Classic History Books


The Path of Empire. A Chronicle of the United States as a World Power
by Carl Russell Fish

that momentous question." On the 5th of September, he wrote to John Bigelow: "I fear you are right
about the Philippines, and I hope the Lord will be good to us poor devils who have to take care of them. I

marvel at your suggesting that we pay for them. I should have expected no less of your probity; but how

many except those educated by you in the school of morals and diplomacy would agree with you? Where

did I pass you on the road of life? You used to be a little my senior [twenty-one years]; now you are ages

younger and stronger than I am. And yet I am going to be Secretary of State for a little while."

Not all those who advocated the retention of the Philippines did so reluctantly or under the pressure of a
feeling of necessity. In the very first settlers of our country, the missionary impulse beat strong. John

Winthrop was not less intent than Cromwell on the conquest of all humanity by his own ideals; only he

believed the most efficacious means to be the power of example instead of force. Just now there was a

renewed sense throughout the Anglo-Saxon public that it was the duty of the civilized to promote the

civilization of the backward, and the Cromwellian method waxed in popularity. Kipling, at the summit of

his influence, appealed to a wide and powerful public in his "White Man's Burden," which appeared in

1899.

Take up the White Man's burden - Send forth the best ye breed - Go bind your sons to exile To serve
your captives' need; To wait in heavy harness, On fluttered folk and wild - Your new caught, sullen

peoples, Half-devil and half-child.

Take up the White Man's burden - And reap his old reward The blame of those ye better, The hate of
those ye guard - The cry of hosts ye humour (Ah, slowly!) towards the light: - Why brought ye us from

bondage, Our loved Egyptian night?

McKinley asked those having opinions on the subject of this burden to write to him, and a strong call for
the United States to take up her share in the regeneration of mankind came from important

representatives of the religious public. Nor was the attitude of those different who saw the possibilities of

increased traffic with the East. The expansion of the area of home distribution seemed a halfway house

between the purely nationalistic policy, which was becoming a little irksome, and the competition of the

open world.

It was not, however, the urging of these forces alone which made the undecided feel that the annexation
of the Philippines was bound to come. The situation itself seemed to offer no other solution. Gradually

evidence as to the local conditions reached America. The Administration was anxious for the

commissioners to have the latest information, and, as Admiral Dewey remained indispensable at Manila,

General Merritt was ordered to report at Paris, where he arrived on the 6th of October. He was of the

opinion that the Americans must remain in the Philippines, and his reports were sustained by a cablegram

from Dewey on the 14th of October reading: "Spanish authority has been completely destroyed in Luzon,

and general anarchy prevails without the limits of the city and Bay of Manila. Strongly probable that

islands to the south will fall into the same state soon." The history of the previous few years and existing

conditions made it highly improbable that Spanish domination could ever be restored. The withdrawal of

the United States would therefore not mean the reestablishment of Spanish rule but no government at all.

As to the regime which would result from our withdrawal, Admiral Dewey judged from the condition of
those areas where Spanish authority had already ceased and that of the Americans had not yet been

established. "Distressing reports," he cabled, "have been received of inhuman cruelty practised on

religious and civil authorities in other parts of these islands. The natives appear unable to govern." It was

highly probable, in fact, that if the United States did not take the islands, Spain would sell her vanishing

 

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