cumings chronicles how the movement westward, from the Middle West to the Pacific, has shaped America's industrial, technological, military, and global rise to power. He unites domestic and international history, international relations, and political economy to demonstrate how technological change and sharp economic growth have created a truly bicoastal national economy that has led the world for more than a century. Cumings emphasizes the importance of American encounters with Mexico, the Philippines, and the nations of East Asia. The result is a wonderfully integrative history that advances a strong argument for a dual approach to American history incorporating both Atlanticist and Pacificist perspectives.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-15497-9
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xvii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xviii-xxii)
  5. I A Frontier of the Mind
    • CHAPTER ONE The Machine in the Garden
      (pp. 3-40)

      Where does the West begin? Historians can’t agree, but for pioneers it was once the Appalachians, in Daniel Boone’s time it was Tennessee, Illinois was called the Northwest (thus Northwestern University), then Chicago and the railroads made a “new West.” The Census Bureau counts thirteen Mountain and Pacific states, including Alaska and Hawaii, as part of the West—but not Texas (not Texas?). Probably the most influential definition is the 98th meridian, the dividing line between rainfall adequate for farming and aridity. But half of the Americans living west of that meridian live in California. So is it the real...

    • Color illustrations
      (pp. None)
    • CHAPTER TWO “The Remote beyond Compare”: Finding California
      (pp. 41-52)

      Before writers could rhapsodize about California they had to find it. For nearly 250 years nobody could—mistaking it for an island, or a peninsula, or for a worthless but treacherous place inland from the southern desert and the murky shores of the Pacific north of Monterey. To the east, a vast and forbidding territory of mountain ranges, deserts, and grassy plains lay between California and the Middle Border, a thousand miles of rough terrain stretched southward to the Mexican plateau, and across the western shore an imperturbable, infinite ocean vale kept it hidden—because adventurers were looking for treasure...

  6. II From Sea to Shining Sea:: Manifest Destiny
    • CHAPTER THREE A Continent in Five Easy Pieces
      (pp. 55-93)

      Americans today are uncomfortable with the idea of empire, for a variety of reasons having to do with recent history, but throughout the nineteenth century their leaders were not—either because they believed in the distinctive anti-imperial origins of the country, or because they redefined empire to suit their needs: empire of liberty (Jefferson), empire of destiny (Polk), empire of colonies (Roosevelt), empire of values (Wilson). For most of the century, “empire” was the name of an expanding American realm, used time and again without the connotations we give it today. Europeans look at the American map in 1800 and...

    • CHAPTER FOUR Manifest Destiny’s Offspring: Gold, the Continental Railroad, Texas
      (pp. 94-125)

      If the American space broadened by 60 percent under Polk’s aggressive ministrations, two gargantuan territorial fruits of the war with Mexico grabbed everyone’s attentions: they are called California and Texas. The one jumped to the forefront of this nation’s destiny and never dismounted; the other mounted a horse and created a legend that never died. For California it began with gold and never ended; for Texas it began with longhorns and leapt forward with the other dark, dangerous, equivocal treasure nature buried in the depths—black gold. It is a minor irony that the word “California” turned up in an...

    • CHAPTER FIVE Abroad in Search of Monsters to Destroy
      (pp. 126-154)

      Manifest Destiny had a second run half a century later, half a world later really, because of the turmoil driven by an entirely different geographic axis: the North-South Civil War. The drive to the Pacific hardly ceased, but it was a people’s movement and not dependent on events in Washington or elsewhere. The gold rush populated California overnight. Pioneers kept arriving in the western states, and two new ones emerged on the shores of the Pacific: Oregon and Washington. But the continent nearly broke in two in the 1860s, concentrating minds on the grand themes of the South that barely...

  7. III Pacific States, New England Peoples
    • CHAPTER SIX East of Eden: The Pacific Northwest
      (pp. 157-174)

      Elementary geographic distance and an immense ocean vale shrouded the Northwest until the 1840s, just like California. It was nearly as isolated, developing a scant few years before the gold rush. British and Russian ships occasionally reconnoitered the Pacific coast above California, mainly for the fur trade, but the weather was often terrible, and it got very cold to the north. Sir Francis Drake sailed up the northern Pacific coast in 1579, along the Oregon shores and perhaps as far as present-day Vancouver. He named the region “New Albion,” cursed the “stinking fogges,” and never returned—and neither did anyone...

    • CHAPTER SEVEN Edens Lush and Frigid
      (pp. 175-196)

      In 1820 the American Board of Foreign Missions put six earnest missionaries from small towns in Maine aboard a ship namedThaddeus. They traveled halfway around the world to find themselves standing on a mountain top—an unaccountably verdant, even Edenic mountain top, swept by cooling trade winds under eternally blue skies. They were atop a volcanic rock pile jutting upward from the floor of the Pacific Ocean formed by lava erupting from the depths, called the Sandwich Islands. Captain James Cook had named them in honor of the fourth Earl of Sandwich, his patron John Montagu.¹ Here, in this...

    • CHAPTER EIGHT Pacific Crossings: Asians in the New States
      (pp. 197-216)

      From the very moment that Americans welcomed California into the Union, the westward march of empire ran into people going the other way—“eastering” across the Pacific. This ocean crossing eventually brought millions of Asians to the Pacific states, but for more than a century after the gold rush these early pioneers endured an appalling racism that barely distinguished the West from the abusive treatment of blacks in the South. If slavery was not widespread (it did exist from time to time), various kinds of indentured servitude often began an Asian pioneer’s life, lynchings were frequent, and many massacres stained...

