Debating Imperialism: US Expansion, 1898 and After
Additional relevant documents and discussions:
- Jim Zwick, ed., Anti-Imperalism in the US, 1898-1935.
- More links to the War of 1898 and Imperialism
- Theodore Roosevelt: Icon of the American Century
- William Jennings Bryan, "The Paralyzing Influence of Imperialism"
Source: Official Proceedings of the Democratic National Convention Held in Kansas City, Mo., July 4, 5 and 6, 1900, Chicago, 1900, pp. 205-227.
- American Imperialism in Latin America Statements and a timeline of intervention
- " US Aid to Anti-Communist Rebels: the "Reagan Doctrine" and its Pitballs" by Ted Galen Carpenter Cato Institute Policy Analysis No. 74, June 24, 1986. Critiques Reagan interventionism in Nicaragua and elsewhere.
- US-Latin American Relations Time Line
Declaration of War with Spain: April 25, 1898
- [ Historical Background: Despite its constitutional power to declare war, Congress has rarely exercised
that power outright. The declaration of war against Spain was one of the few
times Congress responded instantly to the wishes of the president. This
declaration was brief and to the point. On the day of its passage it did not
generate great debate in Congress, as might be expected. By the time President
William McKinley sent a war message to Congress on April 25, 1898, both houses
of Congress had already debated the matter. The House passed the war
declaration earlier in the day and notified the Senate. In the document that
follows, the Senate quickly went into a closed-door session and also voted for a
declaration of war.
- This seemingly quick response was proceeded by several years of dramatic,
emotion-filled events. Much of the debate had been spread over three years as the
American government tried to figure out a position regarding the bloody war
going on in Cuba between Cuban citizens and the government of Spain, which
controlled the island. American newspapers filled their pages with stories of the
war. Emotions ran high in Congress, where populists sided with the insurgent
Cubans against the cruelty of Spanish rule. In the presidential campaign of 1896,
Republicans expressed sympathy for the Cubans and the populist Democrats
called outright for Cuban independence. By 1898 more than 50,000 Cuban
soldiers had been killed, along with more than 200,000 Cubans, many of whom
had been placed in concentration camps, where they died from disease. When the
U.S. warship the Maine, on a peaceful visit to Havana, blew up and sank under
mysterious circumstances on February 15, 1898, those clamoring for U.S.
intervention used the Maine's destruction and the loss of 265 lives aboard ship as
a rallying cry for a declaration of war.
- Two weeks before this declaration of war, on April 11, 1898, President McKinley
sent a message to Congress urging U.S. intervention as the only way to stop the
war, but he stopped short of asking for a declaration of war. Debate in the House
and Senate during the first weeks of April 1898 was heated. On April 20
Congress passed a joint resolution recognizing the independence of the Cuban
people. The resolution demanded that Spain "at once relinquish its authority and
government in the Island of Cuba and withdraw its land and naval forces from
Cuba and Cuban waters." Furthermore, to satisfy Senator Henry M. Teller
(R-Colo.), the resolution stated that the United States "hereby disclaims any
disposition or intention to exercise sovereignty, jurisdiction, or control over said
Island except for the pacification thereof. . . ."
- As a result of the Spanish-American War the United States acquired Puerto Rico,
the Philippines, Hawaii, and Guam. It marked the beginning of the rise of the
United States as a world power. From the standpoint of Congress, the war had
the inadvertent effect of increasing the power of the executive branch in setting
the national agenda, a role that Congress had played throughout most of
American history before this time. This war marked the beginning of the shift of
political power from Capitol Hill to the White House.]
- Message from the House
- A message form the House of Representatives, by Mr. W. J. Browning, its Chief
Clerk, announced that the House had passed a bill (H. R. 10086) declaring that a war
exists between the United States of America and the Kingdom of Spain; in which it
requested the concurrence of the Senate.
- War between the United States and Spain
- The VICE-PRESIDENT. The Chair lays before the Senate a bill from the House of
- The bill (H. R. 10086) declaring war exists between the United States of American and
the Kingdom of Spain was read the first time by its title and the second time at length,
- Be it enacted by the Senate and the House of Representatives of the United States of
America in Congress assembled, First. That war be, and the same is hereby declared to
exist, and that war has existed since the 21st day of April, A.D. 1898, including said day,
between the United States of America and the Kingdom of Spain.
- Second. That the President of the United States be, and he hereby is, directed and
empowered to use the entire land and naval forces of the United States, and to call into
the actual service of the United States the militia of the several States, to such extent as
may be necessary to carry this act into effect.
- Mr. DAVIS. I move that the doors of the Senate be closed.
- Mr. PLATT OF CONNECTICUT. I second the motion. [This is the Senator Platt who later sponsors the Platt Amendment of 1903, giving the US the legal right to intervene politically, economically, and militarily in Cuba's internal affairs.]
- The VICE-PRESIDENT. The motion if seconded, and the Senate will proceed in session
with closed doors.
- The Senate, with closed doors, proceeded, as in Committee of the Whole, to consider
the bill; and it was reported to the Senate without amendment, ordered to a third
reading, and was read the third time.
- The VICE-PRESIDENT. The question is, Shall the bill pass?
- The bill was unanimously passed.
- Source: Congressional Record, Senate, 55th Congress, 2nd session, April 25, 1898,
Senator Albert J. Beveridge on U.S. Policy Regarding the Philippines: January 9, 1900
- [Historical background: Beveridge lays out the various "hawk" or imperialist arguments favoring US expansionism.
- It is rare when a freshman senator takes the floor for a maiden speech to packed
galleries of rapt listeners, but thirty-seven-year-old Albert J. Beveridge (R-Ind.),
while new to the Senate, was not new to the art of oratory, having put himself
through college by winning oratorical contests. His reputation as a stump speaker
for the Republican Party had proceeded him. Almost a year elapsed from the time
of his election to the Senate until his swearing in on December 4, 1899. During
this time Beveridge toured the Philippines extensively in preparation for his role
as a leading proponent of American imperialism.
- The Philippines were ceded to the United States in 1899 in provisions of the
Treaty of Paris, which ended the Spanish-American War. At the time Beveridge
delivered this speech U.S. troops were engaged in warfare in the Philippines to
put down an insurrection (lasting until 1902) against United States rule.
Beveridge's speech was filled with the braggadocio of racial superiority and the
belief that the United States was God's chosen instrument to bring order to the
world. The more extreme aspects of this speech bothered many within his own
party and made him the subject of ridicule by critics. Beveridge, somewhat
chastened by the criticism he received, took a less extreme approach in
subsequent speeches. Nonetheless, this speech remains one the single best
statements of American jingoism ever uttered. When Beveridge finished the
address the packed galleries burst into applause.
