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The United Territories of America #4

Imperialism in Africa – Europeans believed that they were superior to blacks and should be able to divide up the land in Africa as they pleased because of this belief. King Leopold II of Belgium took resources from Congo, resulting in a poverty-stricken area, not to mention the deaths of thousands; Leopold also forced the people to change their culture and ways of living. It showed how a small group of people, sometimes even only one or two, when given power, can have a tight grasp on places around the world, and also demonstrates what these people can be sometimes willing to do in order to benefit from having control of the places.

Labor vs Big Business – Wealthy businessmen such as Rockefeller and Carnegie cornered off the market and hired many workers on low wages while making immense profits. Workers formed groups like Blood Unions and held strikes to get both better working conditions and higher wages; companies hired people to use force against them to get them to stop. It shows how people from all different places sometimes come together to unknowingly give power to a person.

Native Americans in the West – Eastern settlers wanted to gain more land out west to use for farming, but Native Americans were there and had been there for a long time. The settlers forced the Navajo Indians to migrate over 300 miles and adopt the customs and lifestyle of white civilization. This displayed how people in power will often use force to gain control of places that they want to settle in.

Immigration: Asia – Laws in the US made it extremely difficult for people from Asia to emigrate to the country; American citizens felt that they were stealing jobs and demanded that these laws be put in place.  Once in the United States, it was very difficult for them to gain citizenship. It shows how people in power will appease who they have power over if it means making them more obedient.

Immigration : Europe – People emigrating to the United States from Europe went through a very strict process. Their paperwork had to be absolutely perfect, their health had to be top-notch and, if during questioning, anything at all did not match the given info, they were sent back. It shows how people in power are very reluctant to let people from other places into their realm of power.

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The United Territories of America #3

Working in groups to create the project helped clarify many things for me – things that I very may well have not learned had it been an individual assignment.For example, one of my group members put in a slide in the google presentation titled “Reasons Why the US Invaded Cuba”. Before talking to her about the slide and asking her to explain a couple of the reasons, I was unclear as to the real motives behind the invasion. I had known that the explosion of the USS Maine was what prompted the invasion, and that the US was eager to expand its influence, both politically and economically, but didn’t know the specific reasons as well. Thanks to her, I learned that the US wanted to establish a naval base to protect trade, and was also looking for a opportunity for a revivial of patriotism in the country, which the Spanish-American War achieved. Something that I did learn but failed to really fully realize is the fact that although the atmosphere of the time was patriotic and nationalistic, there were still two sides to the issue. One of the enduring understandings we added was, “In a country’s decision to gain power over other countries, the citizens of the country trying to take over debate the validity of taking over places and people of the other countries.” When reading the required reading, I focused my attention more on why most people thought that expanding the US would be a moral and beneficial decision, and less on who the opposition was and what they had to say about the subject. It surprised me to find out that people like Andrew Carnegie were in the American Anti-imperialist League, and then I started to draw paralells to some of the most wealthy people of modern times, such as Bill Gates, who is a devout anthropologist. This enduring understanding helped me gain both perspectives on the issue, making it easier to be unbiased.

One of the things that worked really well in our group was the fact that everybody was willing to compromise and come to agreements fairly easily. Nobody was standoffish when it came to which key terms or enduring understandings to add, and through talking about each one we agreed on the most important ones pretty quickly. One thing I wish we had done better is establishing what the requirements of the project were before diving right into it. We made slides and got pictures and everything before taking a good look at the rubric itself – I believe that if we had looked at how we were being graded before trying to put everything together, it would have gone at least a bit more smoothly. For me personally, I think I need to do a better job of asking for help/clarification when I need it. Sometimes I just assume that what I’m doing is the right thing and that other people will tell me otherwise.

The United Territories of America #2

The purpose of this update is to expand upon and clarify the points made within the enduring understandings section of the first post, to make some additions and edits to the list of key terms, and to provide a realistic idea as to what the life of someone at the bottom of the totem pole would be like amidst American Imperialism of the late 19th century into the early 20th century. An additional enduring understanding is needed in order to get a clearer picture of how American Imperialism fits into the theme of people, places and power. I felt that the list of key terms in the original post was a bit too short, and so have decided to add a few more.

