American Imperialism and the Colonization of the Philippines

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American Imperialism and the Colonization of the Philippines

The irony of the 1898 Spanish-American war was that Americans fought partly to aid Cubans in the fight for Cuban sovereignty, and the United States ended up colonizing some territories they won from Spain, like the Philippines. Despite America’s previous claims of only supporting independence and democracy, the United States became an imperialist power and colonized the Philippines (Introduction to the Spanish-American war and the Filipino insurgency in the assignment sheet). This led to a Filipino insurgency, led by discontent Filipinos, who fought American troops through guerrilla warfare (Conlin 545). Conlin states that many Americans died fighting against a “popular revolution” in the Philippines for independence (Conlin 545). Years ago, Americans were fighting for Cuban independence. During the Filipino insurgency, the United States fought to suppress anger among the Filipinos against American colonization of the Philippines. Americans justified colonizing the Philippines by arguing that Anglo-Saxons were superior to the Filipinos, Filipinos were incapable of sustaining a sovereignty, and a colony in the Philippines would benefit the United States economically.

Americans believed that Anglo-Saxons were superior to the Filipinos. Albert J. Beveridge from Indiana wrote that God made the “English-speaking and Teutonic peoples…the master organizers of the world” (Beveridge, 15). Beveridge believed that Anglo-Saxons were the dominant race of the world and that they needed to govern their inferiors to “establish system where chaos reigns” (Beveridge, 15). Beveridge wrote that Americans were “trustees of the world’s progress” (Beveridge, 15) because he believed Americans were more economically and socially advanced than other ethnicities. These claims helped to justify why colonizing the Philippines was acceptable. In the cartoon “Types and Development of Man,” the American-European man is portrayed to be the most developed in the hierarchy of the evolution of man (Types and Development of Man cartoon, 20). Josiah Strong, a Reverend, describes the Americans of the Anglo-Saxon ethnicity as having a “superior vigor [in] our people” (Strong, 2). He wrote that a “marked characteristic” of Anglo-Saxons are their “instinct or genius for colonizing” (Strong, 2). One of the Anglo-Saxon’s distinguishing features is his ability to colonize inferior countries. Strong continued to write about how an Anglo-Saxon has “unequaled energy” and “indomitable perseverance” (Strong, 2). The words “unequaled” and “indomitable” (Strong, 2) show that Anglo-Saxons are unconquerable and undefeated socially, physically, and intellectually. Although Strong wrote his book before the Spanish American War and the Philippine insurrection, his ideas on Anglo-Saxon superiority were similar to other people’s ideas that justified the United States’s colonization of the Philippines years later.

Americans believed that they had a religious duty to govern and protect the Filipinos. Americans claimed that Filipinos were incapable of maintaining a self-government because they were inferior to Anglo-Saxons. Beveridge wrote that the Filipinos were a “barbarous race” (Beveridge, 14) who went through years of “corruption in government” (Beveridge, 15), and were therefore incapable of “self-government in the Anglo-Saxon sense” (Beveridge, 15). Beveridge argued that God has prepared the “English-speaking and Teutonic peoples” to govern the “savage and senile peoples” like the Filipinos who could not govern themselves (Beveridge 15). Cartoon 2 depicts the Philippines as a baby who is vying for Uncle Sam’s attention. Uncle Sam, a full grown adult, is superior to the baby. Children are not as physically and mentally developed as an adult. The paternalistic portrayal of America as a parent to the Philippines indicates the necessity for America to colonize the Philippines. Without...
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