- Responding in large part to Beveridge and other colleagues who espoused U.S.
acquisition of the Philippines, Senator George Frisbie Hoar (R-Mass.) addressed
the Senate several months later to present an opposite point of view (see
document below. Taken together, these two speeches contain the essence of many
congressional debates since then, some continuing to this day, over the role of the
United States as a world power and our relationship with Pacific nations. Notice the varieties of appeals and arguments made by both senators. Similar arguments, debating the nation's "Manifest Destiny," extend well back in the 19th century. Both speeches appear in their entirety. Read them carefully. Remember that you can use the "Search in Page" function to locate key phrases for closer examination. Take advantage of electronic tools to examine these documents.]
- Mr. President, I address the Senate at this time because senators and members of the
House on both sides have asked that I give to Congress and the country my
observations in the Philippines and the Far East, and the conclusions which those
observations compel; and because of hurtful resolutions introduced and utterances
made in the Senate, every word of which will cost and is costing the lives of American
- Mr. President, the times call for candor. The Philippines are ours forever, "territory
belonging to the United States," as the Constitution calls them. And just beyond the
Philippines are China's illimitable markets. We will not retreat from either. We will not
repudiate our duty in the archipelago. We will not abandon our opportunity in the
Orient. We will not renounce our part in the mission of our race, trustee, under God, of
the civilization of the world. And we will move forward to our work, not howling out
regrets like slaves whipped to their burdens, but with gratitude for a task worthy of our
strength, and thanksgiving to Almighty God that He has marked us as His chosen
people, henceforth to lead in the regeneration of the world.
- This island empire is the last land left in all the oceans. If it should prove a mistake to
abandon it, the blunder once made would be irretrievable. If it proves a mistake to hold
it, the error can be corrected when we will. Every other progressive nation stands
ready to relieve us.
- But to hold it will be no mistake. Our largest trade henceforth must be with Asia. The
Pacific is our ocean. More and more Europe will manufacture the most it needs, secure
from its colonies the most it consumes. Where shall we turn for consumers of our
surplus? Geography answers the question. China is our natural customer. She is nearer
to us than to England, Germany, or Russia, the commercial powers of the present and
the future. They have moved nearer to China by securing permanent bases on her
borders. The Philippines give us a base at the door of all the East.
- Lines of navigation from our ports to the Orient and Australia; from the isthmian canal
to Asia; from all oriental ports to Australia, converge at and separate from the
Philippines. They are a self-supporting, dividend-paying fleet, permanently anchored at
a spot selected by the strategy of Providence, commanding the Pacific. And the Pacific
is the ocean of the commerce of the future. Most future wars will be conflicts for
commerce. The power that rules the Pacific, therefore, is the power that rules the
world. And, with the Philippines, that power is and will forever be the American
- China's trade is the mightiest commercial fact in our future. Her foreign commerce was
$285,738,300 in 1897, of which we, her neighbor, had less than 9 percent, of which
only a little more than half was merchandise sold to China by us. We ought to have 50
percent, and we will. And China's foreign commerce is only beginning. Her resources,
her possibilities, her wants, all are undeveloped. She has only 340 miles of railway. I
have seen trains loaded with natives and all the activities of modern life already
appearing along the line. But she needs, and in fifty years will have, 20,000 miles of
- Who can estimate her commerce, then? That statesman commits a crime against
American trade—against the American grower of cotton and wheat and tobacco, the
American manufacturer of machinery and clothing—who fails to put America where she
may command that trade. Germany's Chinese trade is increasing like magic. She has
established ship lines and secured a tangible foothold on China's very soil. Russia's
Chinese trade is growing beyond belief. She is spending the revenues of the empire to
finish her railroad into Pekin itself, and she is in physical possession of the imperial
province of Manchuria. Japan's Chinese trade is multiplying in volume and value. She is
bending her energy to her merchant marine, and is located along China's very coast; but
Manila is nearer China
than Yokohama is. The Philippines command the commercial situation of the entire
East. Can America best trade with China from San Francisco or New York? From
San Francisco, of course. But if San Francisco were closer to China than New York is
to Pittsburgh, what then? And Manila is nearer Hongkong than Habana is to
Washington. And yet American statesmen plan to surrender this commercial throne of
the Orient where Providence and our soldiers' lives have placed us. When history
comes to write the story of that suggested treason to American supremacy and
therefore to the spread of American civilization, let her in mercy write that those who so
proposed were merely blind and nothing more.
- But if they did not command China, India, the Orient, the whole Pacific for purposes of
offense, defense, and trade, the Philippines are so valuable in themselves that we should
hold them. I have cruised more than 2,000 miles through the archipelago, every
moment a surprise at its loveliness and wealth. I have ridden hundreds of miles on the
islands, every foot of the way a revelation of vegetable and mineral riches.
- No land in America surpasses in fertility the plains and valleys of Luzon. Rice and
coffee, sugar and cocoanuts, hemp and tobacco, and many products of the temperate
as well as the tropic zone grow in various sections of the archipelago. I have seen
hundreds of bushels of Indian corn lying in a road fringed with banana trees. The forests
of Negros, Mindanao, Mindora, Paluan, and parts of Luzon are invaluable and intact.
The wood of the Philippines can supply the furniture of the world for a century to come.
At Cebu the best-informed man in the island told me that forty miles of Cebu's
mountain chain are practically mountains of coal. Pablo Majia, one of the most reliable
men on the islands, confirmed the statement. Some declare that the coal is only lignite;
but ship captains who have used it told me that it is better steamer fuel than the best
coal of Japan.
- I have a nugget of pure gold picked up in its present form on the banks of a Philippine
creek. I have gold dust washed out by crude processes of careless natives from the
sands of a Philippine stream. Both indicate great deposits at the source from which they
come. In one of the islands great deposits of copper exist untouched. The mineral
wealth of this empire of the ocean will one day surprise the world. I base this statement
partly on personal observation, but chiefly on the testimony of foreign merchants in the
Philippines, who have practically investigated the subject, and upon the unanimous
opinion of natives and priests. And the mineral wealth is but a small fraction of the
agricultural wealth of these islands.
- And the wood, hemp, copra, and other products of the Philippines supply what we
need and cannot ourselves produce. And the markets they will themselves afford will
be immense. Spain's export and import trade, with the islands undeveloped, was
$11,534,731 annually. Our trade with the islands developed will be $125,000,000
annually, for who believes that we can not do ten times as well as Spain? Consider their
imperial dimensions. Luzon is larger and richer than New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois,
or Ohio. Mindanao is larger and richer than all New England, exclusive of Maine.
