This Week in History

The U.S. Wins the Philippines:

December 10, 1898

This text comes from our book, Lands of Hope and Promise: A History of North America (now available in hard cover)For ordering information on Lands of Hope and Promise and our other texts, please click here.

The Battle of Manila Bay

The Spanish-American War had made Dewey, the Rough Riders, and Theodore Roosevelt national heroes. It also assured for Roosevelt the governorship of New York and the Republican vice-presidential nomination in 1900. More importantly, the war had made the United States an imperial power. In July 1898, the United States Senate approved the treaty annexing Hawai’i, and the course of the war had brought into America’s possession the former Spanish Pacific island of Guam. The annexation of the Philippines that was being discussed at the negotiations in Paris was more controversial. It brought into focus the ques­tion of whether the United States should become a colonial power.

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Emilio Aguinaldo

It seemed to many Americans that the Philippines would be granted independence, just like Cuba. Indeed, Dewey had welcomed back exiled Filipino insurgent Emilio Aguinaldo, who, with other rebel leaders, had begun organizing a republic. But other Americans argued that if the U.S. did not annex the Philippines, Germany would; before the war, Kaiser Wilhelm II had offered to buy the islands from Spain. Others argued that the United States needed a base of operations in the Far East, while still others claimed that the United States economy required colonial expansion and new markets for American manufacturers. Among these was Henry Demarest Lloyd, a prominent journalist who had exposed the monopolistic tactics of Standard Oil and other trusts and defended the Haymarket anar­chists. “American production has outrun American consumption,” wrote Lloyd, “and we must seek new markets for the surplus abroad.” Lloyd thought the subjugation of peoples like the Filipinos necessary for world progress. “It will be a great prelude to the fraternalization of the races,” he wrote, “to have all the inferior nations under the protectorate of the greater ones.” And though he thought such subjugations would bring with them “terrible abuses and faithlessness . . . it was an idle dream that we could progress from perfection to perfection while the Chinese ossified, and the Cubans and the Philippine people were disemboweled, and the Africans contin­ued to eat each other…” (more…)

This Week in History

The Council of Trent Concludes: December 4, 1563

The following is an excerpt from our text, Light to the Nations I: The History of Christian Civilization. For information on ordering this or our other texts, please go here.

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Pope Paul III

Laetare Jerusalem—“Rejoice, O Jerusalem”—was the title of Pope Paul III’s bull that called for the convoking of an ecumenical council at Trent in northern Italy on March 15, 1545. The coun­cil had been a long time in coming, and many had awaited it eagerly. Talk of an ecumenical council to correct abuses in the Church and address the Protestant challenge had been ongoing since 1529. But it had faced many obstacles. Controversy had erupted, for instance, over where to hold the council. The Lutheran princes in Germany demanded that it be held on German soil, while Pope Clement VII was in favor of an Italian venue. The pope demanded that, in order to attend the council, the Protestants had to acknowledge the teaching authority of the Church. This they refused to do.

Another problem was His Most Christian Majesty, Francis I, king of France, who kept interfering with the council preparations. He used the excuse of his war with Emperor Charles V to forbid the French bishops to attend the first scheduled meeting of the council (at Mantua, in Italy) in 1536. For this and other reasons, the meeting of the council was delayed to May 1538, then to Easter 1539, then to All Saints Day 1542. On this last date, the council fathers were to meet at Trent; but the meeting was not held. The Protestants voiced their violent opposition to the council—and their ally, Francis I, would not allow the bull convoking the council to be published in France. (more…)