The Empire Abroad and the Empire at Home by John C Gruesser

5458364ecbdaa3e-261x361.jpg Author John C Gruesser
Isbn 820334340
File size 1MB
Year 2012
Pages 168
Language Englisch
File format PDF
Category culture


The Empire Abroad and the Empire at Home This page intentionally left blank The Empire Abroad and the Empire at Home African American Literature and the Era of Overseas Expansion • J O H N C U L L E N G RU E S SE R The University of Georgia Press Athens and London © 2012 by the University of Georgia Press Athens, Georgia 30602 All rights reserved Set in Minion by Graphic Composition, Inc. Printed digitally in the United States of America Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Gruesser, John Cullen, 1959– The empire abroad and the empire at home : African American literature and the era of overseas expansion / John Cullen Gruesser. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-0-8203-3434-9 (hardcover : alk. paper) — ISBN 0-8203-3434-0 (hardcover : alk. paper) — ISBN 978-0-8203-4406-5 (pbk. : alk. paper) — ISBN 0-8203-4406-0 (pbk. : alk. paper) 1. American literature—African American authors—History and criticism— Theory, etc. 2. Imperialism in literature. 3. Literature and globalization. 4. African Americans—Intellectual life. I. Title. PS153.N5G785 2012 810.9'896073—dc23 2012017908 British Library Cataloging-in-Publication Data available ISBN for this digital edition: 978-0-8203-4468-3 Contents Acknowledgments vii Introduction: Empire at Home and Abroad 1 Part 1. African American Literature and the Spanish-Cuban-American War Chapter 1. Cuban Generals, Black Sergeants, and White Colonels: The African American Poetic Response to the Spanish-Cuban-American War 19 Chapter 2. Wars Abroad and at Home in Sutton E. Griggs’s Imperium in Imperio and The Hindered Hand 39 Part 2. African American Literature, the Philippine-American War, and Expansion in the Pacific Chapter 3. Black Burdens, Laguna Tales, and “Citizen Tom” Narratives: African American Writing and the Philippine-American War 63 Chapter 4. Annexation in the Pacific and Asian Conspiracy in Central America in James Weldon Johnson’s Unproduced Operettas 96 Coda: Pauline Hopkins, the Colored American Magazine, and the Critique of Empire Abroad and at Home in “Talma Gordon” 113 Notes 127 Works Cited 139 Index 153 This page intentionally left blank Acknowledgments My thought process, research, and writing have been significantly shaped and greatly enriched by my participation in the activities of several professional associations and scholarly communities. These include not only large organizations such as the American Literature Association (led by the indefatigable Alfred Bendixen) and the Modern Language Association but also regional and more specialized groups such as the New Jersey College English Association, the Collegium for African American Research, the Association of Graduate Liberal Studies Programs, the Society for the Study of Southern Literature, and the Poe Studies Association, as well as small, narrowly focused intellectual communities and initiatives such as the Pauline Hopkins Society, the Sutton Griggs Project (organized by Ken Warren and Tess Chakkalakal), the 1990 neh summer seminar on the problem of race in American and Afro-American literature from 1860 to 1930 held at uc Berkeley and directed by Eric Sundquist, the 1994 neh summer seminar on literary history in theory and practice held at Princeton University and directed by Earl Miner, and the 2007 neh summer seminar on hemispheric American literature held at Columbia University and directed by Rachel Adams and Caroline Levander. Over the past five years, parts of this book have been presented in sessions and symposia organized under the aegis of the ala, mla, njcea, caar, aglsp, sssl, and the Griggs Project, and I have greatly profited from audience responses to these panels. What follows is very much a partial list of the people I have been fortunate enough to get to know through and in some cases work closely with in these scholarly associations and communities during the past two decades: Elizabeth Ammons, Claudia Tate, Jennie Kassanoff, Lois Brown, Jill Bergman, Richard Yarborough, Maryemma Graham, Daylanne English, Stephen Knadler, Jonathan Eburne, Houston Baker, Paul Lauter, Mary Balkan, Kelly Shea, Burt Kimmelman, Susannah Chewning, Ed Shannon, John Wargacki, Claude Julien, Isabel Soto, Tish Crawford, Kim Phillips, Ira Dworkin, Cindy Hamilton, Jean Yellin, Martyn Bone, Keith Cartwright, Holly Stave, Beth Sweeney, Kelly Ross, David Schmid, Kate Nickerson, Susan Amper, Barbara Cantalupo, Jerry Kennedy, Scott Peeples, Richard Kopley, Alisha Knight, Eric Gardner, Dorri Beam, Mary Frances Jiménez, Carla Peterson, Tanya Clark, April Logan, John Ernest, Giulia Fabi, Carole Doreski, Joe Alvarez, and Aldon Nielsen. I am grateful to