Manila, as a port of call and exchange, will, in the time of men now living, far surpass
Liverpool. Behold the exhaustless markets they command. It is as if a half dozen of our
states were set down between Oceania and the Orient, and those states themselves
undeveloped and unspoiled of their primitive wealth and resources.
- Nothing is so natural as trade with one's neighbors. The Philippines make us the nearest
neighbors of all the East. Nothing is more natural than to trade with those you know.
This is the philosophy of all advertising. The Philippines bring us permanently face to
face with the most sought-for customers of the world. National prestige, national
propinquity, these and commercial activity are the elements of commercial success. The
Philippines give the first; the character of the American people supply the last. It is a
providential conjunction of all the elements of trade, of duty, and of power. If we are
willing to go to war rather than let England have a few feet of frozen Alaska, which
affords no market and commands none, what should we not do rather than let England,
Germany, Russia, or Japan have all the Philippines? And no man on the spot can fail to
see that this would be their fate if we retired.
- The climate is the best tropic climate in the world. This is the belief of those who have
lived in many tropic countries, with scores of whom I have talked on this point. My
own experience with tropical conditions has not been exhaustive; yet, speaking from
that experience, I testify that the climate of Iloilo, Sulu, Cebu, and even of Manila,
greatly surpasses that of Hongkong. And yet on the bare and burning rock of
Hongkong our constructing race has builded one of the noblest cities of all the world
and made the harbor it commands the focus of the commerce of the East. And the
glory of that achievement illumines with a rarer splendor than that of Waterloo the flag
that floats above it, for from Hongkong's heights civilization is irradiating all the Orient.
If this be imperialism, its final end will be the empire of the Son of Man.
- It will be hard for Americans who have not studied them to understand the people.
They are a barbarous race, modified by three centuries of contact with a decadent
race. The Filipino is the South Sea Malay, put through a process of three hundred years
of superstition in religion, dishonesty in dealing, disorder in habits of industry, and
cruelty, caprice, and corruption in government. It is barely possible that a thousand men
in all the archipelago are capable of self-government in the Anglo-Saxon sense.
- My own belief is that there are not a hundred men among them who comprehend what
Anglo-Saxon self-government even means, and there are over five million people to be
governed. I know many clever and highly educated men among them, but there are only
three commanding intellects and characters—Arellano, Mabini, and Aguinaldo.
Arellano, the chief justice of our supreme court, is a profound lawyer and a brave and
incorruptible man. Mabini, who, before his capture, was the literary and diplomatic
associate of Aguinaldo, is the highest
type of subtlety and the most constructive mind that race has yet produced. Aguinaldo
is a clever, popular leader, able, brave, resourceful, cunning, ambitious, unscrupulous,
and masterful. He is full of decision, initiative, and authority, and had the confidence of
the masses. He is a natural dictator. His ideas of government are absolute orders,
implicit obedience, or immediate death. He understands the character of his
countrymen. He is a Malay Sylla; not a Filipino Washington.
- Here, then, senators, is the situation. Two years ago there was no land in all the world
which we could occupy for any purpose. Our commerce was daily turning toward the
Orient, and geography and trade developments made necessary our commercial empire
over the Pacific. And in that ocean we had no commercial, naval, or military base.
Today we have one of the three great ocean possessions of the globe, located at the
most commanding commercial, naval, and military points in the eastern seas, within hail
of India, shoulder to shoulder with China, richer in its own resources than any equal
body of land on the entire globe, and peopled by a race which civilization demands
shall be improved. Shall we abandon it? That man little knows the common people of
the Republic, little understands the instincts of our race, who thinks we will not hold it
fast and hold it forever, administering just government by simplest methods. We may
trick up devices to shift our burden and lessen our opportunity; they will avail us nothing
but delay. We may tangle conditions by applying academic arrangements of
self-government to a crude situation; their failure will drive us to our duty in the end.
- The military situation, past, present, and prospective, is no reason for abandonment.
Our campaign has been as perfect as possible with the force at hand. We have been
delayed, first, by a failure to comprehend the immensity of our acquisition; and, second,
by insufficient force; and, third, by our efforts for peace. In February, after the treaty of
peace, General Otis had only 3,722 officers and men whom he had a legal right to
order into battle. The terms of enlistment of the rest of his troops had expired, and they
fought voluntarily and not on legal military compulsion. It was one of the noblest
examples of patriotic devotion to duty in the history of the world.
- Those who complain do so in ignorance of the real situation. We attempted a great task
with insufficient means; we became impatient that it was not finished before it could
fairly be commenced; and I pray we may not add that other element of disaster,
pausing in the work before it is thoroughly and forever done. That is the gravest mistake
we could possibly make, and that is the only danger before us. Our Indian wars would
have been shortened, the lives of soldiers and settlers saved, and the Indians themselves
benefited had we made continuous and decisive war; and any other kind of war is
criminal because ineffective. We acted toward the Indians as though we feared them,
loved them, hated them—a mingling of foolish sentiment, inaccurate thought, and
paralytic purpose. Let us now be instructed by our own experience.
- This, too, has been Spain's course in the Philippines. I have studied Spain's painful
military history in these islands. Never sufficient troops; never vigorous action, pushed
to conclusive results and a permanent peace; always treating with the rebels while they
fought them; always cruel and corrupt when a spurious peace was arranged. This has
been Spain's way for three hundred years, until insurrection has become a Filipino
habit. Never since Magellan landed did Spain put enough troops in the islands for
complete and final action in war; never did she intelligently, justly, firmly, administer
government in peace.
- Mr. President, that must not be our plan. This war is like all other wars. It needs to be
finished before it is stopped. I am prepared to vote either to make our work thorough
or even now to abandon it. A lasting peace can be secured only by overwhelming
forces in ceaseless action until universal and absolutely final defeat is inflicted on the
enemy. To halt before every armed force, every guerrilla band, opposing us is
dispersed or exterminated will prolong hostilities and leave alive the seeds of perpetual
- Even then we should not treat. To treat at all is to admit that we are wrong. And any
quiet so secured will be delusive and fleeting. And a false peace will betray us; a sham
truce will curse us. It is not to serve the purposes of the hour, it is not to salve a present
situation, that peace should be established. It is for the tranquility of the archipelago
forever. It is for an orderly government for the Filipinos for all the future. It is to give
this problem to posterity solved and settled; not vexed and involved. It is to establish
the supremacy of the American Republic over the Pacific and throughout the East till
the end of time.
- It has been charged that our conduct of the war has been cruel. Senators, it has been
the reverse. I have been in our hospitals and seen the Filipino wounded as carefully,
tenderly cared for as our own. Within our lines they may plow and sow and reap and
go about the affairs of peace with absolute liberty. And yet all this kindness was
misunderstood, or rather not understood. Senators must remember that we are not
dealing with Americans or Europeans. We are dealing with Orientals. We are dealing
with Orientals who are Malays. We are dealing with Malays instructed in Spanish
methods. They mistake kindness for weakness, forbearance for fear. It could not be
otherwise unless you could erase hundreds of years of savagery, other hundreds of
years of orientalism, and still other hundreds of years of Spanish character and custom.
