A Structural Transformation of US Foreign Policy | German Empire | Liberalism

A Structural Transformation of US Foreign Policy: An International Construction of American Expansionism, 1898

Jittipat Poonkham St Antony‟s College

Thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of MPhil in International Relations in the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Oxford

Trinity 2011

(29,533 words)


Chapter 1 Introduction: American Expansionism

The world exposition „was worth while. The buildings make… the most beautiful architectural exhibit the world has ever seen. If they were only permanent! That south lagoon, with the peristyle cutting it off from the lake, the great terraces, the grandeur and beauty of the huge white buildings, the statue, the fine fountains, the dome of the administration building, the bridges guarded by the colossal animals—well, there is simply nothing to say about it. And the landscape effects are so wonderful‟.1 This description is not of the Shanghai Exposition of 2010, but the Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago, named in honour of Christopher Columbus. It was not Chinese leaders Hu Jintao or Wen Jaipao, but American statesman Theodore Roosevelt who asserted it. Nonetheless, these two phenomena identified the rising powers, particularly economically, in the international system, one late in the nineteenth century, and the other early in the twenty-first. While the former anticipated the „American Century‟, the latter may have marked the start of a „Chinese Century‟. In international relations (IR) scholarship, the history of international politics is above all that of the rise and fall of great powers. And that struggle between rising and declining powers has often produced war: a peaceful structural change has historically been exceptional.2 The most notable such exception occurred when the United States (US) overtook Great Britain in the late nineteenth century. This was largely because Britain decided to appease the Americans when faced with the Venezuelan Crisis in 1895 and in particular the Spanish-American War


Theodore Roosevelt to James Brander Matthews, 8 June 1893, The Letters of Theodore Roosevelt, Vol. 1 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1951), p. 320. 2 See Robert Gilpin, War and Change in World Politics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981); and Paul Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers (New York: Random House, 1987). For information on a peaceful transition, see E.H. Carr, The Twenty Years‟ Crisis, 1919-1939 (London: Macmillan, 1939); and Charles Kupchan, et al., Power in Transition (Tokyo: United Nations University Press, 2001). For information on a peaceful systemic change in US-Chinese relations, see for example Susan Shirk, China: Fragile Superpower (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007).


in 1898. IR scholars, however, have tended to leave this topic to historians, even though it is central to the debate in IR theory about the rise and fall of the great powers in the international system.3 The questions driving this research are as follows: Why and under what conditions did the US, as an emerging great power, explicitly pursue an expansionist foreign policy in the Western hemisphere after 1898? And how was it made possible? In general, scholars have argued that the US, which was preoccupied with its domestic development during the nineteenth century, had a narrow conception of its interests and avoided „entangling alliances‟ in international politics. Whereas most Europeans accepted the logic of a continental balance-of-power struggle, many Americans saw their country as an exceptional power, motivated by liberal and moral concerns, rather than by realpolitik. However, this dichotomy does not properly explain why and how America came to pursue an expansionist foreign policy at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries. Some scholars have concentrated on the domestic pressures that drove and shaped American expansionism. This thesis however asserts a constructivist interpretation of American expansionism, focusing on what is here called the „Spanish-American-Cuban War‟ of 1898. The term is used in order to „represent all of the major participants and to identify where the war was fought and whose interests were most at stake‟.4 It thus illuminates the war of 1898 with reference to the Cuban theatre, and takes for granted its Philippine part. The thesis discusses important social agents, including those expansionists and antiexpansionists, but it focuses mainly on the expansionists, and argues that their ideas, identities, and preferences were to a considerable extent socially and culturally constructed


Exceptions include, for example, Fareed Zakaria, From Wealth to Power: The Unusual Origins of America‟s World Role (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998). 4 Thomas Paterson, „United States Intervention in Cuba, 1898: Interpretations of the Spanish-American-CubanFilipino War‟, The History Teacher, Vol. 29: No. 3 (May 1996), p. 341.


by the international systemic structure.5 The research does not view the state as a unitary actor: it recognises social agents within the state. However, it intentionally excludes social Darwinism and racial relations, economic factors and the role of business and the media (particularly the yellow press), even though these are factors that certainly played a part. This thesis will argue that a structural transformation of US foreign policy, particularly after the war of 1898, was constituted in response to a changing international system. The rest of this chapter outlines the literature review, the theoretical and methodological frameworks, and the structure of the thesis.

1.1 Literature review Important overviews of late nineteenth-century US foreign policy have examined such themes as the „transformation‟ of American foreign policy, the „old‟ versus the „new‟ diplomacy, America‟s „outward thrust‟, the „emergence of America as a great power‟, the „imperialist urge‟, and the „new empire‟.6 Fundamentally, the debates centre on whether US foreign policy showed continuity or discontinuity from its previous traditions. Most are generated by historians, rather than IR scholars. Historians primarily concentrate on domestic factors, while IR scholars focus on the nature of the international system and the constraints imposed on its units. All of them, nevertheless, have agreed that the US was transformed into a great power in the years after 1898. 7 This section outlines important debates, and reviews the historiography and the theoretical literature on foreign policy.

5 6

Throughout the thesis, the terms „expansionist‟ and „imperialist‟ are used interchangeably. Charles Campbell, The Transformation of American Foreign Relations (New York: Harper & Row, 1976); Robert L. Beisner, From the Old Diplomacy to the New, 1965-1900 (New York: Thomas Crowell, 1975); Ernest May, Imperial Democracy: The Emergence of America as a Great Power (New York: Harper & Row, 1961); David Healy, US Expansionism: The Imperialist Urge in the 1890s (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1970); Walter LaFeber, The New Empire (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1963); Joseph Fry, „Phases of Empire: Late Nineteenth-Century US Foreign Relations‟, in The Gilded Age: Essays on the Origins of Modern America, ed. Charles Calhoun (Wilmington: Scholarly Resources, 1996), pp. 261-88. 7 Edward Crapol, „Coming to Terms with Empire: The Historiography of Late-Nineteenth-Century American Foreign Relations‟, Diplomatic History, Vol. 16: No. 4 (Fall 1992), pp. 573-97.


First of all, a so-called Pratt School, spearheaded by historians Julius Pratt and Samuel Flagg Bemis, argues in liberal vein that American expansionism of 1898 was a „great aberration‟ or an „empire by default‟ in US foreign relations.8 It was a temporary, accidental, unplanned and transitory expansionist moment. For these discontinuity historians, the root causes of American expansionism lay in the primacy of domestic factors, such as electoral pressures, expansionist public opinion (such as May‟s „imperial democracy‟), weak leadership, the „large policy‟ conspirators, psychological strains (such as Hofstadter‟s „psychic crisis‟), yellow journalism, social Darwinism, and so on. Pratt asserted that America‟s favouring of war and expansionism was unplanned and accidental, largely manipulated by a few conspirators taking advantage of an emotional public‟s humanitarian concerns. Influenced by Captain Alfred Mahan‟s ideas, Theodore Roosevelt and Henry Cabot Lodge „were conspiring, for months beforehand, to utilise the impending crisis with Spain to launch the United States on a career of colonial expansion and world power‟.9 The discontinuity scholars further argue that the leadership of President William McKinley was characterised by political expediency and personal weakness. McKinley‟s „duty to the Republican Party was much clearer than his duty to the nation‟, and he bowed to public opinion in order to avert the threat of Democratic victories in the midterm elections of November 1898.10


See, for example, Julius Pratt, „The “Large Policy” of 1898‟, Mississippi Valley Historical Review, Vol. 19: No. 2 (September 1932), pp. 219-42; Julius Pratt, Expansionists of 1898 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1936); Samuel Flagg Bemis, A Diplomatic History of the United States (New York: Henry Holt, 1936); Dexter Perkins, The American Approach to Foreign Policy (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1962); Richard Hofstadter, „Manifest Destiny and the Philippines‟, in America in Crisis, ed. Daniel Aaron (New York: Knopf, 1952); May, Imperial Democracy; Ernest May, American Imperialism: A Speculative Essay (New York: Atheneum, 1968); John A. S. Grenville and George B. Young, Politics, Strategy, and American Diplomacy: Studies in Foreign Policy, 1873-1913 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1966); Robert Beisner, Twelve Against Empire: The Anti-Imperialists, 1898-1900 (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1968); William Becker, The Dynamics of Business-Government Relations: Industry and Exports, 1893-1921 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982); Robert Dallek, The American Style of Foreign Policy: Cultural Politics and Foreign Affairs (New York: Knopf, 1983); and Ivan Musicant, Empire by Default (New York: Henry Holt, 1998). 9 Pratt, „The “Large Policy” of 1898‟, pp. 220-1. 10 May, Imperial Democracy.


