Debating the Annexation of the Philippines
Historians use different analytical methods to make sense of the past. Some focus on social and economic issues, such as class conflict or who profits from a particular policy choice. Other historians focus more on culture to understand how ideas, values, and beliefs have shaped the actions of historical figures. For this assignment, we will examine how different analytical methods result in contrasting explanations for why the United States annexed and retained the Philippines following the defeat of Spain in 1898.
For this exercise you have two tasks:
Part 1: Compare the two secondary sources on why the United States annexed the Philippines.
Part 2: Using primary sources, evaluate the arguments of the two secondary sources.
Part 1: Comparing Secondary Sources
Two secondary sources from different analytical perspectives are included below. In Standing at Armageddon: The United States, 1877–1919, Nell Irvin Painter of Princeton University weaves together economic and foreign-policy concerns with the lives of ordinary Americans to explain the annexation of the Philippines. Kristin L. Hoganson of the University of Illinois, a gender historian, explores the question of why the United States annexed the Philippines in Fighting for American Manhood: How Gender Politics Provoked the Spanish-American and Philippine-American Wars. While both works contain elements of economic and cultural history, each historian emphasizes a particular analytical methodology.
Compare the views of these two scholars by answering the following questions. Be sure to find specific examples in the selections to support your answers.
- According to each author, what problems in society did supporters of annexation think American control of the Philippines would solve?
- Which author focuses on economic explanations, and which author focuses on cultural explanations, to explain imperialist support for annexation?
- Do you think the authors’ arguments are contradictory or complementary? In other words, can they both be correct?
Secondary Source 1
Nell Irvin Painter, “The White Man’s Burden” (1989)
The foreign markets explanation sought the cause of depressions not in currency, distribution of wealth, or monopoly. The culprit, it seemed, was agricultural and industrial overproduction. Americans produced too much, it was said; it seemed to matter little that during the recent hard times thousands had run out of the very foodstuffs and manufactured goods reputedly overproduced. What was needed were new markets, especially in Asia, especially in the most populous country in the world, China. . . . While foreign markets had beckoned American businessmen for decades, this more urgent quest included the novel expectation that the government of the United States should play an active part in fostering exports. The Philippine Islands—like Hawaii—represented the perfect stepping-stones to China, stops along the way where coal burning ships bound for Asia could refuel. Expansionists saw the islands as the opportunity of the century. Manila might become an American version of Hong Kong, the British market city that tapped the markets and produce of South China. . . . For many Americans, expansion was the inevitable result of the machine age that had already filled up the continental United States and now seemed to demand the raw materials and foreign markets that overseas colonies promised. The vision of factories fuming nonstop and workers employed without interruption made this economic argument for annexation straightforward and persuasive.
Source: Painter, Nell Irvin. Standing at Armageddon: The United States, 1877–1919. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1989. 146–147.
Secondary Source 2
Kristin L. Hoganson, “The National Manhood Metaphor” (1998)
Whether they imagined the Filipinos as savages, children, or feminine figures, imperialists regarded them as a means for American men to develop their ability to govern. One adherent of imperialism summed up this belief when he averred that “the necessities involved in the unexpected annexation of strange dependencies will call forth the governing faculty.” The savage, childlike, and feminine stereotypes appealed to imperialists because they not only suggested the Filipinos’ incapacity for self-government, but also enabled imperialists to cast themselves as civilizers and authoritative heads of household—that is, as men who wielded power. Heedful of British imperialists’ claims that empire made men and interpreting colonial endeavors as unparalleled challenges, imperialists looked to the Philippines to turn white, middle- and upper-class American men into what they considered to be ideal citizens—physically powerful men who would govern unmanly subordinates with a firm hand, men accustomed to wielding authority, men who had overcome the threat of degeneracy. . . . In response to the accusations that their Philippine policies violated the nation’s deepest convictions, imperialists brandished a national manhood metaphor. The youthful republic had become an adult, they declared, and should assume the responsibilities of a mature man. Rather than dwelling on its childish past, the nation should manfully shoulder its new obligations. . . . . Imperialists implied that failing to assume responsibility for dependents would reveal an unwillingness to advance from childlike dependency to paternalistic power. In short, it would reveal a lack of manhood in the nation.
Source: Hoganson, Kristin L. Fighting for American Manhood: How Gender Politics Provoked the Spanish-American and Philippine- American Wars. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998. 155, 157.