- Our mistake has not been cruelty; it has been kindness. It has been the application to
Spanish Malays of methods appropriate to New England. Every device of mercy,
every method of conciliation, has been employed by the peace-loving President of the
American Republic, to the amazement of nations experienced in oriental revolt. Before
the outbreak our general in command appointed a commission to make some
arrangements with the natives mutually agreeable. I know the members of the
commission well—General Hughes, Colonel Crowder, and General
Smith—moderate, kindly, tactful men of the world; an ideal body for such negotiation.
It was treated with contempt.
- We smiled at intolerable insult and insolence until the lips of every native in Manila were
curling in ridicule for the cowardly Americans. We refrained from all violence until their
armed bravos crossed the lines in violation of agreement. Then our sentry shot the
offender, and he should have been court-martialed had he failed to shoot. That shot
was the most fortunate of the war. For there is every reason to believe that Aguinaldo
had planned the attack upon us for some nights later. Our sentry's shot brought this
attack prematurely on. He arranged for an uprising in Manila to massacre all
Americans, the plans for which, in a responsible officer's handwriting, are in our
possession. This shot and its results made that awful scheme impossible. We did not
strike till they attacked us in force, without provocation. This left us no alternative but
war or evacuation.
- The patience of our peace-loving president was not even then exhausted. A civil
commission was sent to Manila, composed of the president of one of our great
universities, a distinguished diplomat and an eminent college professor who had special
knowledge of the country and people and also General Otis and Admiral Dewey.
These men exhausted the expedients of peace, and always were met with the Malay's
ready evasion, the Spaniard's habitual delay. I am personal witness that no effort was
neglected by our commission to assure the Filipino people of our good intentions and
beneficent purposes. The commission entertained the mestizos of Manila in a way that
would have honored the Senate of the United States; the brown faces of the common
people sneered. The commission treated natives, accustomed to blows, with kindest
consideration; the agents of Aguinaldo told tales of our pusillanimity to the ignorant rural
masses. This remarkable man sent so-called commissions, ostensibly to treat, but really
to play with ours. His commissions were composed of generals in uniform. The
populace gaped in open admiration when they appeared in Manila. Our representatives
of peace talked to them, argued with them, entertained them; the people were
impressed with their importance. President Schurman even rode with them through the
city. The masses were confirmed in their reverence for their brothers who were thus
honored and distinguished. Then the bespangled representatives of the Malay dictator
return to their lord, and the sole effect of these pacific efforts was to make 250,000
natives in Manila think that the only way to win the respect of the American Republic is
to fight it.
- No, senators, the friendly methods of peace have been thoroughly tried only to make
peace more difficult. The Oriental does not understand our attempt to conciliate. Every
effort of our commission which did its work at Manila so earnestly, so honestly, so
thoroughly and which, with Americans or Europeans, would have so brilliantly
succeeded, only delayed the peace it attempted to hasten. There is not now and never
was any possible course but ceaseless operations in the field and loyal support of the
war at home.
- The news that 60,000 American soldiers have crossed the Pacific; that, if necessary,
the American Congress will make it 100,000 or 200,000 men; that, at any cost, we will
establish peace and govern the islands, will do more to end the war than the soldiers
themselves. But the report that we even discuss the withdrawal of a single soldier at the
present time and that we even debate the possibility of not administering government
throughout the archipelago ourselves will be misunderstood and misrepresented and will
blow into a flame once more the fires our soldiers' blood has almost quenched.
- Mr. President, reluctantly and only from a sense of duty am I forced to say that
American opposition to the war has been the chief factor in prolonging it. Had
Aguinaldo not understood that in America, even in the American Congress, even here
in the Senate, he and his cause were supported; had he not known that it was
proclaimed on the stump and in the press of a faction in the United States that every
shot his misguided followers fired into the breasts of American soldiers was like the
volleys fired by Washington's men against the soldiers of King George his insurrection
would have dissolved before it entirely crystallized.
- The utterances of American opponents of the war are read to the ignorant soldiers of
Aguinaldo and repeated in exaggerated form among the common people. Attempts
have been made by wretches claiming American citizenship to ship arms and
ammunition from Asiatic ports to the Filipinos, and these acts of infamy were coupled
by the Malays with American assaults on our government at home. The Filipinos do not
understand free speech, and therefore our tolerance of American assaults on the
American president and the American government means to them that our president is
in the minority or he would not permit what appears to them such treasonable criticism.
It is believed and stated in Luzon, Panay, and Cebu that the Filipinos have only to fight,
harass, retreat, break up into small parties, if necessary, as they are doing now, but by
any means hold out until the next presidential election, and our forces will be
- All this has aided the enemy more than climate, arms, and battle. Senators, I have heard
these reports myself; I have talked with the people; I have seen our mangled boys in the
hospital and field; I have stood on the firing line and beheld our dead soldiers, their
faces turned to the pitiless southern sky, and in sorrow rather than anger I say to those
whose voices in America have cheered those misguided natives on to shoot our soldiers
down, that the blood of those dead and wounded boys of ours is on their hands, and
the flood of all the years can never wash that stain away. In sorrow rather than anger I
say these words, for I earnestly believe that our brothers knew not what they did.
- But, senators, it would be better to abandon this combined garden and Gibraltar of the
Pacific, and count our blood and treasure already spent a profitable loss, than to apply
any academic arrangement of self-government to these children. They are not capable
of self-government. How could they be? They are not of a self-governing race. They
are Orientals, Malays, instructed by Spaniards in the latter's worst estate.
- They know nothing of practical government except as they have witnessed the weak,
corrupt, cruel, and capricious rule of Spain. What magic will anyone employ to dissolve
in their minds and characters those impressions of governors and governed which three
centuries of misrule has created? What alchemy will change the oriental quality of their
blood and set the self-governing currents of the American pouring through their Malay
veins? How shall they, in the twinkling of an eye, be exalted to the heights of
self-governing peoples which required a thousand years for us to reach, Anglo-Saxon
though we are?
- Let me beware how they employ the term "self-government." It is a sacred term. It is
the watchword at the door of the inner temple of liberty, for liberty does not always
mean self-government. Self-government is a method of liberty—the highest, simplest,
best—and it is acquired only after centuries of study and struggle and experiment and
instruction and all the elements of the progress of man. Self-government is no base and
common thing, to be bestowed on the merely audacious. It is the degree which crowns
the graduate of liberty, not the name of liberty's infant class, who have not yet mastered
the alphabet of freedom. Savage blood, oriental blood, Malay blood, Spanish
example—are these the elements of self-government?
