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Mark Twain

In 1899, at the end of the Spanish American war, Spain ceded the Philippines to the United States in the Treaty of Paris. A Filipino independence movement sprang up against U.S. rule, led by Emilio Aguinaldo. Resistance died out after the capture of Aguinaldo in 1901. Though the U.S. always insisted its control of the island nation was temporary, it maintained administration of the Philippines for over three decades.

The U.S. adventure in the Philippines, after the Spanish Ameircan war prompted waves of patriotism and doubt. Mark Twain, a journalist before he was a novelist, decided to check out the situation for himself ... and lost a little of his enthusiasm along the way.

"You ask me about what is called imperialism. Well, I have formed views about that question ... I left these shores, at Vancouver, a red-hot imperialist. I wanted the American eagle to go screaming into the Pacific. It seemed tiresome and tame for it to content itself with the Rockies. Why not spread its wings over the Philippines, I asked myself? And I thought it would be a real good thing to do.

I said to myself, here are a people who have suffered for three centuries. We can make them as free as ourselves, give them a government and country of their own, put a miniature of the American constitution afloat in the Pacific, start a brand new republic to take its place among the free nations of the world. It seemed to me a great task to which we had addressed ourselves.

But I have thought some more, since then, and I have read carefully the treaty of Paris, and I have seen that we do not intend to free, but to subjugate the people of the Philippines. We have gone there to conquer, not to redeem.

(We have also pledged the power of this country to maintain and protect the abominable system established in the Philippines by the Friars.)

It should, it seems to me, be our pleasure and duty to make those people free, and let them deal with their own domestic questions in their own way. And so I am an anti-imperialist. I am opposed to having the eagle put its talons on any other land"

Mark Twain: PBS Documentary
the Spanish-American War sparked unprecedented levels of patriotism and confidence, the defeat of the Spanish also raised new questions about the nation's role as a world power.
Boondocksnet.com - by Jim Zwick
Resources on historical anti-Imperialism. Mark Twain's writings on the U.S. and the Philippines.

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