Jennifer James and Keith Wailoo for their helpful advice and to Rudolph Byrd, the researchers at the U.S. Army Military History Institute, and the librarians at Yale University’s Beinecke Library and the U.S. Army War College Library at Carlisle Barracks for answering my questions. The people at the Nancy Thompson Library and many fellow faculty members at my home institution, especially Richard Katz, Mia Zamora, Bert Wailoo, Alan Robbins, Holly Logue, Carole Shaffer-Koros, and Terry Golway, have been very supportive. I owe a profound debt to Colleen O’Brien, Nirmal Trivedi, Ira Dworkin, Hanna Wallinger, and Paula Seniors for reading parts of the manuscript and to John Ernest, Ken Warren, and MJ Devaney for reading all of it and offering sage advice for improving it. Some of the material in this book appeared in different form in American Literary History and Revue Afram: Publication Semestrielle du Cercle d’Etudes Afro-Américaines et Diasporiques, and in the section on Frank R. Steward in chapter 3, I draw on the ideas and in some places the eloquence of Gretchen Murphy with whom I collaborated in editing and writing an introduction to Steward’s Laguna stories, published in the May 2011 issue of PMLA. Beth Snead, Jon Davies, and the amazing Nancy Grayson at the University of Georgia Press and my most patient and generous e-mail correspondents Malin Pereira and Hanna Wallinger offered me much appreciated encouragement during the whole course of this project. By no means can I fail to mention the support of my old friends Mike, Phil, Joe, and Tim, my in-laws the Spilmans, various Cullen and Fandel cousins and uncles, my parents John and Eileen, my sister Jenny, my son Jack, my daughter Sarah, and, most of all, my wife Susan. viii Acknowledgments Introduction • Empire at Home and Abroad When the United States learns that justice should be blind as to race and color, then may it undertake to, with some show of propriety, expand. Now its expansion means extension of race hate and cruelty, barbarous lynchings and gross injustice to dark people. —Lewis H. Douglass, “Black Opposition to McKinley” The older idea was that the whites would eventually displace the native races and inherit their lands, but this idea has been rudely shaken in the increase of American Negroes, the experience of the English in Africa, India and the West Indies, and the development of South America. The policy of expansion, then, simply means world problems of the Color Line. The color question enters into European politics and floods our continent from Alaska to Patagonia. —W. E. B. Du Bois, “The Color Line Belts the World” Best known for the role it plays in the “Forethought” to The Souls of Black Folk (1903), W. E. B. Du Bois’s famous declaration “The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line” (100) originally appeared three years earlier in “The Present Outlook for the Dark Races of Mankind.” In this speech he delivered at the third annual meeting of the American Negro Academy in Washington, D.C., in March 1900, Du Bois makes the statement in the context of the “new imperial policy” (53) the United States was implementing in the wake of its victory over Spain and amid the ongoing Philippine-American War: “Indeed a survey of the civilized world at the end of the 19th century but confirms the proposition with which I started—the world problem of the 20th century is the Problem of the Color line—the question of the relation of the advanced races of men who happen to be white to the great majority of underdeveloped or half developed nations of mankind who happen to be yellow, brown, or black” (54). Du Bois goes on to link the empire abroad and the em1 pire at home explicitly: “We must remember that the twentieth century will find nearly twenty millions of brown and black people under the protection of the American flag, a third of the nation, and that on the success and efficiency of the nine millions of our own number depends the ultimate destiny of Filipinos, Porto [sic] Ricans, Indians, Hawaiians, and that on us too depends in large degree the attitude of Europe toward the teeming millions of Asia and Africa” (53). Beyond asserting that the actions of U.S. blacks (“nine millions of our own number”) will determine the future not only for peoples in the nation’s newly acquired territories but for colonized peoples everywhere, this passage indicates how profoundly African American public intellectuals such as Du Bois engaged with U.S. expansion at the turn of the twentieth century. Like Du Bois in “The Present Outlook,” his contemporary Pauline E. Hopkins connects the fate of inhabitants of the nation’s new overseas empire with that of U.S. blacks in “Some Literary Workers,” published in the Boston-based Colored American Magazine in 1902. However, whereas Du Bois emphasizes the impact the latter will have