• Imperialists had a vested interest in discouraging industrialization. The US maintained used territories as sources for raw materials and captive markets for American manufactured goods. In this photo, a couple in Hawaii weaves grass on their porch. Courtesy of Southern Illinois University Carbondale via Illinois Digital Heritage Hub.

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    People Working in Hawaii
    • Date
    • 1901
    • Rights
    • Copyright holder is unknown. For permission to reproduce, distribute, or otherwise use this image, please contact the Special Collections Research Center, Morris Library, Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Phone: + 1 (618) 453-2516. Email: http... more
      Copyright holder is unknown. For permission to reproduce, distribute, or otherwise use this image, please contact the Special Collections Research Center, Morris Library, Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Phone: + 1 (618) 453-2516. Email: http://reftrack.lib.siu.edu/reft100.aspx?key=SCRCEmail&cllcid=SCRR less
    • Partner
    • Illinois Digital Heritage Hub
    • Contributing Institution
    • Southern Illinois University Carbondale

  • The story of Hawaii as a US colony is heavily tied to the success and popularity of the American sugar industry. This painting depicts a mill that processed raw sugar cane. Courtesy of Brigham Young University - Hawaii via Mountain West Digital Library.

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    Painting of Sugar Mill
    • Date
    • 1905-02-24
    • Creator
    • None
    • Description
    • Photograph of a painting of the Laie sugar mill with workers. Electronic reproduction. Gelatin Silver ; 25.2 x 20.1 cm. (9.15 x 7.15 in.).
    • Rights
    • Copyright 2007, Brigham Young University - Hawaii Campus public Domain, Courtesy Brigham Young University - Hawaii Campus
    • Partner
    • Mountain West Digital Library
    • Contributing Institution
    • Brigham Young University-Hawaii

  • The sugar industry also took root in Puerto Rico. Plantations thrived off the island's climate, soil, and ready labor supply. In this photo, a line of men work to cut down a field of sugar cane. Courtesy of The New York Public Library.

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    258 - (10264) Cutting Sugar Cane, Porto Rico
    • Date
    • 1900
    • Standardized Rights Statement
    • http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/UND/1.0/
    • Partner
    • The New York Public Library
    • Contributing Institution
    • Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Photographs and Prints Division. The New York Public Library

  • Sugarcane fields were tough and tall. Laborers, like those depicted in this photo, endured long days of back-breaking work to harvest fields in Hawaii. Courtesy of Brigham Young University - Hawaii via Mountain West Digital Library.

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    Cutting down Cane
    • Date
    • ca. 1900-1920
    • Creator
    • Unknown
    • Description
    • Plantation Workers are cutting and pulling at the sugar cane. Electronic reproduction. Gelatin Silver ; 7.5 x 6.2 cm. (3 x 2.45 in.).
    • Rights
    • Copyright 2007, Brigham Young University - Hawaii Campus public Domain, Courtesy Brigham Young University - Hawaii Campus
    • Partner
    • Mountain West Digital Library
    • Contributing Institution
    • Brigham Young University-Hawaii

From the Mayflower pilgrims to western pioneers, the US perfected the art of colonialism. This era of American imperialism distinguished itself because the nation labored to keep its new lands at a distance. This section explores the divisions between American citizens and subjects. How did the US employ, "civilize," educate, and control the peoples of Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines? How did they fight back?

Much of America's control began on the ground with farms and labor. In Hawaii, for example, the US created so-called sugar societies—regions dominated by American plantations whose hold over farmland and sugar exports provided influence over local politics. Most sugar society elites were the descendants of missionaries and farmers who arrived decades earlier. Following annexation, Puerto Rico was similarly transformed into a hub for sugar and coffee farms with elite planters dictating the island's policies with the US. Trade also favored the mainland. High tariffs supported American businesses exporting manufactured items to the Pacific and Caribbean and kept industries in Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines at a competitive disadvantage. With these economic systems in place, the colonies could not be seen as American. As noted by the Boston Herald: "we can never make...of the islands what we have made of Louisiana and California, states have an equal right."