Imperialism



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Imperialism
I. Roots of Imperialism—Are there continuities if any are between TR’s day and our own as we embark in debate about invading Iraq —we want to examine the dominant notions of national destiny and proper Americanism which draw on charged encounters with disparaged peoples whose presence is as reviled in the political sphere as it is in
Definition of imperialism: the mere projection of vested interest in foreign areas to the overt practices of political domination at the other.
1890s is seen as a unique time because at the time of the closing of the American frontier ended with “US hegemony in Hawaii, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines. –The culture of empire had reached a new maturation.

–similarities between the first imperial projects and differences–lands vs. markes

A. American historic ideological arguments

1. Righteousness: Stemming from John Winthrop’s 17th c. Christian vision of a virtuous American “City on a Hill” –radiating its power by its own example.

—The Enmeshment of Christianity /American culture ie. democracy should spread throughout the world.
Josiah Strong wrote: “The mysteries of Africa are being opened, the pulse of her commerce is beginning to beat. South America is being quickened, and the dry bones of Asia are moving; the warm breath of the 19thc is breathing a living soul under her rubs of death. The world is to be Christianized and civilized.” He concluded that the commerce would follow the missionary and the US would become the “mighty workshop of the world, and our people “the hands of mankind.’”
—American mission movement–Student missions /women’s missions

—increased six fold

–generated interest in foreign developments

—abroad they pursued religious transformation that often included cultural conversion

—promoted trade, developed business interests

—encouraged westernization through technology, education, and religion

—promoted annexation such as Hawaii

–reinforced American expansion via idealism but was often critical of American materialistic or economic speculative expansion.


Historian George Kennan in his work American Diplomacy articulated what was known in the 1950s as the realist school. Concerned that American’s in order to survive the modern world American’s needed to understand the realities of power especially military power. They believed that American’s had vacillated from the tough mindedness of the Founding Fathers and adopted a “legalism and Moralism.” For example Kennan had argued that Wilson got too bogged down in making the world safe for democracy that he never understood the realities of world power. Wilson made Americans feel more righteous after WWI but they created a power vacuum in central Europe that was soon filled by Nazi militarism and Soviet expansion.
2. Strategic or rationalistic concerns

a. military concerns

–a victorious war against an European rival could enhance American international statue.

—Alfred Mahan president of the Naval War College emphasized a strong navy

—urged the building of the Panama Canal/acquire naval bases in Caribbean/Pacific and annex Hawaii to promote trade and service the fleet.

—Ideas were published The Influence of Sea Power

—supported by Pres. Harrison, Cabot Lodge, and TR

b. economic concerns-

—A “good war” can impart unity, vigor and prosperity

—unity between N/S rich poor

—vigor: bureaucratic order was robbing men of masculine virtues: independence, strenuous living, patriarchal authority while giving women expanded role in economic and political affairs.

—larger navy was meant to protect economic expansions and foreign trade

—production capacities needed new markets beyond domestic–manufactured goods grew ninefold between 1865-1900 but domestic buying power was saturated or hampered by low wages and thus America was producing record numbers of goods without people to buy them.

—interest in foreign trade became obsessive when the depression of 1894 and the Pullman Strike of 1896 and Coxey’s Army of unemployed workers raised fears of “revolution.”

—New threats to American markets from Europeans who raised tariffs on American goods and restricted commercial activities in Japan /China

–the clamor for trade with in Asia outweighed the actual trade in which during 1890s China only accounted for 1.1 % of all American exports. And during the decade Japan was the chief trade partner with the US.


William Appleman Williams revised the Kennan School by arguing in The Tragedy of American Diplomacy that domestic concerns had driven imperialistic aims. That is the needs of the market and the need to dispose of American goods made it necessary that America conquer world markets and if necessary direct government intervention to help it do so. Appleman concluded that this drive for markets transformed Winthrop’s vision of a virtuous America to a “worldwide empire extending its power by military and economic force.”

II. Key Steps toward market imperialism

A. The early architect of American Imperialism: James G. Blaine– Secretary of State during the administrations of Garfield/Harrison

1. Built on Lincoln’s Sect. of State: William’s Seward’s vision of imperialism and the importance of international commerce and global reach. He felt expansion was necessary for the survival of the nation itself.

