January 28

Blog #127 – Debate Over Expansion

Before, during, and after the Spanish-American War in 1898, Americans were debating whether or not America should go beyond its borders and become an imperial empire, much like the European countries had done during the 19th Century w/ Asia and Africa.  Below are the arguments for and against imperialism and some of its proponents and opponents.

Image result for cartoons imperialism 1898

For Imperialism

People for it: Assistant Secretary of the Navy Teddy Roosevelt, Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, Alfred T. Mahan, President William McKinley, Judge William Howard Taft, Admiral George Dewey, Reverend Josiah Strong, former Secretary of State William Seward, and Senator Albert Beveridge.

Arguments for imperialism:

  1. To give back the Philippines to Spain would be cowardly and dishonorable.
  2. To let other imperial powers have the Philippines was bad business and discreditable.
  3. Granting the Filipinos their independence was irresponsible because they are unfit to rule themselves.  They need America to civilize, uplift, and Christianize them.
  4. Imperialism is good for America.  It invigorates a nation and keeps it healthy.  A slothful nation will victim to those countries that maintain soldierly virtues.
  5. Annexation of the Philippines would put America into a position to dominate trade with China and the rest of Asia.
  6. We need the markets and raw materials now.  It doesn’t matter that the Philippines are non-contiguous.  We didn’t need the purchases and additional areas in the continental U.S., but look at us now!  We produce more than we can consume.
  7. Annexation would be so easy because we already control the islands.
  8. Filipinos don’t  have to become citizens of the U.S., we will treat them as dependents (like we do with the Native Americans).  The 14th Amendment won’t apply to them.
  9. Republicans favored annexation because it made the party look good after winning the war.

Image result for cartoons imperialism 1898

Against Imperialism

People against it: Author Mark Twain, former president Grover Cleveland, Speaker of the House Thomas “Czar” Reed, journalist Lincoln Steffens, Jane Addams, former Democratic presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan, AFL chief Samuel Gompers, industrialist Andrew Carnegie, Harvard professor William James.

Arguments against imperialism

  1. Imperialism is immoral.  It repudiates our commitment to human freedom and liberty.  We instead think we know what is best for the Filipinos, and that is wrong.
  2. Nativists fear the pollution of the white American population with inferior Asian races, especially when they are allowed to move to the U.S.  Acquisition of the Philippines may require that they become citizens.
  3. Industrial workers feared the flood of additional cheap labor which would further undercut job opportunities.
  4. Imperialism puts us in the international stage of world politics and is a constant menace for war.  War carries off the physically and mentally fit and leaves behind the lesser fit.  It threatens our security, internally and externally.
  5. The “civilizing” mission some claim is really a cover for a desire to loot the colonies and their natural resources.  This misson is self-righteous and pretentious.
  6. We will inherit Spain’s task of suppressing the native peoples when they rebel.  They will NOT want our cultural ways.  We will end up like Spain – a shriveling power.
  7. Can’t we just trade without having to annex other territories?
  8. Imperialism would involve the need for a large standing army which would become a heavy tax burden.

The country chose imperialism, and the Senate voted for the Treaty of Paris, 1898, 57 to 27, one more vote needed for the 2/3 approval.

Your job:

Pretend you are a senator back in 1898 (yes, you have to do this even if you’re female – we’re time traveling, so you can pretend to be a different gender).  Pick a region of the country and a party (both parties were for expansion, especially Southern Democrats).  Which arguments hold more sway with you and why?  Explain.

Here is some info on the 1898 U.S. Senate elections.  Maybe choose your senator from someone who ran and look up his views on the war.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1898_and_1899_United_States_Senate_elections

350 words total for your answer.  Due by Monday, February 3 by the beginning of class.  

December 14

Blog # 28 – Carnegie’s “Gospel of Wealth”

In Andrew Carnegie’s essay, “Gospel of Wealth” originally published in 1889, discussed the steel king’s attitudes towards the working class, the loss of the cottage industries that doomed his father’s weaving craft, and why the capitalist system back then (and by extension even now) is better than what they had.  He also then goes on to explore three different ways that the wealthy have disposed of their extra income when or before they die, and he explains why he feels which one is the best. 