- We must act on the situation as it exists, not as we would wish it. I have talked with
hundreds of these people, getting their views as to the practical workings of
self-government. The great majority simply do not understand any participation in any
government whatever. The most enlightened among them declare that self-government
will succeed because the employers of labor will compel their employees to vote as
their employer wills and that this will insure intelligent voting. I was assured that we
could depend upon good men always being in office because the officials who
constitute the government will nominate their successors, choose those among the
people who will do the voting, and determine how and where elections will be held.
- The most ardent advocate of self-government that I met was anxious that I should
know that such a government would be tranquil because, as he said, if anyone criticised
it, the government would shoot the offender. A few of them have a sort of verbal
understanding of the democratic theory, but the above are the examples of the ideas of
the practical workings of self-government entertained by the aristocracy, the rich
planters and traders, and heavy employers of labor, the men who would run the
- Example for decades will be necessary to instruct them in American ideas and methods
of administration. Example, example; always example—this alone will teach them. As a
race, their general ability is not excellent. Educators, both men and women, to whom I
have talked in Cebu and Luzon, were unanimous in the opinion that in all solid and
useful education they are, as a people, dull and stupid. In showy things, like carving and
painting or embroidery or music, they have apparent aptitude, but even this is superficial
and never thorough. They have facility of speech, too.
- The three best educators on the island at different times made to me the same
comparison that the common people in their stupidity are like their caribou bulls. They
are not even good agriculturists. Their waste of cane is inexcusable. Their destruction of
hemp fiber is childish. They are incurably indolent. They have no continuity or
thoroughness of industry. They will quit work without notice and amuse themselves until
the money they have earned is spent. They are like children playing at men's work.
- No one need fear their competition with our labor. No reward could beguile, no force
compel, these children of indolence to leave their trifling lives for the fierce and fervid
industry of high-wrought America. The very reverse is the fact. One great problem is
the necessary labor to develop these islands—to build the roads, open the mines, clear
the wilderness, drain the swamps, dredge the harbors. The natives will not supply it. A
lingering prejudice against the Chinese may prevent us from letting them supply it.
Ultimately, when the real truth of the climate and human conditions is known, it is barely
possible that our labor will go there. Even now young men with the right moral fiber and
a little capital can make fortunes there as planters.
- But the natives will not come here. Let all men dismiss that fear. The Dutch have Java,
and its population, under Holland's rule, has increased from 2 million to more than 20
million people; yet the Java laborer has never competed with the laborer of Holland.
And this is true of England and Germany, of every colonizing, administering power. The
native has produced luxuries for the laborer of the governing country and afforded a
market for what the laborer of the governing country in turn produced.
- In Paluan the natives are primitive. In Sulu and Mindanao the Moros are vigorous and
warlike, but have not the most elementary notions of civilization. For example, they do
not understand the utility of roads. Nothing exists but paths through the jungle. I have
ridden for hours in Sulu over the most primitive paths, barely discernible in the rank
grass. They have not grasped the idea of private and permanent property in land, and
yet there is no lovelier spot, no richer land, no better military and naval base than the
Sulu group. In Paluan, Sulu, and Mindanao the strictest military government is
necessary indefinitely. The inhabitants can never be made to work, can never be
civilized. Their destiny cannot be foretold. But whether they will withstand civilization or
disappear before it, our duty is plain.
- In all other islands our government must be simple and strong. It must be a uniform
government. Different forms for different islands will produce perpetual disturbance,
because the people of each island would think that the people of the other islands are
more favored than they. In Panay I heard murmurings that we were giving Negros an
American constitution. This is a human quality, found even in America, and we must
never forget that in dealing with the Filipinos we deal with children. And so our
government must be simple and strong. Simple and strong! The meaning of those two
words must be written in every line of Philippine legislation, realized in every act of
Philippine administration. . . .
- Even the elemental plan I have outlined will fail in the hands of any but ideal
administrators. Spain did not utterly fail in devising—many of her plans were excellent;
she failed in administering. Her officials as a class were corrupt, indolent, cruel,
immoral. They were selected to please a faction in Spain, to placate members of the
Cortes, to bribe those whom the government feared. They were seldom selected for
their fitness. They were the spawn of government favor and government fear, and
therefore of government iniquity.
- The men we send to administer civilized government in the Philippines must be
themselves the highest examples of our civilization. I use the word examples, for
examples they must be in that word's most absolute sense. They must be men of the
world and of affairs, students of their fellow men, not theorists nor dreamers. They must
be brave men, physically as well as morally. They must be as incorruptible as honor, as
stainless as purity, men whom no force can frighten, no influence coerce, no money
buy. Such men come high, even here in America. But they must be had. Better pure
military occupation for years than government by any other quality of administration.
Better abandon this priceless possession, admit ourselves incompetent to do our part in
the world-redeeming work of our imperial race; better now haul down the flag of
arduous deeds for civilization and run up the flag of reaction and decay than to apply
academic notions of self-government to these children or attempt their government by
any but the most perfect administrators our country can produce. I assert that such
administrators can be found.
- Mr. President, self-government and internal development have been the dominant notes
of our first century; administration and the development of other lands will be the
dominant notes of our second century. And administration is as high and holy a function
as self-government, just as the care of a trust estate is as sacred an obligation as the
management of our own concerns. Cain was the first to violate the divine law of human
society which makes of us our brother's keeper. And administration of good
government is the first lesson in self-government, that exalted estate toward which all
- Administration of good government is not denial of liberty. For what is liberty? It is not
savagery. It is not the exercise of individual will. It is not dictatorship. It involves
government, but not necessarily self-government. It means law. First of all, it is a
common rule of action, applying equally to all within its limits. Liberty means protection
of property and life without price, free speech without intimidation, justice without
purchase or delay, government without favor or favorites. What will best give all this to
the people of the Philippines—American administration, developing them gradually
toward self-government, or self-government by a people before they know what
- The Declaration of Independence does not forbid us to do our part in the regeneration
of the world. If it did, the Declaration would be wrong, just as the Articles of
Confederation, drafted by the very same men who signed the Declaration, was found to
be wrong. The Declaration has no application to the present situation. It was written by
self-governing men for self-governing men.
- It was written by men who, for a century and a half, had been experimenting in
self-government on this continent, and whose ancestors for hundreds of years before
had been gradually developing toward that high and holy estate. The Declaration
applies only to people capable of self-government. How dare any man prostitute this
expression of the very elect of self-governing peoples to a race of Malay children of
barbarism, schooled in Spanish methods and ideas? And you, who say the Declaration
applies to all men, how dare you deny its application to the American Indian? And if
you deny it to the Indian at home, how dare you grant it to the Malay abroad?