Part 2: Using Primary Sources to Evaluate Secondary Sources
When historians are faced with competing interpretations of the past, they often look at primary source material to help evaluate the different arguments. Four speeches follow, each by an American politician who supported U.S. annexation and rule over the Philippines. The first is from President William McKinley’s State of the Union speech following U.S. annexation of the Philippines and the start of the Philippine-American War. The second is from Henry Cabot Lodge, a Republican senator from Massachusetts who was a leading supporter of American imperialism. The third speech is from Albert Beveridge, senator from Indiana, who supported Lodge’s imperialist policies. And the last speech, from Vice President Theodore Roosevelt, was delivered twelve days prior to assuming the presidency following McKinley’s death. While these four politicians offer very different justifications for American annexation and rule over the Philippines, they were all prominent advocates of American imperialism. Your task is to understand their arguments and see how they might be used to support the analysis of the two historians.
Carefully read the primary sources and answer the following questions. Decide which of the primary source documents support or refute Painter’s and Hoganson’s argument about the annexation of the Philippines. You may find that some documents do both but for different parts of each historian’s interpretation. Be sure to identify which specific components of each historian’s argument the documents support or refute.
- What arguments for U.S. retention of the Philippines does each senator offer?
- Which of these sources would either Painter or Hoganson (or both) find most useful, and how might they use them to support their argument?
- What might be the limitations on the usefulness of the sources for supporting their arguments?
- After looking at the primary sources about annexation, which historian’s argument do you find more compelling, and why do you find it so? If you find both arguments equally compelling, how could you combine the arguments?
Primary Source 1
William McKinley, “Annual Message of the President to Congress” (December 5, 1899)
The future government of the Philippines rests with the Congress of the United States. Few graver responsibilities have ever been confided to us. If we accept them in a spirit worthy of our race and our traditions, a great opportunity comes with them. The islands lie under the shelter of our flag. They are ours by every title of law and equity. They cannot be abandoned. If we desert them we leave them at once to anarchy and finally to barbarism. We fling them, a golden apple of discord, among the rival powers, no one of which could permit another to seize them unquestioned…. The suggestion has been made that we could renounce our authority over the islands and, giving them independence, could retain a protectorate over them. This proposition will not be found, I am sure, worthy of your serious attention. Such an arrangement would involve at the outset a cruel breach of faith. . . .
No effort will be spared to build up the waste places desolated by war and by long years of misgovernment. We shall not wait for the end of strife to begin the beneficent work. We shall continue, as we have begun, to open the schools and the churches, to set the courts in operation, to foster industry and trade and agriculture, and in every way in our power to make these people whom Providence has brought within our jurisdiction feel that it is their liberty and not our power, their welfare and not our gain, we are seeking to enhance. Our flag has never waved over any community but in blessing. I believe the Filipinos will soon recognize the fact that it has not lost its gift of benediction in its world-wide journey to their shores.
Source: McKinley, William. “Message of the President.” Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States with Annual Message of the President to Congress, Transmitted to Congress, December 5, 1899. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1901. L–LII.
Primary Source 2
Henry Cabot Lodge, “The Retention of the Philippine Islands,” Speech in the U.S. Senate (March 7, 1900)
I believe, we shall find arguments in favor of the retention of the Philippines as possessions of great value and a source of great profit to the people of the United States which cannot be overthrown. First, as to the islands themselves. They are over a hundred thousand square miles in extent, and are of the greatest richness and fertility. From these islands comes now the best hemp in the world, and there is no tropical product which cannot be raised there in abundance. Their forests are untouched, of great extent, and with a variety of hard woods of almost unexampled value. . . . It is sufficient for me to indicate these few elements of natural wealth in the islands which only await development. . . . A much more important point is to be found in the markets which they furnish. The total value of exports and imports for 1896 amounted in round numbers to $29,000,000, and this was below the average. . . .
The Philippine Islands took from us imports to the value of only $94,000. There can be no doubt that the islands in our peaceful possession would take from us a very large proportion of their imports. Even as the islands are to-day there is opportunity for a large absorption of products of the United States, but it must not be forgotten that the islands are entirely undeveloped. The people consume foreign imports at the rate of only a trifle more than $1 per capita. With the development of the islands and the increase of commerce and of business activity the consumption of foreign imports would rapidly advance, and of this increase we should reap the chief benefit. We shall also find great profit in the work of developing the islands. . . .
Manila, with its magnificent bay, is the prize and the pearl of the East. In our hands it will become one of the greatest distributing points, one of the richest emporiums of the world’s commerce. Rich in itself, with all its fertile islands behind it, it will keep open to us the markets of China and enable American enterprise and intelligence to take a master share in all the trade of the Orient!
Source: Lodge, Henry Cabot. The Retention of the Philippine Islands, Speech of Hon. Henry Cabot Lodge of Massachusetts, in the Senate of the United States, March 7, 1900. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1900. 37, 41.