 Back in the apprentice / master days, Carnegie states that the relationship between the two was more equal.  They shared the same work space, the same hardships, and the same successes.  But, as specialization and factories expanded, the cottage industries with their hand crafted goods could not compete with the factories’ cheaply priced goods and eventually had to adapt or go out of business (which sounds a lot like what happened in Carnegie’s experience).  A third option that occurred was to violently resist the change like some weavers and other workers had done when they destroyed the machines in the early 19th Century (the Luddites).  In the Carnegie’s case, they adapted and headed for America where some of their family had already had some success. 

The problem with working in factories, according to Carnegie, is that the owner no longer works side-by-side with the workers in the factories.  There’s a huge gulf between “the palace of the millionaire and the cottage of the laborer” and this is beneficial to all, he believes.  He uses a visit to a Sioux Indian tribe as an example where the chief’s dwelling wasn’t very different from the rest of his peoples’ “wigwams.”  By this, Carnegie inferred that Americans are advancing in civilization because not only are there cheaper goods for all, but that:

“This change, however, is not to be deplored, but welcomed as highly beneficial. It is well, nay, essential, for the progress of the race that the houses of some should be homes for all that is highest and best in literature and the arts, and for all the refinements of civilization, rather than that none should be so.”

What we basically have here is the survival of the fittest, Carnegie states, in the business world.  Those who are best at managing money, creating products, organizing and conducting business affairs will be rewarded because they are the best at what they do. 

But, Carnegie feels that the gap between rich and poor has to be addressed in some way, and that’s where the disposal of excess wealth comes in.  First, “it can be left to the families of the decedents; or it can be bequeathed for public purposes; or, finally, it can be administered by its possessors during their lives.” 

The problem with the first way (inherited wealth), Carnegie believes, is that it is rare to find children of wealthy individuals who have NOT been spoiled by a life of leisure or indulgence, and by giving the inheritance to them would be a waste of that hard-earned money.  See the 60 Minutes video below on Howard Buffett, son of billionaire Warren Buffett and see what he has done w/ his life so far.  The father has made all of his children work for their lives and given them few extra things in their lives (in fact, none of them have graduated from college). 

The issues with the second way (money is left to the public or gov’t) is that the real wishes of the deceased about how the money should be used might be thwarted (though I wonder what happened to wills and stuff like that in Carnegie’s day).  This particular quote is probably the most damning: “In many cases the bequests are so used as to become only monuments of his folly. It is well to remember that it requires the exercise of not less ability than that which acquires it, to use wealth so as to be really beneficial to the community.”  In essence, it’s easier to spend the money than to make it. 

So, Carnegie feels that the best way to address the gap between the rich and the poor is for the wealthy of his and future time periods to follow the third way and use that wealth however they choose, but to do it wisely.  People have joked that if Bill Gates just divided up his fortune amongst everybody, things would be nice in the short term.  But it literally might amount to $500 a person (my own estimate) and then trigger some staggering inflation across the country as many people use some of that money to go and buy stuff unless they put it away for college or retirement.  Carnegie felt that this kind of gift would be a silly idea: “if distributed in small quantities among the people, would have been wasted in the indulgence of appetite, some of it in excess, and it may be doubted whether even the part put to the best use…”

So, the wealthy shouldn’t be extravagant.  They should be modest, and use that money wisely, in effect, putting it aside like a trust fund for when they retire to be spent on things that they feel are important.  And, as Carnegie writes, the wealthy know how to spend the money better than the poor: ” the man of wealth thus becoming the mere trustee and agent for his poorer brethren, bringing to their service his superior wisdom, experience, and ability to administer, doing for them better than they would or could do for themselves.


1. Do you agree or disagree with Carnegie’s assessment of how the wealthy should distribute their extra wealth?  Why or why not?

2. In order to address the gaps between the rich and the poor, back then and even today, what should the money have been (and should be) spent on?  Explain why. 

Due Thursday 12/15 by the beginning of class. 

 150 words minimum for each question (so 300 minimum total!). 



 Gospel of Wealth by Andrew Carnegie – http://us.history.wisc.edu/hist102/pdocs/carnegie_wealth.pdf 

http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7391360n Same video below.

February 15

Blog #12 – 1st Rotation – APUSH students take over the blog!


This is a fake picture, but I still thought it was pretty cool.

Please choose one of the following questions to answer for your blog.  These questions come from your colleagues, so enjoy. 

1. Do you feel that Theodore Roosevelt’s plan of consumer protection is American or anti-American? Teddy passed various laws such as the Pure Food and Drug Act and the Meat Inspection Act. The government took on a new role, becoming more involved in people’s lives. But does more government ‘interference’, as some would call it (others have called it socialism!), represent American values? Would you have done anything differently?  – Fred A.


