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We came, We Saw, We Conquered

Grade Level:

9th or 10th grade US History


Historic Thinking and Skills: 3

Foreign Affairs from Imperialism to Post WWI: 1

Estimate duration of lesson:   

7 class periods (42 minutes each)

Learning objectives:

  • Students will be able to understand imperialism through the use of political cartoons and class discussion
  • Students will be able to analyze political cartoons and quotes and decide which side each cartoon and quote sides with
  • Students will be able to create their own political cartoon with an opposing quote which will allow them to present two different points of view on a particular topic


Day 1

  1. Complete a KWL worksheet KWL worksheet as individuals – students tell what they know and what they want to know about imperialism
  2. Show students “Uncle Sam’s Dreams of Conquest and Carnage” cartoon and give them one minute to write on the board what imperialism is from this cartoon.
  3. Explain the point of using cartoons at this time period.
  4. Divide students into 8 groups and once they are in their groups, pose the question – “What is Imperialism?”
  5. Each group will get a cartoon to analyze (each cartoon is given to two groups). Students will use an analysis sheet to complete their assignment and will have approximately 10-15 minutes to analyze the cartoon.
  6. Once groups are done analyzing we will come together as a class and discuss what each group found and in the end students will write a brief answer to the question “What is Imperialism?”

Day 2

  1. I will put on the board the answers students gave about what imperialism is.
  2. From these answers, as a class, we will come up with a working definition of Imperialism
  3. As a class we will discuss the four parts of imperialism: The need for Markets, Raw Materials, Power and Prestige.
  4. During the lecture, the teacher will refer back to the cartoons used on the previous day to find clues of these four parts.

Days 3 & 4

  1. Teacher led lecture/discussion about US imperialism with China, Hawaii, Guam, Puerto Rico, and Cuba and the War that came along with it.

Day 5

  1. Begin by posing the question “Do you think everyone agreed with imperialism?”
  2. Divide into 6 groups. Each group will get a cartoon to analyze (half of the cartoons are pro-imperialism and half are anti-imperialism). Give students 10-15 minutes to analyze Once students are done with their analysis we will come together as a class and discuss what their cartoons depicted and while doing so, students are to categorize each cartoon as either pro or anti imperialism.
  3. Give students the assignment that they will need to draw their own imperialism cartoon – they can draw either pro or anti imperialism cartoon.

Day 6

  1. Review the cartoons of pro vs. anti imperialism from yesterday. 
  2. Pose a question to students “Do you think cartoons are the only things that showed either for or against imperialism?”

    Show a quote by Mark Twain and have students decide whether pro or anti imperialism:

    “I have read carefully the treaty of Paris, and I have seen that we do not intend to free, but to subjugate the people of the Philippines. We have gone there to conquer, not to redeem. It should, it seems to me, be our pleasure and duty to make those people free, and let them deal with their own domestic questions in their own way. And so I am an anti-imperialist. I am opposed to having the eagle put its talons on any other land.”                                                                              ----   Mark Twain, New York Herald, Oct. 15, 1900.
  3. Give students sheet of imperialism quotes where students are to decide what point of view the quote is from and explain why they feel that way. Students are to complete them with a partner then go over them as a class. (Imperialism quote sheet is below.)
  4. Assign students to find 3 imperialism quotes on their own. The quotes are to be of opposite ideas as the cartoon they created. Will give time tomorrow to allow students to research quotes and work on their political cartoon.
  5. Before students end this day, they are to finish their KWL with what they learned about imperialism.

Day 7:

  1. Discuss what they learned about imperialism from their KWL.
  2. Work on cartoon and research quotes in computer lab or media center.

Pre-Assessment/diagnostic and a scoring guideline:

  1. Students will complete a KWL where they fill out the K (what they know) and the W (what they want to know) about Imperialism – we will discuss these items as a class
  2. Show students the “Uncle Sam’s Dreams of Conquest and Carnage” (Puck 1895) and discuss as a class if they can give ideas about imperialism from this image.

Instructional Steps:

  • Small and large group discussion
  • Individual and small group analysis of documents
  • Teacher led lecture with notes


  1. Students will finish their KWL with the L (what they learned) about Imperialism and we will discuss this as a class
  2. Students will be asked to analyze the cartoon “Hurray for Imperialism” and they are to write about whether the cartoon is pro or anti imperialism. They will need to explain why they feel this is the point of view show (10 points)
  3. Students will draw their own pro or anti imperialism cartoon and also find 3 quotes on imperialism that opposes the view of their cartoon. Each quote is to be from a different person. Students will be scored based on the  .

Materials needed by teachers:

Political Cartoons

Imperialism quotes worksheet

KWL worksheet


We Came, We Saw, We Conquered-full lesson plan

Lecture notes via Power Point/Projector

List any materials needed by students:

Daily classroom supplies

Extension activities:

Give students the “Hurrah For Imperialism” cartoon. With this, students are to decide whether they think the cartoon is pro or anti cartoon and explain why. The next day a tally will be taken of what students thought the cartoon was geared towards and do a class discussion of why they felt the way they did.