During the years between 1898 and 1900, there arose a movement, focused on waging war and bringing down the span of imperialism in the United States. This move was on the opinion that the United States should immediately vacate the land of the Philippines. This anti-imperialism Protestants comprised of individuals, groups, and a number of political leaders who each had their own reasons for taking such a stand. In contrast, there were those individuals who thought imperialism was great benefit to the United States, both the government and the individuals, more so the business men and women. As will be discussed some of the reasons for and against imperialism were characterized by several factors; economic motivations, ideological motivations and political ambitions.
According to the Oxford Dictionary, imperialism can be defined as the process where a nation works to expand its political boundaries in order to acquire more power and influence on other minor nations, or the globe, through use of its advanced military expeditions, that is waging war, or by diplomatic policies. The reign of James Polk, President of the U.S is what saw the birth of imperialism and its enforcement through the latter period of the 1800s.
Under economic motivations, there were different arguments that were in support of imperialism. First, the U.S. was strategically placed, and in control of states rich in resources, raw materials, such as coal, steel and oil. In addition there was ready market for the finished goods which was a boost to the economy of the nation. Furthermore, during the 1800s, industrialization was rapidly increasing and therefore due to increased competition, America’s businessmen had to seek for new markets for their products. We know that for any production process to occur, raw materials are a key concept. The price at which raw materials were obtained, dictated the price of the final finished goods and also the overall profitability of that firm. In the areas, where they had already set foot, such as in the U.S. they were assured that they would obtain raw materials at no cost thus boosting their economic growth.
Secondly, there was increasing demand for greater economic equity, due to the increase in labour unions and social demands as a result of regulations enforced by the federal government. Thirdly, as a result of new markets, for the businessmen, trade would be balanced by exports and imports flowing from and to the economy. Since U.S was industrialized, its produce was far much more than the natives would consume and hence to bring about a balance in the trade sector the excess had to be exported to other nations that were under their colonial rule.
In reference to Senator Albert, “God is preparing the English speaking and Teutonic people for 1000 years for a special purpose. This is neither in vain nor for idle self admiration. He has made us thoroughly proficient in administrative governance so that we govern these uncivilized and doddering peoples… He has declared American as His chosen country to ultimately redeem the world.” Albert argues that it is by the plan of God that the U.S will become the world super-power and be the ruler of the other nations in the world. This is in regard to Imperialism being motivated by political ambitions. To be able to qualify as a super power, America needed to have a well equipped and trained army to cover both the land and the naval bases which they had conquered. Being in Cuba, the U.S as a colonial power would use the place as a naval base thereby, offering an advantage to the military. Furthermore, from the colonized nations, U.S would secure a reign on a more civilized people.
Albert continued to argue that the Philippines opted rather to be under colonial rulers than be subjects to bloody rule courtesy of their national government. He stated that in the liberty rule, all governments derived their authority from the approval of the citizens, though this applied only to nations that were capable of forming their own government. An example of a state he gave that did not have the capacity to govern itself was India since it was not advanced and had not attained the civilization threshold. This simply means that they did not know their rights otherwise they would have objected in their favor.
The second factor that triggered the urge for imperialism was ideological reasons. First, the U.S had been commissioned by God and therefore had the mandate to spread Christianity to the rest of the world. Josiah Strong said, “The two greatest necessities for mankind which will allow them to reach Christianity’s highest civilization are civilian liberty and a perfect-spiritual Christianity foundation. In that regard, the Anglo Saxons were portrayed as the people who possessed these necessities. The U.S believed that they had an obligation to preach Christ’s Gospel to less developed countries that were not conversant with science and technology. To do this ‘Imperialism’ was the solution. In the process of spreading the gospel, the U.S found it well to dominate by colonization.
Philippines were familiarized to the Catholic religion. Christianity and democracy principles had to be made known to them a role destined to be for the then president of the U.S. McKinley. He was one of the U.S. determined political leader who was totally determined to convert Philippines to Christians. In his reaction, he states that when Philippines dropped onto their laps he confessed that he did not know what to do. He went on his knees and prayed to God for many nights appealing to Him to provide guidance and light in tackling the issues of the Philippines. It is through the prayers that he realized he could improve the lives of Philippines by educating and Christianizing them like the U.S. natives
Secondly, social Darwinism, sparkled the move for imperialism since, the assumption in this ideology is that whenever two parties are competing for the same thing, there will always be a progress made by both the winning and losing team as matters of superiority are concerned. This ideology further increased the influence on the United States that it had to take the mandate of spreading Industrialization to the rest of the world just like in the case of Christianity. Thirdly, Albert Beveridge, in his quest to answer for imperialism, states that America indeed had been commissioned by God to be the most powerful protector of Human rights, innovations and inventions, growth of the industrial sector and so forth. Albert refers to God who is the Sovereign creator having given the United States the privilege to govern other nations. This therefore made United States to be solemnly responsible for sharing principles, and teaching other nations how to be self-dependable.
