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Bryan or McKinley? The Present Duty of American Citizens.
The Anti-Imperialist Position.
by North American Review, The

If it were not that an attitude of something like intolerance has found expression to an ominous extent among Administration partisans concerning the Anti-Imperialist movement, it would seem that the existence of an active agitation in the United States of a great public question needed no apology. De Tocqueville has only expanded the aphorism that vigilance is the price of liberty in Democracy in America, and every student of our institutions has recognized the fact that independent and vigorous criticism is not merely permissible, but that it is the only safeguard of onr liberties. Governor Roosevelt asserts, in his "Life of Benton," that the most dangerous element in the community is not what is called the criminal class, but a non-combatant class like the Quakers. The assertion is a characteristically vicious one; but the Rough Rider would be justified in the contention that, in civil affairs, the complacent and inactive citizen comes pretty near being a criminal. Nevertheless, one of the most eminent and honored citizens of a city famous for public spirit and patriotism and it is to be feared representative of it in this as in other matters - has contented himself in the crisis of 1898-1900 with a passive attitude of acquiescence in the course of the Administration, "because the President mnst know more about public matters than the people, and the President can be trusted." Were such a precept generally followed, the fate of the Republic would be justly sealed, and its citizenship would be forfeited by demonstrated unworthiness.

Whatever the result of the Anti-Imperialist cause, it will be set down in history that a generous, philanthropic and loyal movement grew up in the United States, which, in spite of bitter obloquy, artful appeals to selfishness and to every vulgar and glittering motive, and in spite of opposition by all the unscrupulous influences of a party supported by an enormous money power, has stirred the whole country and dictated the policy of a great national organization.

The momentous character of the imperial aggression transcends the issues of the Civil War, or those of any imaginable question that could be presented to a Republic. Its aim is more deadly than to rend the Republic in twain. We believe that it is to sap the sources of its life and to sow the seeds of its destruction. Its most bigoted adherent cannot minimize the fact that the addition of tropical and unassimilable peoples, in permanent colonial relations, to our Republic is the most tremendous departure conceivable from our traditions and principles and practice. No mere phrases ringing changes upon "expansion," "world power" and "destiny," can disguise the right and duty of each citizen to ponder, and decide for himself, propositions so serious and so pregnant that the attempt which has been made to forestall his judgment concerning them is in itself the grossest act of Imperialism.

The few words which follow are to treat of the historical, the legal or constitutional, the commercial-financial and the ethical aspects of the paramount question, the wrong side of which is represented by William McKinley, and the right by William Jennings Bryan.