—His policies included:

—Hoped to annex Canada/Greenland went unfulfilled

—purchased Alaska (1867), occupied Midway Islands

—his efforts often went ahead of Congress who blocked efforts to obtain Haiti/Domin. Republic and the Dutch West Indies. Columbia frustrated his attempt to gain rights for a Panama Canal

2. Extended America’s commercial empire

a. Hawaii–the logical stepping stone to China for extended American trade

—between 1842 and 1875—American missionaries in Hawaii and sugar plantations began to dominate American focus in Hawaii

—Treaties of 1875 / 1877

—integrated the islands into the American economy and gave US control over Pearl Harbor

—1887 US rejected a proposal from Britain and France for joint guarantee of Hawaii’s independence

—endorsed a new constitution that gave political power to white

—next step Blaine endorsed annexation in 1891

—McKinley Tariff of 1890 cut off sugar planters from American markets

—at the same time Queen Liliuokalani moved to take control of the islands affairs.

—1893 whites attempted an overthrow of the Queen and created a provisional government with no natives and petitioned US for annexation

—Harrison could not get Senate approval which was delayed until after Cleveland took office.

—Cleveland administration investigated and found that the sentiment of the people had not been consulted. Cleveland apologized—leading to a controversy in the US Senate over Hawaii.

—Republicans favored expansion as part of an overall plan at making the Pacific an American ocean.

—Democrats were opposed on ground of anti-colonialist traditions in American democratic experiment.

B. Precedents: Chile and Venezuela

1. US Sailors were killed resulting in a brawl in Chile—Harrison demanded apologies/indemnities or threatened military retaliation

2. 1895 boundary dispute between Great Britain and Venezuela over British Guiana.

–Cleveland threatened enforcement of the Monroe Doctrine asserting America’s dominance in the Western hemisphere.

–the dispute was decided without consulting Venezuela —clearly demonstrating that this was an occasion in which the US sought to advance its own hegemony

C. Precedents in Cuba:

1. History of revolutions—ten years war between 1868-78

2. 1895 revolution led by Jose Marti

3. Yellow press further aroused anti-Spanish sentiment by featuring exposes of concentrations camps, atrocities, starvation etc.

4. Publication war between Hearst–New York Journal and Pulitzer’s New York World help to stimulate interest in Cuba

—Nation’s religious press reflected anti-catholic prejudice against Catholic Spain

—America was God’s instrument against “the system of iniquity and papacy.”

—Lodge and TR clamored for intervention. Populists also sought to liberate Cubans from colonial rule. Election of 1896 both candidates favored Cuban independence–Republicans went further and advocated intervention.

5. Relations with Spain deteriorate

—McKinley tries diplomacy 1897

—Letter published in New York Journal mocking McKinley as weak and pointing to Spain’s lack of good faith in instituting reforms in Cuba.

—Feb. 15, 1898 battleship Maine blew up in Havana harbor killing 260 men

—later proved to be an internal accident

—inflamed popular anger

—April 25, 1898 went to Congress for Authority to use force against Spain

—The Teller Amendment limited the aims of the intervention to no include future annexation

D. Spanish American War: Amazingly short begun in April over in August

1.–a few campaigns in Cuba and Puerto Rico and a stunning naval victory in Manilla:

—Dewy captures Manila Bay May 1898

—this Asian victory supposedly to secure Cuban independence confused many.

Raised questions:

1. Would US just use Manila as a negotiating chip in a settlement with Spain over Caribbean possessions

2. The US could recognize the independent movement in Phil. and keep only a harbor in Manila for refueling

3. Or the US could keep the whole island

—Manilla had also represented a stepping stone to Hawaii

—Expansionists had visions of an American “Hong Kong”

—eg. TR and Capt. Alfred T. Mahan were ardent expansionists and “spun dazzling promises of a vast future of trade, wealth, and power” in American possession of the Philippines–visions that centered on profits for businessmen rather than markets for farmers or jobs of workers.” (Painter 147)

2.—July 1898 Congress approved annexation of Hawaii

3.—Late June troops landed in Cuba

–American army was poorly trained and supplied

—troops fought with antiquated weapons

—wool uniforms in the tropics; contaminated food

—5000 died of disease and accidents—379 in battle

—Rough Riders gained popular attention led by TR

—Negro troops played a crucial role in capturing San Juan Hill a chapter that blurred from the record following TR’s return and his book that brought to life the Cuban campaign Winning of the American West. and in his history of the Rough Riders for Scribners in 1899. Roosevelt ignored instances of black valor and white cowardice determined to charge that black troops were lacking in hearty individualism he so admired in the frontiersmen because they had been “peculiarly dependent on their white officers.”