The last category of factors that led to rise of imperialism in the United States is due political ambitions. First, America in its quest to gain control and overpower rising empires such as France, Russia, Japan and Britain amongst the civilized countries at that time, it had to employ imperialistic mechanisms. Secondly, it needed well enforced military both naval and army so as to guard her boundaries. Having exerted control over Cuba and Philippines, the U.S needed a strong army that would stand in to oppose any form of uprising. Thirdly, the United States wanted to control all ports around the Pacific Ocean so as to have open access to importation of raw materials, avoid being subjected to any authority, and protect the pacific islands by guarding the fuelling stations. Finally, America believed that it was an exceptional State that was destined to bring revolution to other nations and whose mission was influence on the law of freedom and Democracy.
However, there were anti-imperialism individuals who worked to see the end of the imperialism era. This was based on factors that they deemed fit for them. Firstly, there were the ideological reasons. In his article, Andrew Carnegie says that a country can choose to stay as a single homogenous country with united citizens or be a disjointed and racially distributed country. He argues that taking control of places like, the Philippines, would contribute to bringing in of other nationals who are not whites into the United States who might in turn multiply and revert against the United States. Andrew further argues that Imperialism goes against the beliefs of the Americans. He is totally against the rule of the country’s leaders abandoning their political endeavors and establishing foreign rule over citizens in other lands.
Andrew saw this as a way of promoting racism which was a violation to the constitution of the Americans. The Anti-Imperialists normally talked about their country’s constitution which accorded all the citizens in the different states in the U.S. the immunity and privileges. These included those born in the country, those who were citizens by naturalization or were within the jurisdiction of the country’s constitution. None of them was supposed to be treated unfairly on the basis of race or servitude conditions. The constitution did not give the United States citizens the right to hold slaves or set different classes of citizens.
According to Mark Twain, America was democratic and since it was founded under liberty, therefore snatching away the liberty of others, and denying them the freedom they deserve is going against their set virtues. In his view, Mark Twain states that it seems that there are two American countries, the first America is the one that frees the captives and the second America is the one that takes away the freedom of a person who was once a captive. He laments that through imperialism, the country was crushing and deceiving its natives, was turning against the less strong and those who did not have friends and trusted in the state. He adds that imperialism was stamping out a fair, just, highly intelligent and a very orderly republic. It had slapped a guest’s face and stabbed the back of an ally; it had robbed its trusting friends off their land and their; it had also called upon young civilized and clean men to do banditry works.
Based on economic reasons, the Anti-imperialists argued that imperialism was an expensive procedure and therefore there were lots of wasteful expenditure. Maintaining the army, paying them and providing social amenities to them were added expenditures. There were other costs such setting up of buildings and infrastructure in the areas that they opted to settle. Further, hidden and miscellaneous cost as those for holding and coordinating of international forums. The budget was in deficit of to invest in such campaigns. To cover this, the government had to raise the tax rates so as to increase government revenue which according to the 1898 Anti-Imperialists League is an in offence to the citizens. They regarded a true country of men who were free as one that relies on the principality of the equality of its citizens as stated in the laws of the country. The government of that country derived its powers granted to it by its citizens and that the issue of taxation had to have proper representation of the citizens during its implementation or execution. It is by abandoning such principles that the citizens of that country lose their rights as free citizens. In such a case the country is presumed to only exist by only is name but not on the privileges and rights that it accrues to its citizens.
Andrew questions whether the United States is to exchange its advancement and its growth internally towards the acquiring and conquering of external properties which it can never fully own in any greater sense than the British or French. This was a contentious question that he always had in mind. He stated that there were important facts that the people of America ought to have known in regarding to their country. They had made wise decisions and their flag flew high with the country having the biggest number of English speakers. Their country was the richest of all the countries of the world in terms of manufacturing, both home and foreign commerce, mining and in terms of exports. In addition, more important than anything else, was the ability of the country to give its citizens good services such as education and living conditions. Average living conditions of the country were the best. He concluded by noting that the luxury of people in other countries was a necessity in their own lives.
According the Theodore Roosevelt, imperialism does infringe negatively on peace and unity of the people. He says that if people sought peace, they would not find themselves in the tough battles and contests where men can only win by risking their lives and those of their loved ones. In that case, the strong and bold people will pass by. This was at a time the United States was facing issues like unemployment, poverty, depression in the agricultural sector and many more problems. These issues at hand needed to be addressed and solved instead of drifting funds to other nations that would never belong to the United States. He questioned whether America was to progress with the development of the continent upto a point where it could hold a population larger than that of Europe or it would abandon that and make attempts to control other far away countries of the world which could never be part of America.
In conclusion, imperialism brought both negative and positive results to the United States. Some of the negative effects are; misuse of funds, created more enemies to the United States than allies and thereby endangering the lives of the natives, has led to increased pollution activities, those in the colonized countries were left with feelings of hatred for the U.S, the Americans pay such using their own money and blood, cases of terrorism emanated from such. However there are a number of fringe benefits that, the United States ripped from imperialism. Firstly, there was a steady economic steady growth in the nation as a result of improved production from firms which used the raw materials gotten from the colonized countries. Secondly, there was growth in infrastructure. For example the Panama canal. Thirdly, America obtained the position of being a natural super power nation therefore citizens felt their country was superior to other nations. Fourthly, business activities increased in the region as result of improved infrastructure and communication facilities as well as improved transport.