Empire and People about Imperialism in America

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Throughout the chapter, The Empire and the People, Zinn writes about how America wanted to force foreign trade because it would relieve the problem of underconsumption at home and it would prevent a financial crisis in America. The American capitalists thought creating foreign trade would decrease the protests and would bring the American people and government together, but in result it caused more issues than they started with. Although many argue the America became an imperialist country over time, Zinn argues that it has been an imperialist country all along.

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As foreign trade grew more popular, America began the Open Door Policy which began the idea of “open” trade with the idea that the governments of those trading were not involved. Open trade quickly became an issue when the United States joined the Cuban Revolution to keep Spain’s markets open, in fear that if they did it alone, Cuba would take the US out of open trade. This revolution, called the Spanish-American War, showed that America cared for nothing but the profits coming in from the trades after America began taking over all the railroads and supplies. The Platt Amendment was introduced which gave America the right to enter Cuba whenever they felt Cuba was threatened. The signing of the 1898 Treaty of Paris gave the United States ownership to Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines. America had ownership over many countries creating a forced trade among them.

Throughout the additional sources, many authors brought up the same idea Zinn had about imperialism. The poem, “The White Man’s Burden” was written around the time the 1898 Treaty was signed that gave America the right to Puerto Rico, Cuba, Guam, and The Philippines. The poem is written from a white perspective and talks negatively about the African Americans, calling them “savages”. Because the poem is written in the white man’s perspective, they forget to mention how the African Americans are being treated despite the foreign trade. In the poem “The Brown Man’s Burden”, the perspective shifts to those affected by the abuse of imperialism. In the poem, the brown men complain that the white men will never understand the struggles of a brown man and they point out the failure of the American system due to the white men being in charge.

The poem, “The Black Man’s Burden” was written in response to the original poem, “The White Man’s Burden”. This poem, like the last, also talks about the issues of forced imperialism and claims that the issues foreign trade caused were unnecessary. In the movie, “The End of Poverty”, many families living in the places forced off foreign trade, were failing financially. The farm workers were working all day, not making much, and giving all their crops to another country. In the article, “On the Justice of Roosting Chickens” Churchill point out many flaws the United States has in forcing and not following international laws. This article shows the failure of America, claiming that no matter how hard America continues with foreign trade, breaking the rules needs to change first. All of these extra resources backup Zinns claim that foreign trade caused more negatives than positives. The sources had different perspectives, proving that the only one gaining anything from foreign trade and imperialism is the white man and America.

In today’s news, China and America have issues regarding the foreign trade that have developed quickly in the last couple years. Previously, for many decades, China and America have had a foreign trade agreement. In the past few years President Trump has claimed that there is an imbalance to the trades which has left America with an annual economic loss. To change this foreign trade issue, America needs to force the rules on foreign trade with any country. Being persistent and strict with rules, America should never result in an imbalance or economic loss for the years to follow. If the countries the U.S. is in trade with now does not agree to stricter rules, then America needs to decide what is more important to them, economic success or trading with a loss. 

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Empire and People About Imperialism in America. (2022, May 27). Retrieved December 5, 2022 , from

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