Conservatives feared the large standing army and entangling foreign alliances that they believed imperialism would require and that they feared would threaten American liberties. Sugar growers and others feared unwelcome competition from the new territories. iii. Favoring ratification was an equally varied group. There were exuberant imperialists such as Theodore Roosevelt, who saw the acquisition of empire as a way to reinvigorate the nation and keep alive what they considered the healthy influence of war. Some businessmen saw an opportunity for profits in the Philippines and believed annexation would position the U.S. to dominate the Asian trade. Most Republicans saw partisan advantages in acquiring valuable new territories through a war fought and won by a Republican administration. iv. When anti-imperialists warned of the danger of acquiring territories with large populations who might have to become citizens, the imperialists had an answer ready. The nation's longstanding policies toward Indians - treating them as dependents rather than as citizens - had created a precedent for annexing land without absorbing people. The fate of the treaty remained in doubt for weeks, until it received the unexpected support of William Jennings Bryan, a fervent anti-imperialist. He backed ratification not because he approved of annexation but because he hoped to move the issue out of the Senate and make it the subject of a
national referendum in 1900 when he expected to be the Democratic presidential candidate. Bryan persuaded a number of anti-imperialist Democrats to support the treaty so as to set up the 1900 debate. The Senate ratified the treaty on February 6, 1899. v. But Bryan miscalculated. If the election if 1900 was, in fact, a referendum on the Philippines, as Bryan tried to make it, it proved beyond doubt that the nation had decided in favor of imperialism. Once again Bryan ran against McKinley; and once again McKinley won - even more decisively than in 1896. It was not only the issues of the colonies, however, that ensured McKinley's victory. The Republicans were the beneficiaries of growing national prosperity, the depression was over, and also the colorful personality of their vice presidential candidate, Colonel Theodore Roosevelt, the hero of San Juan Hill. f. Governing the Colonies i. Three of the new American dependencies - Hawaii, Alaska, and Puerto Rico - presented few problems. They received territorial status and their residents American citizenship quickly. Hawaii in 1900, Alaska in 1912, and Puerto Rico in 1917. The Navy took control of the Pacific islands of Guam and Tutila and some of the smallest, least populated Pacific islands now under American control the U.S. simply left alone. Cuba was a problem. The American military remained in there until 1902 to prepare the island for independence. They built roads, schools, and hospitals, reorganized the legal, financial, and administrative systems, and introduced medical and sanitation reforms. But the U.S. also laid the basis for years of American economic domination of the island.
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- Fall '06
- Theodore Roosevelt, President Theodore Roosevelt