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L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, 91.
(1) that we could not give them back to Spain -- that would be cowardly and dishonorable; (2) that we could not turn them over to France or Germany -- our commercial rivals in the Orient -- that would be bad business and discreditable; (3) that we could not leave them to themselves - they were unfit for self-government -- and they would soon have anarchy and misrule over there worse than Spain's was; and (4) that there was nothing left for us to do but to take them all, and to educate the Filipinos, and uplift and civilize and Christianize them, and by God's grace do the very best we could by them, as our fellow-men for whom Christ also died.McKinley delivered this speech in 1899 but it was posthumously published in The Christian Advocate in 1903, just as the Philippine Insurrection had become virtually pacified. His narrative of divinely-sanctioned choice has since become the customary point of access for understanding the rationale of United States imperialism in the Philippines. His remarks offers a concise account of the ideals for which U.S. imperialism stood; it is courageous, honorable, good business, creditable, orderly, uplifting, civilizing, and Christian. While the speech had an immediate audience of Methodist clergymen, these remarks would have found wide acceptance in late nineteenth-century America as history has clearly demonstrated that the impulse to colonize eventually won out over the forces arrayed against it, both foreign and domestic.
The democratic party stood for the money of the Constitution in 1896; it stands for the government of the Constitution now.Seeking to make intelligible his anti-imperialist position, Bryan makes the empire question not simply an analogous formation to the money question but rather a directly related one through the various "familiar ring[s]" he emphasizes between the question of empire and the question of monetary reform. He begins with an account of how both empire and the gold standard are seen as unconstitutional and anti-republican. To rouse the American nativist and anti-European sentiments of his populist constituency, Bryan likens the Republican party to a de facto aristocracy and monarchy, not unlike decadent England. And Bryan struggles to make his audience identify with the colonized Filipinos; just as the government had acted against your wishes in 1896, so it is acting against the wishes of the Filipinos. Despite being in Chicago, the so-called New York of the West, Bryan can play to sectionalist tendencies by resurrecting the villains of Reconstruction, the military governors and carpetbaggers, to make an oblique parallel between the devastated post-Civil War South and the post-Spanish Philippines. Yet he also warns the American people that they may not want to take up the white man's burden of absorbing and "attending to the business of remote and alien races." Like McKinley, "business" is the term used to describe the course of action to take regarding the Philippines.
It opposed an English financial policy in 1896; it opposes an English colonial policy now. Those who in 1896 were in favor of turning the American people over to the greed of foreign financiers and domestic trusts may now be willing to turn the Filipinos over to the tender mercies of military governors and carpet-bag officials.
Those who in 1896 thought the people of the United States too weak to attend to their own business may now think them strong enough to attend to the business of remote and alien races; but those who, in 1896, fought for independence for the American people will not now withhold independence from those who desire it elsewhere.
We are told that the Filipinos are not capable of self-government; that has a familiar ring. Only two years ago I heard the same argument made against a very respectable minority of the people in this country. The money loaners, who coerced borrowers, did it upon that theory; the employers who coerced their employees did it for the same reason (Bryan on Imperialism12-13).
"Mr. Lincoln would have answered him, saying: 'Go to the telegraph office and cable Aguinaldo that the great Republic of the western world sends greeting to the young Republic of the Orient, and will protect it from the other nations of the world." (Harvey  148)Then Coin abruptly reminds us that McKinley refused to recognize the Filipino government and therefore refused to see the visiting delegation from the deposed Filipino nationalist government. And then Coin refutes the main arguments against formal recognition of the Aguinaldo regime, such as the alleged "Tagal [sic]" hegemony.
"In 1873," replied the little teacher, "when silver was struck down as a competitor with gold. The Money Trust began forming soon after the war to control the volume and issue of money, the same as Industrial Trusts have since sought to control the products in which they deal. The Money Trust may be said to have succeeded and fastened itself upon the country in 1873" (130).Coin makes visible the usurious money trust as the source of the more visible industrial trusts. To illustrate, he personifies gold and silver as business competitors, with gold achieving a monopoly thereby allowing it control the products in which it deals, i.e., money. In other words, finance capital needed first to control the money supply: "The Financial Trust will own all the other Trusts," replied the little teacher. With the emergence of economies of unprecedented size, productive capital is becoming unprecedentedly dependent upon finance capital and its cultures of speculation and investment.