—Naval power was decisive in July and leading US forces to gain Puerto Rico

—Spain signed armistice August 12.

4.—Treaty of Paris

—accept Cuban independence; cede Puerto Rico/Guam and allow US to occupy Manilla

—McKinley promised to extend Christian/American values in Philippines

—Spain agreed despite Philippines demands for independence.

—the US paid Spain $20mil for Philippines —Anti imperialist Thomas Reed speaker of the House raised doubts of many : “We have bought 10mil Malays at $2 a head unpicked and nobody knows what it will cost to pick them.”

How was the US going to further justify additional imperialist acts? In the Phillipines, China?

Debate between:

—supporters of colonialism

—“anti-imperialists” who relied on the ideas that America was exceptional because of it’s unique republican mission that precluded overseas expansion.

III. The supporters of imperialism urge to expand to the Philippines
How did they sell these ideas at home? Appeals to Anglo-Saxon roots

-- Racial Anglo-Saxonism” a means of legitimation of US imperialism

A. Imperial interests in East Asia: Philippine War

1.–Philippines refused to exchange one colonial ruler for another and began a war with the US that would last 7 years.

2.—Emilio Aquinaldo declared independence in Jan 1899. At peak strength America had 70, 000 troops in the Philippines. All told some 126,000 black and white served.

—4200 dead, 2800 wounded and cost $400mil. with compared to Spanish American war which cost only 400+ lives.

----The length of the War....kind of a Vietnam of the nineteenth Century led to countless parodies of Rudyard Kipling’s poem about the “White man’s burden”

Take up the White Man’s burden

Send forth your sturdy sons

And load them down with whisky

And Testaments and guns,

Throw in a few diseases

To spread in tropics climes.

For there the Healthy niggers

Are quite behind the times.

3. By 1902 American military had suppressed the rebellion

—established a colonial government appointed by President

--- William Howard Taft was first governor general

—colonial rule was paternalistic and questionably benign

—established schools, roads, public health system and an economy tied to US and a small Filipino elite. Independence would take another half century.

4. The war’s impact at home

—generated national unity

—reinvigorated America’s racial nationalist tradition

B. Open Door in China–international competition intensified as nations sought to prove their economic, military and racial superiority

1. Spheres of Influence

a. 1890 other powers threatened prospects of American commercial expansion

b. Japan 1895 defeated China and annexed Taiwan

c. Other European powers claimed other areas of China for their own.

eg. Russian won control of Port Arthur (Lushun) and constructed a railway

eg. German secured 99yr lease with Chinese port, mining and rail privileges in Shandong

eg. British concession in Kowloon opposite Hong Kong

eg. France gained lease and ports in southern China


2. After the Boxers in 1900 hopes of US markets in China were cooled

—realization that Chinese were not that interested in American goods and therefore proof that Chinese were inferior and backward.

–pride of isolationism and way of life

3. America in China at this time was based on the popular notion of Chinese as an inferior culture and people in need of civilizing

4. It assumed a form of reformation to suit American needs

C. Anglo-Saxon racism developed as a self-conscious bond connecting Britons and Americans

---in the late 19thc., forged on their "violent imperial frontiers and solidifying at points of elite Anglo-American social and intellectual contact. "Anglo-saxonism was used as a racial-exceptionalist argument, leveled against claims of national exceptionalism."
eg. Sir Edward Grey future English secretary of State confirmed the connections between empire and race when he hailed the Spanish/Cuban/American War: “The struggle in which the US is engaged must be one to stir up our blood, and make us conscious of the ties of language, origin, and race.”

a. as a DISCOURSE each had well defined opponents:

—Anglo Saxonism as discourse was built against a multitude of opponents for both England and The US.

