What Does the Poem "White Man's Burden" Mean?

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Rudyard Kipling's poem, "White Man's Burden," is a praise of American colonialism in the Philippines after Spain relinquished control in 1898. Kipling believed that American colonialism would improve conditions in the Philippines, despite many American's believing it was a burden, and he wrote the poem to encourage Americans to participate in colonialism.

Kipling wanted Americans to take their place in the imperialist world, just as Britain and other European countries had. However, many Americans believed they did not have the moral right to engage in colonialism. The poem's publication coincided with the beginning of the Philippine-American War, and the Senate's ratification of the Treaty of Paris, placing Guam, Puerto Rico, Cuba and the Philippines under American control.