Assignment #10 – Imperialism
Step 1: Watch – “Harvest of Empire” online
Step 2: Read – “The Empire and the People” and “War is the
Health of the State,” from A People’s
Step 3: Watch – “American Empire?” online
Step 4: Complete the Discussion Board
The Spanish-American-Cuban-Filipino War is something very few
Americans know anything about. And yet it is an incredibly
important turning point in the history of our country’s foreign
policy. It marks the beginning of a period of imperialism (the
practice of taking over smaller countries and their natural
resources for your own country’s benefit) in the United States.
In 1898, we begin a long journey throughout the 20th century that
sees many pitstops along the way marked by either invasion or
economic domination of various countries throughout the world.
And Cuba and the Philippines are not the first.
The Industrial Revolution of the late 19th century brings with it
the ability to make products at a faster and faster rate,
thereby bringing more and more profit to the owners of these
assembly line factories. However, it is soon discovered that a
finite number of goods can be sold here in the United States.
Therefore, in an effort to avoid over-saturating the market with
goods and services and bringing about an economic depression,
the wealthy industrialists begin pushing the government to find
more and more foreign trading partners to which they could sell
their wares. And in looking around at all of the possible trading
partners, none stood out more in terms of sheer numbers of
consumers, than China.
China became the trading partner American business owners
wanted most. And as a result of this, much of our foreign policy
(how we relate to other countries) became focused on finding
a way to get to China, and believe it or not, the Spanish-AmericanCuban-Filipino War became the final stepping stone we needed to
solidify China as our main trading partner.
If we were to look at a map of all the islands in the Pacific
Ocean during this time, you might understand why. Please look at
the map I’ve included in your Assignment #13 Folder. What do you
notice? Any idea why we would want to control all of those
islands out there in the Pacific Ocean? Any idea when the Panama
Canal was built? Think it had anything to do with this?
What other thoughts do you have concerning this war from
your reading, Zinn’s graphic novel on American Empire, and all the
far-reaching implications for us today? How does this war lead
the world into World War I?
Albert Beveridge to Congress:
Mr. President, the times call for candor. The Philippines are ours forever, “territory belonging to the United States,” as the Constitrltion calls them. And just beyond the Philippines are China’s illimitable markets. We will not retreat from either. We will not repudiate our duty in the archipelago. We will not abandon our opportunity in the Orient. We will not renounce our part in the mission of our race, trustee, under God, of the civilization of the world. And we will move forward to our work, not howling out regrets like slaves whipped to their burdens, but with gratitude for a task worthy of our strength, and thanksgiving to Almighty God that He has marked us as His chosen people, henceforth to lead in the regeneration of the world.
* * *
Mr. President, this question is deeper than any question of party politics: deeper than any question of the isolated policy of our country even; deeper even than any question of constitutional power. It is elemental. It is racial. God has not been preparing the English-speaking and Teutonic peoples for a thousand years for nothing hut vain and idle self-contemplation and self-admiration. No! He has made us the master organizers of the world to establish system where chaos reigns. He has given its the spirit of progress to overwhelm the forces of reaction throughout the earth. He has made us adepts in government that we may administer government among savage and senile peoples. Were it not for such a force as this the world would relapse into barbarism and night. And of all our race He has marked the American people as His chosen nation to finally lead in the regeneration of the world. This is the divine mission of America, and it holds for us all the profit, all the glory, all the happiness possible to man. We are trustees of the world’s progress, guardians of its righteous peace. The judgment of the Master is upon us: “Ye have been faithful over a few things; I will make you ruler over many thing.”
From Congressional Record(56th Cong., 1st Session) Vol XXXIII, pp.705, 711.
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