—England: Norman, Celts, Catholic others, enslaved africans, conquered Indians and challenged Latins for world dominations

—American: African slavery, conquered Native Americans, confronted latin empires, wrenched land away from Mexico and struggled to fend off waves of immigrants.
b. As a THEORY OF POLITICS share values

—possessors of “free” political values and institutions.”

—British –freed lands from neglect, trade emancipated from tariff barriers, education

—American —Anglo Saxonism resonated with American republicanism, destiny–although not identical

TR referred to ties between England and America by referring to the “English speaking peoples” Rather than the Anglo-Saxon race. While emphasizing language/culture he was not necessarily neglecting race.

—While TR and others in America would herald the accomplishments of the Anglo-Saxon

diaspora, English spokespersons such as Sir John Seeley at Oxford would advocate lessons for England to learn from the US in which English empire could contemplate becoming a vast “England nation” or ‘united England” “a great homogeneous people, one blood, language, religion, and laws, but dispersed over a boundless space.”

—The success of the Anglo-Saxonism as a racial-exceptionalist bridge between the US and England was due to the extensive exchange and networks of literary, intellectual, familial and social connections tying elites together from England and America. Transatlantic publishing and organizations contributed as well.

eg. John R. Dos Passos (father of the famous author and a Wall Street Lawyer) stated as such in his book, The Anglo-Saxon Century and the Unification of the English Speaking People that an alliance between England and the US would be as natural as a marriage between a man and a woman.”
c. AS AN ARGUMENT AGAINST ANTI-IMPERIALISTS

1. Historical—answered the charge that imperialism would undermine US political traditions.

eg. TR in the Winning of the West connected controversial expansion of Caribbean and Pacific expansion to the long history of the American conquest and driving out the Spanish. This was another stage of the “great western movement.”

2. Political–the evidence of the Spanish-Cuban-American War demonstrated the “superiority of the US military/navy and America’s Anglo-Saxon manhood and vigor particularly in contrast to the feminized Latin, Spanish.

–evidence of superior state organization Sen. Albert Beveridge of Indiana:

—“The Sovereign tendencies of our race are organization and government.”


—The Anglo-Saxon defense of US imperialism culminated with the Spanish-Cuban-American War “race patriots on both sides of the Atlantic argued the US and Britain should “pool the resources of Empire and the Republic” William Stead argued,” and regard them with all their fleets, armies, and industrial resources as a political, or, if you will an Imperial unit.” Josiah Strong saw the Philippines and the Spanish American War as the fulfillment of Anglo-Saxon duty... “To abandon them would be treason to ourselves, the Anglo Saxon race, to humanity and to western civilization.”
In the new American territories of the Philippines and Puerto Rico the indigenous peoples were declared racially inferior and thus incapable of handling responsibilities of American citizenship. While similar projects were going on in the South with solidifying of Jim Crow laws; the west with exclusions of Japanese/Chinese. In TR’s Winning of the West he focused on the how America had become the greatest English speaking race the world had ever known.
III. Anti-Imperialism

A. Challenges to Anglo-Saxonist racial exceptionalism

--- anti-imperialist critics of the Philippine War, who opposed all forms of over seas colonies but not all forms of empire. When during the Anglo-Boer War Americans began to identify with the Boer's and not the British.

—dismissed the “over production thesis” and viewed the nation’s economic boom/bust cycle was a result of underconsumption which could be solved by wage scales and indebtedness was altered


B. Organizations and leaders

1.Anti- Imperialist League and Democrats

2. Jane Addams, Mark Twain, and Andrew Carnegie steel baron and civil service reformer Carl Schurz

a. campaigned against the Treaty of Paris

b. expressed a commitment to national exceptionalism

—British imperialism was a repudiation of America’s moral and political and republican traditions

---conflicted with notion of commitment to liberty

---hypocritical to turn a campaign to free Cuba into one of conquest/subjugation

2. William Jennings Bryan—populist Presidential candidate in 1896

a. “When the desire to steal becomes uncontrollable in an individual he is declared to be a kleptomaniac and is sent to an asylum; when the desire to grab land becomes uncontrollable in a nation we are told that the currents of destiny are flowing through the hearts of men.”

b. the Boer’s cause found a political home in the Democratic party

—drew the anglophobic Irish and German immigrants to its side

—Western/southern agrarians were in common cause with Boer yoemen culture.

eg. of these tensions in Edward Stratemeyer’s Two Boys Adventures in South Africa- was blood thicker than water? Republicanism was thicker than both.