I mean that there is in the sign an ambiguous quality and a slight suspicion of ill will and "malice." Moreover, insofar as the sign is already an interpretation that is not given as such, signs are interpretations that try to justify themselves, and not the reverse.Money is not simply just an instrument of capitalism; it is also the concept that is both the site for the creation and the site for the undoing of modernity. Indeed the symbolic as well as economic significance of money is one of the main preoccupations of Marx's writings. In Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, Marx writes,
Thus functions money as one sees it defined in the Critique of Political Economy, and above all in the first book of Capital. Symptoms also function in the same way in the works of Freud. And in the works of Nietzsche, words, justice, the binary classification of Good and Evil, that is to say, signs, are masks. ("Marx, Nietzsche, Freud" 65-66)
Money is 'impersonal' property. It permits me to transport on my person, in my pocket, social power and social relations in general: the substance of society. Money puts social power in material form into the hands of private persons, who exercise it as individuals. (24)To dissect the operations of money is to produce a deep critique of knowledge itself and the sovereign subject of knowledge.
Was it purely by chance that the crisis of realism in the novel and in painting coincided with the end of gold money? Or that the birth of 'abstract' art coincided with the shocking invention of inconvertible monetary signs, now in general use? Can we not see in this double crisis of money and language the collapse of guarantees and frames of reference, a rupture between sign and thing, undermining representation and ushering in the age of the floating signifier? (3)Money goes from being a tangible material object (specie) to being just another sign (a cyber blip), perhaps even aspiring toward status as transcendental signifier. The paralleling of such troubled pairs as reality and representation, signified and signifier, and specie and note, engendered material and epistemological crises in this era that American political culture sought to resolve.
In da sevent grade, you change classes l'dat and had all dese rules and j'like da bell stay ringin all da time. Had da warning bell before school start, had da real bell, and had da tardy bell. And da bells between classes and da tardy to class bell and da first lunch bell and da second lunch bell. (289)Despite his advancement through his education and his recognition for his performance of Lincoln, the narrator still speaks to us in pidgin. Is this a defect or a form of resistance?
For example, see Stanley Karnow. Karnow, a journalist and not really a historian, even says that this speech is virtually all we have to access "the thinking that went into [McKinley's] decision" (16). Back
Key histories of this scant field are by Stuart Creighton Miller and E. Berkeley Tompkins. More a set of reflections than a history, William Appleman William's Empire as a Way of Life offers a compelling account of the centrality of empire in American culture. See also Jameson, who argues that, in the late nineteenth century, the predominant others that preoccupied British colonialism were other colonizing nations competing for the periphery. Back
For a discussion of the troubled concept of determinism in assessments of American literary naturalism, see Lee Clark Mitchell's Determined Fictions and his "Naturalism and the Language of Determinism." Back
Donald Pizer's accounts of American literary naturalism are the standard texts for grasping this field. Walter Benn Michael's The Gold Standard and the Logic of Naturalism has been one of the most influential accounts of naturalism in the New Historicist school of literary criticism. Back
Much naturalist American literature, such as Jack London's The Iron Heel, John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath, Richard Wright's Native Son, and Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, has a decidedly socialist programme. The same can be said of the authors themselves. Back
Sociologist Robert Blauner formulated this now qualified distinction at the dawn of Ethnic Studies to illustrate the qualitative differences between differently racialized populations in American history. See his second chapter in Racial Oppression in America. Back
In the hearings on the extremely brutal but largely forgotten Philippine Insurrection (1898-1902), General Arthur MacArthur offered a blunt explanation of the American rationale repeated back to him by the Senate Commission: "Sen. Culberson [to MacArthur]: "I believe you said in your opening statement that you believed we ought to hold the Philippine Islands upon two broad principles: first, those of a mercantile or commercial character; and second, because of the opportunity it had afforded us of planting the principles of republican institutions in the archipelago. Am I correct?" (Hearings 87) Back
