Political power is the ability to control or influence the behavior of people, and the bigger your sphere of influence, the more political power you attain. In the Spring and Summer of 1898, the United States went to war with Spain. The Americans were victorious, which meant that they held major world and political power. Because America had won the war with Spain, they acquired new lands; Cuba and the Philippines. Cuba was granted a sort of semi-independence. However, The US had three choices regarding the Philippines – hand the islands back to Spain, give the Philippines its independence, or annex the Philippines under some kind of American government. The United States decided it would annex. Generally, there are many contradictions concerning the annexation of the Philippines.
The majority of Americans supported the annexation. Anti-imperialists believed that the policy of Imperialism was rather severe. In each country, people should have the right to fight for independence and national identity. It is vital to understand the meaning of liberty and consent. The annexation of the Philippines was unfair and selfish, and extending a country’s power to other countries is unjust. The Americans were following Spanish methods by restraining, restricting, and depriving the Filipinos of their rights. While Americans claimed that the Filipinos would receive proper protection, they were denied education and deprived of their independence. As spoken in a speech by Albert Beveridge, “Shall we turn these people back to the reeking hands from which we have taken them? Shall we abandon them, with Germany, England, Japan hungering for them?…” America was convinced that by annexing the Philippines, they were “rescuing” them and doing them a favor. “The rule…that all just government derives its authority from the consent of the governed, applies only to those who are capable of self-government.” Here Beveridge is implying that the Filipinos were unfit to govern themselves. By annexing the Philippines, the Filipinos were left with no freedom.
Spoken by the Anti-imperialist league, “We hold with Abraham Lincoln, that “no man is good enough to govern another man without that other’s consent. When the white man governs himself, that is self-government, but when he governs himself and also governs another man, that is more than self-government – that is despotism.” Lincoln believed that no man should be governed without consent. However, in this situation, that was what the United States was trying to do, making Americans highly hypocritical. Annexing the Philippines would be acceptable if the United States did it purely to benefit the Filipinos. William McKinley described to a group of clergymen in 1899 the benefits that would come with annexation. “That we could not give (the Philippines) back to Spain – that would be cowardly and dishonorable; That there was nothing left for us to do but to take them all, and to educate the Filipinos, and uplift and civilize and Christianize them, and by God’s grace.” While McKinley may have figured that he was constructing a remarkable plan, it is against basic human morals to force religion among anybody and these “benefits” described the surface of America’s plan. He did not mention that the Filipinos would be deprived of their freedom, liberty, and rights throughout the process of annexation.
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