Primary Source 3
Albert Beveridge, “Our Philippine Policy,” Speech in the U.S. Senate (January 9, 1900)
But, Senators, it would be better to abandon the Philippines, and count our blood and treasure already spent a profitable loss, than to apply any academic arrangement of self-government to these children [the Filipino people]. They are not yet capable of self-government. How could they be? They are not a self-governing race; they are Orientals, Malays, instructed by Spaniards in the latter’s worst estate. They know nothing of practical government, except as they have witnessed the weak, corrupt, cruel, and capricious rule of Spain. What magic will anyone employ to dissolve in their minds and characters those impressions of governors and governed which three centuries of misrule has created? What alchemy will change the oriental quality of their blood, in a year, and set the self-governing currents of the American pouring through their Malay veins? How shall they, in a decade, be exalted to the heights of self-governing peoples which required a thousand years for us to reach? . . .
Self-government is no cheap boon, to be bestowed on the merely audacious. It is the degree which crowns the graduate of liberty, not the reward of liberty’s infant class, which has not yet mastered the alphabet of freedom. Savage blood, oriental blood, Malay blood, Spanish example—in these do we find the elements of self-government? . . .
The men we send to administer civilized government in the Philippines must be themselves the highest examples of our civilization. I use the word examples, for examples they must be in that word’s most absolute sense. They must be men of the world and of affairs, students of their fellow-men, not theorists nor dreamers. They must be brave men, physically as well as morally. They must be men whom no force can frighten, no influence coerce, no money buy. Such men come high, even here in America. But they must be had. . . . Necessity will produce them. . . . Better abandon this priceless possession, admit ourselves incompetent to do our part in the world-redeeming work of our imperial race; better now haul down the flag than to apply academic notions of self-government to these children or attempt their government by any but the most perfect administrators our country can produce. I assert that such administrators can be found.
Source: Beveridge, Albert J. “Our Philippine Policy.” In The Meaning of the Times and Other Speeches. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1908. 71–76.
Primary Source 4
Theodore Roosevelt, “National Duties,” Speech at Minnesota State Fair (September 2, 1901)
Let me insist again, for fear of possible misconstruction, upon the fact that our duty is twofold, and that we must raise others while we are benefiting ourselves. In bringing order to the Philippines, our soldiers added a new page to the honor-roll of American history, and they incalculably benefited the islanders themselves. Under the wise administration of Governor Taft the islands now enjoy a peace and liberty of which they have hitherto never even dreamed. But this peace and liberty under the law must be supplemented by material, by industrial development. Every encouragement should be given to their commercial development, to the introduction of American industries and products; not merely because this will be a good thing for our people, but infinitely more because it will be of incalculable benefit to the people in the Philippines. We shall make mistakes; and if we let these mistakes frighten us from our work we shall show ourselves weaklings. . . . We gird up our loins as a nation, with the stern purpose to play our part manfully in winning the ultimate triumph; and therefore we turn scornfully aside from the paths of mere ease and idleness and with unfaltering steps tread the rough road of endeavor.
Source: Roosevelt, Theodore. “National Duties.” In The Strenuous Life: Essays and Addresses. New York: Century Company, 1902. 295–297.
Essays should be 4 pages in length, not including the works cited page. Your essay should be double spaced, with one inch margins and 12-point font (Times New Roman). Put your name, class, and the date in the upper left hand corner of the paper. As this is a formal paper, use formal language. (i.e. avoid the use of first person, contractions, etc.)Carefully read the instructions below.
Expert Answer and Explanation
Debating the Annexation of the Philippines
Part 1: Comparing the Secondary sources
According to Painter, the supporters of annexation had anticipated that the United Stated government could have made it possible the fostering exports since there was enormous production of both agricultural and industrial goods (pg. 147). It had seemed to the other states that they had run out of foodstuffs and thus America had had plenty of it and the need to export to the Philippines islands. This same point had paved the way to get into China. This led to many expansionists viewing the island as already taken by the Americans due to the unavoidable capability of the machine age that was readily used in the united states. This mechanization was greater and even demanded raw materials and foreign markets which could be readily offered by the overseas colonies. This view of many factories ‘ success in accommodating numberless labor force without stopping made the annexation argument sure and very persuasive.
According to Hoganson, those who supported annexation had expected that the Americans could use the Filipinos in their weaker state to develop the ability to govern. This belief was even made stronger when the thought of the needs in the less expected annexation of strange dependencies to bring forth the governing faculty. The low state stereotypes appealed to the colonialists because they echoed the Filipino’s incapacity for self-government and also enabled the imperialist’s government to make themselves civilizers and authoritative heads of the households.