- The Declaration does not contemplate that all government must have the consent of the
governed. It announces that man's "inalienable rights are life, liberty, and pursuit of
happiness; that to secure these rights governments are established among men deriving
their just powers from the consent of the governed; that when any form of government
becomes destructive of those rights, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it."
"Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" are the important things; "consent of the
governed" is one of the means to those ends.
- If "any form of government becomes destructive of those ends, it is the right of the
people to alter or abolish it," says the Declaration. "Any forms" includes all forms. Thus
the Declaration itself recognizes other forms of government than those resting on the
consent of the governed. The word "consent" itself recognizes other forms for ''consent"
means the understanding of the thing to which the "consent" is given; and there are
people in the world who do not understand any form of government. And the sense in
which "consent" is used in the Declaration is broader than mere understanding; for
"consent" in the Declaration means participation in the government "consented" to. And
yet these people who are not capable of "consenting" to any form of government must
- And so the Declaration contemplates all forms of government which secure the
fundamental rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Self-government, when
that will best secure these ends, as in the case of people capable of self-government;
other appropriate forms when people are not capable of self-government. And so the
authors of the Declaration themselves governed the Indian without his consent; the
inhabitants of Louisiana without their consent; and ever since the sons of the makers of
the Declaration have been governing not by theory, but by practice, after the fashion of
our governing race, now by one form, now by another, but always for the purpose of
securing the great eternal ends of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, not in the
savage, but in the civilized meaning of those terms—life according to orderly methods
of civilized society; liberty regulated by law; pursuit of happiness limited by the pursuit
of happiness by every other man.
- If this is not the meaning of the Declaration, our government itself denies the Declaration
every time it receives the representative of any but a republican form of government,
such as that of the Sultan, the Czar, or other absolute autocrats, whose governments,
according to the opposition's interpretation of the Declaration, are spurious
governments, because the people governed have not "consented" to them.
- Senators in opposition are stopped from denying our constitutional power to govern the
Philippines as circumstances may demand, for such power is admitted in the case of
Florida, Louisiana, Alaska. How, then, is it denied in the Philippines? Is there a
geographical interpretation to the Constitution? Do degrees of longitude fix
constitutional limitations? Does a thousand miles of ocean diminish constitutional power
more than a thousand miles of land?
- The ocean does not separate us from the field of our duty and endeavor—it joins us, an
established highway needing no repair, and landing us at any point desired. The seas do
not separate the Philippine Islands from us or from each other. The seas are highways
through the archipelago, which would cost hundreds of millions of dollars to construct if
they were land instead of water. Land may separate men from their desire, the ocean
never. Russia has been centuries in crossing Siberian wastes; the Puritans crossed the
Atlantic in brief and flying weeks.
- If the Boers must have traveled by land, they would never have reached the Transvaal;
but they sailed on liberty's ocean; they walked on civilization's untaxed highway, the
welcoming sea. Our ships habitually sailed round the cape and anchored in California's
harbors before a single trail had lined the desert with the whitening bones of those who
made it. No! No! The ocean unites us; steam unites us; electricity unites us; all the
elements of nature unite us to the region where duty and interest call us. There is in the
ocean no constitutional argument against the march of the flag, for the oceans, too, are
ours. With more extended coast lines than any nation of history; with a commerce
vaster than any other people ever dreamed of, and that commerce as yet only in its
beginnings; with naval traditions equaling those of England or of Greece, and the work
of our Navy only just begun; with the air of the oceans in our nostrils and the blood of a
sailor ancestry in our veins; with the shores of all the continents calling us, the great
Republic before I die will be the acknowledged lord of the world's high seas. And over
them the Republic will hold dominion, by virtue of the strength God has given it, for the
peace of the world and the betterment of man.
- No; the oceans are not limitations of the power which the Constitution expressly gives
Congress to govern all territory the nation may acquire. The Constitution declares that
"Congress shall have power to dispose of and make any needful rules and regulations
respecting the territory belonging to the United States." Not the Northwest Territory
only; not Louisiana or Florida only; not territory on this continent only, but any territory
anywhere belonging to the nation. The founders of the nation were not provincial.
Theirs was the geography of the world. They were soldiers as well as landsmen, and
they knew that where our ships should go our flag might follow. They had the logic of
progress, and they knew that the Republic they were planting must, in obedience to the
laws of our expanding race, necessarily develop into the greater Republic which the
world beholds today, and into the still mightier Republic which the world will finally
acknowledge as the arbiter, under God, of the destinies of mankind. And so our fathers
wrote into the Constitution these words of growth, of expansion, of empire, if you will,
unlimited by geography or climate or by anything but the vitality and possibilities of the
American people: "Congress shall have power to dispose of and make all needful rules
and regulations respecting the territory belonging to the United States."
- The power to govern all territory the nation may acquire would have been in Congress
if the language affirming that power had not been written in the Constitution. For not all
powers of the national government are expressed. Its principal powers are implied. The
written Constitution is but the index of the living Constitution. Had this not been true,
the Constitution would have failed. For the people in any event would have developed
and progressed. And if the Constitution had not had the capacity for growth
corresponding with the growth of the nation, the Constitution would and should have
been abandoned as the Articles of Confederation were abandoned. For the
Constitution is not immortal in itself, is not useful even in itself. The Constitution is
immortal and even useful only as it serves the orderly development of the nation. The
nation alone is immortal. The nation alone is sacred. The army is its servant. The navy is
its servant. The president is its servant. This Senate is its servant. Our laws are its
methods. Our Constitution is its instrument.
- This is the golden rule of constitutional interpretation: The Constitution was made for the
people, not the people for the Constitution.
- The nation's power to make rules and regulations for the government of its possessions
is not confined to any given set of rules or regulations. It is not confined to any
particular formula of laws or kind of government or type of administration. Where do
senators find constitutional warrant for any special kind of government in "territory
belonging to the United States." The language affirming our power to govern such
territory is as broad as the requirements of all possible situations. And there is nothing in
the Constitution to limit that comprehensive language. The very reverse is true. For
power'to administer government anywhere and in any manner the situation demands
would have been in Congress if the Constitution had been silent; not merely because it
is a power not reserved to the states or people; not merely because it is a power
inherent in and an attribute of nationality; not even because it might be inferred from
other specific provisions of the Constitution; but because it is the power most necessary
for the ruling tendency of our race—the tendency to explore, expand, and grow, to sail
new seas and seek new lands, subdue the wilderness, revitalize decay-
ing peoples, and plant civilized and civilizing governments over all the globe.
