Archive for the ‘Imperialism’ Category

Who was Teddy Roosevelt?

The Talented Mr. Roosevelt
Here is a good video from the history channel about Theodore Roosevelt.

The White Man’s Burden and Response

Make sure you read this for our next class meetings on the B/C days. You might want to take some notes comparing the two poems. You should have seen the first one last year, and I would suggest you find out who Rudyard Kipling was.
What do these two poems suggest about imperialism (and anti-imperialism)?

The White Man’s Burden
Rudyard Kipling, 1899

This famous poem, written by Britain’s imperial poet, was a response to the American take over of the Philippines after the Spanish-American War. What was Kipling saying about colonialism? How should the word “burden” be interpreted, and who exactly carries this burden?

Take up the White Man’s burden–
Send forth the best ye breed–
Go bind your sons to exile
To serve your captives’ need;
To wait in heavy harness,
On fluttered folk and wild–
Your new-caught, sullen peoples,
Half-devil and half-child.

Take up the White Man’s burden–
In patience to abide,
To veil the threat of terror
And check the show of pride;
By open speech and simple,
An hundred times made plain
To seek another’s profit,
And work another’s gain.

Take up the White Man’s burden–
The savage wars of peace–
Fill full the mouth of Famine
And bid the sickness cease;
And when your goal is nearest
The end for others sought,
Watch sloth and heathen Folly
Bring all your hopes to nought.

Take up the White Man’s burden–
No tawdry rule of kings,
But toil of serf and sweeper–
The tale of common things.
The ports ye shall not enter,
The roads ye shall not tread,
Go mark them with your living,
And mark them with your dead.

Take up the White Man’s burden–
And reap his old reward:
The blame of those ye better,
The hate of those ye guard–
The cry of hosts ye humour
(Ah, slowly!) toward the light:–
“Why brought he us from bondage,
Our loved Egyptian night?”

Take up the White Man’s burden–
Ye dare not stoop to less–
Nor call too loud on Freedom
To cloke your weariness;
By all ye cry or whisper,
By all ye leave or do,
The silent, sullen peoples
Shall weigh your gods and you.

Take up the White Man’s burden–
Have done with childish days–
The lightly proferred laurel,
The easy, ungrudged praise.
Comes now, to search your manhood
Through all the thankless years
Cold, edged with dear-bought wisdom,
The judgment of your peers!

Then this response was published in an African-American newspaper…

Why Talk of the White Man’s Burden?
By Bruce Grit, The Colored American (D.C.) (Feb. 25, 1899).

This poem was written in response to Kipling’s and published in a major African American newspaper.

Why talk of the white man’s burden;
What burdens hath he borne
That have not been shared by the black man
From the day creation dawned?

Why talk of the white man’s burden,
Why boast of the white man’s power
When the black man’s load is heavier,
And increasing every hour?

Why taunt us with our weakness,
Why boast of your brutal strength;
Know ye not that the children of meekness
Shall inherit the earth — at length?

“Take up the white man’s burden!”
What burdens doth he bear,
That have not been borne with courage
By brave men everywhere?

Then why the white man’s burden?
What more doth he bear than we —
The victims of his power and greed
From the great lakes to the sea?

This poem was published without a title. It is provided here from the first line.

The Panama Canal

Here’s a cool palindrome about Teddy Roosevelt: A MAN, A PLAN, A CANAL: PANAMA



For more info:

From How Stuff Works:

Timeline of Canal Construction:

This explains what it was like for the workers: from WGBH The American Experience: and here is an animation of how it was expected to work:

Here’s a video that shows how it works:

Chapter 27 questions

Chapter 27 Empire and Expansion

Due Tuesday January 28

1. According to pp 669-670, what general event (think Turner) and 8 specific developments (number them as you answer) caused American to turn its attention to the rest of the world by the 1890s? What did the Rev. Josiah Strong advocate, and why?

2. What was the “Big Sister” policy? How did our “little sister” like it, and how did it treat “her?”

3. Explain the meaning of the editorial cartoon on p. 670, and the meaning of the diner, the waiter, and the menu items.  What are the “Sandwich Islands?”

