During the Progressive era, Americans were trying hard to achieve social control which was to achieve racial superiority, and gain control of their family life and of women. After the increase of industrialization, American men found themselves faced with more women in the work place. Women, especially feminists, wanted to be more independent and viewed as equals to males. Another problem was that with the use of machinery, skilled workers were no longer needed for most jobs, men found themselves working white collar jobs, behind a desk. With women in the work place and deskilled jobs, men felt like they were beginning to lose the control that men once had.
They felt less manly. Men were supposed to be the bread winner and leaders of the family. With women working and also earning an income and men just sitting behind a desk, the war was a chance for men, in a sense, to get dirty. Also, the issue of social control through racial superiority was at hand. At this time, Americans were dealing with the racial conflict of African Americans in the United States.
The Americans looked at Filipinos as at the same social level as African Americans and gaining control in the Philippines might do something for that issue at home. To achieve the image of social control American men believed that annexing the Philippines would restore masculinity, and build a strong, powerful empire. The nation’s leaders also believed it was their duty to educate and uplift the Filipinos. Building a strong society in the Philippines would help strengthen the home front and gain that social control.
One of the main issues for American men after industrialization was “manliness” and how the war would “regain women’s respect, devotion, and admiration”1. With the boom in jobs available women were beginning to come out of the home and take on jobs like nursing, librarians, and social workers. Industrialism led to new technologies like dishwashers, ready made clothes, and canned foods. With these advancements, women had more time to become interested in other things like jobs and organizations. They were becoming more assertive and entering the “man’s” world which women were supposed to be sheltered from.
A woman’s job was to “be the housewife, the helpmeet of the homemaker, the wise and fearless mother of many healthy children.”2 Many men were scared that if women started leaving the home, they would lose their place in society and families. Women would have fewer children and men would have to start taking care of themselves. Men were to do “man’s work, to dare and endure and to labor”3.
Theodore Roosevelt said that men were starting to become “soft” and “materialistic” and becoming comfortable with industrial life. Men were working desk jobs instead of “taming the wild.” He said that holding colonies and building this strong empire would be a long term solution to that problem.4 Men saw combat as a man’s job and by engaging in it would create a sense that men were strong and courageous again. By returning to war and gaining power, society could return to their traditional roles, men as the breadwinner and women as housewives.
Building an American empire would also make the United States a powerful and strong country. McKinley reasoned that giving up the Philippines would be “cowardly and dishonorable”5, making American men look even less manly. If Americans did not take the Philippines then other countries might look at them as if they were too scared to annex them. America was looked at as one of the more powerful countries at the time and they wanted to keep it that way.
One small reason to annex the Philippines was also trade and the location of the island, in a speech by Albert Beveridge, a U.S. senate, he said “the power that rules the Pacific, therefore, is the power that rules the world.”6 That meant that having the Philippines as a gateway to trade with eastern markets was good for the economy and a very strategic move, giving the United States power, in turn giving. the nation’s political leaders, men, power and control. Although power and control in the Philippines and at home was one of the goals of the war, it was not the only reason. Americans also wanted to help the Filipinos.
Americans strongly believed that it was their duty to educate and uplift the Filipinos. National leaders viewed the Filipino’s as a sort of “white man’s burden” and felt that it was not only a good opportunity but also a responsibility to teach the Filipinos how to govern them selves and live civilized.7 American leaders thought they lived like savages. With progressives leading the war effort, one of their values was humanitarianism.
This meant that they believed it was their job to relieve people from their suffering. That is why they were going to teach them how to self-govern. In Roosevelt’s speech “A Strenuous Life” he said that the Filipino population included “half-caste and native Christians, warlike Moslems, and wild pagan. Many of their people are utterly unfit for self-government; and show no signs of becoming fit.”
The Filipinos were like children and the United States national leaders felt that they had to act as a “motherly” figure because it was God’s will. Americans were supposed to teach them all they could and “Christianize” them because Christ died for them too.9 This showed that morality was greatly valued at this time and Americans believed it was their duty show the Filipinos right from wrong according to American values. McKinley said that without United States involvement in the Philippines, there would be “anarchy and misrule” and through nurturing the people, another progressive value, they could change their society for the better. McKinley and Roosevelt justified the annexing of the Philippines by saying the islands needed “economic ‘stability’