- For the makers of the Constitution were of the race that produced Hawkins, and
Drake, and Raleigh, and Smith, and Winthrop and Penn. They were of the great
exploring, pioneering, colonizing, and governing race who went forth with trade or gain
or religious liberty as the immediate occasion for their voyages, but really because they
could not help it; because the blood within them commanded them; because their racial
tendency is as resistless as the currents of the sea or the process of the suns or any
other elemental movement of nature, of which that racial tendency itself is the most
majestic. And when they wrote the Constitution they did not mean to negative the most
elemental characteristic of their race, of which their own presence in America was an
expression and an example. You can not interpret a constitution without understanding
the race that wrote it. And if our fathers had intended a reversal of the very nature and
being of their race, they would have so declared in the most emphatic words our
language holds. But they did not, and in the absence of such words the power would
remain which is essential to the strongest tendency of our practical race, to govern
wherever we are and to govern by the methods best adapted to the situation. But our
fathers were not content with silence, and they wrote in the Constitution the words
which affirm this essential and imperial power.
- Mr. President, this question is deeper than any question of party politics; deeper than
any question of the isolated policy of our country even; deeper even than any question
of constitutional power. It is elemental. It is racial. God has not been preparing the
English-speaking and Teutonic peoples for a thousand years for nothing but vain and
idle self-contemplation and self-admiration. No! He has made us the master organizers
of the world to establish system where chaos reigns. He has given us the spirit of
progress to overwhelm the forces of reaction throughout the earth. He has made us
adepts in government that we may administer government among savage and senile
peoples. Were it not for such a force as this the world would relapse into barbarism
and night. And of all our race He has marked the American people as His chosen
nation to finally lead in the regeneration of the world. This is the divine mission of
America, and it holds for us all the profit, all the glory, all the happiness possible to
man. We are trustees of the world's progress, guardians of its righteous peace. The
judgment of the Master is upon us: "Ye have been faithful over a few things; I will make
you ruler over many things."
- What shall history say of us? Shall it say that we renounced that holy trust, left the
savage to his base condition, the wilderness to the reign of waste, deserted duty,
abandoned glory, forget our sordid profit even because we feared our strength and
read the charter of our powers with the doubter's eye and the quibbler's mind? Shall it
say that, called by events to captain and command the proudest, ablest, purest race of
history in history's noblest work, we declined that great commission? Our fathers would
not have had it so. No! They founded no paralytic government, incapable of the
simplest acts of administration. They planted no sluggard people, passive while the
world's work calls them. They established no reactionary nation. They unfurled no
- That flag has never paused in its onward march. Who dares halt it now—now, when
history's largest events are carrying it forward; now, when we are at last one people,
strong enough for any task, great enough for any glory destiny can bestow? How
comes it that our first century closes with the process of consolidating the American
people into a unit just accomplished, and quick upon the stroke of that great hour
presses upon us our world opportunity, world duty, and world glory, which none but a
people welded into an indivisible nation can achieve or perform?
- Blind indeed is he who sees not the hand of God in events so vast, so harmonious, so
benign. Reactionary indeed is the mind that perceives not that this vital people is the
strongest of the saving forces of the world: that our place, therefore, is at the head of
the constructing and redeeming nations of the earth; and that to stand aside while events
march on is a surrender of our interests, a betrayal of our duty as blind as it is base.
Craven indeed is the heart that fears to perform a work so golden and so noble; that
dares not win a glory so immortal.
- Do you tell me that it will cost us money? When did Americans ever measure duty by
financial standards? Do you tell me of the tremendous toil required to overcome the
vast difficulties of our task? What mighty work for the world, for humanity, even for
ourselves, has ever been done with ease? Even our bread must we eat by the sweat of
our faces. Why are we charged with power such as no people ever knew, if we are not
to use it in a work such as no people ever wrought? Who will dispute the divine
meaning of the fable of the talents?
- Do you remind me of the precious blood that must be shed, the lives that must be given,
the broken hearts of loved ones for their slain? And this is indeed a heavier price than
all combined. And yet as a nation every historic duty we have done, every achievement
we have accomplished, has been by the sacrifice of our noblest sons. Every holy
memory that glorifies the flag is of those heroes who have died that its onward march
might not be stayed. It is the nation's dearest lives yielded for the flag that makes it dear
to us; it is the nation's most precious blood poured out for it that makes it precious to
us. That flag is woven of heroism and grief, of the bravery of men and women's tears,
of righteousness and battle, of sacrifice and anguish, of triumph and of glory. It is these
which make our flag a holy thing. Who would tear from that sacred banner the glorious
legends of a single battle where it has waved on land or sea? What son of a soldier of
the flag whose father fell beneath it on any field would surrender that proud record for
the heraldry of a king? In the cause of civilization, in the service of the Republic
anywhere on earth, Americans consider wounds the noblest decorations man can win,
and count the giving of their lives a glad and precious duty.
- Pray God that spirit never fails. Pray God the time may never come when Mammon
and the love of ease shall so debase our blood that we will fear to shed it for the flag
and its imperial
destiny. Pray God the time may never come when American heroism is but a legend
like the story of the Cid, American faith in our mission and our might a dream dissolved,
and the glory of our mighty race departed.
- And that time will never come. We will renew our youth at the fountain of new and
glorious deeds. We will exalt our reverence for the flag by carrying it to a noble future
as well as by remembering its ineffable past. Its immortality will not pass, because
everywhere and always we will acknowledge and discharge the solemn responsibilities
our sacred flag, in its deepest meaning, puts upon us. And so, Senators, with reverent
hearts, where dwells the fear of God, the American people move forward to the future
of their hope and the doing of His work.
- Mr. President and Senators, adopt the resolution offered, that peace may quickly come
and that we may begin our saving, regenerating, and uplifting work. Adopt it, and this
bloodshed will cease when these deluded children of our islands learn that this is the
final word of the representatives of the American people in Congress assembled.
Reject it, and the world, history, and the American people will know where to forever
fix the awful responsibility for the consequences that will surely follow such failure to do
our manifest duty. How dare we delay when our soldiers' blood is flowing? [Applause
in the galleries.]
Source: Congressional Record, Senate, 56th Congress, 1st session, Jan. 9, 1900, 704–712.
Senator George Frisbie Hoar on Self-Government for the Philippines: April 17, 1900
- [Historical Background: Senator George Frisbie Hoar (R-Mass.) had a long and distinguished career in
the House of Representatives and the Senate. At the time of this speech, Hoar, a
twenty-three-year veteran of the Senate, was nearing the end of his career. He
was seventy-six when he delivered this address in opposition to U.S. acquisition
of the Philippines. Hoar was out of step with his party on U.S. imperialism and
was one of only two Republican senators to vote against the Treaty of Paris,
which ended the Spanish-American War. Hoar's speech stands in marked contrast
to the jingoism of Senator Albert J. Beveridge's Senate speech (compare document above) and remains a timeless argument against one nation imposing rule upon another nation without the consent of the governed. Born in 1826, Hoar died in 1904 while US fighting still raged in the Philippines.]
