As part of the treaty that ended the Spanish-American war, the US took possession of the Philippines.  For some Americans, imperialist expansion was a moral duty and necessary for America to achieve maturity as a nation. For other Americans, imperialist expansion was dangerous, immoral, and racist.  In this lesson, students examine how advocates and critics used political cartoons to express their positions on annexation.
[Lesson Plan updated on 5/13/16.]

Image: Political cartoon satirizing American and European imperialism made by J.S. Pughe in 1899. From the Library of Congress.


Great lesson as usual. The only change I would make is to make it clear that it is an excerpt of the poem and not the complete poem.
Hi jfarris, Thank you so much for the thoughtful feedback! This is a great suggestion. We'll make the edit soon.
Excellent lesson, as always. One tweak I've had to make: On the Kipling handout, the third question asks "What might someone say who disagreed with Kipling?" I found that my students often failedl to address Kipling's argument about the "white man's burden" and instead answered with other non-expansionist arguments such as "it will enlarge the size of our government and military"; "it's wrong to take the property of others"; "annexation goes against our values of freedom and equality." I find that I have to redirect the students to get them to directly address Kipling instead of the other issues associated with expansion. This might be addressed by changing the wording of the question to something like "What might someone who opposes annexation say about Kipling's argument in 'The White Man's Burden'?"
This is an extremely strong lesson, one of my strongest of the year. I modify this lesson by having the students read the poem "White Man's Burden" three times (class, pair, and individual), each time expanding upon their interpretation of the poem. After introducing the political cartoons, the students work in pairs over the text set using the graphic organizer. I also add a writing component at the end. This lesson is great not only for understanding multiple viewpoints but analyzing and interpreting visual and textual information.
I have used this lesson for two years and each time it has been an effective means of getting students to further understand the period surrounding the Philippine conflict. It has also been effective in ehancing students interpretation of political cartoons and how many issues throughout history were controversial during their time. There really are two sides to every story and this lesson illustrates that.
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