The Domestic Manifestation Of American Imperialism Essay

The Domestic Manifestation Of American Imperialism Essay

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Although imperialism is thought of as an international political practice, such a characterization of imperialism neglects the significance of domestic events in imperial ambitions. Cultural historian Robert Rydell postulated that the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition ushered in an era of American political and social imperial policy. The organizers of the 1893 Exposition, Rydell argued, created conflicting exhibitions to highlight the technological achievements of white civilization, but in contrast, featured non-White, specifically Native Americans, as barbarous and incapable of civility.
Rydell’s argument gave readers useful insight into the intentional contrast between civility and savagery that the organizers displayed. However, the argument failed to capture a complete narrative of all the organizers of the 1893 Exposition. This essay seeks to explain that Rydell’s partial premise, while helpful for understanding the domestic manifestation of American imperialism, neglected to recognize that amongst government organizers, not all organizers within this group shared similar sentiments regarding the contrast between civility and savagery. Some government agents, General Eliphalet Whittlesey for example, appeared more concerned with menial issues and legislative affairs than the misperception of Native American “progression.” Yet, other government agents, particularly those more invested in the advancement and assimilation of Native Americans such as Daniel Dorchester, expressed outraged over the organizer’s treatment of Native Americans with ire, yet, not disdain.
At the eleventh meeting of the Lake Mohonk Conference of Friends of the Indian in 1893, General Eliphalet Whittlesey, Secretary of the Board of Indian Commissioners...


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...s of ferocity through the cannibal dance disappeared as memories of horror filled the minds of Exposition goers. Dorchester also condemned the Buffalo Bill Wild Indian Shows as a contradiction between the aim of assimilation and entertainment for Exposition goers sanction by the government. Reducing Native Americans for entertainment, Dorchester argued, neglected the advancements that many Native Americans made through Indian schools. Rydell’s failed to examine this perception amongst Exposition organizers and only sought to prove that organizers, like Dorchester, were complicit in presenting America’s ascension into industrialism, while only presenting the barbarity of Native Americans. His argument did not go far enough to determine that amongst the organizers of the Expositions, the sentiment amongst the organizers that Rydell posited was not entirely ubiquitous.

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