New Key Terms

Yellow Journalism : when newspapers and other media outlets exaggerate the news,  make sensationalist headlines that are sometimes completely untrue, and stir up senses of national pride in order to increase circulation 

Jingoism : a burst of national pride and desire for an aggressive foreign policy

William Randolph Hearst : owner of the New York Journal

Joseph Pulitzer : owner of the New York World 

Rough Riders : led by Theodore Roosevelt and formally known as the first volunteer calvary, a group of volunteers including cowboys, miners, policemen and college athletes that fought for the US during the Spanish American War

 

Original List of Key Terms

Imperialism – when stronger nations attempt to create empires or simply gain more territory by taking over weaker nations – economically, politically, culturally, or militarily.

Nationalism – devotion to one’s nation; the belief that the country one lives in has superior ideals and goals to other nations.

Manifest Destiny – the 19th century idea that the expansion of the US throughout the American continents was both justified and inevitable.

Monroe Doctrine – foreign policy document written by then-president James Monroe – the doctrine noted that the US would neither interfere with existing European colonies nor meddle in the internal concerns of European countries. 

Midway Islands – unincorporated territory of the United states (since 1903 when Theodore Roosevelt placed them under the control of the Navy) in the central Pacific Ocean, 1,300 miles northwest of Honolulu

Naval Act of 1890 – an act by Congress giving more power to the Navy by calling for the construction of more battleships, gunboats, torpedo boats, and cruisers.

Social Darwinism – the idea that powerful should increase their power and wealth, meaning, as a result, that the not powerful would have their power and wealth decrease. Social darwinists thought that expanding the US territory was beneficial because it introduced Christianity and modern civilization

Theodore Roosevelt – 26th president of the United States, foreign policy was “speak softly and carry a big stick”, thought that civilized nations have a duty to develop uncivilized ones.

William McKinley – 25th president of the United States, led America to victory in Spanish American war, established open door policy with China, thus starting the age of American Imperialism.

Standard Oil Company – oil company owned by the Rockefeller family, made up 90% of exports of kerosene and 70% of the world market in the 1890s

 

Enduring Understandings

People with economic power tend to use their influence on people with political power in order to get what they want. “American labor unions had sympathy for the Cuban rebels as soon as the insurrection against Spain began in 1895. But they opposed American expansionalism. Both the Knights of Labor and the American Federation of Labor spoke against the idea of annexing Hawaii, which McKinley proposed in 1897″ (The Empire and The People, 306). Labor unions can have a potentially strong grip on the economy, because, depending on the size of the Union, they can posses control of entire industries. If the government goes against the unions, they could possibly have collapsing industries. From McKinley’s State of the Union Address, “Third, the right to intervene may be justified by the very serious injury to the commerce, trade, and business of our people, and by the wanton destruction of property and devastation of the island.”(Excerpt from President William McKinley’s War Message to Congress, April 11, 1898.) People in positions of economic power would not at all be pleased if their businesses were in jeoprady and so people with political power do what they can do preserve it, in this case going to war.  Another enduring understanding is that the goal of war is often times not to end the conflict but to establish control of strategic locations and to gain economic and political power. “Americans began taking over railroad, mine, and sugar properties when the war ended. In a few years, $30 million of American capital was invested. United Fruit moved into the Cuban sugar industry…. By the end of the occupation, in 1901, Foner estimates that at least 80 percent of the export of Cuba’s minerals were in American hands, mostly Bethlehem Steel” (The Empire and The People, 310). Obtaining resources for a nation is something all civilizations have done. War, demonstrated here, can often be an effective, albeit destructive way to get these resources. The image tocuba the right shows how the US invaded Cuba not just to end the conflict with Spain, but to gain a strategic territory for themselves. It has Cuba in a ball and chain, with Miss Columbia pointing to cuba on a map with the then 45 states juxstaposed next to it. (Chicago Record-Herald, 1901. Chicago, Illinois.) The media can play a crucial role in garnering public support for wars and international conflicts. In 1895, after the explosion of the USS Maine, the New York Journal ran an article with the headline “NAVAL OFFICERS THINK THE MAINE WAS DESTROYED BY A SPANISH MINE” despite the fact that no evidence to point to this was present. The closest the article comes to providing evidence is a description of how a mine works: “The Spaniards, it is believed, arranged to have the Maine anchored over one of the harbor mines. Wires connected the mines with a… magazine, and it is thought the explosion was caused by sending an electric current through the wire.” (New York Journal and Advertiser, February 17, 1898) However, due in part to the sensationalist headlines of this and other newspapers and articles, using to their advantage the fact that over 250 people were killed as a result of the explosion, the US invaded Cuba just a couple short months later.