The history of the Imperialistic movement is perfectly authenticated by official reports, by contemporaneous testimony given by those who have afterwards tried to recede from compromising positions under obvious influences, and by the evidence of civilians, officials, travellers and newspaper correspondents, sometimes by the news telegraphed and written and sometimes by the significant absence of news when the censor interposed to prevent its dispatch. Unfortunately, there are many self-contradictions in written and spoken words by persons in high places. It would ill become a writer in these pages to accuse the President or his commanding generals or civil subordinates of falsehood. That the contradictory statements automatically accuse their authors is a circumstance beyond his control. The publications of the Anti- Imperialist League, which can be consulted by any person who desires to know the truth, have established a series of facts which will be authentic material for the future historian of the United States, whatever contemporaneous treatment they may receive.
  1. The secret correspondence of the Government, at an early period of the war with Spain, indicated its interest in the Philippine Islands as a possession.
  2. The dealings with Aguinaldo, as the leader of the military forces of the Filipinos, by Consul Wildman, Consul Pratt, Admiral Dewey, General Anderson and other officers and representatives of the United States, were, until the capture of Manila was effected by the co-operation of the native troops, allowed to go on, with the distinct knowledge by these officials and representatives that Aguinaldo and his people believed, and had reason to believe, that their independence was to be the result of the joint campaign, in case of its success.* [*I never treated them as allies, except to make use of them - Dewey.]
  3. The Philippine Government at Malolos, under an excellent constitution, was set up on September 15th, 1898, with a Congress of the chosen representatives of the Tagalog and Yisayan races, embracing a large majority of the civilized tribes of the whole archipelago* [*Report of Senator Lodge, Chairman of the Committee on the Philip- pines, Fifty-Sixth Congress, first session, Senate document 171. ] with the tacit consent of the functionaries of the United States then present in the Philippines.
  4. A change of attitude toward the native people, their rulers and their military officers abruptly took place, in compliance with inspiration from Washington; the native launches which had been saluted by our officers when flying the Filipino flag were seized; and our lines about Manila were pressed forward, in spite of the stipulation in the protocol with Spain that the status quo should be sacredly respected.
  5. The Filipinos were denied admittance to the sessions of the Peace Commission at Paris; and, though the President had at first let it be known that he intended only to ask for an island or a coaling station, he changed his instructions and caused his representatives to demand the whole archipelago, inserting the clause of the $20,000,000 payment to Spain, to avoid the complications which might arise from the fact that we had made no conquest beyond Manila.
  6. The opponents of the treaty in the Senate were so numerous that, though challenged to do so, the Administration did not venture to submit its ratification to a vote. The writers presence in the Senate and in the Marble Room during these critical sessions,laboring for the rejection of the treaty, - gives him the opportunity to offer personal testimony to the progress of events. On the night of Friday, February 3d, 1899, the Administration leaders came to the leaders of the Opposition, and virtually confessed themselves beaten by asking what form of joint resolution, declaratory of the intention of the United States to grant the Filipinos independence, would be satisfactory to them. Whatever influences might have been exerted upon Senators, a sufficient vote to defeat the ratification of the treaty seemed assured, unless such a concession were made. The White House, however, did not back up its representatives in the compromise which they had proposed. It had still another card to play. Though Senator Wellington told the writer that, if the President would allow his private assurances of his intentions to give independence to the Filipinos to be made public, the treaty could be easily ratified, Mr. McKinley still declined to allow any such pledge to be made. Why?
  7. While the treaty was before the Senate, the President had issued a proclamation on December 21st, 1898, ordering the immediate extension of the sovereignty of the United States and its military government to the whole of the ceded territory.* [*Report of General E. S. Otis, Aug. 31st, 1899.] This proclamation, General Otis declared, was certain to incite widespread hostilities, and he actually endeavored to suppress it and supersede it by a conciliatory address of an entirely different character. As a commentary on these transactions, the words of President McKinley at Pittsburg, August 28th, 1899, may be quoted: "Until the treaty was ratified we had no authority be- yond Manila city, bay and harbor. We then had no other title to defend, no authority beyond that to maintain."
  8. Though the original proclamation was promulgated through the misunderstanding of an inferior officer, and though an intense feeling of suspicion was aroused, while our soldiers indicated by their aggravating conduct that they were still spoiling for a fight and still pressed back the Filipino lines,to the everlasting credit of Aguinaldo and his army, no serious outbreak had yet occurred.
  9. The immediate cause of the ratification of the treaty was furnished by the attack on the Filipino lines, February 4th, 1899*,[*Firing upon the Filipinos and the killing of one of them by the Americans, leading to return fire.Maj.-Gen. F. S. Otis. Report up to April 6, 1899.] when the principal officers of the Filipino forces were absent, and the American lines sprang into action with ready equipment and instant celerity. The affair was reported to the United States Senate as an attack upon the United States forces by the Filipinos, and thus, at last, the votes needed for the ratification of the treaty were obtained.
  10. The immediate request by the Filipino leader for an armistice and a neutral zone was refused by the United States commander*,[*Feb. 9, 1899. Aguinaldo now applies for a cessation of hostilities and conference; have declined to answer.Maj.-Gen. F. S. Otiss report. This statement, confirmed by General C. McReeve, has recently been de- nied by General Otis, who says his own dispatch was misleading!] and ever since a war has been prosecuted by the Administration, with no quarter and no hope of quarter unless through the absolute submission of a nation, once our allies against a common foe, and fighting for a liberty which we had virtually promised them, with a courage and persistence which makes them worthy of it, if any people ever were*.[*I do not think so meanly of the most unscrupulous advocate of a policy of aggression and subjugation as to doubt that, if the case were reversed, and we or he were In the place of Aguinaldo and the inhabitants of the Philippine Islands, he would resist to the last extremity and would counsel his countrymen to resist to the last extremity. But we are yet to learn of what temper these islanders are made; whether their powers of endurance are equal to their courage and their love of liberty. Letter from the Hon. Geo. F. Hoar, March 29, 1899.]

The Constitutional aspect of the imperial aggression has been discussed by many writers and speakers according to their points of view. It seems hardly necessary to controvert the extreme assertions which have been made, that the sanction of a treaty with a foreign nation can supersede the sanctions of a Constitution. The right of the Congress to dispose of territory, which has been availed of in similar cases, obviously makes it possible to transfer such sovereignty as has been acquired in the Philippine Islands to their inhabitants. The authority to retain them as territory and to govern them permanently outside of the Constitution, will doubtless be sought from the Supreme Court, as the recognition of an existing political fact. Hitherto, the march of the Constitution, as the progress of the interpretations of that instrument has been called where doubts existed, has been enlightened by the principles of the Declaration of Independence. John Marshall, who has been justly characterized as the guide, the light and the defender of the Constitution, won his imperishable fame by the diligence with which he sought the attainment of those objects for which it is declared to have been instituted. While Marshall might not have adopted the strict construction in the Dred Scott case maintained by Judge Taney and his associates, because it involved the extension of human slavery contrary to the spirit of the instrument and of the Declaration of Independence, it can hardly be doubted that now, since this construction involves, under the changed conditions, the extension of liberty, Marshall would have to-day maintained that very construction. The survivors of those who then opposed it may now support that construction with absolute consistency. If the Supreme Court is still inspired by the spirit of its great leaders, its illumination, from the Declaration of Independence and the traditions of the Government, will enlighten its counsels so that the contentions of the present Administration will be defeated, and those arrogated powers which have been exerted with such fatal results will be overthrown. Then Porto Rico must have statehood or it must be alienated, and the Philippines must have statehood or they must be alienated.