upon the former, Hopkins stresses the opposite. In this essay, the fourth of her eleven-installment Famous Women of the Negro Race biographical series, she contends, The observant eye can trace the impress of Divinity on sea and shore as He, in mighty majesty, protects the weak in the great battle that is now on between the Anglo-Saxon and the dark-skinned races of the earth. . . . The increasing gravity of our situation in relation to the body politic, and the introduction of new peoples who must live under the same ban of color that we are forced to endure, may operate to our advantage by bringing about desirable changes in the future of our race. . . . The subjugation of Cuba, Porto [sic] Rico and the Philippines . . .—all is but the death knell of prejudice, for the natural outcome of the close association that must follow the reception of these peoples within our Union, will be the downfall of cruel discrimination solely because of color. In this way malice defeats itself. (140) Hopkins by no means endorses what she terms the “subjugation” of the “new peoples who must live under the same ban of color that we are forced to endure,” associating it with “malice.” However, she believes that U.S. blacks (“our race”) will benefit from what she sees as the inevitable “downfall of cruel discrimination solely because of color” resulting from the influx of these nonwhites into the nation state. This argument to some extent echoes the one she makes in her short story “Talma Gordon,” published in the Colored American Magazine in October 1900 and now widely available in the second edition of 2 Introduction the Norton Anthology of African American Literature. Critical discussions of this text, Hopkins’s first, most all-encompassing, and in many ways most profound response to empire, which is the focus of the coda to this book, have avoided or minimized the subject of imperialism, reading the tale as something less than a condemnation of U.S. expansion. In general, the subject of the African American response to late nineteenthand early twentieth-century expansion has received short shrift. On the one hand, discussions of imperialism have tended to ignore or marginalize the responses of African Americans. On the other hand, studies of these years by scholars of U.S. black history, culture, and literature have devoted scant attention to the relationship between the empire at home and the empire abroad. Adopting a focus limited in time but broad in scope, this book strives to establish that at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century U.S. black writers made connections between and responded extensively and idiosyncratically to overseas expansion and its implications for domestic race relations. Specifically, The Empire Abroad and the Empire at Home aspires to (1) make the case that African American responses to imperialism should be an integral part of the study of turn-of-the-twentieth-century U.S. black literature and culture, (2) show that in their responses to expansion African Americans were consistently more staunchly committed than most whites to addressing the domestic problem of race, and (3) bring African American literary studies to the study of political history rather than simply bring political history to African American literary studies. In doing so, this project builds on Willard B. Gatewood’s, George P. Marks’s, and Daniel B. Schirmer’s pioneering work on U.S. imperialism in the 1970s and has been influenced by discussions, published during the last twenty years, about the relationship between literature and empire by scholars such as Donald Pease, Amy Kaplan, Kevin Gaines, Frederick Wegener, Michele Mitchell, and Ifeoma Nwankwo. It also participates in the current transnational turn in literary and cultural studies epitomized by Caroline F. Levander and Robert S. Levine’s collection Hemispheric American Literature (2008) and shares the emphases on race and empire at the heart of literary scholar Gretchen Murphy’s Shadowing the White Man’s Burden: U.S. Imperialism and the Problem of the Color Line (2010) and recent historical studies such as Jackson Lears’s Rebirth of a Nation: The Making of Modern America, 1877–1920 (2009) and James Bradley’s The Imperial Cruise: A Secret History of Empire and War (2009). Moreover, it draws on and responds to recent scholarship devoted to Pauline Hopkins, Sutton E. Griggs, and James Empire at Home and Abroad 3 Weldon Johnson and reads the texts of lesser-known writers, including James Ephraim McGirt, Frank R. Steward, and F. Grant Gilmore, as well as heretofore unexamined archival material by Johnson written in conjunction with his brother J. Rosamond Johnson and with his brother and Bob Cole. Unlike publications that discuss late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century African American writing in connection