Cuban rebels would be generally supportive of US intervention in the (then) colony. They would have been fighting the Spanish in skirmishes and could use some help from outside the area. However, after the conflict ended, the Cuban rebel would be irritated that the US is debating what to do with Cuba rather than just let them have their complete independence. As a new nation coming out of a war that they won because of the United States, though, it would not be within their power to try and change anything. As much as they would want to see complete independence, they would have to just wait and see what happens, trying to just be glad that the United States helped them fend off the Spanish.

 

The United Territories of America #1

People. Places. Power. Three things that determine the course of civilization across the globe. These three words are separate yet intertwined. Who is in power? Where are they exercising their power? By themselves, however, they mean different things. People refers to the beings that ultimately sail the ship of events to its destination. Those who see themselves as part of a larger group, who come together to try and attain shared aspirations. Places refers to virtually any piece of land that can be controlled for economic purposes, places that can hold people back and define the people in that place on the basis of culture and resources. Power refers to the ownership of the two other terms. It can be manifested through a place’s military, an individual, or the society as a whole. This assignment is to research a specific topic and learn how that topic relates to this theme. American imperialism, while admittedly not my first choice, still greatly interests me because it remains very relevent to this day, and uncovering the origins of modern foreign policy helps in understanding it. 

 

American Imperialism : Key Terms and Definitions

Imperialism – when stronger nations attempt to create empires or simply gain more territory by taking over weaker nations – economically, politically, culturally, or militarily.

Nationalism – devotion to one’s nation; the belief that the country one lives in has superior ideals and goals to other nations.

Manifest Destiny – the 19th century idea that the expansion of the US throughout the American continents was both justified and inevitable.

Monroe Doctrine – foreign policy document written by then-president James Monroe – the doctrine noted that the US would neither interfere with existing European colonies nor meddle in the internal concerns of European countries. 

Midway Islands – unincorporated territory of the United states (since 1903 when Theodore Roosevelt placed them under the control of the Navy) in the central Pacific Ocean, 1,300 miles northwest of Honolulu

Naval Act of 1890 – an act by Congress giving more power to the Navy by calling for the construction of more battleships, gunboats, torpedo boats, and cruisers.

Social Darwinism – the idea that powerful should increase their power and wealth, meaning, as a result, that the not powerful would have their power and wealth decrease. Social darwinists thought that expanding the US territory was beneficial because it introduced Christianity and modern civilization

Theodore Roosevelt – 26th president of the United States, foreign policy was “speak softly and carry a big stick”, thought that civilized nations have a duty to develop uncivilized ones.

William McKinley – 25th president of the United States, led America to victory in Spanish American war, established open door policy with China, thus starting the age of American Imperialism.

Standard Oil Company – oil company owned by the Rockefeller family, made up 90% of exports of kerosene and 70% of the world market in the 1890s

 

People with economic power tend to use their influence on people with political power in order to get what they want. “American labor unions had sympathy for the Cuban rebels as soon as the insurrection against Spain began in 1895. But they opposed American expansionalism. Both the Knights of Labor and the American Federation of Labor spoke against the idea of annexing Hawaii, which McKinley proposed in 1897” (The Empire and The People, 306). Another enduring understanding is that the goal of war is often times not to end the conflict but to establish control of strategic locations and to gain economic and political power. “Americans began taking over railroad, mine, and sugar properties when the war ended. In a few years, $30 million of American capital was invested. United Fruit moved into the Cuban sugar industry…. By the end of the occupation, in 1901, Foner estimates that at least 80 percent of the export of Cuba’s minerals were in American hands, mostly Bethlehem Steel” (The Empire and The People, 310).

