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FOCUS QUESTION 1:
What factors motivated America’s new imperialism after the Civil War?
Is it possible for a nation to use economic and brutal military force to impose its system on others, and remain a republic? According to a majority of Americans at the turn of the twentieth century, the answer was yes. Building on attitudes encapsulated by the concept of Manifest Destiny, America set about expanding its reach into far away places. There were several motivations for America’s empire-building actions in the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.
The documents and images associated with this Primary Source Exercise are designed to expose the student to the debates that erupted over the conquest of the Philippines and America’s involvement in Latin America, specifically Puerto Rico and Cuba.
Document 1, a campaign speech by a man named Albert Beveridge who became a United States senator from Indiana, captures the spirit and beliefs held by the majority of Americans in 1898. After all, he won his election, and the United States did indeed go on to become a domineering force in the Philippines and Latin America. Chapter 19 of the textbook explains concisely the motivating factors behind America’s imperial ambitions. Notice how this speech provides evidence for each one of those factors.
Document 2 is very important for students to read and think about, for it represents an opposing view. Not all Americans felt the same way about the building of an empire. The American Anti-Imperialist League included some famous and prominent individuals, and they did carry some weight in the public eye, but nevertheless, their argument did NOT win the day. Pay attention to what they use to support their position with regard to empire building. Both Beveridge and the anti-imperialists believed they represented what was most true about American culture and traditions. How is that possible?
1. Read Chapter 20 of the textbook, with special attention to pages 819-837.
2. Read Document 1, a campaign speech delivered on September 16, 1898 by Albert Beveridge, who became a United States senator from Indiana. As you read, ask yourself, what is his main point? What evidence or logic does he use to support his main point? And who is his target audience?
3. Read Document 2, the platform of an organization called the American Anti-Imperialist League. This organization was founded in 1899 in response to America’s imperial actions in the Pacific, as well as in the Caribbean, in Cuba, and Puerto Rico. As you read, summarize the League’s main argument and notice what evidence and logic they use to support their position with respect to America’s international actions.
4. Answer the Focus Question.
ALBERT J. BEVERIDGE, “MARCH OF THE FLAG” (16 September 1898)
 Fellow-citizens, It is a noble land that God has given us; a land that can feed and clothe the world; a land whose coast lines would inclose half the countries of Europe; a land set like a sentinel between the two imperial oceans of the globe; a greater England with a nobler destiny. It is a mighty people that He has planted on this soil; a people sprung from the most masterful blood of history; a people perpetually revitalized by the virile working folk of all the earth; a people imperial by virtue of their power, by right of their institutions, by authority of their heaven-directed purposes, the propagandists and not the misers of liberty. It is a glorious history our God has bestowed upon His chosen people; a history whose keynote was struck by Liberty Bell; a history heroic with faith in our mission and our future; a history of statesmen, who flung the boundaries of the Republic out into unexplored lands and savage wildernesses; a history of soldiers, who carried the flag across blazing deserts and through the ranks of hostile mountains, even to the gates of sunset; a history of a multiplying people, who overrun a continent in half a century; a history divinely logical, in the process of whose tremendous reasoning we find ourselves to-day.
 Therefore, in this campaign the question is larger than a party question. It is an American question. It is a world question. Shall the American people continue their resistless march toward the commercial supremacy of the world? Shall free institutions broaden their blessed reign as the children of liberty wax in strength until the empire of our principles is established over the hearts of all mankind? Have we no mission to perform, no duty to discharge to our fellow-man? Has the Almighty Father endowed us with gifts beyond our deserts, and marked us as the people of His peculiar favor, merely to rot in our own selfishness, as men and nations must who take cowardice for their companion and self for their Deity, as China has, as India has, as Egypt has? Shall we be as the man who had one talent and hid it, or as he who had ten talents and used them until they grew to riches? And shall we reap the reward that waits on the discharge of our high duty as the sovereign power of earth; shall we occupy new markets for what our farmers raise, new markets for what our factories make, new markets for what our merchants sell-aye, and, please God, new markets for what our ships shall carry? Shall we avail ourselves of new sources of supply of what we do not raise or make, so that what are luxuries to-day will be necessities to-morrow? Shall we conduct the mightiest commerce of history with the best money known to man, or shall we use the pauper money of Mexico, China and the Chicago platform? Shall we be worthy of our might past of progress, brushing aside, as we have always done, the spider webs of technicality, and march ever onward upon the highway of development, to the doing of real deeds, the achievement of real things, and the winning of real victories?
THE LEADING QUESTION.
 In a sentence, shall the American people indorse at the polls the American administration of William McKinley, which, under the guidance of Divine Providence, has started the Republic on its noblest career of prosperity, duty and glory; or shall the American people rebuke that administration, reverse the wheels of history, halt the career of the flag and turn to that purposeless horde of criticism and carping that is assailing the government at Washington. Shall it be McKinley, sound money and a world-conquering commerce, or Bryan, Bailey, Bland and Blackburn, a bastard currency and a policy of commercial retreat? In the only foreign war this Nation has had in two generations, will you, the voters of this Republic and the guardians of its good repute, give the other nations of the world to understand that the American people do not approve and indorse the administration that conducted it? These are the questions you must answer at the polls, and I well know how you will answer them. The thunder of American guns at Santiago and Manila will find its answer in the approval of the voters of the Republic. For the administration of William McKinley, in both peace and war, will receive the mightiest indorsement of a grateful people ever registered. In both peace and war, for we rely on the new birth of national prosperity as well as on the new birth of national glory. Think of both! Think of our country two years ago and think of it to-day!
