Twain is known the world over for his books
and humor, but less well known is that he was an active anti-imperialist.
After his death, his executors suppressed some of his more
political writings and only in recent history have these opinions
become more widely known.
lived during a time when the nations of Europe had possessions all
over the world, particularly Asia and Africa. Imperialism was the
norm and generally people in the imperialist nations accepted it
not just as an
condition of things in the Congo is atrocious, as shown by
the photographs of children whose hands have been cut off."
bonanza but as a responsibility to "civilize" the world.
horrible abuses of imperialism in the Belgian
Congo came to light, he worked for an international
investigation. He brought the issue to the public and eventually
the outcry brought about reforms. He also expressed his views in
the way he preferred - the satire. In King
Leopold's Soliloquy, he lambasted the Belgian
am an anti-imperialist. I oppose putting the eagle's talons
on any other land"
became outraged when the United States became involved in imperialism.
In 1898 the United States fought the Spanish-American
war. It began with intervention on behalf of the Cubans,
but the American victory in Cuba led to the Spanish surrender of
all their possessions in the Pacific. The United States had to decide
what to do with them. This began the
American experience with imperialism.
English author and poet, Rudyard Kipling urged America to play the
imperialism game. His famous "The
White Man's Burden," often called the "Anthem
of Imperialism," appeared in McClure's Magazine in 1899, and
was written to appeal to America keep the Philippines.
McKinley decided to keep most of the possessions.
Most controversial was the Philippines. The Filipinos resisted American
rule and the Philippine American
War was the result. Forcing the Philippines to accept
American rule outraged Twain. He wrote the satire To
the Person Sitting in Darkness and commented often
to express his Views on Imperialism. See also The
The Belgian Congo
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