IV. Decline of Anglo-Saxonist argument for colonialism and triumph of national-exceptionalist colonialism was more suited to changing geopolitics, the increasing racial diversity of the US and the political realities of the postwar Philippines.

A. Japan and England ally in 1902 made the notion of an Anglo-Saxon sea problematic

B. . 1900 constituencies for and stakeholders in US imperialism became more diverse through the confrontation with vocal immigrants.

1. Black Man’s Burden Association organized to promote Philippine independence

2.. Gomper’s opposed imperialism for racist reasons that cheap Asian labor would undercut American wages and standards of living.

3.. California Sugar interests wanted no competition from Philippines.

C. Americans did not share Britain’s imperial destiny—special mission of the US was to serve as republican and anti-imperial beacon tothe world.

–the anti-imperialists lost their battle at the turn of the century but won the rhetorical war, as their national exceptionalism came to dominate representations of US colonialism—“the US would remain the empire upon which the sun never shone.”


Kramer argues then that race mattered for empire building but also that empire matter for race. Debates about empire and forces at work in colonial settings had a decisive impact on American racial ideology. Ie. the history of race making needs to be put in a transnational frame.
V. The Gendered language of domesticity as a legitimation of imperialism
[SHOW THE PHOTOS IN WEXLER’S TEXT]
A. Looking at the "hidden texts" of domestic photographs of the Imperial Era.

1. Laura Wexler argues in Tender Violence, that "family photographs can be highly manipulative weapons." Rather than explaining a tranquility of domestic unity, photographs of the Progressive Era reveal a "tender violence."

2. Women photographers came into the profession and were empowered for the first time as directors behind the camera, they nevertheless approached their craft with a specific class and racial point of view. "The way these photographers saw the world helped to promulgate the violent disjunctions that supported the late-nineteenth-century U.S. Imperial construction." (7)
3. By figuring war and torture as a "family problem rather than as the antithesis of human kinship" they give "greater scope to imagined empathy than to analytical inquiry or political agency." (14)

This raises questions for us in how we are to understand our nation’s involvement in the world and how dependent we are on images...how those images are constructed can be used to legitimize or critique American actions.


4.an "oxymoron" "that if you had domesticity you couldn't really have brutality
eg.Black troops serving in the Phillipines were conflcted between their own patriotism and sense of racial solidarity. None of that controversy figures into the photos of Johnston's Hampton Institute which "sublimate all marks of domestic racial struggle into the appearance of social harmony." (129)
Photography like the travel narratives shared the "imperative of innocence" it only "recorded what was." However, the woman had an edge over men. "For her, as for the woman travel writer, making a record augmented what was already accepted as her special feeling "For the soul of the subject itself." As Pratt observes, "The gender division implies that for a woman--"the imperative is fulfilled in a different way" by her gender." (180) That is that women while gaining acess to opportunities for a meaningful career as a photographer --but to yield the camera meant that they were still subjected in their ability to get their work in circulation. This often meant that the "sex/gender system placed loyalty to the white race and the middle class above a common sisterhood" thereby retaining a second-class citizenship for women.
Drawing from Mary Pratt's Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation Wexler argues

"Photography constituted a "contact zone" between the always ready domestic white woman and the soon-to-be-domesticated, nonwhite Other. It was what Pratt calls a "space of colonial encounters, the space in which peoples geographically and historically separated come into contact with each other and establish ongoing relations, usually involving conditions of coercion, radical inequality, and intractable conflict." (208)


"Photography recorded the "spatial and temporal co-presence of subjects previously separated by geographic and historical dis-junctures, and whose trajectories now intersect."
Wexler critical of the failures of these white photographers: "The excitation and subsequent defeat of cross-racial empathy is the ultimate failure of these women's work." Rather they "interpret" according to the wishes of the strongmen of the empire.








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