with a specific region in the United States, such as the South, or a particular domestic topic, such as lynching, The Empire Abroad addresses poetic, fictional, and dramatic texts about the Caribbean, Asia, the Pacific islands, and Latin America, as well as the United States and its borderlands, published by African Americans during a single, pivotal generation. In relation to historical events, the era it focuses on extends from the early 1890s to the mid-1910s. The former date roughly corresponds with the closing of the American frontier, the onset of an aggressive pursuit to establish a U.S. overseas empire, the southern push to rewrite state constitutions in a manner designed to deny blacks the vote, and the North’s abandonment of efforts to reverse the tide of disenfranchisement. The latter date corresponds roughly with the administration of Woodrow Wilson, the first southern-born president since the 1860s, who sent U.S. troops to Haiti, resulting in a twentyyear occupation of the hemisphere’s oldest black-run nation; screened D. W. Griffiths’s The Birth of a Nation, based on The Clansman by his longtime friend Thomas Dixon, at the White House; and mandated the segregation of federal offices in Washington. Examinations of U.S. imperialism during this period of approximately twenty-five years have tended to treat black responses to the empire abroad as adjuncts to rather than as distinct from the debate among whites on the subject even though, as Christopher Lasch established over fifty years ago, white imperialists and white anti-imperialists in the late 1800s and early 1900s wholeheartedly subscribed to the scientific racism and social Darwinism of the day. To be sure, U.S. blacks such as Du Bois were influenced by the ideas about race current at the time, as Kwame Anthony Appiah has pointed out (28– 46), yet in their responses to expansion African Americans differed profoundly from their white counterparts because they rejected racist assumptions and insisted on the salience of the country’s founding documents, which whites, in embracing the negrophobia and xenophobia of the era, considered null and void in connection with U.S. blacks, Chinese immigrants, Puerto Ricans, Hawaiians, and Filipinos. For the most part, recent critical examinations of African American literature and culture, like their predecessors, continue to pay little or no attention 4 Introduction to the engagement with late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century imperialism, as evidenced by books such as Barbara McCaskill and Caroline Gebhard’s collection Post-Bellum, Pre-Harlem: African American Literature and Culture, 1877–1919 (2006). The postbellum, pre-Harlem years have long been a terra incognita for African Americanists, who have characterized the period in strictly domestic and frequently transitional terms. To this day there is little consensus as to what the era’s significance is, how it should be regarded, the specific dates that define it, and what it should be called.1 Surprisingly, especially in the light of current scholarly trends, McCaskill and Gebhard’s volume does not address the dawn of U.S. overseas expansion and its ramifications, the relationship between African Americans and people in Latin America, Haiti, Asia, and Africa, or the transnational forces at work in various locations within the borders of the United States. Similarly, anthologies of African American writing, such as Henry Louis Gates and Jennifer Burton’s Call and Response: Key Debates in African American Studies (2010), tend to avoid the topic. Gates and Burton devote none of their fifty key debates to U.S. imperialism, nor do any of the hundreds of individual selections in their twelve-hundred-page textbook address it. Recent readings of individual authors that do grapple with empire, such as those devoted to Griggs and James Weldon Johnson, have sought to extrapolate the writer’s position on expansion from a single text rather than examining the full range of the author’s writings that engage imperialism. Despite publishing more novels than any other African American during the period, three of which directly engage U.S. expansion, the Southern Baptist minister Griggs has seldom been the subject of serious critical attention. Although articles by Stephen Knadler and Levander addressing Griggs and empire suggest that the process of rediscovering and reevaluating the writer may finally be getting under way, these readings, perhaps not surprisingly, concentrate on his bestknown novel, Imperium in Imperio (1899). As for Johnson, given the recent scholarly attention devoted to the relationship between cultural productions and imperialism, it is not surprising that this key literary figure, U.S. diplomat in Latin America, and prominent race activist has been one of the few African American authors whose