This group of scholars also presents the war of 1898 as a moral crusade to liberate Cuba from a brutal Spanish empire. It was, in such a conception, overwhelmingly driven by jingoistic newspapers and national hysteria.11 As May puts it, McKinley „led his country unwillingly toward a war that he did not want for a cause in which he did not believe‟. 12 According to this interpretation, the US was a benign regional hegemon, which accidentally pursued a humanitarian intervention in the Western hemisphere in order to preserve peace and stability. In a similar vein, classical realists propound that the war decision was caused by „subjective and emotional reasons‟. They put the blame on „naïve, overly idealistic moral crusades‟, which ignored prudent calculations of the national interest. „McKinley did not want war‟, George Kennan suggests. „When it came to employment of our armed forces, popular moods, political pressures, and inner-governmental intrigue were decisive‟.


Hans Morgenthau, the president had led the country „beyond the confines of the Western Hemisphere, ignorant of this step upon the national interest, and guided by moral principles completely divorced from the national interest‟.

Simply put, emotional public opinion

dictated the war of 1898. Like the Pratt School, classical realists emphasise the discontinuity in American foreign relations and the importance of domestic factors. On the other hand, revisionist historians represented by the Wisconsin School of the 1960s, such as William Appleman Williams and Walter LaFeber, stress continuity of


Gerald Linderman, The Mirror of War: American Society and the Spanish-American War (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1974); Hofstadter, „Manifest Destiny and the Philippines‟; and John Offner, An Unwanted War (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1992). 12 May, Imperial Democracy, p. 159. Subsequent historians, such as H. Wayne Morgan (1965), Lewis Gould (1980), and John Offner (1992), convincingly argue that McKinley was neither manipulated by large policy expansionists nor overwhelmed by public pressure. Instead, he opted for war and expansionism based on deliberate assessment of US interests. Their „McKinley‟ is a much stronger and more competent leader than is presented by May. See Chapter 3. 13 George F. Kennan, American Diplomacy, 1900-1950 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1951), p. 20. See also Robert E. Osgood, Ideals and Self-Interest in America‟s Foreign Relations: The Great Transformation of the Twentieth Century (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1953); and Norman A. Graebner, „The Year of Transition‟, in An Uncertain Tradition (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1961). 14 Hans J. Morgenthau, In Defense of the National Interest (New York: Knopf, 1951), p. 23.


motivation. Drawing on the works of Charles Beard in the 1920s, Williams argued controversially that the US had been an informal empire, or „imperialism of anti-colonialism‟, ever since the founding of the nation.15 They focus on the capitalist motivations behind American expansionism: rather than promoting order or stability, the US sought an economic opportunity. Williams and LaFeber argue that, due to overproduction and economic depression, by the 1890s America needed foreign markets to expand trade and investment abroad and avoid political turmoil at home. Williams identifies farmers as motivating forces behind the drive for capitalist expansionism, while LaFeber and McCormick blame industrialists and urban business leaders.16 By seeing him as a victim of capitalist pressures, the revisionists redeem McKinley‟s leadership as a modern president. LaFeber denies that McKinley wanted war: he merely wanted „what only a war could provide: the disappearance of the terrible uncertainty in American political and economic life, and a solid basis from which to resume the building of the new American commercial empire‟.17 Moreover, responding to the new expansionist outlook of the business community, McKinley could end the instability in the Western hemisphere, which depressed the economy and destroyed American trade and investment with Cuba. Instead, it opened the path to the Philippines, which was itself a gateway to the


Charles Beard, The Idea of National Interests: An Analytical Study in American Foreign Policy (New York: Macmillan, 1934); and William A. Williams, The Tragedy of American Diplomacy (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1959 [1979]). 16 See, for example, Williams, The Tragedy of American Diplomacy; LaFeber, The New Empire; Walter LaFeber, The American Search for Opportunity, 1865-1913 (Cambridge University Press, 1993); Thomas McCormick, China Market: America‟s Quest for Informal Empire, 1893-1901 (Chicago: Quadrangle Books, 1967); Healy, US Expansionism; Edward Crapol, America for Americans: Economic Nationalism and Anglophobia in the Late Nineteenth Century (Westport: Greenwood Press, 1973); David Pletcher, „Rhetoric and Results: A Pragmatic View of American Economic Expansionism, 1865-98‟, Diplomatic History, Vol. 5: No. 2 (1981), pp. 93-106; David Pletcher, The Diplomacy of Trade and Investment: American Economic Expansion in the Hemisphere, 1865-1900 (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1998); Joseph Fry, „Imperialism, American Style, 1890-1916‟, in American Foreign Relations Reconsidered, 1890-1993, ed. Gordon Martel (London: Routledge, 1994); Louis Perez Jr., Cuba Between Empire, 1878-1902 (Pittsburg: University of Pittsburg Press, 1983); Thomas Schoonover, The United States in Central America, 1860-1911 (Durham: Duke University Press, 1991); and Thomas Schoonover, Uncle Sam‟s War of 1898 and the Origins of Globalization (Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 2004). 17 LaFeber, The New Empire, p. 400.


Chinese market.18 The political and business elites thus created what Rosenberg calls „the promotional state‟, a federal government committed to assisting American capitalists to trade and invest abroad.19 According to this approach, public opinion was manufactured by economic pressures: in other words, capitalism dictated war. In summary then, while conventional historiography argues that American expansionism after 1898 emerged because of a moral idealistic motivation and an American search for stability in the Western hemisphere, revisionists paint it as a longstanding imperial power in which capitalism played an increased role. A few IR scholars have recently tackled the war of 1898 and American expansionism. Defensive realists have done so in support of their claim that great powers pursue an expansionist foreign policy abroad only when they are threatened. In this view, the anarchical nature of the international system created insecurity for a new great power, which consequently compelled assertiveness and expansionism. The ascent of American power in the international system at the end of the nineteenth century and intensive imperial rivalry in the world drove the US to participate in the „great-power game‟. „The United States feared that it might be left out of the international race for territory and especially that other imperialists would cut them off from the markets necessary to America‟s economic health‟.20 Consequently, the US chose to expand largely due to insecurity and European threats in the Western hemisphere. Another IR approach has been „offensive‟ or „state-centered realism‟. A prominent exemplar is Fareed Zakaria‟s From Wealth to Power: The Unusual Origins of America‟s World Role (1998). Like the members of the Pratt School, Zakaria argues for the discontinuity of US foreign policy. He believes that, during the 1890s, state power, including
18 19

Michael Hunt, Ideology and US Foreign Policy (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1987). Emily Rosenberg, Spreading the American Dream (New York: Hill and Wang, 1982). 20 Paterson, „United States Intervention in Cuba, 1898‟, p. 344. See Robert Wiebe, The Search for Order, 18771920 (New York: Hill and Wang, 1967); and Michael Mandelbaum, The Fate of Nations: The Search for National Security in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988).


