Frank's notes: American Imperialism began late in the 19th Century and continued until the end of World War II when it was decided that no country should hold colonies. Imperialism began as an extension of Manifest Destiny. As the United States grew in population and land size a common thought that was developed in throughout the country was that the United States should span from the Atlantic Ocean all the way across the continent to the Pacific. This being completed some 50 years earlier the United States began to prepare for a different kind of Manifest Destiny which was an American Empire. American Imperialism started with the Spanish American war. At the conclusion of the war the United States took Spanish colonies such as Puerto Rico and the Philippines.
At the onset of American Imperialism there were many supporters but also just as many people against imperialism. Supporters claimed that it was the natural progression of civilized countries and races to expand. Expansion in a way became a matter of race. Americans were part of the great Anglo-Saxon race, which means that, like their English cousins, they were of a superior race and destined for an empire of their own. Many Americans felt that it was time that the United States use their prosperity and newfound power to establish themselves on the world stage as an equal and even superior to the great European nations of the day. American Imperialism can be explained by explained by the law of self survival and survival of the fittest, of which the United States was one if not the fittest. The driving force behind this new interest in American Imperialism was for the most part purely monetary and economic. American capital had already found its way into the Caribbean, with Cuba even though it was still a Spanish colony, but with an ever increasing economy and machine technology Americans were looking for more places to invest their money.
Those who did not believe in American Imperialism felt that America had done very well on its own and still had a lot more growing to do before they tried wasting money, military power, and time on trying to maintain an empire. They also felt that having an empire and forced the people of these colonies under the control of the United States, which was not a very American thing to do. Finally, they felt that the United States had already established itself as a world power and the most influential one since its birth. They did not need an empire to prove this and they could just as easily trade with the peoples of a foreign land than control them if they were looking to expand economically.
The Spanish American War came became the starting point for American Imperialism. It started with Cuba, which Americans had a lot of money invested in. Cuba was still under Spanish rule and the conditions of the people of Cuba had deteriorated drastically. Cubans were crying out for independence and the United States used this as a way to basically pick a fight with Spain, which they were confident they would win. The United States sent the Maine into Havana harbor to investigate the conditions in Cuba. About three weeks later the Maine was mysteriously sunk in Havana harbor, killing the entire crew of some 260 men. This was [???] the United States needed and war was declared by both sides by April 24, 1898.
The first U.S. victory and real battle came nowhere near Cuba or the West Indies, but in Manila in the Philippines. This was the first sign that the United States used the fact that they were helping Cuba gain independence from Spain to also gain colonies from Spain. The war lasted until August of that year and Spain was forced to accept the terms of the United States. Not only did Spain have to grant independence to Cuba but also had to cede to the United States the islands of Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines. And so began the story of American Imperialism. The Filipinos were not as excited about becoming a part of the United States as the United State was to have them. Two days before the Treaty of Paris was signed officially ending the war with Spain, the United States found itself fighting a war against the Filipinos.
The Filipinos wanted nothing but independence and it didn't matter whom they had to fight to get it, Spain or the United States. The war between the Philippines and the United States lasted well into the early part of the 20th Century. The United States still used the idea that it was their duty to and right to reign over these people. Not just for the economic gains that it would bring but also to bring civilization to these people. American involvement in the Philippines brought about the concept of the "white man's burden." This burden was to help the people of the Philippines achieve the same type of civilization and standard of living that people in the United States enjoyed, whether they wanted to or not. American Imperialism had found its first conflict and waste of money, military power, and time with its first real colonial venture. However, they were determined to keep the Philippines under their control for one reason. Since their existence they had always been linked to Europe and trade with Europe, which makes sense seeing how the Atlantic Coast is where the United States started. Now that they had control of the Philippines and Guam, they had a viable means of trading with Asia across the Pacific. Trading with Asian countries, such as China with a population greater than the United States and a good portion of Europe combined, was the key to expanding the growing American economy. Opening up American investment and products to billions of people was just what the United States wanted. Yes, the colonies themselves provided economic opportunity, but the real prize was a solid hold in the Asian continent. Since the days of Marco Polo, Europeans had searched for more trade and better routes to Asia. The late 19th and early 20th Century were no exception and now the United States controlled territory right on the doorstep of the Asian continent. The need for the United States to expand economically and their ability to do so only naturally led to imperialism. The natural progression of the great world empires began in Asia with the ancient Chinese empires and progressed west to Greece, Rome, England, and finally the United States. Simply put, the stage for American Imperialism had been set up by fate, prosperity, and economic need and the United States jumped at the chance of becoming an imperial power.