 

American imperialism is a prime example of the theme: people, places and power. People in power, namely Theodore Roosevelt and William McKinley, used their power to bring about the expansionist foreign policy through moves like the Naval Act of 1890, as well as McKinley’s open door policy with foreign trade. Cuba was an ideal place for America to become involved because of the resources it offered, and after these people in power were able to win the war, businesses and investors came in and made a profit off of the conflict. These things all blend together to make the theme.

The North vs. The South – Who Killed Reconstruction? DBQ

You hop in a time machine and set the dials for 137 years – after a few seconds you find yourself in 1877 South Carolina. You’re thinking to yourself “Let’s see – the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments have all been passed, so blacks should be enjoying their legal rights as citizens!” But what’s this? An alarmingly small amount of blacks are turning out in the voting booths, and a local resident informs you that the KKK is keeping them from turning out, targeting blacks, as well as carpetbaggers (a Northerner who had relocated to the South, aligning themselves with Republican politics in order to profit from the instability) and scalawags (whites in the South who supported the Republican party after the Civil War).  Yes, Reconstruction is not what the name suggests. Although three amendments to the Constitution had been passed since the end of the Civil War, granting blacks legal and civil rights, racism was alive and well, nearly to the levels of the pre-Civil War era. Rutherford B Hayes had been elected president and, although he was a Republican, he agreed to remove federal troops from former Confederate states, giving relatively free reign to racist terror organizations, namely the Ku Klux Klan, to impose their will in the face of blacks, white supporters, and even the frightened law. And even though the North wasn’t much help – they chose to ignore the elephant in the room and deal with their own problems (of which they had many) – the South was the true killer of Reconstruction, through the threats and violence committed by the KKK that prevented blacks from exercising their rights.

                To be sure, the hands of the North were not clean from the blood of killing Reconstruction – they essentially ignored the issue both because it wasn’t “their problem”, solely focusing on their own issues, and because people in the North believed that blacks were not ready for the new set of rights given to them. To quote Gerald Danzer, “….many Northern voters shifted their attention to such national concerns as the Panic of 1873 and corruption in Grant’s administration….” (C). Economic and political turmoil caused many in the North to pay less attention to ongoing violence in the South. The cartoon shows Ulysses Grant fishing through a barrel labeled with a myriad of issues more relevant to the average Northerner, showing how many problems the administration was attempting to deal with (C2). C When the issue of Reconstruction was brought up, however, many Northerners believed that blacks were not educated enough to exercise the rights given to them. In 1873, the liberal Boston Evening Transcript published an article saying “the blacks, as a people, are unfitted for the proper exercise of political duties…. The rising generation of … blacks needed a period of probation and instruction…” (D). They thought that in order to be able to properly use their newfound political rights, blacks needed a period in which to become more educated and versed in the subjects. A 1874 Harper’s Weekly cover shows black congressmen in a derogatory light; they are depicted as loud, unruly, and look extremely cartoonish and monkey-like (D2).D

