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9/30 Empire of the People

Chapter 12 of Zinn’s PHUS described the hunger for expansion and imperialism that existed among many of the upper-class, military men, politicians, and businesses during the late 1800s into the 1900s. The Panic of 1893 created an incentive to expand United States markets and to show their strength to the international community. Businesses and merchants saw opportunities for growth in foreign markets and countries that made them push politicians towards intervening in foreign affairs. Zinn describes the intervention of the United States in the Cuban rebellion against the Spanish control as an example of this expansionist ideology. President McKinley realized that intervening on the war would be a way to get political and economic benefits and would help many American industries. They went portraying their support for Cuban independence, however after they defeated the Spanish, they ignored Cuban involvement and created the Platt Amendment. This would give the United States the right to intervene in Cuban government and business affairs. Businesses in the search for wealth moved into Cuba taking over the lumber, railroad, mining, and sugar industries.

The article, “The Myth of American Exceptionalism” portrays ideas that are closely connected to the events that Zinn described in his chapter. Americans have an inflated view of ourselves and we often feel superior and entitled over other countries in the world. This causes us to focus only on our positives rather than our negatives because we often think that our influence advances the greater good. I was very shocked by the actions of the United States in the Philippines and how they disregarded human rights and lives in order to advance their goals. The U.S saw the Philippines as an opportunity for them to step in and save an “unfit” country, but in order to do that they killed hundreds of thousands. They saw the end goal of more territory and a growing empire that killing and having complete control of the Filipinos was just a part of the process. Many people have the belief that the U.S behaves better than other nations because people generally don’t focus on the immoral actions that got them to that place. This is a theme that has been seen throughout this class and it is so important to realize the mistakes, injustices, and practices that have gotten the U.S to where it is today.


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One Comment

  1. Christopher Wilson Christopher Wilson

    I, too, was shocked by the United States’ involvement in the Philippines! I do not ever recall learning about the United States’ expansionism into islands and nations in the Pacific before college. What struck a chord with me was the excerpt Zinn (1980) provides the African soldier who fights with the Americans. While fighting, the African soldier encounters a Filipino boy who questions why the soldier is fighting on the side of America when America is oppressing and violating both of their racial and ethnic communities. I believe that America intentionally did this because by pitting two oppressed groups against each other, neither group would collaborate with the other to possibly stage a rebellion against America’s imperialist force.

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