In the novel, Hagedorn places McKinley's remarks in 1898. Such an error may be considered strategic. By employing non-linear plot lines, the novel thematizes chronological inaccuracy as a strategy for undermining the authority of any one source. In particular, the "Pucha Gonzaga" chapter at the end of the novel encourages readers to doubt the capability of the narrative they had just finished to represent the postcolonial reality of the Philippines. For an insightful reading of the novel's rendering of history, see Lisa Lowe's "Decolonization, Displacement, Disidentification: Writing and the Question of History," 112-120. For standard theories of the novel, see Ian Watt's The Rise of the Novel, Franco Moretti's The Way of the World, and Emory Elliot, ed., The Columbia History of the American Novel. The tradition of dissent in the American literary tradition may allow for the possibility of exceptionalism when considering the American canon's ironic capacity for inclusion. And this irony necessarily structures U.S. imperialism. Back
The rise of what has been called post-modern anthropology in the 1970s and 80s has engendered crises in that field over how to reconcile current research methods, heavily influenced by literary theory with its exploitatively ethnocentric legacy. See Clifford Geertz's Works and Lives, James Clifford's The Predicament of Culture, and George Marcus and James Clifford's Writing Culture. New historicism in literary criticism owes a debt to anthropological approaches to culture by such scholars as Clifford Geertz (see his The Interpretation of Culture). Back
For useful discussions of the influence of U.S. military bases on their host countries see Saundra Pollack Sturdevant and Brenda Soltzius's Let the Good Times Roll and Cynthia Enloe's Bananas, Beaches, and Bases. Back
At a panel of the 1998 American Studies Association annual meeting in Seattle, Hagedorn described the difficulties in staging this specific scene. During rehearsal, the sex worker characters spontaneously wept, but not in character. Back
In general, see Fredric Jameson's "The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism." For a critique of the application of the term postmodern to Asian American literature, see Sau-ling Cynthia Wong, Reading Asian American Literature 13. Back
For a discussion of Asian American performance, see Dorinne Kondo's About Face. Back
Even the earliest of discernibly Asian American culture texts offers key moments at which we can continually witness this failure, as is evident from the ironic title of Sui Sin Far's 1914 short story of the state's seizure of a Chinese immigrant family's undocumented infant son, "In the Land of the Free." Back
This question of the capacities of American civilization to accommodate Asian Americans has necessarily been a central thematic of the study of Asian American literature from its inception. The three main studies of Asian American literature (Kim, Wong, Lowe) each mark watersheds in the development of this emergent and insurgent field within American literary studies. Back
While we now understand U.S. imperialism to be a generally informal affair, late 19th-century historical developments necessitated a rather formal conception and practice of American empire in Asia and the Pacific. See Thomas J. McCormick's China Market. Back
The first article to put this claim forward was Henry M. Littlefield's "The Wizard of Oz: Parable on Populism." More recent theorizations along these lines include Hugh Rockoff's "'The Wizard of Oz' as Monetary Allegory" and Gretchen Ritter's "Silver Slippers and a Golden Cap." Baum's book has been read as everything from an account of Australia to one of South Dakota (see Ritter, "Slippers" 172n1). Back
The main historical studies to deal with these issues are Irwin Unger's The Greenback Era and Robert P. Sharkey's Money, Class, and Party. Bruce Palmer's "Man Over Money" is also a thorough examination of the place of financial issues in national politics. Back
Milton Friedman argues that monetary standards had become a moot question by the 1890s because of mining trends, but they had been important in the 1870s and 1880s. See his "Crime of 1873." Back
Contributing to the occlusion of Baum's text's status as a monetary allegory is the switching of Dorothy's silver slippers to ruby in MGM's 1939 adaptation, unless the film may have been advocating a ruby and gold standard. Salman Rushie reglects to disinter the colonial legacy of the Oz tale in his book about the movie. Back
