American Imperialism Discussion Assignment
Image is of a political cartoon. In the middle dominating the picture is a slender bearded Uncle Sam dressed in a circus performer’s tights decorated with stars and stripes, standing on a plinth labeled Army and Navy. He balances two dark skinned pygmies or dwarves on his shoulders and grasps two by their shorts; one stands atop his head. Each little person is dressed only in shorts and all but one has a spiky hairdo; the hair of the one is short cropped. Two wear earrings and all have caricatured huge lips. Four little people bear a US flag with a label: Cuba, Puerto Rico, Philippines, and Ladrones [aka, the Marianas Islands], and the one on Uncle Sam’s head has shorts labeled Hawaii. In the audience to this circus act are various men, some with beards and hats. One shabby man wears a sash labeled Russia, one wears the pointed hat of a Prussian Junker, and one is a fat man with an frilly cravat who is intended to represent Britain in the form of John Bull. The caption reads, ‘HOLDING HIS END UP. John Bull — ‘It’s really most extraordinary what training will do. Why, only the other day I thought that man unable to support himself.’ Philadelphia Inquirer.
Cartoon from the Philadelphia Inquirer in 1898. [Public Domain via Wikimedia]
The purpose of this discussion is to think about the rationale for American imperialism in the late nineteenth century and how it affected people.
For this discussion, review your readings for Unit 5 and study the cartoon carefully. Feel free to do research outside the course if you’d like other points of view.
Prepare a discussion where you explain, based on your readings, what this cartoon is about and what values it expresses. To do this, adopt the role of ONE of the following individuals and explain who that person was and how that person viewed the events behind this cartoon.
Albert Beveridge (Historian and Republican Senator from Indiana)
Carl Schurz (Former German revolutionary and Republican Senator from Missouri)
A resident of one of America’s new Caribbean or Pacific colonies
As with the previous assignments, try to put yourself in the shoes of someone in the past — think about what their life was like, what their behavior and outlook might be. Try to justify your response by describing that life and outlook.
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