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How to Hide an Empire: A Short History of the Greater United States

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aPolitical science |0https://id.loc.gov/authorities/subjects/sh85104440 |xColonialism & Post-Colonialism. i124568221 |b3482600218778 |dsrnf |g- |m231208 |h14 |x2 |t2 |i7 |j18 |k190219 |n10-07-2023 20:58 |o- |a973 IMM Burnham’s White City was astonishing. But the impressive thing wasn’t any single building. Rather, it was all the buildings together—more than two hundred of them—designed in a single style, rendered in a single color, and laid out according to a master plan.

The book opens as Immerwahr introduces the concept of the "logo map" of the United States—a familiar representation of the mainland U.S. that excludes the country's imperial possessions. He argues that this conventional map is symbolic and fails to account for the numerous overseas territories and military bases that have significantly influenced America's economic and political power around the world. The book is structured into two main sections. The first, titled "The Colonial Empire," delves into the history of the United States from colonial times up to World War II. The second, "The Pointillist Empire," explores American history from 1945 to the present day. Kramer argues that the Bernath Lecture homogenized “radically different political spaces and modes of empire-building” into a “unified exception to reified, “regular” U.S. space,” thus “flattening … a spectrum of sovereignties into a polarized dichotomy.” [20] But neither he nor any other reviewer, whether delivering praise or criticism, uses or defines the terms non-incorporation or non-incorporated territory. Bender comes closest: “There was no conception of exterior American space in the constitution, and certainly nothing about colonies,” he writes, before noting HTH’s connection of the Guano Island Act to the later Insular Cases. [21] The Bernath Lecture and HTH hide non-incorporation in four ways. First, they devote a miniscule amount of time and space explaining it. Second, they pervasively lump non-incorporated territories together with incorporated territories and leased military areas and refer to all of them as “territories.” Third, they collapse the distinct relationship of non-incorporation via the concept of “the Greater United States”. Fourth, they gloss over the ongoing existence of non-incorporated territories after World War Two. Bizarrely for a book about U.S. territorial empire, non-incorporation is simply not an organizing principle of HTH. I’ve sent USIH a response to Macpherson’s thoughtful piece, which I presume they’ll post shortly. But I wanted to reply to this issue of popular history, Michael. I wrote the book with the hopes of engaging a wider audience than my first book did, because I felt these issues were of vital public interest.If the story of the US colonial empire is the story of places categorized as territories, I wanted to be able to talk about what it means to be a territory. The more you look at the history of westward expansion, the more you see really enticing resemblances between the kind of political strategy used by the United States during those experiments and practices and what happens overseas, such as the creation of a division between parts of the country that are states and others parts that are territories, or in the 1830s an attempt to create a massive all Native American territory called Indian Country that would be run as a colony. It’s not an accident that the same word we used to describe Kansas and Nebraska before they became states is also the appropriate word to talk about the Philippines, to talk about Guam, to talk about American Samoa. But the operative word was could. None of this was automatic, for Congress retained the power to advance or impede territories, both of which it did. Sometimes it denied, ignored, or deflected statehood petitions. That is why Lincoln, West Dakota, Deseret, Cimarron, and Montezuma—all of which sought admission to the union—did not become states. Yet, oddly, Boone saw almost none of this. Though celebrated abroad, he wasn’t much revered at home during his lifetime. He died at the old age of eighty-five in 1820. That was the same decade Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died, both, as it happened by near-inconceivable coincidence, on the same day—the fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The country went understandably crazy when Jefferson and Adams died. “Had the horses and the chariot of fire descended to take up the patriarchs,” a New York paper wrote, “it might have been more wonderful, but not more glorious.”

How to Hide an Empire is a breakthrough, for both Daniel Immerwahr and our collective understanding Hidden by Rand McNally, the Department of the Interior, and HTH is that the federal government does not want Americans to notice the non-incorporated territories or what their existence means about the character of the United States. The federal government and elements of the Puerto Rican political elite have invested a great deal in the illusion of decolonization via Commonwealth status. State governments, even in my home state of New York, have not included this history in K-12 social studies curricula. If most Americans learn nothing about this in school, how can they be ready to hear the truth if they somehow come across it in a bookstore, or on TV or a podcast? [39] We are familiar with maps that outline all fifty states. And we are also familiar with the idea that the United States is an “empire,” exercising power around the world. But what about the actual territories—the islands, atolls, and archipelagos—this country has governed and inhabited? Michael, you write that this is a “condescending” approach to readers, one that “looks down on them from on high, not believing those readers can handle the actual complexities of the stories at hand.” I don’t see it that way. I think it is a reasonable accommodation, designed to ease the entry of a non-initiated reader into a world of important ideas. Frankly, I wish we wrote with more openness to non-experts in our monographs.

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Iber claims that Puerto Rico got civilian rule after World War Two; in fact several pre-1945 governors were civilians and the last one who came from the military left office in 1939. He also implies that Puerto Rico was not a colony by the 1960s; in fact, being labeled a Commonwealth ( Estado Libre Asociado) since 1952 has not ended Puerto Rico’s non-incorporated territory status. Primarily focused on the effects of hookworm, the multitudinous ailments harming the Puerto Rican people, and the scandal surrounding Rhoads’ actions—including admitting to intentionally killing patients, this chapter explains the medical legacy of American physicians in Puerto Ricans. At a time when thousands of Puerto Ricans suffered from hookworm and had lost their livelihoods as a result of either the hurricane or the dwindling global economy, Rhoads’ actions reveal the persistent, racist attitudes that accompanied Americans’ engagement with their colonies.

