In 1898, the United States engaged in a war against Spain, a declining imperial nation. The United States would eventually succeed in defeating the Spanish with their powerful navy and military power as well as their well-planned strategy. As a result, this secured the United States’ position as a major political player within the Pacific, which would later contribute to it’s rise and transformation into a world power. The United States’ victory produced the Treaty of Paris, which would eliminate Spain’s claims in Cuba and grant the United States’ sovereignty over Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines.
More importantly, the United States, contradicting to their ideals, annexed the Philippines by buying it for $20 million from Spain. Thus, the United States’ annexed the Philippines to pursue and strengthen its economic interests in Asia in order to become a world power such as the likes of Great Britain and France contrary to its explanation of civilizing the Filipinos as well as preventing other powerful countries from imperializing it instead.
This paper will discuss about why the Philippines was an ideal country to imperialize for the United States’ economic interests towards Asia in the first paragraph, then move toward other reasons the United States claims to be reasons for annexing the Philippines in the second paragraph, and lastly demonstrate how the initial argument about the United States imperializing the Philippines for it’s economic interests towards Asia outweighs the other reasons for annexing the Philippines in the third paragraph.
Initially, the United States’ urge to rise into a world power pushed it to protect its trade within the Pacific as well as expand its economic interests, hence, the Philippines was ideal to imperialize because it would grant the United States easy access towards Asia, especially China. For instance, in “A lesson for AntiExpansionists” published by Judge in 1899, demonstrates an evolution of America’s expansion throughout 1783 to 1899, where after each set of years, America has more states that constitutes it.
Therefore, Uncle Sam, the symbol of America, starts as a baby and grows up as his power increases. However, interestingly, in 1898, Uncle Sam starts acquiring colonies thus transforming into a man who smokes cigars and has his hands in his pockets, which ultimately symbolizes him becoming a powerful businessman. Notably, in 1899, Uncle Sam becomes fat which symbolizes the power he has acquired by annexing the Philippines. To add, the fact that he is holding a ship represents that the power that Uncle Sam has acquired comes from the colonies he has acquired, thus he holds it as a valuable possession.
Accordingly, there are several hands that show up in front of Uncle Sam, particularly world powers Germany, Russia, England, France, and Italy who “are anxious to be on friendly terms with Uncle Sam. ” Furthermore, the political cartoon, “Columbia’s Easter Bonnet”, published by Puck in 1901 displays Columbia, the female symbol of America adjusting her bonnet which has “world power” and smoke that has “expansion” written on it ultimately shows that America is on its way to become a powerful nation that is even obtaining land outside it’s borders.
Even more, on the bonnet, there is “army” and “navy” that explicitly indicate that America has the necessary tools and capacities to keep expanding. To add, Columbia is in a dressing room that contains makeup, perfume, and a mirror, which represents that America is ready to display its status as a “world power. ” Lastly, in the political cartoon, “And, after all, the Philippines are only the stepping-stone to China”, published by Judge in 1900, illustrates Uncle Sam using the Philippines as a means to attain Asia and thus expand its economic interests there.
Meanwhile, the fact that Uncle Sam is stepping on the Philippines shows that it is practically useless in the case of expanding its economic interest excessively and is treating it the same way he would treat the ground, by stepping on it with no actual meaning of giving it respect. However, the Philippines happens to offer a direct connection with Asia, where China resides, hence, opening up a great opportunity for the United States to gain more money and subsequently, more power. As shown in the political cartoon, there is a Chinese man welcoming Uncle Sam, who is carrying many resources to trade with China.
Precisely, there are signs in China demanding rails, cars, engines, and consumables and Uncle Sam can now easily provide these which will benefit America excessively economically speaking. In the end, through the sources, “A lesson for Anti-Imperialists”, “Columbia’s Easter Bonnet”, and “And, after all, the Philippines are only the stepping-stone to China”, the United States wanted to expand its area of influence by imperializing the Philippines in order to magnify it’s economic interests in Asia for it to imitate other world powers to develop into one itself.
The United States claimed it annexed the Philippines primarily because it considered itself as racially superior therefore it seen as “The White Man’s Burden”, otherwise known as “manifest destiny” which required them to civilize the primitive communities in the Philippines, but also to prevent other world powers from imperializing the Philippines. Firstly, in “The White Man’s Burden”, written by Rudyard Kipling, a famous imperial poet, in 1899, was a response to America colonizing the Philippines after the end of the Spanish-American War.
Basically, it states that the ‘White Man”, who is civilized, holds the burden of educating the primitive communities. For instance, the Kipling states that the “White Man” needs to “send forth the best” to cultivate the “wild… new caught, sullen peoples, half devil and half child. ” Therefore, America is taking up its responsibility or “the White Man’s burden. ” To add, the political cartoon, “The Filipino’s first bath” which was published by Judge in 1899, shows McKinley, America’s president at that time period, bathing a Filipino child.