views on and links to expansion have been the subject of scholarly scrutiny. However, these readings have tended to focus on his lone novel, The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man (1912), without addressing his poetry and his produced and unproduced dramatic texts. The scholars who have published recent articles on Johnson, moreover, have sought to place him in either the pro- or anti-imperialist camp, in some cases faulting him for Empire at Home and Abroad 5 failing to adhere to what they deem to be a consistent or appropriate stance on expansion. In Race over Empire: Racism and U.S. Imperialism, 1865–1900 (2004), Eric  T. L. Love challenges the standard reading of the relationship between race and imperialism in the late 1800s, contending that ideas about race either proved to be a hindrance to U.S. expansion or played a less significant role than is commonly believed. Specifically, he characterizes “the relationship between the imperialists of the late nineteenth century and the racist structures and convictions of the time” as “antagonistic, not harmonious” (xi). In doing so, he rebuts the assumption prevalent among historians that in the late nineteenth century racist science and social Darwinism bolstered, if not created, the impetus for the United States to acquire an overseas empire. In support of this larger argument, he makes three subsidiary points. First, in chapters devoted to successful and unsuccessful U.S. initiatives to annex Santo Domingo, Hawaii, and the Philippines, he asserts that racial considerations outweighed those relating to empire in the years prior to 1898 and that, in contrast to the widely accepted narrative about the era, this did not change in the years 1898 to 1902 (xii). Second, because of the continued preeminence of prejudice against color in the North as well as the South, proimperialists avoided rather than emphasized race and thus—again in contrast to the prevailing scholarly assumption—they deemphasized rather than touted Darwinism, benevolent assimilation, AngloSaxon superiority, and white man’s burden rhetoric to promote the annexations of 1898 and 1899.2 Third, in connection with white U.S. policy makers, Love states, “the evidence demonstrates that the line between imperialist and antiimperialist was blurry more often than not and that it could shift, wildly and unpredictably, from person to person, incident to incident, and even within the same person during the same incident” (12). Building in part on Love’s important reassessment of the relationship between race and empire in the United States, The Empire Abroad contextualizes and analyzes the responses to expansion by African American literary artists and public intellectuals at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century. The chapters that follow establish three points about the African American engagement with U.S. imperialism during this period. First, race consistently trumped empire for U.S. black writers. Whether they promoted, opposed, and/or equivocated over expansion abroad, these writers invariably adopted the positions they did based on the effects they believed an empire overseas would have on blacks at home. Second, given the complexity of the era’s de6 Introduction bates over expansion, the unique and precarious position in which U.S. blacks found themselves, and the rapidity with which events in the Caribbean and the Pacific unfolded in the 1890s and early 1900s, it should come as no surprise that African American writers often did not adopt and maintain a fixed position on the subject of imperialism. The stance of individual authors depended on several factors, including the foreign location in question, the presence or absence of African American soldiers within the text, the stage of the author’s career, and the text’s relationship to specific generic and literary traditions. Third, no matter what their disposition toward imperialism, the fact of U.S. expansion allowed and in many cases compelled these writers to grapple with empire, and they often use texts about expansion to address directly or obliquely the situation facing blacks at home during a period in which their citizenship rights and very existence were increasingly in jeopardy. The following section tells the story of two prominent U.S. families, one white and southern, one black and northern—the Blounts of Georgia and the Stewards of New Jersey. Revealing key differences between the white and the African American engagement with empire, the histories of these families intersected at key moments and members of both clans were intimately connected with and thoughtfully responded to U.S. expansion and its connections to domestic race relations. Theophilus G. and Frank R. Steward, Black Participation in the U.S. Military, and the African American Response to Expansion African