Ted's notes: As a result of the Spanish-American War, the United States gained control of a number of foreign lands that had once belonged to the Spanish government. The United States acquired Puerto Rico, Philippine Islands, along with the Carolina, Marshall, and Mariania (Guam) islands. Although the United States did have a few possessions outside of its borders prior to the war, the end of the war marked the beginning of American imperialism. The creation of the American Empire meant the end of the Spanish Empire. The Spanish were the first to sail to the new world, when Columbus made the journey in 1492. Ever since that time, Spain had colonial possessions in the Western Hemisphere. However, in the time leading up to the war the colonies controlled by Spain began to revolt against their foreign occupants.
Cuba is where the struggle for Independence began. From 1868-1878 guerilla fighters called mambises fought for their autonomy from Spain. After about a decade a peace, hostilities were renewed in the 1890's. The leader of the insurgence was a man named Jose Marti, known as "El Apostle." Marti established the Cuban Revolutionary Party in 1892. However, Marti was killed in action only a few weeks into the war.
The Philippine Islands also became deeply entrenched in Civil War. The revolution began in 1896 due to increasing nationalist inspiration. This was the Phillipines' first effort to end 350 years of rule by the Spanish. The Filipinos were successful in driving the Spanish off their islands. Once victorious, an Independent Philippine Republic was established with Emilio Aguinaldo as its President. This new republic was the first to be established in Asia through anti-colonial revolution.
In Puerto Rico and the other islands that Spain controlled there was dissent but nowhere near the level that is was at in Cuba or the Philippines. There were, indeed, groups that worked for autonomy but it never got violent or too powerful.
The United States declared war on Spain on April 15, 1898. The declaration of war was a direct response to the sinking of the USS Maine in Havana harbor just two months before. The United States ordered a blockade of Cuba on April 21st and four days later war was declared. During the war, the U.S. actually captured Guantanamo Bay located in Cuba. Still to this day the U.S. has military bases in Guantanamo Bay. After less then three months of fighting the Spaniards agreed to an unconditional surrender on July 16, 1898. In December of that year, both sides met at Paris to review the terms of the treaty. The Spanish were forced to give the United Sates Guam and Puerto Rico while allowing the establishment of Independent Cuba, and the United States were allowed to purchase the Philippine Islands for $20 million from Spain.
This treaty posed a serious problem for the future. The Spanish has sold the U.S. something that they did not own. The Philippines had fought and won their independence for Spain. How did Spain have the power to sell the Philippines?
The United States did not wish to appear like invaders or conquerors. They wanted to play a friendly role with their new acquisitions. President Mckinley vowed to protect the homes, jobs, personal and religious rights of these people. The United States did, however, claim supremacy over the island and all officials were forced to swear allegiance to the U.S. The United States wanted to build up these countries so that more markets would open up to purchase American goods thus improve the American economy. Imperialism was also the idea of the time and the United States did not want to fall behind its competitors.
Jay's notes: American Empire I is a very fitting title when beginning to explain the Phillippine Revolution and the Phillippine-American War. The title itself helps explain the unnecessary and brutish force that was used by the Americans. Now that this class is almost at an end, and this is only the third history class I have taken here at Assumption, one of many things that I have learned is the way in which this country has treated non-whites. Starting with the American-Indians, then African-Americans, and now the Filipinos, who don't even live in this country. It is always taught that there is an injustice, but it is not taught to what extent.
It began in 1896 when the Filipinos revolted against their Spanish Colonialism, which had been going on for 350 years. This anti-colonial revolution resulted in an independent Phillippine Republic. However, this did not last very long. "At the close of the Spanish-American War of 1898, the United States purchased the Philippines from Spain for twenty million dollars. At the time, U.S. military forces controlled only Manila and its immediate suburbs; Filipinos controlled the rest of the country. On February 4, 1899, the Philippine-American war began as the United States tried to exert its control beyond Manila. This undeclared war officially lasted for more than three years". This war did not really end until 1913, but the pain still lingers in the Phillippines 100+ years later.
Another significant part of this struggle is the American people, who seemed divided in their opinions of entering this war. Throughout the rest of this report, I will try to explain what this time period meant for the Americans and Filipinos, the so-called end, the actual end, and some of what lies in between.
