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The National Geographic Magazine was first published in October 1888. Its mission statements both at the time of inception and in present day reflect an effort to bring the world to American readers, as well as its aim to educate and inform readers about other countries, species, and cultures. However, during the magazine’s first three decades in print, the United States underwent major changes and was rapidly developing into one of the world’s most powerful nations. National Geographic heavily covered three specific events during this time period: the Spanish-American War, the colonization of Cuba and the Philippines, and the creation of the first national parks. This coverage presented readers with strong nationalist opinions that broadcast views of American superiority. In this analysis of those early articles, the magazine’s nationalist sentiments become evident through primary and secondary examples, and its original and current mission statements are brought into question. The National Geographic readers know today was once a very different publication due to its reflection of current events and a changing American attitude toward other countries.
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