Imperialism In Susan Harriss: God's Arbiters

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Susan Harris’s book God’s Arbiters explores the religious rhetoric when discussing expansion of the United States. She focuses solely on the time period of 1898 through 1902. In this book, Harris calls on the works of numerous poets, authors, and political figures to show the perception of the United States imperialist motives from outside the borders. Harris uses Mark Twain as an epigraph at the beginning of the book with the quotation “I am an anti-imperialist.” Drawing upon authors such as Rudyard Kipling and his pro-annexation story The White Man’s Burden, Harris shows both sides of the debate through authors and poets alike. This use of writers offers an interesting perspective to the argument for and against imperialism, furthermore offering a look into the minds of intellectuals of the period. The main issue addressed by Harris is …show more content…

The first chapter of the book uses Rudyard Kipling’s ”The White Man’s Burden”, a poem published in the London Times in 1899. Kipling’s subtitle for the poem, “An Address to the United States”, suggests the author’s intentions with the piece. In the poem, Kipling urged America to “take up the white man’s burden” and to annex the country to help the native people. Despite the conflict between Kipling’s belief towards imperialism and Mark Twain’s opposition of the movement, the two writers remained friends. Twain, who was not one to hold back comment, never publicly commented on Kipling’s poem or his belief in imperialism. Harris does mention a private comment from Twain late in his life in regard to Kipling. He said that Kipling “loves power and authority and Kingship” (130), but Twain never once criticized the author. This example is a good illustration of the two sides of the argument and their mutual respect held for each other and for their conflicting

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