- We are told if we oppose the policy of our imperialistic and expanding friends we are
bound to suggest some policy of our own as a substitute for theirs. We are asked what
we would do in this difficult emergency. It is a question not difficult to answer. I for one
am ready to answer it.
- I would declare now that we will not take these islands to govern them against their
- I would reject a cession of sovereignty which implies that sovereignty may be bought
and sold and delivered without the consent of the people. Spain had no rightful
sovereignty over the Philippine Islands. She could not rightfully sell it to us. We could
not rightfully buy it from her.
- I would require all foreign governments to keep out of these islands.
- I would offer to the people of the Philippines our help in maintaining order until they
have a reasonable opportunity to establish a government of their own.
- I would aid them by advice, if they desire it, to set up a free and independent
- I would invite all the great powers of Europe to unite in an agreement that that
independence shall not be interfered with by us, by themselves, or by any one of them
with the consent of the others. As to this I am not so sure. I should like quite as well to
tell them it is not to be done whether they consent or not.
- I would declare that the United States will enforce the same doctrine as applicable to
the Philippines that we declared as to Mexico and Haiti and the South American
Republics. It is true that the Monroe Doctrine, a doctrine based largely on our regard
for our own interests, is not applicable either in terms or in principle to a distant Asiatic
territory. But undoubtedly, having driven out Spain, we are bound, and have the right,
to secure to the people we have liberated an opportunity, undisturbed and in peace, to
establish a new government for themselves.
- I would then, in a not distant future, leave them to work out their own salvation, as
every nation on earth, from the beginning of time, has wrought out its own salvation. . . .
To attempt to confer the gift of freedom from without, or to impose freedom from
without on any people, is to disregard all the lessons of history. It is to attempt
"A gift of that which is not to be given
By all the blended powers of earth and heaven."
- I would strike out of your legislation the oath of allegiance to us and substitute an
oath of allegiance to their own country. . . .
- Mr. President, there lies at the bottom of what is called imperialism a doctrine which, if
adopted, is to revolutionize the world in favor of despotism. It directly conflicts with
and contradicts the doctrine on which our own revolution was founded, and with which,
so far, our example has revolutionized the world. It is the doctrine that when, in the
judgment of any one nation or any combination of nations, the institutions which a
people set up and maintain for themselves are disapproved they
have a right to overthrow that government and to enter upon and possess it
themselves . . .
- Our imperialistic friends seem to have forgotten the use of the vocabulary of liberty.
They talk about giving good government. "We shall give them such a government as we
think they are fitted for." "We shall give them a better government than they had
before." Why, Mr. President, that one phrase conveys to a free man and a free people
the most stinging of insults. In that little phrase, as in a seed, is contained the germ of all
despotism and of all tyranny. Government is not a gift. Free government is not to be
given by all the blended powers of earth and heaven. It is a birthright. It belongs, as our
fathers said and as their children said, as Jefferson said and as President McKinley
said, to human nature itself. There can be no good government but self government. . . .
- I have failed to discover in the speech, public or private, of the advocates of this war,
or in the press which supports it and them, a single expression anywhere of a desire to
do justice to the people of the Philippine Islands, or of a desire to make known to the
people of the United States the truth of the case. . . .
- The catchwords, the cries, the pithy and pregnant phrases of which all their speech is
full, all mean dominion. They mean perpetual dominion. When a man tells you that the
American flag must not be hauled down where it has once floated, or demands of a
shouting audience, "Who will haul it down?" if he mean anything, he means that that
people shall be under our dominion forever. The man who says, "We will not treat with
them till they submit; we will not deal with men in arms against the flag," says, in
substance, the same thing. One thing there has been, at least, given to them as
Americans not to say. There is not one of these gentlemen who will rise in his place and
affirm that if he were a Filipino he would not do exactly as the Filipinos are doing; that
he would not despise them if they were to do otherwise. So much, at least, they owe of
respect to the dead and buried history—the dead and buried history, so far as they can
slay and bury it—of their country.
- Why, the tariff schemes which are proposed are schemes in our interest and not in
theirs. If you propose to bring tobacco from Porto Rico or from the Philippine Islands
on the ground that it is for the interest of the people whom you are undertaking to
govern, for their best interests to raise it and sell it to you, every imperialist in
Connecticut will be up in arms. The nerve in the pocket is still sensitive, though the
nerve in the heart may be numb. You will not let their sugar come here to compete with
the cane sugar of Louisiana or the beet sugar of California or the Northwest, and in
determining that question you mean to think not of their interest but of yours. The good
government you are to give them is a government under which their great productive
and industrial interests, when peace comes, are to be totally and absolutely disregarded
by their government. You are not only proposing to do that, but you expect to put
another strain on the Constitution to accomplish it.
- Why, Mr. President, the atmosphere of both legislative chambers, even now, is filled
with measures proposing to govern and tax these people for our interest, and not for
theirs. Your men who are not alarmed at the danger to constitutional liberty are up in
arms when there is danger to tobacco. . . .
- Is there any man so bold as to utter in seriousness the assertion that where the
American flag has once been raised it shall never be hauled down? I have heard it said
that to haul down or to propose to haul down this national emblem where it has once
floated is poltroonery. Will any man say it was poltroonery when Paul Jones landed on
the northeast coast of England that he took his flag away with him when he departed?
Was Scott a poltroon, or was Polk a poltroon? Was Taylor a poltroon? Was the
United States a nation of poltroons when they retired from the City of Mexico or from
Vera Cruz without leaving the flag behind them? . . .
- Mr. President, this talk that the American flag is never to be removed where it has once
floated is the silliest and wildest rhetorical flourish ever uttered in the ears of an excited
populace. No baby ever said anything to another baby more foolish.
- Now, what are the facts as to the Philippine Islands and the American flag? We have
occupied a single city, part of one of four hundred islands, and with a population of
120,000 or thereabouts out of 10,000,000. The Spanish forces were invested and
hemmed in by the people of those islands, who had risen to assert their own freedom
when we got there. Now, what kind of Americanism, what kind of patriotism, what
kind of love of liberty is it to say that we are to turn our guns on that patriot people and
wrest from them the freedom that was almost within their grasp and hold these islands
for our own purposes in subjection and by right of conquest because the American flag
ought not to be hauled down where it has once floated, or, for the baser and viler
motive still, that we can make a few dollars a year out of their trade?
Source: Congressional Record, Senate, 56th Congress, 1st session, April 17, 1900, 4303–4305.