What Drives American Imperialism?

The general argument made in the Savage Acts video shown in lecture is that America looked to expand their empire overseas using the justification that it is their manifest destiny. More specifically, the Savage Acts video shows how the philippines had plans of forming an independent self government, while America had other plans. America planned on annexing the philippines in order to “educate and christianize” the filipinos.  In this Video, It is shown how America uses the idea of manifest destiny and imperialism to go out and try to civilize the “savage” and “primitive” people of the philippines and cuba . In conclusion, Savage Acts shows how America annexed the philippines and cuba in order to civilize them, but instead just took over their government and killed many filipinos.

The argument presented by the political cartoon,What the United States has Fought For, is that American imperialism has allowed the United States to civilize the savage poverty stricken citizens of the philippines, cuba, hawaii, etc. and helped them become prosperous. The author, John T. McCutcheon, makes that argument by drawing people from the annexed pieces of land that are carrying the challenges their people had to overcome with the caption “before the United States intervened in behalf of these oppressed people” followed by a drawing of the same people in suits with good health and prosperity with the caption “after the united states had rescued them from their oppression”.

Savage Acts and What the United States has Fought For both address the issue we have discussed of American Imperialism and Manifest Destiny. They are very dissimilar in the way that Savage Acts is an educational video, while What the United States has Fought For is a propaganda political cartoon. Savage Acts shows American Imperialism and manifest destiny just lead to the loss of many lives for the plots of lands that were annexed, while What the United States has Fought For says American imperialism lead to the civilization, education, and christianization of the annexed people.

In my view, Savage acts is right, because it tells the truth about what was really happening during the time that the United States were expanding their empire overseas while limiting the presences of any propaganda. More specifically, I believe that American Imperialism has other intentions besides educating, civilizing, and spreading christianity to the people, such as making money and competing to be the largest empire.

What are other reasons or factors that lead the United States to expand their empire overseas? What drives them to annex a piece of land, knowing that many lives will be lost?


2 thoughts on “What Drives American Imperialism?

  1. I agree with your blog because, just like the article, Haunted America, it shows a romanticized view of what truly occurred. I feel like textbooks and other sources of education should illustrate both sides of the picture and not just the one that portrays America as the hero.


  2. There definitely is a recurring theme of the United States being a “hero” throughout history. I believe it supports the fact that the victors write the history books, and with the US being a cultural conqueror of sorts, it is very easy for the US to paint itself in a favorable light. Streeby makes a similar point in the Empire reading. The US created a new form of imperialism and I believe that can be seen in the picture you posted. Rather than enslave them in the traditional sense, the comic can be seen as a way of saying that while those territories were freed from oppression by other nations, they were converted to model pawns for the American capitalist society, which can be a form of oppression in it’s own right.


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