Essay 3: American Imperialism
Module 2 showcases American imperialism at the turn of the century. American intervention in the developing world attracted both supporters and detractors. Many Americans favored overseas expansion for the purpose of exporting American culture and maximizing business opportunities. Other Americans, especially those in the American Anti-Imperialist League, fought against what they considered were the imperial endeavors of a business and political elite. The tensions in the debate over America’s role in world affairs were captured by popular cartoonists of the period.
For this essay, students will write a thesis-driven essay explaining one motivation behind American imperialism as well as discuss the significance of 1 political cartoon.
There are two related tasks that students will complete. It’s important for students to follow the organizational instructions carefully.
First, students will need to become familiar with the module readings. The Kruger and Jacobson articles will help students identify some of the motivations that historians have attributed to turn-of-the-century imperialism. The Kruger article especially discusses the broader interpretations that historians have assigned to better understand why Western nations engaged in imperialist endeavors—the economic, social, political, cultural, etc. Students will select one of the interpretations—economic, social, political, cultural, etc—to account for American imperialism in places like Cuba, China, Hawaii, the Philippines, etc. The Beveridge reading is a primary source that discusses how contemporaries understood American imperialism. Also, the Aguinaldo article offers a critical contemporary review of American intentions in the Philippines.
In the first section of the essay (the first couple of pages), students will pick one of the historical interpretations to answer the following questions:
Why did Americans engage in imperialism (1890-1914)?
What pushed Americans to drop traditional isolationism and engage a more interventionist, imperialist foreign policy?
The essay must begin with a formal introduction that presents a thesis statement. In this case, the thesis will answer what you consider was the primary factor that motivated American imperialism. The thesis statement can be one or two sentences. It must make absolutely clear what the argument of the essay is. The argument is essentially your answer to the above questions.
After the introduction, the next 2-3 body paragraphs will discuss actual, factual historical evidence that proves your argument. The argument should be at the very center of the discussion in the body paragraphs, accompanied by relevant examples/evidence to prove your argument. You must have evidence to prove your argument. The essay should not be a series of claims or a general discussion of the history of imperialism. You must convince the reader (me) that the factor identified and illustrated with evidence offers the most accurate explanation for why Americans engaged in imperialism.
Second, the last half of the essay will identify a cartoon that comports with your thesis. In other words, once you have discussed the factor that led to American imperialism (the argument in the first part of the essay), then discuss the contents/message of a cartoon that helps illustrate why your interpretation is in fact valid. You must select 1 cartoon from the on-line sources listed below. The cartoon must have an obvious connection to your argument that explains the reasoning/justification/interpretation of why Americans engaged in imperialism. The analysis/discussion of the cartoon, in relation to the earlier thesis, fills the remaining 2-3 paragraphs.
The cartoon must align, in a very obvious way, with the argument presented in the first part of the essay.
The cartoon must come from the period 1890-1914.
You should consider the following topics in the second part of your essay:
-How does the cartoon validate/justify/illustrate why your interpretation of American imperialism is historically accurate?
-place the cartoon in the proper historical context. That is, discuss what events are going on in American foreign policy that prompted the cartoonists to complete their work. Background information should not dominate your essay, but you should show that you are informed with the historical events that led to the cartoon.
-identify and explain the perspective(s) of the cartoonist. Is the cartoonist drawing a cartoon in favor of or against imperialism? What is the message the cartoonist is attempting to convey?
-who was the artist?
-where was the cartoon published?
-why was the cartoon drawn?
Use the following resources to identify your cartoon
https://hti.osu.edu/opper/lesson-plans/american-imperialism (Links to an external site.)
https://www.archives.gov/files/legislative/resources/education/america-and-the-world/ebook.pdf (Links to an external site.)
https://cartoons.osu.edu/ (Links to an external site.)
http://www.yourhistorysite.com/PDFs%202009/Imperialism/Political%20Cartoons%20Imperialism.pdf (Links to an external site.)
https://courses.lumenlearning.com/atd-sanjac-ushistory2/chapter/1898-2/ (Links to an external site.)
This pinterest site has 100s of images. This may be a good site to begin exploring.
https://www.pinterest.com/iamjohnnycinco/imperialism-political-cartoons/ (Links to an external site.)
The essay will be 3-4 pages long (approximately 1200 words.
12 point times new roman font.
In-text parenthetical citations. For example: (Foner, 3), or (Johnson, 25).
The essay needs to reference/cite at least 3 sources from the list of required resources (readings/videos). If the essay does not reference at least 3 sources, the grade will be penalized. The reference to the cartoon does not count toward the 3 source minimum.
All essays need to be submitted to turn-it-in, through canvas. I will not grade the essay if it’s not submitted to turn-it-in.
Proofread the essay. If I can’t understand the writing, the grade will be penalized.
The rubric is posted on the course portal.
Every essay needs a formal works cited page. Remember to cite each individual source. MLA format for works cited page.
There is no need to consult outside sources. All of the information needed to complete this essay is found in the module. Students must reference the Johnson text.
Structure of Essay
-Every essay should have a formal introduction (paragraph 1). The purpose of the introduction for this essay is to identify the thesis about the motivations behind American imperialism and a couple of sentences on the cartoon, as well as to set up a little of the historical context.
-After the introduction, the essay should spend a couple of pages discussing the argument (the first task). Identify the factor that you think was the leading cause of American imperialism and then explain why. You must reference actual historical evidence to prove your argument. Specific pieces of historical information that validate your argument as to what led Americans to engage in imperialism must be incorporated in your writing. Without evidence you have no argument.
-When addressing the second task, students must clearly identify the cartoon and then discuss why the cartoon helps illustrate your argument about the motivations that contributed to American imperialism. Use the cartoon as a piece of evidence to drive home your point. This task should be complete in the final couple of body paragraphs.
-Each essay should contain a short, formal conclusion (final paragraph) that restates the central themes discussed in the body paragraphs, offers broader conclusions about American history, or even tries to connect the paper to contemporary events.
If the essay fails to meet the above requirements the grade will be penalized.
Remember, your essay needs to write about events that took place between 1890-1914.
Do not include information about American foreign policy before or after this period.
You will not be given credit for information that takes the discussion outside of this period.
In previous semesters, for reasons I do not understand, this assignment has prompted students to discuss the Guano Islands and the Cold War. These are outside of the time range and should not be included.
Due: September 18, 11:59 pm
After completing these tasks and objectives, students will be able to:
Course Objective 1 (CO1). Assess key events, central themes, and questions pertaining to recent United States history.
Gain experience reading and analyzing written arguments by engaging with a variety of types of sources.
Learn and apply the techniques of writing an argumentative, thesis-driven and evidence-based paper
Students will construct an evidence-based argument demonstrating how local, regional, national, and global events shaped the interactions of two or more groups in the United States. (Global Awareness)
Students will construct an evidence-based argument that integrates multiple perspectives on an issue in Modern US History. (Global Perspective)
Students will consider different perspectives on a problem or controversy related to Modern US History and attempt to reach a resolution about it. (Global Engagement)