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Making the Empire WorkLabor and United States Imperialism$
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Daniel E. Bender and Jana K. Lipman

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781479871254

Published to University Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479871254.001.0001

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date: 14 December 2017

Progressive Empire

Progressive Empire

Race and Tropicality in United Fruit’s Central America

Chapter:
(p.289) 11 Progressive Empire
Source:
Making the Empire Work
Author(s):

Jason M. Colby

Publisher:
NYU Press
DOI:10.18574/nyu/9781479871254.003.0011

This chapter reviews Frederick Upham Adams' Conquest of the Tropics, a triumphalist account of the United Fruit Company (UFC), where he commended the pioneers of the company for bringing order and progress to Central America. Embedded in this imperial narrative was recognition of the company's black labor force. Although UFC boasted of wages higher than “ever before offered” in the region, it had proven “almost impossible to tempt the average native of Central America to work, and many of them are physically incapable of sustained manual labor.” As a result, UFC, like the U.S. government's canal construction in Panama, had come to rely on British West Indians.

Keywords:   Frederick Upham Adams, United Fruit Company, Central America, black labor force, British West Indians

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