economic and naval capabilities, had grown rapidly and made it possible for the US to seek expansion abroad. Although since the Civil War of 1865 key American decision-makers, such as the then Secretary of State William Henry Seward (1861-69), had „noticed and considered clear opportunities to expand American influence and interests abroad‟, they failed because they presided over a weak „decentralised, diffuse, and divided‟ state structure that provided them with little power and influence to expand. This is what Zakaria calls an „imperial understretch‟. 21 As he argues compellingly, between 1865 and the 1890s: The structure of the American state ensured that central decision-makers, who respond most directly to the pressures of the international system, were unable to translate national power into national influence because they presided over a weak federal government that had enormous difficulty extracting resources, particularly for expenditures that did not directly benefit congressional constituents. The division between the legislative and executive branches allowed Congress to thwart the executive‟s plans. Congress was not blindly antiexpansionist, but it was blindly antiexecutive.22 By the beginning of the 1890s, the domestic „balance of power had shifted in two ways. First, the congressional bid for supremacy had exhausted itself and was clearly petering out and, second, the growth of the national economy was creating the need for a national, professional bureaucracy‟.23 This was the process of the modern state-building and an increasing centralisation of presidential power. For Zakaria, the transformation of the state structure permitted a more expansionist foreign policy on the part of central decision-makers, including the president and his closest advisors, whose perception of its opportunities shifted „suddenly, rather than incrementally‟.24 Offensive realists believe that increased capabilities, not increased threats, drove American expansionism. Democratic peace theory holds that, due to their liberal values—their domestic political institutions and culture—democracies do not fight each other. Mark Peceny further suggests a „constructivist‟ variant by explaining the Spanish-American War through a
21 22

Zakaria, From Wealth to Power, p. 5, p. 11. Zakaria, From Wealth to Power, p. 88. 23 Zakaria, From Wealth to Power, p. 89. 24 Zakaria, From Wealth to Power, p. 11, p. 184.


combination of Wendtian structural idealism and Gramscian critical theory. War between democracies, such as the war of 1898, could occur because they did not perceive each other as part of the Kantian „liberal pacific union‟. „Liberal states are peaceful towards one another not because they are individually and independently imbued with liberal values, but because they are part of a liberal system bound together by shared norms‟. As Peceny puts it, in the Wendtian way, „the liberal peace is what powerful liberal states make of it‟.25 It was, therefore, the „intersubjective consensus‟ that binds liberal states together in the pacific union. Like many discontinuity historians, Peceny argues that Americans viewed the war as a „moral crusade to liberate the Cubans from an autocratic Spain‟. From a Gramscian perspective, US decision-makers used the idea of the liberal pacific union to legitimate the war and American expansionism. Democracy promotion was a tool for achieving ideological hegemony at home and abroad and provided a justification for an expansionist foreign policy. He notes that America‟s application of the protectorate in Cuba was popular in the US, whereas its imposition of colonial rule in the Philippines was not.26 Most people writing on American expansionism, whether arguing for continuity or for discontinuity, have focused on Waltz‟s „first image‟ (the individual) or „second image‟ (the state). Other writers have invoked such international factors as the influence of European imperialism and an American aspiration to great-power status.27 However, systemic or structural explanations are also possible: a „third image‟ assumes that states respond to external vulnerabilities and opportunities to achieve their goals.28 For example, David Lake‟s Power, Protection, and Free Trade (1988) emphasises the international sources of US foreign economic policy, particularly its commercial strategy. Given that Britain used its power to


Mark Peceny, „A Constructivist Interpretation of the Liberal Peace: The Ambiguous Case of the SpanishAmerican War‟, Journal of Peace Research, Vol. 34: No. 4 (1997), pp. 416-7. 26 Peceny, „A Constructivist Interpretation of the Liberal Peace‟, p. 418, pp. 424-7. 27 See May, Imperial Democracy; Healy, US Expansionism; and Beisner, From the Old Diplomacy to the New, 1965-1900. 28 See Kenneth Waltz, Theory of International Politics (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1979).


promote free trade, the US was able to „free ride‟ on a pre-existing liberal international regime, while protecting its industrialisation and trade relations.29 This explanation nevertheless assumes the given, a priori identities and interests of American domestic social agents. This thesis takes a different ontological approach to American expansionism. It assumes that the transformation of US foreign policy at the end of the nineteenth century was structural. It was a response to the transformation of the international system through a process of interactive constitution between structure and agents. That is, the identities and interests of agents were endogenously constituted, rather than exogenously given. American expansionism was actually contingent, constructed by the international system. This thesis therefore offers a constructivist interpretation of American expansionism as a way towards systemic understanding of American expansionism. It does not claim to test such an interpretation against its rivals.

1.2 Theories and arguments In IR theory, the term „structure‟ is predominantly conceptualised in Waltzian terms, as a material distribution of capabilities. As Wendt puts it, „When IR scholars today use the word structure they almost always mean Walt‟s materialist definition as a distribution of capabilities‟.30 The international system represents the interaction among its principal actors—states as units—within an anarchical structure. Change occurred when the distribution of capabilities across units altered, and a balance-of-power system attempts to stabilise the system. Under the anarchical structure, on the other hand, states rationally persist in their attempt to expand.31


David Lake, Power, Protection, and Free Trade: International Sources of US Commercial Strategy, 18871939 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1988). 30 Alexander Wendt, Social Theory of International Politics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), p. 249. 31 Waltz, Theory of International Politics; and John J. Mearsheimer, The Tragedy of Great Power Politics (New York: W.W. Norton& Company, 2001).


Recently, constructivists such as Wendt have challenged Waltz‟s ontology, arguing instead that structure is determined less by material factors than by the distribution of shared ideas and norms. In other words, the structure of the international system is more social than material. Its anarchy is constituted by intersubjective understandings and expectations between states. As Wendt famously asserts, „anarchy is what states make of it‟, so there are three dominant cultures of anarchy: Hobbesian, Lockean, and Kantian.32 Moreover, unlike the neorealism-neoliberalism nexus, these ideational structures not merely caused but constituted state identities and interests at a particular time through the interaction process, which Wendt calls „micro structure‟. 33 According to Wendt, structure has two dimensions: the macro social structure of international politics and the micro structure of interaction. Significantly, Wendt urges us to rethink the formation of interests and identities. However, for him, the primary actors remain unitary states. The Spanish-American-Cuban War case challenges Waltz‟s and Wendt‟s

assumptions: given the same structure, why did it shape social agents differently, creating expansionists and anti-expansionists? In this thesis, this is explained at the level of the individual unit. My argument is that the international structure socially constituted and socialised the identity and interests of American social agents, a process I call the internationalisation of agents.34 These internationalised agents, in turn, made a decision to expand (and not to expand) because they envisioned the international system differently: expansionists viewed it in Hobbesian terms, while anti-expansionists saw it in Kantian terms.


Alexander Wendt, „Anarchy Is What States Make of It‟, International Organization, Vol. 46 (1992), pp. 391425; and Wendt, Social Theory of International Politics. See also Nicholas Onuf, World of Our Making (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1989); Friedrich Kratochwil, Rules, Norms, and Decisions (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989); John Gerard Ruggie, Constructing the World Polity (London: Routledge, 1998); and Peter J. Katzenstein, ed., The Culture of National Security (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996). 33 See Wendt, Social Theory of International Politics, Chapter 4. For Neoliberal institutionalists like Keohane, ideas matter only in causal relationships, and are not constitutive. See Judith Goldstein and Robert Keohane, Ideas and Foreign Policy (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1993). 34 I adapt the term from Robert W. Cox‟s concept of „the internationalisation of the state‟. See his Approaches to World Order (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996).