 Two years and more ago American labor begged for work; to-day employment calls for mine, factory and field. Two years and more ago money fled from the fingers of enterprise; to-day money is as abundant as demand and interest is at the lowest point in all the history of trade. Two years and more ago bonds were sold to syndicates in sudden emergencies to save the Nation’s credit; in 1898, bonds were sold to the people in the emergency of war, to rescue the oppressed and redeem benighted lands. In 1896, we exported gold in obedience to the natural laws of finance; in 1898, we export bayonets in obedience to the natural law of liberty. In 1894, the American people fought each other in strikes and insurrections because of misunderstandings born of the desperation of the times; in 1898, united and resistless, capitalists and workingman, side by side, entrench and charge, the American people fought the last great pirate of the world, in a war holy as righteousness. Two years and more ago, error-blinded and hatred-maddened men sought to create classes among the people, declared the decadence of American manhood and proclaimed the beginning of the end of the Republic; to-day proves that patriots are the only class this country knows, that American manhood is as virile under Santiago’s sun as it was among the snows of Valley Forge, despite its slanderers, and that the real career of history’s greatest Republic has only just begun.
 A moment ago I said that the administration of William McKinley had been guided by a providence divine. That was no sacrilegious sentence. The signature of events proves it. This man of destiny has amazed the world. He was nominated as the apostle of protection; in two months he was the standard bearer of the nation’s honor. He was elected as the representative of the conservative force of the Republic; in two years he filled the world with the thunder of the Republic’s guns and the heavens with the unfurled flag of liberty. This man, whom the world regarded as a single-issue statesman, as a tariff-schedule expert, gave to his countrymen the ablest argument in finance since Hamilton; rebuked the silver pirates of the Senate with utterance rich with the eloquence of truth; caught up the tangled lines of a diplomatic situation, vexed with infinite complication and inherited blunders; gave mankind a noble example of patient tact; taught the nations their first lesson in the diplomacy of honest speech; refused to be stampeded into conflict until the thunderbolts of war were forged; launched them at last when time had sanctified our cause before the bar of history, and preparation had made them irresistible; and now, in the hour of victory, clear-eyed and unelate, marks out the lines of our foreign policy as the soon-to-be supreme power of the world, and gives to the flag its rightful dominion over the islands of the sea. From protection to foreign war! From the insular and isolated to the world-embracing and universal! From the temporary and incidental to the essential, the permanent and the eternal! Who dare say God’s hand has not guided him? Who will fail to say amen with his vote to the administration and career of the last American President of the nineteenth century-McKinley, the master statesman of his day!
Textual Authentication Information
Accessed the speech at this site, an educational one Voices of Democracy Oratory Project at University of Maryland.
Platform of the American Anti-Imperialist League
(October 18, 1899).
We hold that the policy known as imperialism is hostile to liberty and tends toward militarism, an evil from which it has been our glory to be free. We regret that it has become necessary in the land of Washington and Lincoln to reaffirm that all men, of whatever race or color, are entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We maintain that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. We insist that the subjugation of any people is “criminal aggression” and open disloyalty to the distinctive principles of our government.
We earnestly condemn the policy of the present national administration in the Philippines. It seeks to extinguish the spirit of 1776 in those islands. We deplore the sacrifice of our soldiers and sailors, whose bravery deserves admiration even in an unjust war. We denounce the slaughter of the Filipinos as a needless horror. We protest against the extension of American sovereignty by Spanish methods.
We demand the immediate cessation of the war against liberty, begun by Spain and continued by us. We urge that Congress be promptly convened to announce to the Filipinos our purpose to concede to them the independence for which they have so long fought and which of right is theirs.
The United States have always protested against the doctrine of international law which permits the subjugation of the weak by the strong. A self-governing state cannot accept sovereignty over an unwilling people. The United States cannot act upon the ancient heresy that might makes right.
Imperialists assume that with the destruction of self-government in the Philippines by American hands, all opposition here will cease. This is a grievous error. Much as we abhor the war of “criminal aggression” in the Philippines, greatly as we regret that the blood of the Filipinos is on American hands, we more deeply resent the betrayal of American institutions at home. The real firing line is not in the suburbs of Manila. The foe is of our own household. The attempt of 1861 was to divide the country. That of 1899 is to destroy its fundamental principles and noblest ideals.
Whether the ruthless slaughter of the Filipinos shall end next month or next year is but an incident in a contest that must go on until the declaration of independence and the constitution of the United States are rescued from the hands of their betrayers. Those who dispute about standards of value while the foundation of the republic is undermined will be listened to as little as those who would wrangle about the small economies of the household while the house is on fire. The training of a great people for a century, the aspiration for liberty of a vast immigration are forces that will hurl aside those who in the delirium of conquest seek to destroy the character of our institutions.
We deny that the obligation of all citizens to support their government in times of grave national peril applies to the present situation. If an administration may with impunity ignore the issues upon which it was chosen, deliberately create a condition of war anywhere on the face of the globe, debauch the civil service for spoils to promote the adventure, organize a truth-suppressing censorship, and demand of all citizens a suspension of judgement and their unanimous support while it chooses to continue the fighting, representative government itself is imperiled.
We propose to contribute to the defeat of any person or party that stands for the forcible subjugation of any people. We shall oppose for re-election all who in the white house or in congress betray American liberty in pursuit of un-American ends. We still hope that both of our great political parties will support and defend the declaration of independence in the closing campaign of the century.
We hold with Abraham Lincoln, that “no man is good enough to govern another man without that other’s consent. When the white man governs himself, that is self-government, but when he governs himself and also governs another man, that is more than self-government–that is despotism.” “Our reliance is in the love of liberty which God has planted in us. Our defense is in the spirit which prizes liberty as the heritage of all men in all lands. Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves, and under a just God cannot long retain it.”
We cordially invite the co-operation of all men and women who remain loyal to the declaration of independence and the constitution of the United States.
-Resources from America A Narrative History V2
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