Pure violence, including killing, is one avenue the KKK went down in order to achieve their goals of keeping the blacks oppressed during Reconstruction.  In May of 1870, a North Carolina senator by the name of John Stephens was murdered by the terror organization.  Albion Tourgee, former Union army soldier and Judge during reconstruction, describes the killing in a letter to Republican Senator Joseph Abbott: “He was foully murdered by the Ku-Klux in the Grand Jury room of the Court House on Saturday….He was stabbed five or six times, and then hanged on a hook in the Grand Jury room…” (A). The Ku-Klux Klan, stopping at nothing to kill somebody standing in their way, orchestrated the murder in the Court House. Not only does this show their willingness to use violence to accomplish their goals, but also highlights the fact that people in the South either supported the KKK or were simply too scared and intimidated to do anything about their actions.  As to be expected, they targeted blacks as well.  In Georgia in 1869, they whipped a former slave turned Georgia State Legislator “a thousand licks, with sticks and straps that had buckles on the end of them” for voting for the Radical Republicans. Aside from plain violence, the KKK also made use of threats and intimidation to accomplish their mission. For example, their murdering Senator Stephens was not solely operating on the purpose to remove an enemy – they wanted to send a message. Doing it in a public place like a courtroom, as well as hanging him afterwards, no doubt gets that message sent – that the KKK is not to be messed with, and that anyone who does not act in accordance to their goals can and will be dealt with.  Another clear instance of the Klan using threats to their advantage is a cartoon published anonymously in the Independent Monitor in 1868. It depicts the KKK as the donkey in the hanging, thus showing that the KKK were the perpetrators; the victims were a carpetbagger from Ohio (as seen by his bag with “Ohio” written on it) and another white, most likely a scalawag (A2). AThey had done hangings before and this cartoon serves as a warning to whites who do not share the same viewpoint as the KKK.  The whipping of the former slave sets an example for any blacks who thought it would be a good idea to try to voice their opinions and side openly with the Republicans.  Colby, the former slave, noted in his testimony to the House and Senate in 1872, noted, “No man can make a free speech in my county. I do not believe it can be done anywhere in Georgia.” (B). The Ku Klux Klan, by making an example out of Colby, effectively suppressed the state of Georgia – nobody wanted to speak out in fear that their fate may end up being similar to his.  Further adding to this intimidation factor is the cartoon from Harper’s Weekly depicting the incident – it shows two men each holding a gun to either side of Colby’s head, with a crowd in the background simply watching, demonstrating the power the Klansmen had over the general public (B2).

B                You continue to look around, becoming increasingly disappointed in what you thought would be a more progressive South. After all, the Civil War had ended twelve years prior – why, then, does it seem that not much has changed? The KKK might as well be the Confederacy as they seem to run things around the area in which you find yourself, and because of this unfortunate fact the blacks are unable to make use of the rights recently given to them.  You shake your head as you again return to your own thoughts, thinking, “Sure, the North could’ve stepped in and helped, but down here is where the real problem itself is taking place, and nothing can be done to stop the KKK.” It is true – the Ku Klux Klan had a relatively strong grip on the South during the time and the North was too caught up in economic crises and political scandals to be worried about blacks and their defenders being mistreated. It was not anything new at the time, after all. You get back into your time machine and prepare to return to 2014 as you say to yourself, “Maybe it’s just better to be glad that we’ve made so much progress than to obsess over what could and should have gone better to achieve such progress.”

Sources

A : Albion Tourgee, Letter on Ku Klux Klan Activities. New York Tribune, May 1870.

A2: Independent Monitor, September 1, 1868. Alabama Department of Archives and History, Montgomery, Alabama.

B: Abram Colby, testimony to a joint House and Senate Committee in 1872.

B2: Harper’s Weekly, October 21, 1876.

C: Gerald Danzer et al., The Americans, McDougal Littell, 1998

C2: Harper’s Weekly, 1876

D: Heather Cox Richardson, The Death of Reconstruction: Race, Labor and Politics in the Post-Civil War North, 1865-1901. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2001.

D2: The cover of Harper’s Weekly, March 14, 1874

Gettysburg: High Tide Begins for the North

In the beginning of the Civil War, the Union was simply shocked at the Confederacy and its ability to stay in the war – before it had broken out, most people in the North believed that the rebels would be swiftly shot down in one or possibly two battles. Nobody, however, thought that the South would actually have the upper hand. Under General Robert E. Lee, the Confederacy had won several battles, such as Fredericksburg and Chancelorsville. However, the Union had much more supplies and troops than had the Confederacy, and so when their failed offensive at Gettysburg occured, the loss hit them much harder than their victories hurt the North – they were already running low on supplies in the first place, which is why they made a move on the Union, and so they were seriously injured after this battle. This resulted in a huge loss of morale for the South and a huge gain of morale for the North; Lincoln also used the victory to change the purpose of the war, garnering more support for his newfound cause of freeing the slaves. 

