The World’s Fair and America’s Empire

The World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 was a major cultural phenomenon of the nineteenth century.  The fair was a microcosmic event that served as a vehicle for cultural exchange. The interconnectedness between local/U.S. history and world history is apparent.  By examining Chicago’s World’s Fair, it will reveal how nations around the world, including the United States, exhibited their culture and represented their ideals.  I specifically examine how the United States represented itself to the rest of the world.  By investigating the United States Government Building, I will show the reader that issues of imperialism/the U.S. acting as a global hegemon were present at the fair. This will enable me to emphasize the cultural significance of the World’s Columbian Exposition.  Historiographically, World’s Fairs have been extensively studied.  However, in regard to Chicago’s Fair, the overwhelming majority of literature available focuses on general histories.  It is much more difficult to find quality secondary sources that present an original historical interpretation of the event.  However, there are a number of texts that offer an engaging discourse on Chicago’s Columbian Exposition.  My research will fit in with this sparse, but existing historiography of the fair.  I will build upon the arguments that ideas of imperialism/the U.S. acting as a global hegemon were present at Chicago.  Bridging the gap between public and world history is also a major goal of this project.