For an analysis of the political maneuvering behind Chinese Exclusion, see Shirley Hune, "Politics of Chinese Exclusion." See also Alexander Saxton, "Race and the House of Labor" and his The Indispensable Enemy; Nayan Shah's "The White Label and the Yellow Peril"; and Ronald Takaki's Iron Cages 215-51. Interestingly, Bret Harte's seemingly anti-Chinese representations that Takaki analyzes may have been part of a larger project of Harte's that sought to produce sympathy for the Chinese, not unlike Twain's descriptions of the Chinese in Roughing It (see Grace Kyungwon Hong's "The Not-Working Class and Chinese Immigrant Labor"). Gary Y. Okihiro provides an account of the depth of the significance of Asianness in American thought in Margins and Mainstreams, and Edward W. Said's Orientalism is the standard text for elaborating this same tendency in European thought. Back
Generally considered a na•ve approach to monetary policy, the quantity theory argues that the value of money and its ability to create wealth is directly proportional to how much of it is in circulation. Not surprisingly, the Populists wanted more money pumped into the national economy. Yet the national economy was becoming increasingly international. See Milton Friedman and Anna Schwartz's A Monetary History of the United States, John Kennth Galbraith's Money, and Marcella de Cecco's The International Gold Standard. Back
In addition to Sharkey, Unger, and Palmer, for accounts of the rise of late nineteenth-century populism see John D. Hicks's seminal study The Populist Revolt and Norman Pollack's The Populist Response to Industrial America. Back
See also Bryan's famous "Cross of Gold" speech (The First Battle 205). Back
One of the main instruments of U.S. imperialism was the appeal of the U.S. Constitution itself. See A. A. Caesar Espritu's "Constitutional Development in the Philippines." Back
On the primitivizing of Filipinos pre- and post- 1898, see Rafael. Jameson argues that in the late 19th century, colonial culture imagined as its primary other the other colonizing powers competing for territory. The colonized were simply too radically other. See his "Modernism and Imperialism." Back
Michael O'Malley offers a fascinating recuperation of the lost meanings of carpet-bagger in "Specie and Species." Back
Rudyard Kipling invoked the White Man's Burden in his 1899 poem by the same name. Back
For an analysis of economic developments in the 1890s as well as a projection of the possibilities had bimetallism taken hold, see Friedman's "The Crime of 1873." Back
The 1900 Gold Standard Act was the culmination of decades of contestation over monetary policy. After the Coinage Act of 1873 (or "Crime of 1873") that demonetized silver, various acts were passed in an attempt to appease silver advocates, including the 1978 Bland-Allison Act and the 1890 Sherman Silver Purchase Act, both of which called for rather limited resumption of the coinage of silver. For an overview of key legislation see Ritter 286-87. Back
We might more accurately characterize this transition as only partly abortive because the pro-silver, anti-imperialist platform was indeed the one that the ambivalently Democratic party adopted; they just lost the election on it. See Garland A. Haas, The Politics of Disintegration, and Richard Hofstadter, The Age of Reform. Back
The popularity of the writings of Horatio Alger is the most prominent example of American culture's attempt to produce proper conduct through literary models. For a discussion of the anxiety around juvenile delinquency, see Stephen Mailloux, Rhetorical Power 112-20. Back
See Hofstader's "Coin's Financial School" 12-14 for a list of various responses to and parodies of Coin. Back
The far-reaching legacies of American no-recognition of the Philippine sovereignty is explored in the work of Oscar V. Campomanes (e.g. "The New Empire's Forgetful and Forgotten Citizens"). Back
Filipino nationalism is looked to as the first modern Asian nationalism. See Benedict Anderson's Imagined Communities, esp. 26-30. In particular, Anderson argues that print culture, from the newspaper to the novel, such as Jose Rizal's Noli Me Tangere, are examples of the formal cultural production of the nation. Back
Kipling's "White Man's Burden is subtitled "The United States and the Philippines." The McKinley administration referred to the Philippines as hopefully becoming an "American Hong Kong." Back
See Tompkins for a history of the mainstream responses to imperialism. For accounts of how marginalized populations responded to imperialism, see Penny Von Eschen's Race Against Empire. Back