From the illustration, Painter has focused more on economic explanation as he emphasizes the development of the United States in both the industrial and agricultural sectors (pgs. 146–147). He further elaborates on the enormous absorption of the masses into the American factories, nonstop for production, and also the plentiful production of the foodstuffs which find their way in the outside country, for export and wide market for the great production. On the other hand, Hoganson has written the article shedding more light on cultural explanations to give evidence of the imperialist support for annexation. The writer explains that the Filipinos, though lowly in the state, were used by the American men to develop the to ability in governing. This involved the unexpected annexation of strange dependencies which called forth for a government faculty.
In my thoughts, the authors’ complementary. This is because the first author has his grounds on the economic factors to support the annexation of the Philipines, the second author has his points on the cultural inclination, majoring on the low state of the Philippines. This translates to the result of independence in development either in agricultural or economic means and thus the Unites States gets a chance and chips to provide the economic dependency, through the supply of material food and other economical goods for the development of the economy. Hence, because of the low state in the cultural standpoint, the Philipines were invaded also in the economic sector, hence the authors are complimentary.
Part 2: Using Primary Sources to Evaluate Secondary Sources
McKinley argues that the land in which dwells the Philippines belongs to the US government and that they cannot abandon it. He further argues that if they let the island free, they will leave it to a state of lawlessness and barbarism, and thus they will not grant them an opportunity to have their independence. The speaker further argues that they will rebuild the desolate places and open up many social amenities and that the Filipinos should recognize the fact that it is a blessed land in the worldwide journey of their shores.
Lodge, believes to find it necessary to take the island to be part of American because of its great economic splendors. The speaker expresses the great value of the land and the great profit which the United States gets from it and hence becomes very difficult to let go of the Philipines lest they make tremendous losses. The speaker foresees the potential importers as they form the greater part of the importers of the products from the United States through the island is entirely undeveloped. The further echoes on the Manila, magnificent bay which is determined as the price and the pearl of the east.
On the contrary, Beveridge critics the Filipinos as incapable of having self-government. He urges the senate to abandon them and count their blood and the treasure which has already been spent as a profitable loss rather than continuing to apply the academic arrangement of self-governance on them. The speaker further categorizes them on the cultural grounds of minority vices.
Lastly, Roosevelt makes a speech after the freedom has been accorded to the Philippines and to have their land (pg. 296). He clarifies the issue that they are not twofold. In their effort to bring order to the Philippines, they never intended any return. He denotes that they, the United States wish them well in their endeavors and that they should not only have peace but also focus on industrial and commercial development amidst proper leadership.
From the sources above Hoganson could find Beveridge’s sources very useful as it is more inclined on the cultural aspect. In his article, Hoganson had inclined much on imperialism which Albert is trying to demonstrate by use of the state vices of the Philipines. Both the author and the speaker are remorseful of the Philippines having self-governance, hence they condemn the same and display the Filipinos as inferior.
On the other hand, Painter could have well agreed with Lodge. This is because they stand on the same ground of economic annexation. Nell focuses on the industrial development of the United States and hence too much absorption of people into the industry. The same thing is spoken of by Lodge when he weighs the amount of profit they will lose if they let Philipines free and hence become self-independent.
The limitation on the usefulness of the sources when purporting their argument is a biased state of mind of the speakers. Some arguments may be factual while many may seem to be opinions of the speakers without the facts supporting them.
The most compelling historian is Painter. This is because he highlights the economic factors that led to the annexation. His factors are even more supported by the speaker, and the illustration of the states wanting the island because of its vast blessed splendors is sure. He illustrates that The United States is well industrialized and that the products are finding their way into the world market, which happens to be Philipines. On the other side, the Philippines is rich with consumers which makes it a hotcake for American consumer exports. The author explains how the United States invades it and takes governance of the highland, through their low state power. Many speakers also concur with him, concerning the vast economic importance and also on its weaknesses which makes it be at war with the States (Painter 146–147).
Beveridge, Albert Jeremiah. The Meaning of the Times: And Other Speeches. Indianapolis, The Bobbs-Merrill Company , 1908.
Hoganson, Kristin L. Fighting for American Manhood: How Gender Politics Provoked the Spanish-American and Philippine- American Wars. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998.
Lodge, Henry Cabot. The Retention of the Philippine Islands: Speech of Hon. Henry Cabot Lodge, of Massachusetts, in the Senate of the United States, March 7, 1900. US Government Printing Office, 1900.
McKinley, William. “Message of the President.” Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States with Annual Message of the President to Congress, Transmitted to Congress, December 5, 1899. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1901. L–LII.
Painter, Nell Irvin. Standing at Armageddon: The United States, 1877–1919. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1989. 146–147.
Roosevelt, Theodore. “National Duties.” In The Strenuous Life: Essays and Addresses. New York: Century Company, 1902. 295–297.
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