Therefore, to speak in Wendtian terms, American expansionism was what the expansionists made of it. The thesis focuses mainly on the roles of expansionists. In this thesis, the key assumptions need to be defined, as follows. (1) International structure is social. The international system consists not merely of the distribution of material capabilities but also of the social relations of power, determined primarily by socially and culturally shared ideas, knowledge, and norms. (2) The internationalisation of agents is the process of social interaction and socialisation, or the process whereby agents and their identities and interests are socially constituted. International structure matters in the sense that it not merely influences but significantly socially constructs the identities and interests of social agents, i.e. the internationalisation of agents. (3) Social agents include states and individual actors. Their interests and identities are not exogenously fixed but can be contingently changeable and arise out of a socially international context. As theories of cognitive dissonance suggest, people can change their ideas and beliefs relatively quickly and easily in response to a changed external environment.35 Although identities are constructed by more than systemic or interstate relations,36 this thesis, adopting Wendt‟s „idealist structuralism‟, emphasises the internationalisation of the state and agents. It focuses mainly on the emergence of the internationalised elite—American expansionists—and their ideas, perceptions, and preferences, thereby assuming the anti-expansionist movements. Throughout the 1890s, a group of


Deborah Welch Larson, Origins of Containment: A Psychological Explanation (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1985). 36 See, for example, Jutta Weldes, „Constructing National Interests‟, European Journal of International Relations, Vol. 2: No. 3 (1996), pp. 275-318; Jutta Weldes, Constructing National Interests: The United States and the Cuban Missile Crisis (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999); and Ted Hopf, Social Construction of International Politics (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2002).


internationally oriented elites redefined themselves as expansionists. Rather than manifesting a methodological individualism, expansionists shared intersubjective beliefs, meanings and collectivity with other European imperialists in general and the British in particular. They made a deliberate decision to expand in 1898, which in turn mutually constituted the international system—the emergence of the US as a new great power. The thesis is a constructivist interpretation of American expansionism, which focuses on „ideas all the way down‟ from the international to the domestic. First of all, the thesis argues that the international system was structurally transformed in the 1890s in three areas: the balance of power and the imperial competition between European states, the international economy, and Britain‟s world position. Structural transformations in these areas redefined the shared intersubjective understanding of the rules of the game. Changes in the external environment not only affected emerging powers like the US but also constituted individuals‟ interests and identities. They transformed particular social actors from Anglophobe protectionists into Anglophile, export-oriented expansionists through the process of international construction or the internationalisation of agents. The Venezuelan Crisis of 1895 was a watershed in this transformation. In the thesis, I argue that after 1895 a transatlantic special relationship between Great Britain and the US developed.37 This special relationship between a declining and a rising power watered down the attempted concert of European powers before the outbreak of the Spanish-American-Cuban War and made American expansionism possible. The special relationship is not best explained by the democratic peace


Most of the literature identifies the origin of the special relationship as being after the Second World War. See, for example, Kees van der Pijl, The Making of an Atlantic Ruling Class (London: Verso, 1984); William Roger Louis and Hedley Bull, The “Special Relationship”: Anglo-American Relations since 1945 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986); John Dumbrell, A Special Relationship (New York: St. Marin‟s Press, 2001). Some scholars focus on the transatlantic liberal ideas, see Daniel Rodgers, Atlantic Crossings: Social Politics in a Progressive Age (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1998); Murney Gerlach, British Liberalism and the United States (New York: Palgrave, 2001); and William Mountz, „Shadowing British Imperialism: Origins of the US Open Door Policy, 1890-1899‟, MA Dissertation, Texas Tech University, August 2007.


proposition that democracies do not go to war against each other: this thesis makes the constructivist claim that Anglo-American shared ideas and understandings were actually more important. Second, the internationally oriented expansionists proactively promulgated

expansionist discourses and practices, and thereby influenced the McKinley administration‟s decision to go to war with Spain in 1898. I argue that these groups of people were transatlantic elites who shared intersubjective understandings and expectations with British elites. The Anglo-American rapprochement not only provided a strategic opportunity for American expansionism but also socially constructed transatlantic agents. This does not mean that they were ignorant of their national interests; rather, they perceived them as mutual or overlapping. The thesis shows how the McKinley administration laid out its policy options and decisively chose armed intervention and a naval blockade over other peaceful means. It can be argued that McKinley‟s decision was part and parcel of American expansionists‟ discourses and practices. Although the thesis largely concentrates on the expansionists, it begins by noting that, given the same international structure, by the end of the 1890s both expansionists and antiexpansionists ideationally converged in support of free-trade liberalism and Anglophilism. This was because the expansionists had been significantly transformed in respect to their identity and interests from Anglophobe protectionists into Anglophile liberals. However, these two groups were different, due largely to their different perceptions of the international structure as Hobbesian expansionists and Kantian anti-expansionists. The former were affiliated with the European rules of the game at that time—imperialism, balance of power, and great powerness—while the latter thought of the liberal pacific union and humanitarianism. To put it differently, expansionists and anti-expansionists to a certain


degree shared a common identity, but had very divergent worldviews. Again, American expansionism was fundamentally what expansionists made of it.

1.3 Methodology and sources The thesis is based on a qualitative methodology and single-N case research. My aim is to assert a constructivist interpretation of American expansionism in the Western hemisphere. I select one major case study: the Spanish-American-Cuban War of 1898. The case illustrates the pivotal moment when the US emerged as a world power and asserted its hemispheric hegemony over Central and Latin America. Methodologically, it follows George in employing process-tracing „to establish the ways in which the actor‟s beliefs influenced his receptivity to and assessment of incoming information about the situation, his definition of the situation, his identification and evaluation of options, as well as…his choice of a course of action‟. According to George, process-tracing is the „more direct and potentially more satisfactorily approach to causal interpretation in single case analysis‟ because it „takes the form of an attempt to trace the process—the intervening steps—by which beliefs influence behavior‟.38 The processes traced are the internationalisation of agents and the policy process. Here, the actor‟s beliefs are not exogenously given, but rather socially constituted by the international structure. In the explanatory framework, the independent variables are international systemic factors and the internationalisation of agents, whereas the dependent variable is American hegemonic expansion. The formation of American expansionists‟ changing identity and interests are considered the primary causal variable. The research then draws on a number of sources, including secondary literature, published collections of primary diplomatic documents (particularly from the State Department‟s Foreign Relations of


Alexander George, „Causal Nexus between Cognitive Beliefs and Decision-Making Behavior: The „Operational Code‟ Belief System‟, in Psychological Models in International Politics, ed. Lawrence Falkowski (Boulder: Westview Press, 1979), p. 113. See also Alexander George and Andrew Bennett, Case Studies and Theory Development in the Social Sciences (Cambridge: the MIT Press, 2005).


the United States), and the private correspondence of, in particular, Henry Cabot Lodge, Theodore Roosevelt, and John Hay. Second, I roughly apply discourse analysis, following Milliken by analysing how an elite‟s „regime of truth‟ made possible „certain courses of action‟ or state‟s behaviour, in this case American expansionism, while „excluding other policies as unintelligible or unworkable or improper‟. Discourses, as Milliken asserts, are meaningful „background capabilities that are used socially, at least by a small group of officials if not more broadly in a society or among different elites and societies‟.39 In the research, I closely look at official publications and statements and the private letters of key policymakers as a „set of texts‟, in order to explain the overlapping discourse or logics of expansionism within American society during the 1890s. These produce not only policy discourses and practices but also the conventional wisdom of a society engaged in expansionist diplomacy. The research concentrates on three important expansionists as representative figures: Henry Cabot Lodge, Senator for Massachusetts, Theodore Roosevelt, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, and John Hay, US Ambassador to Great Britain.