Methodist Episcopal (ame) minister, U.S. Army chaplain, Wilberforce professor, prolific author, and outspoken defender of his people, Theophilus Gould Steward (1843–1924) built an ame church in Macon that still bears his name during his 1866 to 1871 sojourn in Georgia. As his biographers William Seraile and Albert G. Miller have both noted, Steward’s subsequent beliefs were shaped by his years in the South during Reconstruction. His experiences convinced him of the need to use military force to achieve justice in certain circumstances. Steward faced death threats by the Ku Klux Klan and other groups when he called on President Grant to send troops to stamp out anti-Union dissent in Georgia (Andrews 27). During the 1880s, he became the widely respected pastor of the Metropolitan ame Church in Washington, D.C., developing friendships and alliances with influential African Americans, including Frederick Douglass. In 1891 he became chaplain for the Twenty-Fifth (Colored) Infantry regiment and a decade later served in that capacity in the Philippines, Empire at Home and Abroad 7 where he was also a military superintendent of schools during the occupation. In addition to writing a book about black participation in the U.S. military, The Colored Regulars in the United States Army (1904), Steward published articles about conditions in the Philippines in the leading black journal of the day, Boston’s Colored American Magazine. His son Frank R. Steward (1872–1931), who graduated from Harvard College in 1896 and Harvard Law School in 1899, served in Cuba at the rank of lieutenant in the Eighth Volunteer Infantry shortly after Spain’s surrender in 1898. He was appointed captain in the Forty-Ninth Infantry, a volunteer black regiment that was stationed and saw action in the Philippines, and in 1901 became a military judge in San Pablo in the province of Laguna. In addition to contributing a chapter about black officers to his father’s book, he published three short stories about the U.S. occupation of the Philippines in the Colored American Magazine in 1902 and 1903, which I examine in chapter 3. These stories indicate the younger Steward’s awareness of the ambiguities and iniquities of his country’s—and his own—presence in the Philippines. Raising subtle and unsettling questions about the U.S. occupation specifically and about expansion generally, Steward’s stories appeared during Pauline Hopkins’s tenure as the magazine’s literary editor and may have contributed to her dismissal from it. He begins “Colored Officers,” the appendix to The Colored Regulars, by describing “the commission ranks” of the armed services as the “stubbornest” of the “avenues to American citizenship” to “yield to the newly enfranchised” (299). Citing specific battles during the Civil War, as well as the Haitian and Cuban revolutions, he proceeds, at some length, to refute the notion that officers of color cannot lead black soldiers, a belief that was held, as chapter 1 shows, by Theodore Roosevelt, among others. In the process, he applauds the War Department’s reversal of past practice by appointing blacks—including himself—as line officers in the volunteer regiments in the Philippines. Urging that military academies and promotion opportunities be opened to the “capable” of the race, he closes the chapter with the assertion that the black soldier “lays claim to no prerogative other than that of a plain citizen of the Republic, trained to the profession of arms. The measure of his demand—and it is the demand of ten millions of his fellow-citizens allied to him by race—is that the full manhood privileges of a soldier be accorded to him” (327). Articles by and about Steward in black publications such as the Colored American newspaper out of Washington, D.C., present his educational achievements, captain’s commission, and provost judgeship in a like manner as important contributions to 8 Introduction the struggle to attain full citizenship rights at home, thereby aligning him with his fellow Harvard alumnus Du Bois’s talented tenth.3 Like Frank R. Steward, James H. Blount Jr. (1869–1918) was an Ivy League– trained lawyer, an army officer during the Spanish-Cuban-American and the Philippine-American wars, a judge during the occupation of the Philippines, and a writer who raised concerns about the U.S. role in the archipelago. He was the son of James H. Blount (1837–1903), a Civil War veteran, wealthy planter, and longtime chair of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. In 1892, the elder Blount retired after nearly twenty years as a U.S. congressman representing the district that included Macon. The following year President Grover Cleveland named him special commissioner of American affairs in Hawaii charged with investigating the recent revolution in the islands. The result was a document that criticized the