Skip to content Skip to navigation

Whose ‘Barbarism’? Whose ‘Treachery’?: Race and Civilization in the Unknown United-States-Korea War of 1871

Front Cover of Journal of American History: Volume 89 Number 4
Journal of American History
Mar 2002

"Whose ‘Barbarism’? Whose ‘Treachery’?: Race and Civilization in the Unknown United-States-Korea War of 1871,” Journal of American History 89:4 (2003): 1331-1365

Gordon H. Chang examines a long-neglected episode in the American effort to open Asia to the Western system of international trade and diplomacy. In 1871, a U.S. naval expedition sent out to establish diplomatic relations with Korea instead made war. Although the Americans involved took pride in their venture’s high-mindedness and although they did not seek territory or exclusive trading rights, their actions differed little from European colonialism elsewhere in Asia. Chang explores how ideas about international norms, commercial potential, civilization, and race came together to produce the tragic and bloody United States-Korea War of 1871 (pp. 1331–65)