1.4 Structure of the thesis The remainder of the thesis is organised as follows. Chapter 2 explores an international construction of American expansionism. It elucidates the structural transformation of the international system during the 1890s, looking at the intense balance of power and imperial competition, the increasing tendency towards protectionism in the international economic system, and the relative decline of Pax Britannica. These external changes socially constituted American social agents, particularly after the Venezuelan Crisis in 1895, which raised the possibility of war between Britain and the US. However, Britain

Jenifer Milliken, „The Study of Discourse in International Relations: A Critique of Research and Methods‟, European Journal of International Relations, Vol. 5: No. 2 (1999), p. 233, p. 236.


chose to appease the US due to the changing power relations inherent in the international social structure. Thereafter, expansionists were internationally socialised as more Anglophile, export-oriented agents. I argue that this was the origin of the transatlantic Anglo-American relationship and the emergence of transatlantic elites who intersubjectively perceived common identity and interests. The chapter also considers the process of the internationalisation of agents in the US and identifies two crucial social agents, which are the expansionists and anti-expansionists. Despite its focus on the former, the chapter argues that they partially shared a common heritage of Anglophile liberalism, but viewed the international system differently, being Hobbesian for the former and Kantian for the latter. Crucially, it was the expansionists who dominated American discourses and policy decisionmaking. Chapter 3 examines the roles of three apostles of American expansionism—Lodge, Roosevelt, and Hay—who intersubjectively shared ideas and understandings with other European imperialists, particularly the British, which shaped and influenced American public expansionist discourses and foreign policy formation under the McKinley administration before and after the war of 1898. The chapter considers the way in which McKinley and his advisors laid out their policy options and, at the end, chose to pursue military intervention and a naval blockade rather than other peaceful options. The chapter also explores the international social relationship among great powers, in particular the British noninterference that provided the US a strategic opportunity to gain a comparative momentum over Spain. This structurally reinforced the identities and interests of the transatlantic elites, which would be the basis of the Anglo-American relations afterwards. Chapter 4 concludes by stating the importance and contributions of a constructivist interpretation of American expansionism. It argues that this is only one narrative to explain and understand American expansionism. It also elucidates some developments in Anglo-


American special relationships at the turn of the century, such as the Open Door Policy and the construction of the Panama Canal. The chapter confirms the argument that international structure and agents are mutually constituted through the process of the internationalisation of agents.


Chapter 2 An International Construction of American Expansionism

„The three decades from 1884 to 1914 separate the nineteenth century which ended with the scramble for Africa… from the twentieth, which began with the First World War. This is the period of Imperialism, with its stagnant quiet of Europe and breath-taking developments in Asia[, Latin America] and Africa‟ Hannah Arendt40 „Imperialism, the extension of national authority over alien communities, is a dominant note in the world-politics of today‟. Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan41

2.1 Introduction IR scholars in general have envisioned the international structure as an anarchical system or order, comprising Westphalian sovereign states as the principal actors. However, they underestimate what Keene calls „the dualistic nature of order in world politics‟, in which the Westphalian system operated only between the European states, with a hierarchical system also in operation, through which the European states imposed themselves in the colonial world.42 By the 1890s, Europe was a post-Bismarckian multipolar system where the balance of power was the rule of the game, while outside Europe it was the „period of Imperialism‟ in which Great Britain was structurally a leading hegemonic power, imposing the so-called Pax Britannica. Therefore, part of the international system was hierarchically structured. These were the social relations of power which European states constructed, which in turn socialised and culturally constructed other actors‟ identities and interests. The

40 41

Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism (New York: Harcourt Publishers, 1973), p. 123. Quoted in Warren Zimmermann, First Great Triumph (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2002), p. 231. 42 See, for example, Carr, The Twenty Years‟ Crisis; Hans J. Morgenthau, Politics Among Nations (New York: Knopf, 1949); Martin Wight, Systems of States (Leicester: Leicester University Press, 1977); Waltz, Theory of International Politics; Hedley Bull, The Anarchical Society (London: Macmillan, 1977); and Gilpin, War and Change in World Politics. Edward Keene, Beyond the Anarchical Society (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), p. xi. See also Justin Rosenberg, The Empire of Civil Society (London: Verso, 1994); and Ruggie, Constructing the World Polity, Part II.


US, emerging as a new great power, inevitably became part of this game of international structural relations among great powers. This chapter argues that American expansionism was the result of an international construction of expansionists‟ identities and interests. These interacted with the intersubjective and culturally established meanings of the international system and were themselves constituted by these shared ideas and understandings, rather than

commonsensically given. That is, American expansionism was fundamentally shaped by the transformations of the international system through the process of the internationalisation of the state and agents within it. First, the European state-system was leaning towards more rigid balance-of-power system and imperialism was increasingly intense. Meanwhile, Europe was also heading towards a more protectionist stance, although the British remained committed to a free-trade regime upon which the US „free rode‟. But British hegemonic power was in decline and challenged by European imperialistic rivals in colonial areas. These changing power relations helped shape and embody the emerging American power and role in the Western hemisphere. This is the process of the internationalisation of the state and agents. The international sources of American expansionism are covered in order to enhance and advance our understanding of the Spanish-American-Cuban War of 1898 (covered in detail in Chapter 3).

2.2 International structure from the late 1880s 2.2.1 Europe‟s balance of power and imperial rivalry At the end of the nineteenth century, the balance-of-power system in Europe was breaking down. The complexity but inherent stability of the Bismarckian system (1870s1890s) in which all powers, with the exception of France, were secretly bound one way or another to Berlin, was in decline and the emergence in the 1900s of two rigid blocs—


Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy on the one hand, and Russia, France and Britain on the other—contributed to the outbreak of the First World War. 43 In between, the international system had been changing during the 1880s and 1890s, not only in terms of the management of the changing balance of power within Europe (in particular the rise of German power), but also in terms of the emergence of new extraEuropean powers: the US and Japan. Germany, uniting, industrialising, and arming, was emerging as a new hegemonic power in Europe that aspired to seek foreign markets and colonies, thereby indirectly challenging Pax Britannica in the international system. The young Kaiser Wilhelm II had dismissed Bismarck and his complex alliance system in 1890, thereby ending the Reinsurance Treaty with Russia and prioritising Germany‟s relations with Austria and Italy. The Kaiser tacitly supported Austrian expansionism in the Balkans, risking conflict with Russia. Russia and France therefore began to see the rising Germany as an increasing threat. The Russians turned to France and subsequently brought about a FrancoGerman alliance of 1894, which Bismarck‟s diplomacy attempted to avoid.44 As Graebner puts it nicely, „By isolating France on the Continent, Bismarck eliminated the danger of an open Franco-German conflict. Franco-Russian diplomacy, however, broke the restraints of the Bismarckian system‟. 45 Britain, which traditionally pursued a policy of splendid isolation, did not perform the role of offshore balancer in Europe but was instead increasingly concerned with its colonies and other powers‟ competition outside Europe. There were also other „middle powers‟, such as Spain, Portugal, Holland, and Belgium, whose strategic and imperialistic positions slightly

See Gordon Craig and Alexander George, Force and Statecraft: Diplomatic Problems of Our Time, 2nd Ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990), pp. 28-48; Joseph Nye, Understanding International Conflict, 7th Ed. (New York: Pearson Longman, 2009); Ian Clark, The Hierarchy of States (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989); Paul Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers (London: Fontana, 1988); and Henry Kissinger, Diplomacy (London: Simon & Schuster, 1994). 44 A.J.P. Taylor, The Struggle for Mastery in Europe, 1848-1918 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1971), pp. 325-345. 45 Norman Graebner, „Bismarck‟s Europe: An American View‟, in Foundations of American Foreign Policy (Wilmington: Scholarly Resources, 1985), p. 302.


affected the international balance. Spain, which still had overseas empires particularly in the Western hemisphere, was a weak power and had largely isolated itself from the development of European system. After the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy, the Spanish government was weak and unstable.46 We can envision this period as a post-Bismarckian international system, which was characterised by a decreasingly flexible structure. Above all, systemic changes were largely caused by European overseas imperialism and expansionism in Africa and Asia. Expansionist diplomacy was the rule of the game. The power relationships among great powers were increasingly antagonistic. The British Empire, attempting tirelessly to sustain its global hegemony, perceived French and Russian expansionism in Africa and Asia as the main threats. Germany, especially under the Kaiser‟s Weltpolitik (world policy), entered the colonialist race and launched a naval buildup. Initially, the Germans sought to avoid direct conflict with Britain.47 By the end of 1894, however, the British and the Germans came to quarrel over southern Africa, where the British suspected German support of the Boers. The Kruger telegram of 1896 confirmed this (see below).48 Despite the possibility of their cooperation, the Anglo-German relationship became gradually antagonistic. Friend-enemy relations were highly contingent and intersubjectively changeable. In the Asia-Pacific region, China became an important focus of quasi-imperial rivalry. Japan had emerged as a regional power, defeating the Chinese in 1894/5 and later the Russians in 1904/5. Since the mid-1890s, European powers joining with their Asian newcomer marked out their spheres of influence, giving them exclusive concessions over


James Joll, Europe Since 1870 (London: Penguin, 1973), p. 24. See also Raymond Carr, Spain, 1808-1939 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1966). 47 This culminated in the Anglo-German treaty of July 1890, whereby Britain gained substantial concessions in East Africa and Zanzibar in exchange for the island of Heligoland. Paul Kennedy, The Rise of the AngloGerman Antagonism, 1860-1914 (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1980), p. 205. 48 Paul Kennedy, The Realities Behind Diplomacy (London: Fontana, 1985), p. 104.


trade, mining, and railroads. 49 Despite the Open Door principle still being in effect in theory, Britain was moving away from it toward the partition of China. To sum up, the international order at the end of the nineteenth century consisted of the European balance of power and extra-European colonialism was highly competitive and less flexible. Since the 1890s, European powers overwhelmingly paid more attention to overseas expansionism than internal European balance-of-power considerations. By accident, this development directly challenged the structure of Pax Britannica. It was an age of empire.