actions of the United States during the overthrow of the native government and that led Cleveland to reject the request of the revolutionaries in Hawaii for the admission of the territory into the union. Tennant S. McWilliams suggests that, similar to T. G. Steward but from an opposing perspective, Blount’s experiences during Reconstruction, especially what he resentfully viewed as the federal occupation of Georgia, may have caused Blount, who in the House was consistently anti-imperialist, to sympathize with the Hawaiians. In 1894, the Senate’s Morgan report, named after powerful, pro-imperialist Alabama U.S. senator John T. Morgan, largely repudiated the Blount report, and four years later, in July 1898, the United States annexed Hawaii at a time when its troops were at war with the forces of Spain. An honors graduate from the University of Georgia like his father, the younger Blount earned a law degree from Columbia University in 1891, practiced as an attorney in Macon, and served in the army in Cuba in 1898 and in the Philippines from 1899 to 1901 at the rank of lieutenant. He was then appointed a civil judge in the archipelago, a position he held for three and a half years until poor health (according to some accounts) or his political views (according to others) resulted in his return to the United States.4 In 1907 Blount published two articles in the North American Review advocating self-determination for the Filipinos, and five years later The American Occupation of the Philippines, 1898–1912 appeared. Extensively documented, this 655-page book provides a chronological history of the U.S. presence in the islands that criticizes the occupation as wrongheaded from the start and calls for an independent Philippines by July 4, 1921. Despite the striking similarities between them, Blount never refers to Frank  R. Steward in The American Occupation of the Philippines. Given his Empire at Home and Abroad 9 white Georgian family’s beliefs about African Americans, it would be surprising if he did. Taking pains to distinguish Asiatics (and thus Filipinos) from Africans (and hence U.S. blacks), Blount recounts the following about himself and a fellow southern white army officer turned judge: “We instinctively resented any suggestion comparing the Filipinos to negroes. We had many warm friends among the Filipinos, had shared their generous hospitality often, and in turn had extended ours. Any suggestion as that indicated implied that we had been doing something equivalent to eating, drinking, dancing, and chumming with negroes. And we resented such suggestions with an anger quite as cordial and intense as the canons of good taste and loyal friendship demanded” (364). Here Blount takes pains to deny that he had crossed what he perceived to be a global color line. He goes on to make a statement reflecting the widely held belief among whites during this period in the different levels of development among the races that was clearly inflected by Blount’s experiences with blacks in the South: “I really believe that the southern men in the Philippines have always gotten along better with the Filipinos than other Americans out there. . . . [T]he American from the South out there is a guarantee that [the educated Asiatic] shall never be treated as if he were an African. The African is aeons of time behind the Asiatic in development” (365). Whether or not his family’s experiences as members of an occupied people during Reconstruction predisposed the younger Blount favorably toward the Filipinos, as it apparently did his father toward the Hawaiians, it certainly informed his dismissive and disdainful attitude toward U.S. blacks, even those who had achieved as much as, served their country as extensively as, and addressed expansion as profoundly as Theophilus G. and Frank R. Steward. U.S. Blacks and the Spanish-Cuban-American and Philippine-American Wars In a thoughtful essay entitled “Telling War Stories: The Civil War and the Meaning of Life” (2011), Drew Gilpin Faust addresses the profound, complex, and intimate connection between literature and war: We have been telling and hearing and reading war stories for millennia. Their endurance may lie in their impossibility; they can never be complete, for the tensions and contradictions within them will never be eliminated or resolved. That challenge is essential to their power and their attraction. War stories matter. . . . Wars decide; they change rulers, governments, societies—and the human beings swept up in them. They accelerate and concentrate change in ways that make it vivid and visible. 