In The Incorporation of American, Alan Trachtenberg argues that this era can be characterized as a battle between emergent labor and emergent capital over the fate of America. Capital won. Tellingly, a similar but more squarely leftist and empire-centered argument about the history of Great Britain, the dominant imperialist power of this era, can be found in the work of Eric Hobsbawm (e.g. his The Age of Empire). Back
Hofstadter dismissed the 1899 text as "suffer[ing] from its lack of concentration on a single theme" (70). Back
See Immanuel Wallerstein's The Modern World System and also Giovanni Arrighi's The Long Twentieth Century. Though it is written from a decidedly different disciplinary perspective, Alfred D. Chandler, Jr.'s The Visible Hand also tracks these similar trends in the way America was beginning to do business from the middle of the nineteenth century to the beginning of the twentieth. Back
For an account of economies of scale in this period, see Arrighi, especially 159-239. In which he discusses the rise of British capitalism. American capitalism would then go on to displace economies of size with so-called "economies of speed." Back
For an example of the conspiracy theorizing of the silverites, see the story of Ernest Seyd's alleged machinations in Ritter, "Goldbugs and Greenbacks" 190. Hofstadter relates the same story (Coin's Financial School 62-63 n37). Back
A seminal treatment of the rise of trusts, or "very large corporations," and speculative and finance capitalism in late nineteenth-century America is Thomas R. Navin and Marian V. Sears, "The Rise of a Market for Industrial Securities." Literary scholar Philip Fisher has suggestively argued that post-bellum American culture can be characterized by the rise of "a culture of speculation" that continues to hold sway to this day ("American Literary and Cultural Studies Since the Civil War" 248). Back
While the writings of Pollack and Hicks have a respectful attitude toward the populists, Hofstadter's Pulitzer Prize-winning The Age of Reform has a tone of sympathetic condescension, especially toward farmers (see 23-93). Back
Hofstadter dismissed the 1899 text as "suffer[ing] from its lack of concentration on a single theme" ("Introduction" to Coin's Financial School 70). This lack of focus - and perhaps even the attempts to overproduce an epistemic unity --only showed the degree to which the complexity of capitalism had reached with the convergence of incorporation and empire-building. See also Trachtenberg and Saxton. Back
E.g., despite being a left-sympathizer, Charles Beard cautiously avoids being labeled Marxist in An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States. See Michael Denning's The Cultural Front and Edna Bonacich and Lucie Cheng's Labor Immigration Under Capitalism 1-56. Back
This era is lucidly narrated by Trachtenberg and Lears. Lears puts an antimodern spin on this period while Trachtenberg makes a good case for the genuine epistemic shift that was inaugurated in this era, an epistemic shift out of which we have yet to shift. Back
Even W.E.B. DuBois admitted that he was for the gold standard at this time: "I saw the rise of the Free Silver movement, and the beginning of Populism. I was wrong in most of my judgments. My Harvard training made me stand staunchly for the Gold Standard, and I was suspicious of the Populist 'Radicals.' At the same time, I had seen face-to-face something of the social democratic movement in Germany. I had gone to their meetings; and by the time McKinley got to work on his high tariff and showed his evident kinship to big business, I began to awaken. Certain of my earlier teachings now came into conflict. I had been trained to believe in Free Trade, which the new McKinley high tariff contradicted. I began to realize something of the meaning of the new Populist movement in its economic aspects" (483). Back
With the Slaughterhouse cases, there emerged in the 1870s the beginnings of the weak state in the face of leviathan corporations that set the terms of American political development (see Agabin's "Laissez Faire and the Due Process Clause"; see also Navin and Sears). Back
Marxist writing would shortly go on to make the relations of empire and capitalism visible and recognizable. See V. I. Lenin, Imperialism: The Highest State of Capitalism (1916); J. A. Hobson, Imperialism: A Study (1902); C. K. Hobson, Export of Capital (1914); Scott Nearing and Joseph Freeman, Dollar Diplomacy: A Study in American Imperialism (1925), as well as Arrighi. Back
See Walter Benjamin, "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction." Aprpropriately, Benjamin points to the cinema as the new formation that ushers in this new age. But his insights more generally fit accounts of the rise of mass culture. See also Andreas Huyssen's After the Great Divide. Back
On "local knowledge" see Michel Foucault's Language, Counter-memory, Practice. Back