2.2.2 The international economic system In mainland Europe, protectionism was the rule of the economic game, although Great Britain was still committed to free-trade liberalism and, according to hegemonic stability theorists, constituted the „stabiliser‟, or hegemon, of the system.50 Since the repeal in 1846 of the Corn Laws that had set high tariffs in order to protect domestic corn producers, the British applied their laissez faire policies (such as low tariffs) unilaterally, both globally and in the colonies, whereas other European powers pursued their mercantilism. This was the first wave of economic globalization. The British Prime Minister Lord Salisbury remarked in 1892 that the British were living in „an age of a war of tariffs. Every nation is trying …[to] get the greatest possible for its own industries, and at the same time the greatest possible access to the markets of its neighbours… In this great battle Great Britain had deliberately stripped herself of the armour and the weapons by which the battle had to be fought…by saying that


It was a German move in China that was to precipitate the scramble for concessions in China in 1898. The Germans initiated the process called „slicing the Chinese melon‟. Using the killing of two German missionaries as a pretext, it secured a naval base at Qing Dao along with mining and railroad concessions on the Shandong peninsula. Germany also sought the acquisition of the Chinese port of Kiaochow. Within the year, Russia, Britain, and France had secured similar concessions. Russia acquired bases and railroad concessions on the Liaodong peninsula. Britain secured leases to Hong Kong and Kowloon while France concessions in southern China. Hew Strachan, The Outbreak of the First World War (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), p. 13. 50 See Charles Kindleberger, The World in Depression (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986); and Robert Gilpin, US Power and the Multinational Corporation (London: Macmillan, 1976).


we will levy no duties on anybody‟.51 Rather than seeking to reverse this liberalism, however, Britain continued to engage with economic openness and a non-retaliatory foreign economic policy, as well as increasingly expanding toward emerging markets in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. However, by the 1890s the continental European powers had rapidly raised their level of protectionism in order to look after their infant industries, agricultures and exporters. An increase in German agricultural protection, for instance, had seriously affected Russia‟s economic relationship with Germany, while France was stepping in, „massively aiding the Russian government‟s industrialisation effort, assisting it in developing its production of petroleum deposits, and helping finance its enormous public debt‟.52 In addition to political power relations, the Franco-Russian alliance of the 1890s was made possible due to economic ties. However, the continent‟s protectionism‟s main aim was to discriminate against rising American exports.
Table 1: Volume of steel production (in millions of tons) 1890 Britain Germany US France Russia Austria-Hungary 8.0 4.1 9.3 1.9 0.95 0.97 1900 5.0 6.3 10.3 1.5 2.2 1.1 0.11 1910 6.5 13.6 26.5 3.4 3.5 2.1 0.73 0.16 1913 7.7 17.6 31.8 4.6 4.8 2.6 0.93 0.25

0.01 Italy 0.02 Japan Source: Kennedy (1988, p. 257)

51 52

Quoted in Lake, Power, Protection, and Free Trade, p. 93. Paul Papayoanou, „Economic Interdependence and the Balance of Power ‟, International Studies Quarterly, Vol. 41: No. 1 (March 1997), p. 124.


On the other hand, despite being the last remaining closest approximation to a hegemon, Britain, particularly in comparison with Germany and the US, was relatively in decline within the system. Steel production (Table 1) illustrates this development well. Domestically, the first challenge was mounted to the free-trade regime established in 1846. A policy of „one-sided free trade‟ began to be challenged by protectionists, of whom Joseph Chamberlain was the most influential. They favoured protective tariffs, trade retaliation, or imperial custom union (or a British zollverein).53 Nevertheless, Britain resisted peacetime protection until 1932. To sum up, the international economic structure was stabilised according to British hegemonic commitment to liberalism, but the European rule of the game was high tariffs at home.

The international economic structure under the so-called Pax Britannica provided the US with an opportunity. Without any trade retaliation from the British, the US pursued its quasi-protectionist, quasi-liberal trade policy. On the one hand, the US protected its domestic agriculture and infant industry at home by applying high tariffs, while, on the other hand, it promoted export expansion and foreign markets abroad. That is, protectionism at home, the open door abroad. This American foreign economic policy was possible largely due to the unilateral openness of Pax Britannica. According to David Lake, the US, like Germany and France, was „free riding‟ on the free-trade regime under British hegemony.54 By the late 1880s, tariffs had become one of the most contentious political issues dividing the Democratic and Republican parties. They had transformed from being merely a domestic issue into a foreign economic instrument to achieve common goals: both moderate


Lake, Power, Protection, and Free Trade, pp. 120-1. See also Aaron Friedberg, The Weary Titan (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988). 54 Lake, Power, Protection, and Free Trade.


protectionism and export expansion.55 Lake finds a significant causal relationship between foreign economic policies and the political parties. That is, during the period, the Democrats campaigned on duty-free raw materials, while the Republicans called for protectionism, and after the 1890s for trade expansion through bilateral reciprocity treaties in the Western hemisphere. Democratic President Grover Cleveland, on the one hand, advocated duty-free raw materials in 1887, by claiming that it „would appear to give [domestic manufacturers] a better chance in foreign markets with the manufacturers of other countries, who cheapen their wares by free material. Thus our people might have the opportunity of extending their sales beyond the limits of home consumption‟.56 In fact, the Democrats only removed the tariff on raw wool, which in theory meant that Americans would expand their exports—primarily agricultural produce, steel, and railroad materials—to wool-producing countries, but de facto it was limited to the Southern Cone‟s economies. Cleveland‟s policy option generated the „Great Tariff Debate‟ in the presidential election in 1888, which he lost electorally despite his popular-vote plurality. On the other hand, the Republicans, in particular moderate protectionists led by Secretary of State James G. Blaine, sought to expand exports by negotiating bilateral reciprocity agreements with Latin American states and suggesting a regional Inter-American organisation.57 Reciprocally, the US would admit sugar, coffee, tea and raw hides free of duty while Latin American states would grant preferential duties on a specified list of American agricultural and manufactured items. This Republican strategy of reciprocity culminated in the McKinley Tariff (1890), which imposed duties on items that could be produced in the US

See Tim Terrill, The Tariff, Politics, and American Foreign Policy (Westport: Greenwood Press, 1973). The business community was divided over the tariff debate. Import-substituted industries unquestionably supported high tariffs, whereas the small-to-medium export-oriented industry in general favoured the government‟s assistance in export promotion. The large export-oriented industry that could export unilaterally only got involved in the tariff debate when its interests were directly challenged. See William Becker, The Dynamics of Business-Government Relations (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982). 56 Quoted in Lake, Power, Protection, and Free Trade, pp. 98-9. 57 On Blaine and American expansionism see Edward Crapol, James G. Blaine: Architect of Empire (Wilmington: Scholarly Resources, 2000).


and admitted free of duty others which the US could not produce either at all or in sufficient quantities (such as sugar, molasses, coffee, tea, and raw hides). 58 This was thus a quasiprotectionist, quasi-liberal trade policy. However, in Europe, American exports were increasingly faced with a rise in protectionism. Since the 1890s, European great powers envisioning the US as the emerging economic power sought to unilaterally and/or multilaterally increase protection of their home markets from American products. Germany signed unconditional most-favoured-nation treaties to lower duties on many products with Austria-Hungary in 1891, Italy, Belgium and Switzerland in 1892, Russia in 1894, Japan in 1896, and Spain in 1899, while France launched the Meline Tariff in 1892.59 Despite this aforementioned protectionism, however, the US was able to sustain its foreign economic policy by largely depending upon the British liberal structure. The spread of protectionism after 1887 can be understood, in Lake‟s argument, as a response by foreign policy elites to the opportunities (and constraints) of the international economic structure. The thesis goes further to argue that economic expansionists were socially constituted by the international economic system, thereby becoming an internationalised elite that promoted economic expansion. Their identities and interests were formulated within the context of not only the domestic politics but also the international system.

