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Republic or Empire

Republic or Empire

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Published by Abraham Ignacio
Powerpoint presentation given at the Presidio of San Francisco
Powerpoint presentation given at the Presidio of San Francisco

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Categories:Types, Research, History
Published by: Abraham Ignacio on May 27, 2011
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Presidio presentation, January 21, 2009


Republic or Empire?
United States Anti-Imperialist League ± opposition


[PP, Stop this bloody work] For at least three years from late 1898 to 1902, the United States¶ incursion into the Philippines was both the centerpiece of American foreign policy and the headlining subject of debate in the nation. [PP, Fun for the boys]President McKinley championed the side of conquest. [PP, Citizen or subject, which?] Anti-imperialists on the other hand invoked the principle of ³government by consent,´ not conquest. Lady Liberty became symbolic of a public opinion that simultaneously supported the Filipino cause for independence and criticized corporate globalization: ³Do I represent the idea of popular government«or am I simply a trademark for goods of American trust manufacturers?´.


[PP]The Philippine-American War took center stage during the 1900 presidential election. While the Republican incumbent, William McKinley, ran as the candidate for overseas expansion and big business, his Democratic Party opponent, the populist politician and orator, William Jennings Bryan, ran on an

Presidio presentation, January 21, 2009 anti-imperialist platform, opposing the war and advocating for Philippine independence.


[PP, We have Filipinos at home]The anti-imperialist movement to oppose Philippine annexation and later the Philippine American War began in in the state of Massachusetts. On November 1898, the Anti-Imperialist League was founded in Boston, and spread across the country with major branches in New York, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Chicago, and other cities. As my mentor, Daniel Boone Schirmer said, ³the Anti-Imperialist movement can best be understood as the last powerful thrust of abolitionism, the radical democratic ideology that spurred the North to victory over the slave-holders power´ during the Civil War. Among its members were George Boutwell, (President of the Anti-Imperialist League, a friend and associate of Abraham Lincoln; Jane Addams (civil rights activist and one of the founders of the settlement house movement), Reverend William H. Scott (former slave, civil rights activist and a vice-president of the AntiImperialist League); Mark Twain (America¶s beloved writer and a vice-president of the Anti-Imperialist League). The membership the anti-expansionist forces included notorious racists such as Senator Benjamin Tillman. Their opposition to Philippine annexation was motivated by a desire to exclude non-white immigrants to the United States, thereby preserving white racial purity. The anti-imperialist were vehemently attacked for their opposition to conquest of the Philippines and support of the Filipino peoples desire for independence.

Presidio presentation, January 21, 2009 Their advocacy to end the U.S. conquest of the Philippines was considered unpatriotic and traitorous. Schirmer [Calling in question the looming goal of world empire, they rejected the subjugation of the Philippines by armed force. Throughout the war they declared


their own government to be wrong and the Filipino people to be in the right. They took a principled stand against an unjust war of conquest.] Schirmer [the determination of the Philippine people to affirm their national identity that recalled the American people to their own anti-imperialist traditions«Unsuccessfully resisting the treaty to annex the Philippines, led a widespread opposition to the Philippine war of conquest and reached the peak of its influence in the election of 1900, that were fought out, to a great extent, on the issue of imperialism. Defeated in 1900, the anti-imperialist movement experienced a brief revival in the struggle against the atrocities in the Philippines, only to subside again, so that by 1904 it was reduced to its original starting point, the small Boston group that began it all.]

[PP, Idol of the aunties] Sexist and racist attitudes of the time were reflected in the ultra-conservative clamor against the anti-imperialists. The media depicted the ³aunties,´ a term the anti-imperialists were derisively called, as old women enamored with the ³savage´ Filipino leader Emilio Aguinaldo. Thus, to oppose the war signaled a lack of manhood.

Presidio presentation, January 21, 2009 [PP, Uncle Jasper] The leading anti-imperialists like Massachusetts Senator George Hoar and writer Mark Twain were among the most vilified. [PP,


Old Savage] Twain spoke passionately against the annexation of the Philippines and was Vice-President of the Anti-Imperialist League from 1901 until his death in 1910. ³We do not intend to free but to subjugate the people of the Philippines,´ he wrote. ³I am opposed to have the eagle put its talons on any land.´

ORIGINS OF THE FORBIDDEN BOOK PP,Anti-Marcos demo] All of us come from a history of political activism± opposing the Marcos dictatorship in the Philippines, and joining in the struggles for civil and immigrant rights. Our authoring ³The Forbidden Book´ is an extension our activism. It was our hope that this work would add to the growing body of written work helping break with the Philippines colonial past and to reveal a hidden part of American and Philippine history.

[PP, Exhibit card] The book has its origins in an exhibit entitled, ³Colored: Black n¶ White, Filipinos in American Popular Media, 1898-1907.´ When an exhibit called COLORED black & white was installed at Pusod in Berkeley, California, it was the intention of the curators to do several things: [PP, Pusod exhibit picture](1) to allow these 100-year old images to speak for themselves; (2) to share a Filipino American interpretative response to these images; (3) to help generate a mutual understanding of history of the power relations between whites and non-whites in the US, and between the Philippines and the United

Presidio presentation, January 21, 2009 States; and (4) to contribute to healing the psychic pain from the legacy of colonial conquest not just of Filipinos, but all colonized subjects. The exhibit contains many cartoons taken from the pages of [PP, Ready for duty] Puck, [PP, Does it fit] Judge and [PP, Just returned from the Philippines] Life magazines. These three were among the most influential opinion makers of their day. Puck and Judge employed color front cover and centerfold cartoons to opine on the issues of the day. Unlike Puck and Judge, Life did not use color in its cartoons. All three magazines employed some of the best artists of the day to draw for them. Puck and Judge were generally supportive of President McKinley and backed the U.S. war of conquest in the Philippines. In fact, at the time, Judge magazine was regarded as a propaganda vehicle for the Republican party.


Life magazine was one of the few published voices opposing U.S. imperial designs on the Philippines. Its cartoonists drew cartoons extremely critical of the war and many were supportive of the Filipino aims for independence and freedom. These images are from a collection of over 400 illustrations collected from antique stores, libraries, and the internet. We recognized the risk in putting these images on display, knowing they might elicit pain and reinforce the racial chauvinism Filipinos often show towards darker skinned people, particularly blacks.

Presidio presentation, January 21, 2009


Through the exhibition of these images, however, we hope to demonstrate that both the pain and the racial attitudes are by-products of a grand fiction that was popularized by print media at the turn of the last century. From the imperialist point of view, the fiction was necessary to rationalize a war before a critical public, and justify conquest of the Philippines. We hope that by uncovering the truth, we can begin the process of healing.

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