Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

Monthly Update sign up
Mailing List signup

America's History in the Making

Resource Archive: Search Results

"The Real White Man's Burden" by Ernest Howard Crosby

The Real White Man's Burden

Take up the White Man's burden;
Send forth your sturdy sons,
And load them down with whisky
And Testaments and guns …

And don't forget the factories.
On those benighted shores
They have no cheerful iron-mills
Nor eke department stores.
They never work twelve hours a day,
And live in strange content,
Altho they never have to pay
A single cent of rent.

Take up the White Man's burden,
And teach the Philippines
What interest and taxes are
And what a mortgage means.
Give them electrocution chairs,
And prisons, too, galore,
And if they seem inclined to kick,
Then spill their heathen gore.

They need our labor question, too,
And politics and fraud,
We've made a pretty mess at home;
Let's make a mess abroad.
And let us ever humbly pray
The Lord of Hosts may deign
To stir our feeble memories,
Lest we forget -- the Maine.

Take up the White Man's burden;
To you who thus succeed
In civilizing savage hoards
They owe a debt, indeed;
Concessions, pensions, salaries,
And privilege and right,
With outstretched hands you raise to bless
Grab everything in sight.

Take up the White Man's burden,
And if you write in verse,
Flatter your Nation's vices
And strive to make them worse.
Then learn that if with pious words
You ornament each phrase,
In a world of canting hypocrites
This kind of business pays.

Ernest Howard Crosby, Transcript of "The Real White Man's Burden," Cleveland Gazette 16, no. 37 (April 15, 1899), 2.

Creator Ernest Howard Crosby
Context Expansion into the Philippines created anti-imperialists who attacked American imperialism.
Audience The general public and readers of his poetry
Purpose To parody Rudyard Kipling's The White Man's Burden by attacking American imperialism.

Historical Significance

Rudyard Kipling's poem "The White Man's Burden" argued that imperialism spread the benefits of civilization. Ernest Crosby's poem, "The Real White Man's Burden," parodied Kipling's, and showed his anti-imperialist abhorrence of war and sympathy for the Filipinos. The anti-imperialists were unable to stop the annexation of the Philippines, and their efforts went counter to the expansionist nationalism of those in power.


© Annenberg Foundation 2017. All rights reserved. Legal Policy