May 2014

Rudyard Kipling, “The White Man’s Burden,” 1899

Rudyard Kipling wrote this poem after the United States went to war with Spain in 1898. Kipling’s poem encouraged Americans to embrace imperialism in order to spread civilization to the far reaches of the globe, even if the task would be greeted with enmity and resentment. The concept of the “White Man’s Burden” has become shorthand for describing Western attitudes toward the “backwardness” of the rest of the world. – M.B. Masur, St. Anselm College


Lida Calvert Obenchain, The Philippine War (June 1899)

In April 1898, the U.S. Congress declared war on Spain, initiating a four month conflict that saw U.S. forces quickly overwhelm Spanish military forces in the Philippines and Cuba. In December, U.S. and Spanish officials formally ended the war by agreeing to a treaty that required Spain to cede Cuba, the Philippine islands, Guam, and Puerto Rico to the United States and left the future political status of these lands in the hands of the U.S. Congress.