15th October 2019
In 1899, there was a big event that caused a non-stopped controversial in American society. It was the Philippines annexation. Despite many objections, some explanations advocated for the annexation. From the standpoint of annexation supporters, two historians, Nell Irvin Painter and Kristin L. Hoganson, showed a different insight into the American society at that time. By their arguments, economic, political and cultural explanations were listed as main reasons which made the United States annex and retain the Philippines following the defeat of Spain in 1898.
According to Painter, supporters of the Philippines annexation thought that if America annexes the Philippines, then the American society would solve the economic problem. He pointed out that the problems in the society such as the cause of depressions not in currency, distribution of wealth, or monopoly (Painter). And the root cause was agricultural and industrial overproduction (Painter). By annexation, American businessmen will have new markets, especially in Asia, especially in the most populous country in the world, China.
And this annexation will be the perfect stepping-stones to China (Painter). Economic explanations are the biggest motivation for merging the Philippines into the U.S. Painter emphasized: “economic argument for annexation straightforward and persuasive” (Painter). In another point of view, according to Hoganson, supporters of the Philippines annexation believed that if America annexes the Philippines, then the American society would have political and cultural benefits. He described “imperialists regarded them as a means for American men to develop their ability to govern and the Filipinos’ incapacity for self-government, but also enabled imperialists to cast themselves as civilizers and authoritative heads of householdthat is, as men who wielded power (Hoganson).
He advocated that imperialists looked to the Philippines to turn white, middle- and upper-class American men into what they considered to be ideal citizens” (Hoganson). He emphasized the belief of imperialists that The youthful republic had become an adult and should assume the responsibilities of a mature man” (Hoganson) to bring civilization to the Philippines. To explain imperialist support for annexation, while Painter focused on economic explanations, Hoganson focused on cultural and political explanations. Both authors’ arguments are complementary to each other because they both contributed deep insights into American social aspects. They can both be correct based on their explanations.
There were four primary historical sources from 4 politicians about Philippines annexation. They were Albert Beveridge, Henry Cabot Lodge, William McKinley, and Theodore Roosevelt. Each source offered an individual opinion about the annexation which based on the author’s standpoint. Relying on each offer, Painter and Hoganson applied to their studying to support for their thesis accordingly.
The first primary source from president McKinley which advocated economic, political and cultural explanations was persuasive to support the annexation. He mentioned “If we desert them, we leave them at once to anarchy and finally to barbarism 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 it is their liberty and not our power, their welfare and not our gain, we are seeking to enhance” (McKinley). By his standpoint about economic, political and cultural explanations were all included to support the annexation. Both Painter and Hogason found this source useful for their documents with supporting their economic and cultural explanations for supporters of annexation. There were not any limitations to apply this primary source to Painter and Hogasons arguments because McKinley’s document was strongly supported for the annexation.
The second primary source from Henry Cabot Lodge which strongly advocated for economic explanations to support for the annexation. Lodge emphasized the retention of the Philippines as possessions of great value and a source of great profit to the people of the United States these few elements of natural wealth in the islands which only await development The total value of exports and imports for 1896 amounted in round numbers to $29,000,000, and this was below the average 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! (Lodge). He stressed that the enormous value of the Philippines and its economic potential which would be a strong reason to annex the Philippines to the United States. Painter found this primary source was very useful for his arguments without afraid of any limitations because Lodge strongly supported the annexation.
The third source from Beveridge offered to abandon the Philippines because “They (the Filipino people) are not yet capable of self-government and Better abandon this priceless possession. Beveridge argued, “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. Moreover, he emphasized that The men we send to administer civilized government in the Philippines must be themselves the highest examples of our civilization (Beveridge). Political and cultural difficulties were the core problems of the annexation. Hoganson found this primary source was useful and applied these ideas to his document to strengthen his claim that the Philippines people are not capable of self-government and lack of civilization. By this standpoint, Hoganson advocated that bringing a better political system and higher civilization were persuasive explanations for supporters of annexation. However, this was a limitation to Hoganson document because he used this source to support the annexation which contradicts to Beveridge standpoint that recommended to abandon the Philippines.
The fourth source from Theodore Roosevelt which offered chances to economic, political and cultural development from annexation. According to Roosevelt, Under the wise administration of Governor Taft the islands now enjoy a peace and liberty of which they have hitherto never even dreamed and 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 (Roosevelt). Both Painter and Hogason found this source useful for their documents with supporting their economic and cultural explanations for supporters of annexation. Because Roosevelts opinion was supporting for the annexation, therefore there might not be the limitations to apply this primary source to Painter and Hogasons arguments.
Both historians arguments were equally compelling because they contributed a deep insight into each aspect of American society. Painter’s argument emphasized that economic drive was the main reason to annex the Philippines to the United States. Hogasons argument stressed that political and culture were the explanation from supporters of the annexation. Because the economy, politic, and culture are the main aspects of society; therefore, we could combine these two arguments into the picture of American society at that time.
In conclusion, these two historian’s arguments were very interesting secondary sources which gave us an insight into American society at that time. By each argument, each historian showed us how the imperialist supporter of the annexation explains their reasons to retain the Philippines to the United States. Truth, economic, political and cultural explanations were the core reasons from supporters of the annexation.
Beveridge, Albert J. “Our Philippine Policy.” In The Meaning of the Times and Other Speeches. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1908. 7176.
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.
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.
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. LLII.
Painter, Nell Irvin. Standing at Armageddon: The United States, 18771919. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1989. 146147.
Roosevelt, Theodore. “National Duties.” In The Strenuous Life: Essays and Addresses. New York: Century Company, 1902. 295297.