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Toolbox Library, primary resources thematically organized with notes and discussion questionsOnline Seminars, professional development seminars for history and literature teachersThe Gilded and the Gritty: America, 1870-1912
The Gilded and the Gritty: America, 1870-1912
Topic: MemoryTopic: ProgressTopic: PeopleTopic: PowerTopic: Empire
Topic: Empire: Manifest Destiny and Beyond
Toolbox Overview: The Gilded and the Gritty: America, 1870-1912
Resource Menu: Empire
Text 1. Frederick Jackson Turner, The Significance of the Frontier in American History
Text 2. Stephen Crane, The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky
Text 3. The Future of the Red Man
Text 4. William F. Cody and John M. Burke, Buffalo Bill's Wild West and Congress of Rough Riders of the World
Text 5. The New Frontier, Albert Beveridge and William Jennings Bryan
Text 6. Theodore Roosevelt, The Strenuous Life
Text 7. The White Man's Burden
Text 8. Mark Twain, To the Person Sitting in Darkness, The Dervish and the Offensive Stranger
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Text 9. Aguinaldo's Case Against the United States
Text 10. Two Wars, Memorial Day, The Twelve-Inch Gun

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Reading Guide
8.
Mark Twain, ca. 1905
Mark Twain, ca. 1905
Mark Twain
- "To the Person Sitting in Darkness," North American Review, February 1901
- "The Dervish and the Offensive Stranger," 1902

Mark Twain disliked poetry, but he did like Kipling's work. "There's something in Kipling that appeals to me," he wrote, "I guess he's just about my level." Moreover, he admitted that Kipling was a "remarkable man." "I am the other one. Between us, we cover all knowledge; he knows all that can be known, and I know the rest." Even though he admired Kipling, Twain did not share his enthusiasm for the white man's burden. Of Twain's anti-imperialist pieces perhaps the best known is "To the Person Sitting in Darkness," a broad indictment of German, British, Russian, and American expansionism. While praising America's efforts in Cuba, where we helped a "friendless nation" throw off oppression, he condemns the war in the Philippines. "The Dervish and the Offensive Stranger" suggests the moral ambiguity of human intention and action but leaves little doubt about Twain's verdict on the morality of imperialism. 9 pages.


Discussion questions
  1. According to Twain in "To the Person Sitting in Darkness," what is the greatest crime of imperialism?
  2. How does Twain portray America in "To the Person Sitting in Darkness"?
  3. How is "The Dervish and the Offensive Stranger" a comment on "The White Man's Burden"?

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Topic Framing Questions
  •  How was the West incorporated into the nation?
  •  How did Americans respond to the nation's changing role in world affairs at this time?
  •  How did issues and concerns at home shape American policies and actions abroad?
  •  How did America project its power beyond its own borders?



Toolbox: The Gilded and the Gritty: America, 1870-1912
Memory | Progress | People | Power | Empire


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