gettysburg

I don’t think it was acceptable for Grant and other Union Generals, namely Sherman and Sheridan, to resort to a campaign of Total War. They forced countless citizens homeless, reducing them to living in caves and having to eat rats and even domesticated horses and dogs. Sherman burned down cities and slaughtered livestock at a point in the war where the South was unable to fight back against the Union, and made this Total War strategy ultimately unecessary.

After the war ended, there were, as to be expected, varying reactions to the surrender of the South. Some Union soldiers, for example, were reported to have been cheering as Robert E Lee rode away on horseback from the Appomattox Court House, while others simply cried of relief because the war was over. Most southern soldiers were not even mad; they had immense respect for General Lee and honored the man, and many were relieved just as the Union soldiers were for being able to go back home. Lincoln himself was physically and mentally exhausted as a result of this war that had pitted a nation against itself. There were, however, radicals who were, to say the least, unhappy with the outcome. Confederate sympathizers, immediately after the war’s end, came up with a plan to kill major Union government officials in an effort to keep the rebellion alive – leading to John Wilkes Booth’s assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

Look Out Below – Lincoln and His Changing Views on Slavery

lincoln

Nine out of ten times, when people think of Abraham Lincoln, they immediately think of him as the man who sought to end and accomplished ending slavery. However, while Lincoln was the one to give the Emancipation Proclamation as well as the Gettysburg Address, and while he and his administration did ultimately pass the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery, the slaves did a lot themselves, especially in getting the ball rolling for their freedom.

Early on in the Civil War, fugitive slaves were beginning to become a big annoyance for the Union. They held great excitement – since the Union was at war with the place that they would be returned to upon their being found, they believed that they would be free in the North. In his letter to the secretary of war, General Ambrose Burnside wrote concerning fugitives overrunning towns, “They seem to be wild with excitement and delight – they are now a source of very great anxiety to us; the city is being overrun with fugitives from surrounding towns and plantations” Their presence was becoming a serious problem and a decision needed to be made. Lincoln responded by reversing the Dred Scott Decision, meaning that the federal government could now regulate slavery, and also by abolishing the Fugitive Slave Act. These two steps toward freedom for blacks were indeed achieved by the blacks themselves.

This is not to say that Lincoln did nothing to bring about the abolition of slavery. However, it was more a political move than a moral one. In the beginning of the war, Lincoln’s aim was to preserve the Union, although he gave two main reasons why he was not doing more for the issue of slavery. His first being that if he said abolishing slavery was the goal of the war, border states would join the Confederacy. His second was if he announced the above goal, he would lose many of his high-ranking officers because they were not fighting because of slavery at all, but rather for the preservation of the Union. As the war progressed, though, and Union forces were advancing into the South, and thousands of slaves were becoming the responsibility of the federal government, and many troops were dying, Lincoln needed a reason that justified his war, as many were losing faith in the “Preservation of the Union” message.  This gave Lincoln the perfect opportunity to issue the Emancipation Proclamation – not only did it change the goal of the war, but it forced England and France to side with the Union, as they could not support the Confederacy, those countries having abolished slavery already.

 In the Gettysburg Address, Lincoln stated that the first priority was to save the Union, and giving freedom to slaves came second.  In his second inaugural address however, Lincoln stated that the goal of the war was to settle the debate about slavery, that the official state on slavery was to stop it from spreading, as well as explaining his moral opposition to slavery, saying that God caused the bloody conflict that was the Civil War as a punishment for carrying on slavery.

Throughout the course of the war, Lincoln’s position on slavery changed based on what was most strategically viable at the time. Slaves played a big role in this by being a nuisance to the government and simply by being in an awkward position when the South was on the losing side. Thus, in the case of slavery, freedom came from both above and below.