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 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.
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…” Continue reading