White Man’s Burden

White Man’s Burden
   The term white man’s burden came from Rudyard Kipling ’ s 1899 poem of that name, signifying the idea that empire was a philanthropic duty of the advanced or civilized nations. Kipling directed the injunction at the United States, which, in the Spanish-American War, had for the first time acquired overseas colonies. To many current minds, the idea is repulsively racist, and of course it does use a racial category. It is nevertheless significant that Kipling felt imperialism justified not because it served the metropolitan power but because it served humankind. Earlier generations of imperialists had been more forthrightly self-interested.
   See also <>.
   FURTHER READING:
    Mason, Philip. Kipling: The Glass, the Shadow, and the Fire. London: J. Cape, 1975.
   MARK F. PROUDMAN

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

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  • white man's burden — the alleged duty of the white race to care for subject peoples of other races in its colonial possessions. [after a poem of the same title by Rudyard Kipling (1899)] * * * …   Universalium

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