Washington’s impatience with frontiersmen didn’t mean that he opposed expansion. In the long term, he depended on it, both to strengthen the country and to profit from his western estates. The issue was the short term. The country was vast, but its government was weak. Squatters who rushed over the mountains were impossible to govern, and the wars they inevitably started were expensive to fight. Washington thus insisted that settlement proceed in a “compact” manner, under elite control. That way, the frontier would be not a refuge for masterless men like Boone but the forefront of the march of civilization, advancing at a stately pace. The National Guano Act of 1856 authorized citizens of the United States to take possession of and exploit unclaimed islands, reefs, and atolls containing guano deposits. The islands had to be uninhabited and not within the jurisdiction of another government. The act specifically referred to such islands as possessions of the United States. Consistently both startling and absorbing . . . Immerwahr vividly retells the early formation of the [United States], the consolidation of its overseas territory, and the postwar perfection of its 'pointillist' global empire, which extends influence through a vast constellation of tiny footprints." — Harper's Paul A. Kramer, “How Not to Write the History of U.S. Empire,” Diplomatic History 42: 5 (2018): 911-31.Despite the founders' vision of controlled growth, the population explosion and the rise of pioneers led to the swift settlement of territories and the transformation of the nation into a continental empire. Boone's achievements, though modest on the surface, carried greater significance. They opened a channel for white settlers to pour westward, fueling expansion in the United States. Despite his role in shaping the nation's westward growth, Boone was not celebrated during his lifetime, and his death went relatively unnoticed. Why it Matters: Immerwahr skillfully weaves together historical accounts, moving seamlessly between different locations within the American empire. Through a roughly chronological approach, he divides the nation's imperial trajectory into three acts, providing readers with a captivating expedition while carefully analyzing the three crucial eras that have shaped the nation's imperial path. In the long years that followed, Campos soon realized that America's imperial dreams did not align with his own. They had no intention of granting Puerto Rico freedom, nor did they intend to help it rebuild. Over time, his once-hopeful attitude grew bitter, concluding that the U.S. had reneged on its commitment to bestow autonomy on Puerto Rico. Winston James, Holding Aloft the Banner of Ethiopia: Caribbean Radicalism in Early Twentieth-Century America (Verso, 1999/2019) This was the raw nerve Daniel Boone had touched…Boone had killed Indians, been captured by them many times, and seen a brother and two sons die by Indian hands. But he had also, during one of his stints in captivity, been adopted into a Shawnee family, receiving the name Sheltowee (meaning "Big Turtle") and becoming "exceedingly familiar and friendly," as he put it, with his "new parents, brothers, sisters, and friends."

Immerwahr peppers his account with colourful characters and enjoyable anecdotes. This tale of territorial empire, he suggests, throws light on the histories of everything from the Beatles to Godzilla, the birth-control pill to the transistor radio." — The Economist How to Hide an Empire takes you on a whirlwind tour of the islands and territories the U.S. has governed from the 19th century on. It draws you in with smartly weaved, gripping stories and constructs an impressively expansive tale of America’s global conquests. Manifest destiny takes on a whole new meaning. Simmering beneath all these stories is a powerful throughline: As classic colonialism was being fazed out in the 20th century, a new, more covert form of empire-building set in – with the U.S. at the forefront. It’s not a stretch to say that this book will make you think about American history in a new way." —Ramtin Arablouei, NPR The disregard in which Daniel Boone was held may come as a surprise. The United States, as the story is often told, was a buoyantly expansive nation from the start. Its founders had wrested liberty from an oppressive empire—turning subjects into citizens and colonies into states—and were eager to push their republican form of government westward across the continent, from sea to shining sea. Men like Daniel Boone, it would seem, were vital instruments of that national mission. Félix V. Matos Rodríguez, “The Historiography of Luisa Capetillo,” in Luisa Capetillo, A Nation of Women: An Early Feminist Speaks Out/Mi opinion: sobre las libertades, derechos, y deberes de la mujer, ed. Félix V. Matos Rodríguez FVMR (Arte Público, 2004). Oases in the desert often vanish upon inspection, and it didn’t take long for Boone’s followers to reconsider their rapture. The teeming meadows were no mirage, but those meadows were the hunting grounds of the Shawnees, whose presence made it difficult for Boone’s party to venture beyond Boonesborough’s defended perimeter. Confined to their few rudimentary structures and beset on all sides, many of the town’s residents lost heart and returned home before the year was out.Daniel Immerwahr, “The Greater United States: Territory and Empire in U.S. History,” Diplomatic History 40:3 (2016), 381. To answer this question, Immerwahr delves into the intricate dynamics between these military installations and their effects on both the host nations and America's position as a dominant global power. Within this conversation, he interweaves a discussion of how American culture and industry have globalized. The post-war era was complex and deeply entangled, yet Immerwahr navigates its history—and nuance—with practiced ease. Puerto Rico’s disappointment with Wilson's inaction resonated with nationalist movements worldwide, fueling struggles for independence and self-government in India, Egypt, Korea, and China. These events set the stage for more radical resistance to U.S. imperialism and influenced the course of anti-colonial movements in the 20th century. HTH and the Bernath Lecture thus hide non-incorporation by insufficiently defining it, by grouping incorporated territories, non-incorporated territories and leased military areas together, by including that homogenized group as part of the nation and its history via the “Greater United States” concept, and by almost excluding post-World War Two histories of the remaining non-incorporated territories. You end an early chapter on medicine in Puerto Rico and the fact that potentially awful things that were done there were virtually unknown outside of Puerto Rico by saying that that is how you hide an empire.

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