4. List or chart the major diplomatic crises in the late 1880s and 90s and their outcomes. Make sure you include the president at the time, with whom we were tangling, as well as what we were arguing about, and how these were resolved.

5. Who was Alfred Thayer Mahan, and how did influence government policy? What was his main thesis?

6. What details make the Venezuelan border crisis a perfect example of the competition occurring among countries at the end of the 19th century? How did it alter US-British relations? Who is the eagle, and who is the lion?

7. How did Americans end up in Hawai’i in the 1820s? How did the McKinley Tariff and the treatment of Japanese workers end up influencing the “sugar lords” to attempt to take over the islands officially? How did they manage this? Why did it take until 1898 for Hawai’i  to be annexed by the US?

8. Why did Cubans rebel against Spanish rule, and what tactics did they use? What were the four reasons most American believed the US should support the insurrectos?

9. How did the planned Panama Canal influence our reaction to the Cuban rebellion?

10. What was the USS Maine doing in Havana harbor? What really happened—and what did people suspect? Why did people suspect this? When did the actual truth come out?

11.  Why did McKinley finally declare war on Spain? What is ironic about this decision? What was the Teller Amendment, and why was it passed?

12. Why did the first engagement of the war begin in the Philippines? Who was the American commander? What happened to the Spanish fleet there? Why couldn’t the American forces quickly complete the capture of the islands?

13. What was the most successful engagement of the war, and what made it possible (think back to page 670)? What did this engagement—reveal as a key weakness for the Spanish military? Which part of our own military was the weakest, and why? What were the causes of injury/death of most casualties?

14. What roles did Teddy Roosevelt and Leonard Wood play in the Spanish- American War? What happened when we invaded Puerto Rico in terms of response form the Spanish?

15. What were the terms of the treaty which ended the Spanish American War (including new territories and approximately where they were)? How long had the war lasted, and what did that indicate? What were the greatest controversies over the terms?

16. Why did the Spanish American War actually inflame anti-imperialist sentiment in the US? What did anti-imperialists argue about the acquisition of the Philippines? How did the acquisition of the Philippines  impact American foreign policy vis-à-vis Asia?

17. Explain the situation surrounding the Insular Cases court decisions, and its implications for future American imperialism.

18. How independent was Cuba after the War? Include an explanation of the Platt Amendment in your answer.

19. How did the Filipino people respond to being acquired by the US? Be specific and thorough in your answer, and include an explanation of “benevolent assimilation.” Who was Emilio Aguinaldo?

20. How did America try to compete with other foreign powers in China? How successful were these attempts? What was the Boxer Rebellion, what caused it, and how was it put down?

21. How did Theodore Roosevelt come to be on the presidential ticket as candidate for vice president in 1900? What had he previously done in public service?

22. How did imperialism influence the election of 1800? Describe the platform of both parties. What impact did Teddy Roosevelt have in this area on the Republican ticket?

23. How did Roosevelt end up being president? How did that end up probably annoying the Republican establishment? What was Roosevelt’s stance regarding presidential power and authority?

24. Explain how the Panama Canal was built including explanation of relevant treaties and the US involvement in the Panamanian Revolt from Columbia.

25. How did Roosevelt’s presidency impact our relations with Latin America? What was the Roosevelt Corollary and the so-called “Bad Neighbor” policy, and how were they related?

26. Why did Japan and Russia go to war, and how did the US intervene? How did Roosevelt get rewarded?

27. Explain the “gentleman’s agreement” and the Root –Takahara agreement.

28. How did the “New Left” historians interpret imperialism?

The first president to win the Nobel Peace Prize

Who was it, and why?

To find out, see these pages:,

and this one:

The “White Man’s Burden” as Prophecy

Senator Benjamin Tillman was a former South Carolina governor who served as senator representing South Carolina. His nickname was “Pitchfork Ben” Tillman because he was a farmer and emphasized his links with the common farmer. He was known for his fiery rhetoric especially as a proponent of white supremacy. Please read the short biographical info found here at

“The White Man’s Burden” as Prophecy
By Benjamin R. Tillman

Extract from a speech delivered in the U.S. Senate, Feb. 7, 1899.

