Race over Empire: Racism and U.S. Imperialism, 1865-1900

Race over Empire: Racism and U.S. Imperialism, 1865-1900

Race over Empire: Racism and U.S. Imperialism, 1865-1900

Race over Empire: Racism and U.S. Imperialism, 1865-1900

Excerpt

This book is about race, racism, and U.S. imperialism from 1865 to 1900, from the end of the Civil War to the annexations that followed the SpanishAmerican War. It was originally conceived as a critical reinterpretation, as a challenge to the prevailing narratives on race and American imperialism which insist that racial ideologies, ascendant in the last years of the nineteenth century—Anglo Saxonism, social Darwinism, benevolent assimilation, manifest destiny, and the "white man's burden"—worked most significantly to advance empire.

Past accounts have claimed that white supremacy—elaborated in history, culture, tradition, custom, law, and language—armed the imperialists of 1898 with a nearly impenetrable rationale for seizing Cuba from Spain; annexing Hawaii, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines; and taking in the millions of people who inhabited these places: peoples whom the vast majority of Americans considered biologically and culturally inferior, alien, and unassimilable. The chapters that follow challenge this convention. They demonstrate that racism had nearly the opposite effect: that the relationship between the imperialists of the late nineteenth century and the racist structures and convictions of their time was antagonistic, not harmonious (and no class understood this more acutely than the foreign policy establishment itself); that imperialists, contained by the expectations and demands of the racial social order, neither spoke nor acted in the manner usually presented in the historical literature; that they did not overwhelm the racist invective of the anti-imperialists with more potent racial rhetoric (fighting fire with fire); that, instead, they reacted with silences, disingenuous evasions, and . . .

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