2. Muckrakers played in big role in politics when they began to write in the early 1900s.  Today, journalists also find sources of corruption and abuse to publicize – 60 Minutes, Dateline, regular newspapers and magazines + bloggers.  Identify sources of muckraking today and compare reactions and effects of the writing with the previous generation of muckrakers.

– Also, TR did not like the muckrakers because he felt that they just talked trash and didn’t make any suggestions or try to help fix things and were just critical and negative. Do you believe that today’s muckrakers are just a negative source like TR did or do they do a good job of exposing corruption and abuses?  – Eleanor C.


3. Nike is like Standard Oil in how they monopolize the shoe and clothing  industry. But Nike is also like any other type of monopolistic business in the Progressive Era. Nike pays young kids in Asia to do very hard labor for very low wagesjust do it. It is much like how things used to be here.  Do you belive it is ethical what Nike is doing to young kids in Asia? Why or why not?  – Declan G.


4. Do you think that the reasons America began imperializing overseas in the 1890s (new markets, manifest destiny, naval power, and Anglo-Saxon superiority) are legitimate reasons to expand?  Why or why not?   If not, why do you think more people weren’t protesting America’s imperialist policies?  – Claire F.


5.  If you were going to cast a movie about the late 1800s business tycoons like Rockefeller, Carnegie and Morgan, who would you cast and why?  – Patrice B.andrew_carnegie

6.  Compare our federal government today to the federal government during the progressive era.  Do you feel the (federal) government should be more or less involved in social issues such as the Headstart Plan* and environmental regulations**?  If more, what else do you suggest the government do? If less, what do you suggest the government not do?  – Lucy B.

*A simple summary of the Headstart Plan can be found by clicking the link.

**There have been environmental regulations proposed such as the US federal government forcing every citizen to have only fluorescent lightbulbs in their homes in two years (fluorescent lightbulbs, the ones with mercury in them, conserve energy, but are a health and environmental risk)

7. Teddy Roosevelt had a strong sense of conserving the environment for future generations before he became president and enacted laws during his tenure.  Today, when we talk about saving the environment, people mention global warming and debate whether or not it’s a hoax.  It seems to me that this debate just distracts from the overall point that we could be doing more, like TR, to help conserve natural resources since as Americans, we consume more energy and stuff, per capita, than other people in the world.  What can we do to help make the planet a better place to live in?  – Elizabeth B.


8. James Cameron’s Avatar was a tremendous hit last year, but it also had amazing plot similarities to the 1990 Western, Dances With Wolves.  Both are sagas about Americans imperializing another land and shoving people off of it, regardless of the consequences to the native (Navi) people.   If you’ve seen either movie, can you view either one as a critique of American imperialism?  Why or why not?  – David B.avatar-dances

9. If you could go back in time and decide whether America would go to war against the Spanish in 1898, would you?  Why or why not? Please explain.  – Raven G.

10.  Imperialism is a form of government that Americans shunned. We have stood and fought against it in World Wars 1 and 2, yet we are imperialists ourselves and are dependent on other countries for our personal comfort and economy. Would you be true to America’s democratic roots and fight imperialism?  Or would you be an imperialist that  conquers and controls other countries? Why do you believe so?  – Braxton A.


 11. After the Spanish American War, America liberated the Philippines from Spain, but didn’t grant them independence.  If you had to decide back then, would you rather see America as a laid-back nation that watched over the world, or would it be better to become an active world power, helping other nations (which sometimes came under the banner of imperialism)?  Why? – Larry G.


12. What do you think the implications of the US foreign policy are now that Egypt’s old president, Hosni Mubarek, is out of office?  Remember that Egypt has control of 5% of the flow of oil through the Suez Canal and because we are allies w/ Egypt.  – Kaylee B. Banner seen in Egypt recently.

13.  What business/society problems are around today that muckrakers would or should attack?   How would they attack them- would it be through articles still? What results might these exposes bring?  Explain.  – Lizzie D.

 14.  In the last half century, the US has entered many countries under the mission of “spreading democracy”.  Do you think this is a form of imperialism and is it fair for us to force our values on other countries?  Why or why not?  – Cameron

15.   In 1960 during the height of the Cold War, the United States placed a partial embargo on newly-communist Cuba.  Then, after the Cuban Missile Crisis in the fall of 1962, President Kennedy enacted a travel ban to Cuba for US citizens. The ban, currently the world’s longest-standing embargo, still allows us to export goods to Cuba, but we can’t get bring anything back.  Since the Cold War is over and Castro is almost dead, should the US lift the embargo with Cuba?  Why or why not?  – Evan D.What is "the irresponsible vote"?  Is that kinda like the voters who call in on American Idol?


