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"