10 Introduction Wars are turning points, in individual lives and in national histories. Stories of wars are infused with the aura of the consequential. Jennifer C. James in the introduction to A Freedom Bought with Blood: African American War Literature from the Civil War to World War II (2007) accounts for the large number of U.S. black texts that tell war stories as follows: “The destabilizing effects of war—in which allegiances are made and broken, geographical boundaries crossed, countries renamed, and territories redistributed; in which women become heads of households and neighbors become adversaries; in which the oppressed may rise up against domination—have the power to disrupt even the most deeply ensconced notions of national, racial, and gender identity. The use of war as a narrative context allows black writers to seize these moments of historical rupture to assert newly formed notions of a black ‘self ’ ” (9–10). The Spanish-American War, as the conflicts in the Caribbean and the Pacific at the turn of the twentieth century are collectively known in the United States to this day, may have appeared to the vast majority of the nation’s whites to be, as secretary of state John Hay declared it, “a splendid little war,” but, as Du Bois, Hopkins, and other African American public intellectuals argued, the Spanish-Cuban-American and Philippine-American wars had wide-ranging domestic as well as international ramifications. The war against Spain served as a vehicle for reconciliation between the North and the South because it was the first conflict fought against a foreign nation since the Mexican-American War. Although the southern-led campaign to rewrite the Civil War as a noble struggle and a national tragedy that had little or nothing to do with the abolition of slavery had been under way for some time, the conflict with Spain came to be seen as a defining moment of heroic cooperation between the two sections, and U.S. blacks did not fit easily into this picture. The African American press and public took a keen interest in the actions of U.S. black soldiers abroad, their portrayal in the mainstream media, and their treatment by the government because the wars in the Caribbean and the Pacific appeared to present opportunities for African Americans to demonstrate their patriotism and bravery by directly participating in the conflict. For this reason, Theodore Roosevelt’s accusations of black cowardice in his account of the Battle of San Juan Hill, as well as his assertion that African American fighting men are necessarily dependent on white officers in the April 1899 issue of Scribner’s, generated considerable resentment and, as subsequent chapters demonstrate, provoked rebuttals by U.S. black combatants and literary artists. Officially, the war with Spain lasted a mere four months, from April 21, 1898, Empire at Home and Abroad 11

Author John C Gruesser Isbn 0820334340 File size 1MB Year 2012 Pages 168 Language Englisch File format PDF Category Culture Book Description: FacebookTwitterGoogle+TumblrDiggMySpaceShare In The Empire Abroad and the Empire at Home, John Cullen Gruesser establishes that African American writers at the turn of the twentieth century responded extensively and idiosyncratically to overseas expansion and its implications for domestic race relations. He contends that the work of these writers significantly informs not only African American literary studies but also U.S. political history.   Focusing on authors who explicitly connect the empire abroad and the empire at home (James Weldon Johnson, Sutton Griggs, Pauline E. Hopkins, W.E.B. Du Bois, and others), Gruesser examines U.S. black participation in, support for, and resistance to expansion. Race consistently trumped empire for African American writers, who adopted positions based on the effects they believed expansion would have on blacks at home. Given the complexity of the debates over empire and rapidity with which events in the Caribbean and the Pacific changed in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, it should come as no surprise that these authors often did not maintain fixed positions on imperialism. Their stances depended on several factors, including the foreign location, the presence or absence of African American soldiers within a particular text, the stage of the author’s career, and a given text’s relationship to specific generic and literary traditions.   No matter what their disposition was toward imperialism, the fact of U.S. expansion allowed and in many cases compelled black writers to grapple with empire. They often used texts about expansion to address the situation facing blacks at home during a period in which their citizenship rights, and their very existence, were increasingly in jeopardy.     Download (1MB) Playing in the White: Black Writers, White Subjects Baroque Horrors: Roots of the Fantastic in the Age of Curiosities Race Religion and Resilience in the N American Creoles: The Francophone Caribbean and the American South Black and Ethnic Leaderships Load more posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *