THE DEBATE OVER THE PHILIPPINES
QUESTION: Describe the debate, pro and con, in the following documents about the annexation of the Philippines. What arguments are offered between those who favor annexation and those opposed? Interpret the message in the visual (political cartoon) about the U.S. annexation of the Philippines.
Introduction of Paper: Identify document(s) that your writing assignment is about. Who is(are) the author(s), what is the topic of the document, what is the author(s) trying to convey, explain, etc. State the questions that you are going to address in this written assignment.
Body of your writing assignment.
Document 1:Emilio Aguinaldo, Case against the United States, 1899
Document 2:“Interview with President Mckinley:
When next I realized that the Philippines had dropped into our laps, I confess I did not know what to do with them. I sought counsel from all sides-Democrats as well as Republicans but got little help. I thought first we would take only Manila; then Luzon; then other islands, perhaps, also.
I walked the floor of the White House night after night until midnight; and I am not ashamed to tell you, gentlemen, that I went down on my knees and prayed to Almighty God for light and guidance more than one night. And one night late it came to me this way-I don’t know how it was, but it came:
(1) That we could not give them back to Spain-that would be cowardly and dishonorable;
(2) That we could not turn them over to France or Germany, our commercial rivals in the Orient that would be bad business and discreditable;
(3) That we could not leave them to themselves-they were unfit for self-government, and they would soon have anarchy and misrule worse than Spain’s was; and
(4) That there was nothing left for us to do but to take them all, and to educate the Filipinos, and uplift and civilize and Christianize them and by God’s grace do the very best we could by them, as our fellow-men for whom Christ also died.
And then I went to bed and went to sleep, and slept soundly, and the next morning I sent for the chief engineer of the War Department (our map-maker), and I told him to put the Philippines on the map of the United States (pointing to a large map on the wall of his office), and there they are and there they will stay while I am President!
Document 3: Senator George F. Hoar (R – Massachusetts) and Senator Orville H. Platt (R – Connecticut) Speeches in the U. S. Senate, January 9, 1899.
- S. Congressional Record 55th Congress, Third Session, p. 501. What pro – and con – arguments did the Senators present with regard to annexing the Philippines?
Senator Platt: …I believe that back of it all was the hand of Providence…. I believe the hand of Providence brought about the conditions which we must either accept or be recreant to duty. I believe that those conditions were a part of the great development of the great force of Christian civilization on earth. I believe the same force was behind … our ships in Manila Bay that was behind the landing of Pilgrims on Plymouth Rock. I believe that we have been chosen to carry forward this great work of uplifting humanity on earth. From the time of the landing on Plymouth Rock in the spirit of the Declaration of Independence, in the spirit of the Constitution, believing that all men are equal and endowed by their Creator with inalienable rights, believing that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, we have spread that civilization across the continent until it stood at the Pacific Ocean looking ever westward….
Senator Hoar: …You have not right at the cannon’s mouth to impose on an unwilling people your Declaration of Independence and your Constitution and your notions of freedom and notions of what is good…. The Senator [Platt] says, “Oh, we governed the Indians against their will when we first came here,” long before the Declaration of Independence. I do not think so. I am speaking of other people. Now the people of the Philippine Islands are clearly a nation — a people three and one-third times as numerous as our fathers were when they set up this nation. If gentlemen say that because we did what we did on finding a great many million square miles of forest and a few hundred of thousands of men roaming over it without any national life, without the germ of national life, without the capacity for self-government, without desiring self-government, was a violation of your principle, I answer if it was a violation of our principle it was wrong….
But read the account of what is going on in (the Philippines). The people there have got a government, with courts and judges better than those of the people of Cuba, who it was said, had a right to self-government … and it is proposed to turn your guns on them and say, “We think that our notion of government is better than the notion you have got yourselves.”
Document 4: Senator Alfred Beveridge (R-Indiana)
From a speech in Congress on January 9, 1900.
. . . [J]ust beyond the Philippines are China’s illimitable markets. . . We will not renounce our part in the mission of our race, trustee of God, of the civilization of the world. . . Where shall we turn for consumers of our surplus?. . . China is our natural customer. . . [England, Germany and Russia] have moved nearer to China by securing permanent bases on her borders. The Philippines gives us a base at the door of all the East. . . They [the Filipinos] are a barbarous race, modified by three centuries of contact with a decadent race [the Spanish]. . . It is barely possible that 1,000 men in all the archipelago are capable of self-government in the Anglo-Saxon sense. . . The Declaration [of Independence] applies only to people capable of self-government. How dare any man prostitute this expression of the very elect of self-government 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.
Congressional Record, 56th Congress, 1st session, 704-711. Full speech available at
Document 5:Colored Citizens of Boston
Resolved, That the colored people of Boston in meeting assembled desire to enter their solemn protest against the present unjustified invasion by American soldiers in the Philippines Islands.
Resolved, That, while the rights of colored citizens in the South, sacredly guaranteed them by the amendment of the Constitution, are shamefully disregarded; and, while frequent lynchings of Negroes who are denied a civilized trial are a reproach to Republican government, the duty of the President and country is to reform these crying domestic wrongs and not attempt the civilization of alien peoples by powder and shot.