16. The Women’s Suffrage movement took a long time to impact national laws to get women the right to vote.  Do you think if this would have taken place in current times that the suffrage amendment would have been easier or harder to pass?   Would current events overpower the suffrage movement or would the Women’s Suffrage movement be at the top of the list?  Why?  – Stephanie D.

From Britain's The Daily Mirror in 1904

From Britain's The Daily Mirror in 1904

17.  How do you think American life would be different if President McKinley hadn’t been shot in 1901? Would Teddy Roosevelt ever have become president? Would we still have national parks?  Explain.  – Katie D.

18.  What are some of the problems of our progressive income tax (where the rich pay a higher tax rate than the middle class or poor)?   Do they outweigh the benefits?  Why or why not?  – Ben C.


19. There were three main candidates during the election of 1912: Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt, and William H. Taft. Each president had many views and approaches to the United States problems. Some were different from one another, and some were shared by two or all three. If you lived back in 1912 and were eligible to vote, which candidate would you have chosen and why?  – Erick D.

20. Why would U.S. companies outsource jobs back in the early 1900s and now if so many people here need jobs here?  – Alex C.how-theyre-acting

21. If Teddy Roosevelt was magically transported to the present day, what do you think his opinions would be of today’s politics, policies, and the wars in Iraq and Afganistan?  Why?  – Rachel G.

Blog #12 is due Monday, February 28 before class.

250 words minimum.

December 14

Blog #8 – Should the rich be required to give to charity?

Wealth is an elusive thing, and if everyone could get it, everyone would have it.  But then, if everyone had wealth, who would truly be rich?  – Your mighty editor.

philanthropyThe blog topic – should the rich be required to give to charities? – is a pretty complex question, b/c there are several questions that must be answered when considering this topic:

 – who should be considered rich?

– why are the rich required to give?  Or should they be required to give anything?

 – To what charities deserve $$ and why?081208_Philanthropy

Throughout the 19th and into the 20th Century, the predominant attitude of the wealthy was that it was something special that made them rich.  It could be God-given as in John Rockefeller’s belief “The Good Lord gave me my money.”  Baptist minister Russell Conwell, the founder of Philadelphia’s Temple University, felt that God gave money to those people who would use money for good purposes (1). 

Andrew Carnegie wrote in his 1889 essay, “The Gospel of Wealth,” that money accumulated by the rich is good for society and that the gospel of wealthgovernment shouldn’t interfere with this process.  He also felt that for a wealthy person to pass on his inheritance to his heirs is “injudicious” and that “the condition of this class in Europe to­day teaches the futility of such hopes or ambitions.”  Basically, the heirs will waste it.  Nor should the rich man give it to the government to dispose of b/c the cases of that money being used well have been very few. 

So, Carnegie feels that it is up to the rich man who has made the money to dispose oAndrew-Carnegief it as he sees fit. 

“…the man of wealth thus becoming the sole agent and trustee for his poorer brethren, bringing to their service his superior wisdom, experience, and ability to administer-doing for them better than they would or could do for themselves.”

In fact, he is favor of estate taxes (or in current conservative lingo – DEATH TAXES!)  See this quote:

“Men who continue hoarding great sums all their lives, the proper use of which for public ends would work good to the community, should be made to feel that the community, in the form of the state, cannot thus be deprived of its proper share. By taxing estates heavily at death, the state marks its condemnation of the selfish millionaire’s unworthy life” (2).

USAcarnegie2Hoarding is no good, and Carnegie gave away almost his entire fortune – $325 million – with another $30 million set aside for other things.  Rockefeller gave away over half a billion dollars! 

Put yourself in their shoes:

1. Would you want someone, anyone, telling you who to donate $?   Why or why not?   Or is it your responsibility to donate your fortune before you die?  Why or why not?

2. What current charities or causes would you think deserve your money?

Please answer these two questions – minimum of 200 words for both questions.  Due Thursday 12/16 by the beginning of class. 


1. Capitalism in the Gilded Age – http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h849.html 

2. Modern History Sourcebook – Carnegie’s Gospel of Wealth – http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/1889carnegie.html