03/21/07 - the phillipines

In today's excerpt - the U.S. debates whether to take over the Philippines as a colony. The U.S. had just freed the Philippines from Spain in the 1898 Spanish-American War, but immediately began to weigh the economic and military advantages of keeping it rather than granting it independence. The U.S. imperialists won the day, leading immediately to the Philippine-American War, which lasted until 1913. The Philippines did not gain full independence from the U.S. until 1946:

"[As the U.S. government's desire to keep the Philippines became manifest, leading citizens] assembled a meeting of protest at Faneuil Hall, and here on June 15, 1898, three days after Aguinaldo in the Philippines issued a declaration of independence, the Anti-Imperialist League was founded. ... Its stated purpose was not to oppose war as such, but to insist that having been undertaken as a war of liberation, it must not be turned into one for empire. The quest for power, money and glory abroad, the League maintained, would distract from ... the problems of municipal corruption, war between capital and labor, disordered currency, unjust taxation, the use of public office for spoils, [and] the rights of colored people in the South and of the Indians in the West.` ... Its forty-one vice-presidents soon included ex-President Cleveland ... President David Starr Jordan of Stanford ... Andrew Carnegie, William James ... Mark Twain ...

"The taste of empire, the rising blood of nationalism expressed in terms of wide-flung dominion, found in [U.S. Senator] Albert Beveridge its most thrilling trumpet. ... The war sent Beveridge into transports of excitement. 'We are a conquering race', he proclaimed in Boston in April ... 'We must obey our blood, and occupy new markets and if necessary new lands. ... In the Almighty's infinite plan ... debased civilizations and decaying races' were to disappear 'before the higher civilization of the nobler and more virile types of man.' ...

"Military operations in the Philippines swelled in size and savagery. Against the stubborn guerrilla warfare of the Filipinos, the U.S. Army poured in regiments, brigades, divisions, until as many as 75,000 ... were engaged in the islands at one time. Filipinos burned, ambushed, raided, mutilated; on occasion they buried prisoners alive. Americans retaliated with atrocities of their own, burning down a whole village and killing every inhabitant if an American soldier was found with his throat cut. ... The [U.S. Army] won all skirmishes against an enemy who constantly renewed himself."


Barbara W. Tuchman


The Proud Tower: A Portrait of the World Before the War 1890 - 1914


A Ballantine Book published by The Random House Publishing Group


Copyright 1962, 1963, 1965 by Barbara W. Tuchman


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