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menuAmerican Social History Project  ·    Center for Media and Learning

  • Theme > Expansion and Imperialism (x)

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Uncle Sam Teaches a Class In "Self-Government"

In this political cartoon from shortly after the conclusion of the Spanish-American War in 1898, "Uncle Sam" disciplines a class of unruly "children," representing Cuba, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Hawaii. The mustachioed figure reading the [...]

Uncle Sam Finds "Something Lacking" In New Possessions

The outcome of the Spanish-American War had far-reaching consequences for several of Spain's former colonies. The United States annexed Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and Guam, while Cuba became independent but subject to American influence. This [...]

"Showing the Light to the Filipinos"

From 1898 to 1902, the United States waged a bloody war in the Philippines. Filipinos wanted independence from centuries of Spanish colonial rule. U.S. leaders, however, saw the opportunity to control the Philippines and gain access to markets in [...]

The White(?) Man's Burden

This cartoon, published in March of 1899 in Life magazine, depicts the figures of Uncle Sam, John Bull and Kaiser Wilhelm as three heavy burdens being borne on the backs of non-white people, who are stooped over under their weight.

The Stride of a Century

In 1876. the United States marked its centennial (or one hundredth birthday) with a World's Fair held in Philadelpha. The fair celebrated American technological progress and expansion. In this print, created by Currier & Ives, "Brother Jonathan" (a [...]

Across the Continent: 'Westward the Course of Empire Takes its Way'

From 1835 to 1907, the Currier & Ives printmaking company produced over a million lithograph illustrations of events, portraits, and scenes from American life. In the era before photography and the widespread use of illustrations in newspapers, [...]

"Union Pacific Announces the Opening of the Transcontinental Railroad"

An 1869 poster announces the grand opening of the first Transcontinental Railroad. In an elaborate ceremony in Promontory Summit, Utah, the Union Pacific met with the Southern Pacific, linking the eastern United States with California for the first [...]

"American Progress"

During the nineteenth century, the U.S. greatly expanded its territory by purchasing land from other countries, taking land from countries it defeated in war, and adding independent territories that wanted to become part of the United States. This [...]

"To Arms! To Arms!"

This 1847 recruiting poster urges the men of Holmes County, Ohio to enlist for duty in the war against Mexico. The war was fought by the standing, or regular, U.S. army, alongside volunteers. The U.S. War Department first issued a call for states to [...]

President Johnson Justifies U.S. Intervention in Vietnam

President Johnson, in this speech delivered at Johns Hopkins University on April 7, 1965, lists the reasons for escalating the United State's involvement in Vietnam. Having secured Congressional authorization with the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, Johnson [...]