As though coming at the most opportune time possible, you might say just before the treaty reached the Senate, or about the time it was sent to us, there appeared in one of our magazines a poem by Rudyard Kipling, the greatest poet of England at this time. This poem, unique, and in some places too deep for me, is a prophecy. I do not imagine that in the history of human events any poet has ever felt inspired so clearly to portray our danger and our duty. It is called “The White Man’s Burden.” With the permission of Senators I will read a stanza, and I beg Senators to listen to it, for it is well worth their attention. This man has lived in the Indies. In fact, he is a citizen of the world, and has been all over it, and knows whereof he speaks.

“Take up the White Man’s burden–
Send forth the best ye breed– Go, bind your sons to exile,
To serve your captive’s need; To wait, in heavy harness,
On fluttered folk and wild– Your new-caught sullen peoples,
Half devil and half child.”

I will pause here. I intend to read more, but I wish to call attention to a fact which may have escaped the attention of Senators thus far, that with five exceptions every man in this chamber who has had to do with the colored race in this country voted against the ratification of the treaty[the Treaty of Paris which was ratified Feb. 6, 1899 and ended the Spanish-American War]. It was not because we are Democrats, but because we understand and realize what it is to have two races side by side that can not mix or mingle without deterioration and injury to both and the ultimate destruction of the civilization of the higher. We of the South have borne this white man’s burden of a colored race in our midst since their emancipation and before.

It was a burden upon our manhood and our ideas of liberty before they were emancipated. It is still a burden, although they have been granted the franchise. It clings to us like the shirt of Nessus, and we are not responsible, because we inherited it, and your fathers as well as ours are responsible for the presence amongst us of that people. Why do we as a people want to incorporate into our citizenship ten millions more of different or of differing races, three or four of them?

But we have not incorporated them yet, and let us see what this English poet has to say about it, and what he thinks.

“Take up the White Man’s burden–
No iron rule of kings, But toil of serf and sweeper–
The tale of common things. The ports ye shall not enter,
The roads ye shall not tread, Go, make them with your living
And mark them with your dead.”

Ah, if we have no other consideration, if no feeling of humanity, no love of our fellows, no regard for others’ rights, if nothing but our self-interest shall actuate us in this crisis, let me say to you that if we go madly on in the direction of crushing these people into subjection and submission we will do so at the cost of many, many thousands of the flower of American youth. There are 10,000,000 of these people, some of them fairly well civilized, and running to the extreme of naked savages, who are reported in our press dispatches as having stood out in the open and fired their bows and arrows, not flinching from the storm of shot and shell thrown into their midst by the American soldiers there.

The report of the battle claims that we lost only seventy-five killed and a hundred and odd wounded; but the first skirmish has carried with it what anguish, what desolation, to homes in a dozen states! How many more victims are we to offer up on this altar of Mammon or national greed? When those regiments march back, if they return with decimated ranks, as they are bound to come, if we have to send thousands and tens of thousands of re-enforcements there to press onward until we have subdued those ten millions, at whose door will lie these lives — their blood shed for what? An idea. If a man fires upon the American flag, shoot the last man and kill him, no matter how many Americans have to be shot to do it.

The city of Manila is surrounded by swamps and marshes, I am told. A few miles back lie the woods and jungles and mountains. These people are used to the climate. They know how to get about, and if they mean to have their liberties, as they appear to do, at what sacrifice will the American domination be placed over them? There is another verse of Kipling. I have fallen in love with this man. He tells us what we will reap:

“Take up the White Man’s burden,
And reap his old reward– The blame of those ye better
The hate of those ye guard– The cry of those ye humor
(Ah, slowly!) toward the light:– ‘Why brought ye us from bondage,
Our loved Egyptian night?'”

Those peoples are not suited to our institutions. They are not ready for liberty as we understand it. They do not want it. Why are we bent on forcing upon them a civilization not suited to them and which only means in their view degradation and a loss of self-respect, which is worse than the loss of life itself?

I am nearly done. Nobody answers and nobody can. The commercial instinct which seeks to furnish a market and places for the growth of commerce or the investment of capital for the money making of the few is pressing this country madly to the final and ultimate annexation of these people regardless of their own wishes.

Preliminary Links for the Spanish-American War



A really cool primary source graphic