Similar to baptism, McKinley is washing the child, who is portrayed as wild through his screaming and denial to become civilized, with water or in this case “civilization” which would wash away all the barbaric and savage behavior and thus give the child a new identity that initiates a newer more sophisticated way of life. Moreover, coming back to “A lesson for Anti-Expansionists”, which illustrates Uncle Sam in 1899 very powerful and hence being other countries wanted to establish “friendly terms” with the United States.
The United States wanted to avoid world powers like Germany or Japan from acquiring the new proclaimed and independent Philippines because it would subsequently increase their economic relations with Asia as well as ease trade between them. Therefore, Uncle Sam’s increase in weight displays how much power he attained when he colonized the Philippines, which was ultimately what he didn’t want to happen to other world supremacies due to the competition.
To conclude, the United States annexed the Philippines because they wanted to fulfill their duty or in other words, “the White Man’s burden” to educated and civilize the primitive people paired with the competitive atmosphere between other world powers, they feared it would strengthen their economic relations. The United States’ true intentions reside within protecting their economic interests in the Pacific in addition to establishing a stronger trading connection with Asia contrary to their claim of helping civilize the Philippines.
Initially, the sources, “The White Man’s Burden” and “The Filipino’s first bath”, demonstrate how “the White Man” is superior and thus the Filipinos need to be educated and civilized, however, this quickly becomes a limitation towards become sources. Firstly, both sources are assuming that they the white race is naturally superior to the black race. Therefore, the white race is judging the Filipinos through their standards of being civilized, which then leads to the second limitation of how being civilized is defined by different cultures.
Furthermore, instead of civilizing the Filipinos, the United States was killing a major portion of the population. As depicted in Life’s, “The Harvest in the Philippines” in 1899, Uncle Sam is fully armed and showing off handy work. Basically, this political cartoon is displaying that America is not helping the malnourished Filipinos nor is it supporting their fight for independence, but instead it has killed a large number of the Filipino population. Moreover, the source, “A lesson for AntiExpansionism”, offers an insight of what occurs to a country’s power when it colonizes other countries.
As stated before, the United States was afraid that other world powers would benefit from the Philippines vulnerability and colonize it, which would then aid them economically as they would have a direct connection with Asia. However, the United States did not annex the Philippines for the sake of protecting it from these powers, instead it saw the potential economic growth it would create as well as assert its control over the Pacific trade due to the competition between world powers.
Thus, the limitation within this source is that it clearly contradicts the United States’ claim of protecting the Philippines from other world powers, but rather use it to maintain its rule over the trade in the Pacific and also its development into a world power, where other dominant countries try to establish “friendly terms” with the United States. Lastly, the sources, “The White Man’s Burden”, “The Filipino’s first bath”, and “A lesson for Anti-Expansionism” all contradict American ideals.
Ideals such as equality, liberty, and pursuit of happiness are values that have established America’s government system and ideology in which it revolves around. In “Fun for the Boys”, published by Life in 1900, displays how the leaders at the time, notably President McKinley find one of the key documents of America’s foundation, the Declaration of Independence, a laughter. The man standing up is pointing to the joke, which is that the government’s power needs to derive “from the consent of the governed. Thus, George Washington, who symbolizes the founding fathers work, looks disappointed because they did not intend for this kind of occurrences. This leads to supporting the political cartoon, “And after all the Philippines are only the stepping-stone to China”, which demonstrates that the United States annexed the Philippines to expand its economic interests to Asia, but more importantly with China who is asking to buy several items, consumables, and resources from the United States.
Given the limitations of the evidence used to support the hypotheses that the United States wanted to civilize and protect the Philippines, the initial interpretation that the United States was interested in expanding its economic interest towards Asia in order to become a world power such as the likes of France, England, and Germany appears all the more persuasive.
To conclude, the evidence from the sources, “A lesson for AntiImperialists”, “Columbia’s Easter Bonnet”, and “And, after all, the Philippines are only the stepping-stone to China” assert and identify that the United States annexed the Philippines to for its economic interests toward Asia, which would as a result help expand its power.
While the United States also sought to cultivate the Filipinos, these sources, “The White Man’s Burden” and “The Filipino’s first bath”, were racist and only provided their own definition of a civilized community, thus reinforcing its true interest which resided within protecting its economic interests with Asia for the sake of preventing other powers from taking advantage of those benefits as demonstrated by the source, “A lesson for Anti-Expansionism”. To add, the United States did not apply nor did it respect the ideals by which they revolve and are founded upon.
As depicted through the political cartoons, the leaders saw the declaration of independence as a joke, thus questioning the true reason behind the United States annexed the Philippines. Thus, through all these sources, more specifically the evidence used as well as the identified limitations, it becomes clear that the United States was interested in developing into a world power in order to compete with other prevailing countries, hence, annexing the Philippines fulfilled America’s desire to increase its authority by establishing a stronger economic connection with Asia, specifically China.