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The Gilded and the Gritty: America, 1870-1912
Topic: MemoryTopic: ProgressTopic: PeopleTopic: PowerTopic: Empire
Topic: Empire: Manifest Destiny and Beyond
Toolbox Overview: The Gilded and the Gritty: America, 1870-1912
Resource Menu: Empire
Text 1. Frederick Jackson Turner, The Significance of the Frontier in American History
Text 2. Stephen Crane, The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky
Text 3. The Future of the Red Man
Text 4. William F. Cody and John M. Burke, Buffalo Bill's Wild West and Congress of Rough Riders of the World
Text 5. The New Frontier, Albert Beveridge and William Jennings Bryan
» Reading Guide
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Text 6. Theodore Roosevelt, The Strenuous Life
Text 7. The White Man's Burden
Text 8. Mark Twain, To the Person Sitting in Darkness, The Dervish and the Offensive Stranger
Text 9. Aguinaldo's Case Against the United States
Text 10. Two Wars, Memorial Day, The Twelve-Inch Gun

RESOURCE MENU » Reading Guide Link

Reading Guide
Hoisting the flag in Cuba, 1898
Hoisting the flag in Cuba, 1898
The New Frontier
- Albert Beveridge, "March of the Flag," address, 16 September 1898, excerpts
- William Jennings Bryan, "Will It Pay?" New York Journal, 15 January 1899, excerpts

For most of the nineteenth century the United States followed the foreign policy enunciated by George Washington: avoid entangling alliances. By the 1890s, however, two forces thrust the nation more squarely into world affairs, the European competition for colonial territory and the search for overseas markets. The need for expanded markets was clear, but many Americans wondered if the quest for markets meant that the United States had to intervene in the domestic affairs of other nations. Would the country have to acquire colonies? Adding to the impulse to look beyond our borders was the sense that the United States had reached its maturity. Even if most Americans were unfamiliar with Turner's closing-of-the-frontier thesis, they sensed that an era had passed. The frontier and the limitless possibilities it represented were no longer available. It seemed logical to direct the humanitarian, civilizing, and democratizing impulses that conquered the West to territories abroad. The opportunity came when the United States inherited the remnants of the Spanish empire as a result of the Spanish-American War. Suddenly, Americans were confronted with the question of what to do with Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines. Albert Beveridge, campaigning for U.S. Senator from Indiana, knew what to do—keep the new territories, incorporate them into the American system, and make them our markets. Others were not so sure. In the face of Beveridge's rousing call, William Jennings Bryan totaled up the costs of empire and asked "Will it pay?" 8 pages.

Discussion questions
  1. How does Beveridge define America's mission in the world?
  2. What connections does Beveridge make between the America's conquest of the West and its imperial mission abroad?
  3. How does he use the Civil War to advance his argument?
  4. How do both speakers claim the Founding Fathers?
  5. How does Beveridge link technological progress and empire?
  6. How does Beveridge account for American control over the West, Florida, Texas, and California? How does Bryan account for American control over the same territory plus Alaska, and Hawaii?
  7. How does Bryan use the American Revolution to advance his argument?
  8. How does Bryan link domestic issues and foreign affairs?

» Link

Topic Framing Questions
  •  How was the West incorporated into the nation?
  •  How did Americans respond to the nation's changing role in world affairs at this time?
  •  How did issues and concerns at home shape American policies and actions abroad?
  •  How did America project its power beyond its own borders?

Toolbox: The Gilded and the Gritty: America, 1870-1912
Memory | Progress | People | Power | Empire

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