2.2.3 The decline of Pax Britannica


Lake, Power, Protection, and Free Trade, pp. 99-102. See also Quentin Skrabec, Jr., William McKinley: Apostle of Protectionism (New York: Algora, 2008). 59 After the US imposed a duty on imported, subsidised sugar in the Wilson-Gorman Act in 1894, Germany strongly warned the US: „The Imperial Government is… at present unable to say whether it will be possible for it, in view of the increasing agitation on account of the proposed measure, to restrain the interested parties from demanding retaliatory action, which [Germany], owing to the friendliness and fairness that characterise its intercourse with the United States, desires to avoid‟. Quoted in Lake, Power, Protection, and Free Trade, p. 96.


By the 1890s, Britain‟s hegemonic leadership had declined rapidly in the international system. British leaders, in particular Lord Salisbury (Conservative Prime Minister 1885-6, 1886-92, and 1895-1902), became aware of unfavourable shifts in the distribution of relative power but could not agree on the extent to which their industrial, financial, and naval position was being challenged and on how to respond to this challenge. In The Weary Titan, Aaron Friedberg argues compellingly that despite their awareness, British statesmen failed to sufficiently assess and adapt to the „experience of relative decline‟, partly because they tended to „overestimate the limitations on their country‟s financial resources, to misconstrue the weakening of their naval position and to underestimate the difficulties which would confront them in a large-scale land war‟.60 At the end of the century, Pax Britannica was in a state of indecision, inconclusiveness, and confusion. By 1895, Lord Salisbury celebrated „the Victorian tradition of entering into no alliance in time of peace, of avoiding any commitments to go to war, and of retaining a “free hand” for British diplomacy‟. He thus favoured splendid isolation from the European balance of power and accepted the political necessity of the liberal free-trade regime. Above all, his main goal was to preserve the preeminence of the British Empire.61 However, the international environment had changed dramatically, which in turn challenged the status and position of Britain. There were many factors, including the rise of German economic and military power and its Weltpolitik, Russian territorial expansionism in Asia, the growth of non-European regional powers of the US in the Western hemisphere and Japan in Asia, French assertiveness in Africa and Asia, and so on. Importantly, the Franco-Russian alliance of 1894 profoundly alarmed the British. This new international environment significantly destabilised the policy of free-trade unilateralism that Britain had held since 1846. Domestically, the movements of protectionists

Aaron Friedberg, „Britain and the Experience of Relative Decline, 1895-1905‟, The Journal of Strategic Studies, Vol. 10: No. 3 (1987), p. 352. See also Friedberg, The Weary Titan. 61 John Grenville, Lord Salisbury and Foreign Policy (London: Athlone Press, 1964), p. 3.


or fair traders, which promoted high tariffs, retaliation, or imperial economic union, emerged (as mentioned above). Lord Salisbury prudently kept this mercantile agenda at bay, while some members of the cabinet such as a „strong willed and impetuous‟ Colonial Secretary Joseph Chamberlain tended to promote the idea of protectionism.62 At the end of the century, it was clear that the British century really was coming to an end, while the new „American century‟ was emerging. The peaceful structural transition was made possible due to the appeasement policy of Britain and its co-constitution of their mutual interests and identities.

2.3 The Venezuela crisis (1895): Anglo-American rapprochement The Monroe Doctrine is the “most comprehensive, unilateral proclamation of a sphere of influence in modern times”. Hans J. Morgenthau63

The Venezuelan Crisis of 1895 indicated that the US had perceived the relative decline of Pax Britannica, thereby directly challenging its influence in the Western hemisphere, and Great Britain chose to appease Americans and implicitly acknowledged the emerging great power and hemispheric hegemon in the international hierarchy. Yuen Foong Khong puts it nicely: „The old hegemon was ceding its place to the upcoming hegemon.‟64 There are other explanations in IR and history. Liberals, on the one hand, argue that the two states did not go to war because „both states were liberal democracies, and sizable populations in each state considered the other liberal‟.65 British public opinion favoured compromise with the US.66 Democratic characteristics persuaded the British to appease the US. Another factor in favour of conclusion was economic interdependence. After Cleveland‟s
62 63

Grenville, Lord Salisbury and Foreign Policy, pp. 10-1. Hans J. Morgenthau, in The Origins of the Cold War, eds. Lloyd Gardner, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., and Hans J. Morgenthau (Waltham: Ginn and Co., 1970), p. 86. 64 Yuen Foong Khong, „Negotiating “Order” during Power Transitions‟, in Power in Transition (Tokyo: United Nations University Press, 2001), p. 45. 65 John Owen, „How Liberalism Produces Democratic Peace‟, in Debating the Democratic Peace, eds. Michael Brown, Sean Lynn-Jones, and Steven Miller (Cambridge: the MIT Press, 1996), p. 143; See also John Owen, Liberal Peace, Liberal War (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1997), pp. 158-70. 66 Bradford Perkins, The Great Rapprochement (New York: Atheneum, 1968), p. 17.


congressional speech, the war scare generated financial panic on Wall Street partly because the British sold American securities. The US business community pressured the government to resolve the conflict amicably.67 In contrast, realists explain Anglo-American rapprochement in geopolitical terms; that is, after perceiving Germany‟s ambitions in Africa and elsewhere as a more important threat, Lord Salisbury‟s government decided to appease the US. Layne claims that the US was willing to fight Britain if necessary in order to establish its „geopolitical primacy‟ in the region.68 Revisionist historians (like LaFeber) claim that American assertiveness was part of overseas commercial expansion, which could counter the economic depression and divert public attention from domestic concerns.69 However, the argument here will be that the intersubjective understanding between the US and Britain helps explain why and how they cooperated and thereby made the rise of American power in the Western hemisphere possible. Despite their initial disagreements, they gradually came to share a perceptual worldview and attitude in which the end of the Venezuelan Crisis marked the beginning of the special transatlantic relationship. The Venezuelan Crisis concerned an unmapped frontier between British Guiana and Venezuela, but it emerged as an international issue in late 1895 partly due to the discovery of gold in the Orinoco River and partly due to the British takeover of the Nicaraguan port of Corinto early that year. British Aggressions in Venezuela or the Monroe Doctrine on Trial by William Lindsay Scruggs, former US minister to Caracas and then a lobbyist for the Venezuelan government, made the claim that British intervention in Latin American also brought Anglophobia onto the political surface. The US jumped into this conflict, invoking the Monroe Doctrine. The Democratic administration of Grover Cleveland enunciated the
67 68

Campbell, The Transformation of American Foreign Relations, pp. 211-2. Christopher Layne, „Kant or Cant: The Myth of the Democratic Peace‟, in Debating the Democratic Peace, pp. 174-80; and Zakaria, From Wealth to Power, pp. 148-52. 69 Walter LaFeber, „The Background of Cleveland‟s Venezuelan Policy: A Reinterpretation‟ The American Historical Review, Vol. 66: No. 4 (July 1961), pp. 947-67; and LaFeber, The New Empire, Chapter 6.