  8. IV “A Crust of the Earth”:: Protean California
    • CHAPTER NINE A Garden Cornucopia
      (pp. 219-243)

      “I am not exactly pleased with the Atlantic,” Oscar Wilde declared upon arriving in New York; the ocean was not “so majestic, or even as large, as I expected.” An ocean should be there to please the man—and when he got to the Pacific, it did: the Pacific coast reminded him of the Mediterranean, and San Francisco of Genoa. And it was suitably large: the American Pacific coast runs to nearly 8,000 miles when measured by the “Detailed Tidal Shoreline” methods of the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey; add Alaska, and the length is 39,246 miles. For most of...

    • CHAPTER TEN “There It Is. Take It”: Water and Power
      (pp. 244-263)

      Quail is a reservoir near Los Angeles which holds 1,636,018,000 gallons of water. What Didion wanted was the autonomy to control it—water and power. That’s what the movieChinatownis about. It is rare for a Hollywood crime drama to spawn a literature and unrelenting controversy, but by now this film inhabits one book after another about water and power in California and the origins of Los Angeles. It has become part of that history—of the aqueduct that enabled the founding of a great city, the founders themselves, and their hopes, plans, dreams, and crimes. One writer condemns...

    • CHAPTER ELEVEN Southern California: Island on the Pacific
      (pp. 264-296)

      The Monterey cypress groves mark the onset of aridity that characterizes Southern California, where lots of sunshine gets little enhancement from rain and the cypress gives way to eucalyptus and chaparral, and eventually to desert. These rare trees (Cupressus macrocarpa), haunting in their chalky gray limbs bent in warped, fanciful shapes before the ocean storms (Robert Louis Stevenson called them “ghosts fleeing before the wind”) and reminiscent of similarly knotty and twisted trees all over tidal Japan, exist naturally in only two magnificent settings—Point Lobos and nearby Pebble Beach. Hitchcock chose this dramatic environment of “steep, rugged cliffs, sweeping...

    • Color illustrations
      (pp. None)
  9. V A Tipping Point
    • CHAPTER TWELVE The State as Pretense of Itself: Developing the West
      (pp. 299-334)

      World War II propelled the United States finally toward the global leadership role that its productive economy could have supported at any point after 1890, when it became the leading industrial power in the world. It retains that leadership today, indeed, it is almost taken for granted, as is the continental and Atlantic and Pacific reach of the country. But it was revolutionary when Dean Acheson mounted a podium at Yale University shortly after Germany invaded Poland in September 1939 and gave an address entitled “An American Attitude toward Foreign Affairs.” “Our vital interests do not permit us to be...

    • CHAPTER THIRTEEN Postwar California and the Rise of Western Republicanism
      (pp. 335-362)

      Los Angeles had reached a level of development in 50 years that took New York 175 years to accomplish, Carey McWilliams wrote, as the war “completely revolutionized the economy of California” and brought to a conclusion the “insular phase” of the state’s development—the sense of detachment from the continent and the Pacific Ocean. He went on to link all this to the mantras of the 1980s: the “fantastic world” around the Pacific Rim. But he said it in 1946 (and he was right).¹ California had several insular phases in its history: its eruption out of the ocean, the millennia...

    • CHAPTER FOURTEEN In California’s Shadow: The Rest of the West in the Postwar Era
      (pp. 363-387)

      After World War II Texas, Washington, Alaska, and Hawaii all charged ahead, building on the momentum of wartime industries and the new populations that arrived to work in them. The postwar West benefited from Pentagon spending, whether it was military bases, airfields, missile silos, or defense industries. Washington, Alaska, Hawaii, Utah, and Colorado all got more than a quarter of their income from defense in the 1950s. Aircraft production was centered almost entirely in the West—Los Angeles, Seattle, San Diego, Dallas–Fort Worth, and Wichita accounted for nearly all of it. Each state was a regional variant of the...

    • CHAPTER FIFTEEN Archipelago of Empire: An American Grid for the Global Garden
      (pp. 388-423)

      Academe unfortunately turns up few practitioners of the occult art of maintaining internal combustion engines. But one venerable figure used to hop on his motorcycle in Nyack, a lovely Hudson River town, and roar down to Columbia University with leather saddlebags flying in the wind. He often said sociology was easy, tuning up a Harley was difficult. Somewhat like President Eisenhower, C. Wright Mills took a look around in the 1950s and discerned something entirely new in American life: a military-industrial complex. More than that, a “power elite” made most of the important decisions: a tripartite group of corporate leaders,...

    • CHAPTER SIXTEEN Silicon Valley: A New World at the Edge of the Sea
      (pp. 424-470)

      In the spring of 2000 I was searching for leave-year housing and driving my boys, one second-grader and one sixth-grader, over to a town called Mountain View. They spied a white building on the highway: “Look, Dad, there’s Google!” “What’s Google?” (They both laughed at my appalling ignorance.) Now I use Google’s global satellite imagery to examine North Korean nuclear reactors as if I were in the National Security Agency, and this company has become something approximating another Microsoft by figuring out how to sell advertising effectively on the free Web (as people did in the 1920s for free radio—...

    • CHAPTER SEVENTEEN Conclusion: The American Ascendancy
      (pp. 471-500)

      Beneath the immense bleached sky, the Pacific states form the earthly margin where we run out of continent—where “things had better work out,” as Joan Didion wrote, because there was no place else to go. By and large, all things considered, they have: the American Pacific Rim is more than a facsimile of the hopes and dreams of nineteenth-century leaders and prophets. The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow materialized immediately, before the ink was dry on the treaty ending the war with Spain, but the built environment of today, from the Puget Sound down to...

  10. Appendix
    (pp. 501-514)
  11. Notes
    (pp. 515-552)
  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 553-588)
  13. Index
    (pp. 589-641)