The True Flag: Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain, and the Birth of American Empire
Acclaimed journalist Stephen Kinzer will discuss the domestic clamor over America’s imperial ventures at the dawn of the 20th century. After a century of continental expansion, the United States came upon an opportunity to expand overseas by capturing Spanish colonial possessions and other territories within its reach. The nation plunged into polemic debate, with political and intellectual giants contesting “the imperial idea.” Expansionists declared benevolent intent, touting the economic benefits of conquest, while anti-imperialists invoked America’s anti-colonial origins, condemning imperialist brutality. The former largely triumphed, as the United States soon controlled Cuba and annexed Puerto Rico, Guam, Hawaii, and the Philippines in a swift series of conquests. Kinzer will argue that the imperial/anti-imperial dichotomy remains a dominant feature of the American psyche.
Stephen Kinzer is the author of The Brothers, Reset, Overthrow, and All the Shah’s Men, among others. An award-winning foreign correspondent, he served as the New York Times’s bureau chief in Turkey, Germany, and Nicaragua, and as the Boston Globe’s Latin America correspondent. He is a senior fellow at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University and writes a column on world affairs for the Boston Globe. He lives in Boston.
The Anti-Imperialist League formed in Boston in 1898 in opposition to the United States’ annexation of the Philippines. In 1901 Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) joined the League as a vice president. Read the league’s annual reports from 1899 to 1920 for a glimpse into their concerns, positions, and activities.