A common theme that I have found is the Filipinos place a big emphasis on the rewriting of the history of the Phillippine-American War. This was not actually fixed until March of 1998 when "the U.S. Library of Congress finally abandon its antiquated "Philippine Insurrection" subject category in favor of two new ones: "Philippine Revolution, 1896-1898" and "Philippine-American War, 1899-1902." But as the Philippine Daily Inquirer's editorial of Feb. 4 pointed out, the Revolution continued beyond 1898, and the war lasted much longer than three years." The duration still seems to be in question. Even until March of 1906, Mark Twain reported on an incident in which U.S. troops massacred 900 Muslim Filipinos where they were trapped in a volcanic crater and fired upon for four days. One girl survived. More was written by Twain until 1908, but the documentation was not available.
The war itself was considered a "dirty" war, which was never apologized for. As Prof. Simbulan stated, "It is high time that the Filipino people sought an official act of atonement and an official apology from the U.S government for the American aggression and the countless atrocities committed against Asia's first Philippine Republic, its heroic sons and daughters. Filipino historians like Agoncillo and Constantino have estimated that more than 300,000 Filipinos, mostly civilians, perished as a result of the American onslaught against our new-born Philippine Republic. The most barbaric forms of torture and interrogation such as "water cure" as well as scorched earth military tactics and the brutal "reconcentration" of civilians were applied against the Filipino people. The most inhuman and brutal tactics experimented earlier against American Indian tribes in the American frontier were again applied and practiced by U.S. military veterans of the Indian campaigns. Worse, all of these are treated in all official U.S. documents and history books as part of "the Philippine Insurrection" to disguise the nature of the Filipino people's heroic resistance." This was more of the pressure put on America to change the terms that were given to this war, rightfully so.
Although this war was never actually declared a war, but was started when a Filipino was shot while crossing a bridge, Roosevelt managed to declare it over on July 4, 1902. This was occuring maybe partly because of growing domestic opposition of this war. In many, almost all of the articles that I read, this war did not end on that day. It actually did not end until 1913. U.S. military forces did not actually leave the Phillippines until the end of December, 1913. It is sometimes referred to as America's first Vietnam, and if the American population had more knowledge of what went on in the Phillippines, that it was the unjust actions of the U.S and not of the Filipinos, then maybe the atrocities that took place in Vietnam could have been avoided. As stated in one article, the Filipinos were asking for only a few things from us and the Estrada Administration, seemingly simple things. An official public apology, changing of the terminology "Phillipine Insurection," vindicate Filipino independence fighters such as Sakay, Natividad and Carreon, Rename streets from former Filipino collaborators to the names of these freedom fighters, and to review the Visiting Forces Aagreement.(VFA)
This Estrada Administration is different from previous Filipino leaders, because he does not attribute his victory to the sponsorship of the U.S, but to the "poor majority of Filipinos who have been impoverished by U.S. designed policies." One article that I found particularly interesting was Roosevelt's proclamation ending the war. He made it sound as if he was doing the Filipinos a favor by letting those who committed crimes off the hook, when it appears to me that they would not have committed these unless they had to in defense. They were attacked, defended themselves, and Roosevelt had the nerve to make them repeat an oath in which they pledged their allegiance. Roosevelt's statement can be more understood, becuse it was in 1902. However, the House of Representatives in 1998 that this year, 1998, marked a centennial of the freedom of the Phillipines. 1898 was actually the beginning of the end for the Philippines, and they were not actually left alone until 1913. The House could not wait another 15 years to make themselves feel good about themselves. They speak not of the years of heartache and pain the Filipinos went through, but congratulate them for being a trade partner. They even congratulate them on their independence from Spain, but forget to apologize for the following fifteen years that the U.S kept them from actual freedom.
Another group of articles that I found interesting were those that had to do with African-American soldiers in this war. Obviously the blacks felt torn. They were Americans, but at the same time were still blacks who knew what it was like to fight for their freedom. It was even stated that many of these soldiers not only questioned their duty, but deserted their services, and some even joined the Filipino struggle for Independence. In conclusion, the Filipino community is merely looking for their name which has been so tarnished to shine as it did previous to the American Stranglehold. It seems like a small task, but with so many years of lies and misbeliefs, the Filipino community may never receive the proper image they deserve.