Wednesday, February 3, 2016

My New Imperialism Lesson and Materials

This week we're studying the period in U.S. History when America built a world empire.  I tell my students this is the clearest example yet of of how we can see aspects of modern-day America: a strong American economic, military, and diplomatic force around the world.
The caption reads: "Ten thousand miles from tip to tip."
One part of this unit is built around reading, discussing, and writing about primary sources that address different questions:
  1. Why did America seek to build a world empire?  To answer that question, my students read Albert Beveridge's speech, March of the Flag (1898).  That speech is rich in jingoism, as seen in these examples:
    • "Hawaii is ours; Porto (sic) Rico is to be ours; at the prayer of her people Cuba finally will be ours..."
    • "We can not retreat from any soil where Providence has unfurled our banner; it is ours to save that soil for liberty and civilization."
  2. What arguments were made by American opponents of the new imperialism?  Here we are reading the Platform of the American Anti-Imperialist League (1899).  That document is great for students because it is so direct and clear in its reasoning:
    • "We hold that the policy known as imperialism is hostile to liberty..."
    • "We earnestly condemn the policy of the present national administration in the Philippines."
    • "We propose to contribute to the defeat of any person or party that stands for the forcible subjugation of any people."
  3. What arguments were made by foreign opponents of the new imperialism?  Here we read the shorter still Manifesto of Philippine opposition leader Emilio Aguinaldo.
The second main part of this unit is built around the terrific diplomatic "Milestone" resources of the Office of the Historian at the U.S. Department of State.  This is a collection of essays written at an easily accessible level for motivated high-school students.
Here I gave my students twelve vocabulary terms (the complete list is below) and they used information from that site (click here and here) to create flash cards.  As a whole class, we will have a competition to see who has the deepest (and fastest) knowledge of American diplomatic history during the late Gilded Era.
List of Gilded Era Vocabulary: Chinese Exclusion Acts; Admiral Mahan; Hawaii; Yellow Journalism; Spanish-American War; Philippine-American War; Open Door notes; Platt Amendment; Roosevelt Corollary; Portsmouth Treaty; Dollar Diplomacy; Panama Canal

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