Perhaps the main theorist of the centrality of money in Western culture is Mark Shell (see his Money, Language, and Thought). Back
Corporeal legibility and biological reality (read: race) is also a central and related preoccupation. See Michael O'Malley's "Specie and Species." Back
The People's Party's 1892 "The Omaha Platform," written mostly by Ignatius Donnelly, is the basic document providing a concise and lucid outline of Populist demands. See Pollack 59-66 and Tindall 90-96. Back
Saxton's White Republic and Takaki's Iron Cages are two important studies that show the centrality of race in American history. And the racialization of people of color necessarily produces the quasi-racialization of whiteness. See David Roediger's The Wages of Whiteness; Ruth Frankenberg's White Women, Race Matters; and George Lipsitz's The Possessive Investment in Whiteness. Back
See Booker T. Washington, et al., The Negro Problem. DeBois's influential "The Talented Tenth" is among the essays of this volume. Back
Cuba is a telling and early counterpoint to how to be a nonaligned compliant state. Oscar Compomanes has written about this undertheorized parallel in "Between Colonialisms." Back
The status of Great Britain as a colonial power has been the focus of the field of postcolonail studies, the theorizations of the role of culture in producig empire does have explanatory power for making sense of American imperialism. The customary statement on the immanence of empire is the opening line of Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak's "Three Women's Texts and a Critique of Imperialism": "It should not be possible to read nineteenth-century British literature without remembering that imperialism, understood as England's social mission, was a crucial part of the cultural representation of England to the English. The role of literature in the production of cultural representation should not be ignored. These two obvious 'facts' continue to be disregarded in the reading of nineteenth-century British literature. This itself attests to the continuous success of the imperialist project, displaced and dispersed onto more modern forms" (262). Back
Exemplary revisionist histories of the American West have been written by Richard White. His "It's your misfortune and none of my own" is a general overview history of the West, and his The Roots of Dependency applies world systems theory to an understanding of the dispossession inflicted upon American Indians. Back
This slogan is particularly common in Bryan's speeches. The equating of anti-imperialism with treason was common. In the anti-imperialist chapter of Coin on Money, Trusts, and Imperialism, Harvey depicts Coin responding to a rather acrid accusation of sedition. Back
In a different but related context, Frantz Fanon was written about the false promises of de jure postcoloniality amidst de facto neocolonialism. See his The Wretched of the Earth. Back
The recent writings of literary scholar Lisa Lowe have illuminated the ways in which Asian American cultural politics make evident the contradictions of American civil society. See "Immigration, Racialization, Citizenship: Asian American Critique" in Immigrant Acts. Back
The debunking of the neoconservative model minority myth has been one of the leading missions of Asian American activism and study. See Harry Kitano and Roger Daniels's Asian Americans: Emerging Minorities and Sucheng Chan's Asian Americans: An Interpretive History. Back
The recent special issue of Critical Mass: a Journal of Asian American Cultural Studies (Fall 1998) concerns the various disciplinary mechanisms emblematic of U.S. imperialism from the turn-of-the-century to today, particularly militarization, education, and medicalization. Back
Though writing about a different context than Hawai'I', Gauri Viswanathan explains the central role that English literary education played in the British colonization of India in Masks of Conquest. Haunani Kay Trask (Notes of a Native Daughter) and Ronald Takaki (Pau Hana) have differently written about the methods of colonization and the role of Asian immigration to Hawai'i. Back
Ngugi wa Thiong'o discusses the role that literary education played in Kenya in Decolonising the Mind. Back
In "Realism and Regionalism," Eric Sundquist persuasively outlines the relationship of location and representation in late nineteenth-century American literature. Back
Mary Louise Pratt usefully applies the linguistic term "contact zone" to an analysis of colonial discourse (see her Imperial Eyes). Back
For a critique of the concept of the "abstract citizen" as it pertains to Asian Americans, see Lowe 1-36. Back
---. Twentieth-Century American Literary Naturalism: An Interpretation. Carbondale IL: Southern Illinois UP, 1982.