It is a part of the Constitutional or legal aspect of the matter, that no embarrassment need be feared from possible complications involved in such a protectorate as has been suggested for the Philippines, or which might be implied by an enfranchised Porto Rico. Who can doubt that the nations of the world would accept, at the suggestion of the United States, the neutralization of these countries, as in the case of Belgium and Switzerland?

Finally, it should be noted that the Administration has never even suggested the obvious and legal method by way of amendment to the Constitution for so vast an extension of the powers of the Government, but that it has endeavored to foist upon the people a party measure, which transcends in importance any change of which its authors could have dreamed.

There are several aspects in which the commercial or financial results of tropical colonial expansion may be regarded, all equally fatal to the specious arguments which have been exploited by the friends of the Administration.
  1. The consideration of the balance between the cost of subjugation, now called policing vassal states, and any possible profit therefrom, is one of the most interesting of these. The expenses incurred on account of the Philippines are at the rate of about $200,000,000 per annum. There is no immediate prospect of any considerable reduction in this pretty little bill. The total sum of the exports and imports of the archipelago has not exceeded $30,000,000 a year. Let the Imperialist indicate any possible source of increase in the consuming or producing power of the islands which can overcome the frightful debit.
  2. It is impossible to believe, after the uprising against the scuttle policy of the Administration in the matter of the Porto Rican tariff, that the tyrannical policy could be maintained of imposing duties to prevent colonial productions from competing with our own industries. Thus the sugar growing of tropical dependencies, promoted by our own capital, will ruin the sugar industry of the United States. The tobacco trade will, by similar means, be largely transferred to these favorable regions. Labor will be brought to the level of the standard of Asiatic living. For, even though sovereignty did not imply freedom of movement on the part of the subject peoples, the indentured labor system, a form of slavery, which English emissaries are endeavoring to in- duce the United States to graft upon our colonial system after the example of Great Britain, would probably sooner or later be adopted by the Imperialists.
  3. The ultimate result of the extension of our Eastern policy to China is easily foreseen. A development of commercial opportunity in that densely popnlated country, to which we are pointed with such enthusiasm, means what? Not a market but a menace - the opportunity to export some tools and machinery to create Chinese industries which may soon supply the markets of the world. As Richtofen says: The slumbering factors of an immense industrial production all exist here. There are already five large cotton mills in Shanghai. Wages average about ten cents a day, and the ready adaptiveness of the labor is indicated by the fact that productive capacity has increased twenty-five percent in one year. Not prosperity but ruin and disaster are the auguries of expansion.

The ethical side of a condition which has followed avoidable war need only, it might be supposed, be calmly contemplated to arouse the conscience of the whole nation in vehement opposition. In Cuba, a population on the verge of revolution; a broken and bitter subject race in Porto Rico; in the Philippines, a defiant and persistent enemy. Corruption in the Administration, horrible licensed vice in Manila, the outrages of an irregular contest beyond even the cruel laws of war and the chartered savagery of barbarous allies, the treatment of Catholic Christians as heathens, the desecration of churches, rapine, ravishing and murder; in what a horrible propaganda of wickedness the United States has been engaged for months, which are now gathering up their dread account into years. This explains the censorship which keeps the truth from America. While all these horrors are going on, because they do not come within reach of the senses, the defenders of the Administration rely upon the comfort and prosperity which are as yet superficially apparent in domestic affairs to dull the ears and steel the hearts of the American people. It is the old Imperial idea that nothing matters while there is a plenty of bread and circuses. It is impossible that we should long remain thus callous; but, even should we otherwise do so, there is reason to expect that the inflation of a vastly expanded currency is about to collapse, and that wages, which have not now the purchasing power of four years ago, will be reduced or cut off, and that bad times will arouse the people to the wrong which is being done at home and abroad.

As for the bogie which the Republican party is trying to manufacture out of the corpse embalmed in the Democratic Platform, it may be said that, if it has any living menace, the mind which could place the Silver Issue in the same plane with or above the issue of Imperialism would have sacrificed the Union in the war between the States, rather than have risked the depression of the currency.

President McKinley, as Governor Boutwell has eloquently said, was given an opportunity for the enrollment of his name with that of the Czar of Russia, who emancipated millions of hereditary serfs; with the name of Lincoln, a name that can never die; with the name of the Emperor of Brazil, who struck the shackles from the last slave on the American continent. President McKinley could have said to the inhabitants of Porto Rico and the Philippines: "We have acquired the title of Spain, such as it is; but your title, by possession, is the better title. We are prepared to surrender the Spanish title to you. The yoke of Imperialism is broken. Organize free governments and prepare to found free states, and thus to create happy and prosperous com- monwealths."

He has refused the great opportunity. And this is the writing that was written, - "Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin."



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