„Olney Corollary‟ to that doctrine, espousing principles of non-intervention and antiEuropean imperialism and implicitly proclaiming its hemispheric hegemony. Shortly after the sudden death of Walter Gresham, Attorney General-cum-Secretary of State Richard Olney sent a note to Lord Salisbury, delivered on 20 July 1895. Given the declining position of Britain, Olney not only reinforced the Monroe Doctrine against any European powers‟ imperialistic intervention but also defined the US‟s regional hegemony and the rules of the game as it perceived them. With regard to the Monroe Doctrine, Olney treated it as a „rule‟ and „accepted public law‟ that „no European power or combination of European powers shall forcibly deprive an American state of the right and power of self-government and of shaping for itself its own political fortunes and destinies‟. He assertively proclaimed, „Today the United States is practically sovereign on this continent and its fiat is law upon the subjects to which it confines its interposition‟. American rights and influence should prevail „because in addition to all other grounds, its infinite resources combined with its isolated position render it master of the situation and practically invulnerable as against any or all other powers‟.70 Olney called for the arbitration of the Anglo-Venezuelan dispute by the US. From the outset, Lord Salisbury paid little attention to Olney‟s note and made no effort to appease the US. After deferring for several months, Lord Salisbury sent a reply to his Ambassador Sir Julian Pauncefote. In his first letter, he directly challenged Olney‟s reinterpretation of the Monroe Doctrine; Despite America‟s vital interests in the region, there was „no nation…powerful, competent to insert into the code of international law a novel principle which was never recognised before, and which has not since been accepted by the government of any country‟. In the other, he bluntly refused to submit to arbitration that


See Richard Olney to Thomas F. Bayard, 20 July 1895, Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) (Washington DC: US Government Printing Office), Vol. 1, pp. 545-62.


could lead to „the transfer of large number of British subjects, who have for many years enjoyed the settled rule of a British colony‟.71 Despite being a „cautious, pacific man‟ never conceived as an expansionist, Cleveland well understood not merely America‟s new status in world politics but also the decline of Pax Britannica since the 1890s.72 In his message to Congress, Cleveland aptly defended the status of the Monroe Doctrine in international law and stated that it was the „duty of the United States to resist every means in its power as a willful aggression upon its rights and interests the appropriation by Great Britain of any lands or the exercise of governmental jurisdiction over any territory which after investigation we have determined of right belongs to Venezuela‟. By asserting that he was „fully alive to the responsibility incurred, and keenly realise all the consequences that may follow‟, it seemed to be an implicit declaration of war against Britain.73 Many expansionists patriotically endorsed Cleveland‟s decision. Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, for example, wrote an article in June 1895 warning that, „If Great Britain is to be permitted to… take the territory of Venezuela… France and Germany will do it also‟. The Americans should not, he continued, „abandon the Monroe Doctrine, or give up their rightful supremacy in the Western Hemisphere‟ which must be „established and at once—peaceably if we can, forcibly if we must‟.74 In December 1895, Lodge made a sensational speech on the floor of the Senate arguing that the Monroe Doctrine was the „guiding principle‟ of US foreign policy, rather than law, and that „no foreign power must establish a new government, acquire new territory by purchase or force or by any method whatever, or seek to control

71 72

See Lord Salisbury to Sir Julian Pauncefote, 26 November 1895, FRUS, 1985, pp. 563-76. Beisner goes so far as to say that in Cleveland‟s second term diplomacy became „progressively more deliberate, aggressive, and expansionist‟. Beisner, From the Old Diplomacy to the New, p. 107. 73 See Message of the President, 17 December 1895, FRUS, 1985, pp. 542-5. 74 Henry Cabot Lodge, „England, Venezuela, and the Monroe Doctrine‟, The North American Review, Vol. CLX (June 1895), pp. 651-58. My emphasis.


existing governments in the Americas‟.75 If the balance of power is the ordering principle in Europe, then, just as Lodge claimed, that doctrine was the one in the Western hemisphere. America could not allow Great Britain or other powers to interfere in the region. As Lodge put it, „If England can seize territory under a claim which has grown larger with each succeeding year, there is nothing to prevent her taking indefinite regions in South America. If England can do it, and is allowed to do it, by the United States, every other European power can do the same, and they will not be slow to follow England‟s example. We have seen them parcel out Africa, and if we do not interpose now in this case the fate of large portions of South America will be the same‟.76 Theodore Roosevelt wrote to Lodge in similar terms: „If we allow England to invade Venezuela nominally for reparation, as at Corinto, really for territory our supremacy in the Americas is over. I am worried and angry beyond words at what I see. England is simply playing the Administration for what she can get.‟77 In his letter to the editors of the Harvard Crimson, Roosevelt strongly supported Cleveland‟s and Olney‟s vigorous foreign policy and the strictest interpretation of the Monroe Doctrine: The Monroe Doctrine forbids us to acquiesce in any territorial aggrandizement by a European power on American soil at the expense of an American state. If people wish to reject the Monroe Doctrine in its entirety, their attitude, though discreditable to their farsighted patriotism, is illogical… If we permit a European nation in each case itself to decide whether or not the territory which it wishes to seize is its own, then the Monroe Doctrine has no real existence; and if the European power refuses to submit the question to proper arbitration, then all we can do is to find out the facts for ourselves and act accordingly. 78


Henry Cabot Lodge, „The Monroe Doctrine‟, 30 December 1895, Speeches and Address, 1884-1909 (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1909), p. 235, p. 237. 76 Lodge, „The Monroe Doctrine‟, p. 234. 77 Roosevelt to Lodge, 23 October 1895, Selections from the Correspondence of Theodore Roosevelt and Henry Cabot Lodge 1884-1918 (New York: Charles Scribner‟s Sons, 1925), Vol. 1, p. 193. 78 Roosevelt to the Editors of the Harvard Crimson, 2 January 1896, Letters, Vol. 1, pp. 505-6.


As he wrote to his friend, Roosevelt‟s ultimate aim was the „removal of all European powers from the colonies they hold in the western hemisphere‟.79 However, the alteration in the international system helped prevent the escalation of the Anglo-American dispute into war and socially constructed a more favourable British attitude toward America. The British scepticism regarding the rising German power was strongly confirmed when Kaiser Wilhelm II sent a telegram congratulating Transvaal President Paul Kruger for repelling „the attacks from without‟, which implied the British Empire, in early 1896. The so-called Kruger telegram indicated the Kaiser‟s (miscalculated) attempt to mobilize European opposition to British policy in South Africa, so as to urge the British to sign a treaty with Germany. Since then, the English attitude toward America became less hostile than that toward Germany.80 Encountering many challenging imperialistic powers globally, coupled with its declining position, the British government sought to pursue an appeasement policy with the US. Colonial Secretary Chamberlain, who actively supported a pacific adjustment of Anglo-American rapprochement, played a significant role in the cabinet and ruled out Lord Salisbury‟s reluctant decision. As Arthur Balfour, Leader of the House of Commons and Salisbury‟s nephew, stated at Manchester (in January 1896), „Some statesmen of authority, more fortunate even than President Monroe, will lay down the doctrine that between English-speaking peoples war is impossible‟. An Anglo-American treaty of arbitration was signed on 12 November 1896.81 As May puts it nicely, the US, whilst beginning by „experimenting with an anti-British foreign policy, ended up promoting Anglo-American friendship‟.82 At the same time, Britain as an international gold standard promoter decided to covertly support William McKinley‟s presidential bid in 1896. Bradford Perkins argues that,
79 80

Roosevelt to William Cowles, 5 April 1896, Letters, Vol. 1, p. 524. Friedberg, The Weary Titan, p. 156; and May, Imperial Democracy, p. 47. 81 The Tribunal of Arbitration consisted of two Britons, two Americans, and one with the two acting together, but none from Venezuela. Quoted in Campbell, The Transformation of American Foreign Relations, p. 212. 82 May, Imperial Democracy, p. 61.


frightened by William Jennings Bryan and the Silverite populist movement, the British government turned its support toward the Republicans rather than the Democrats.83 The campaign of 1896 can be envisioned as an economic contest between the Silverites and those who supported the gold standard, which the latter won by a landslide. Since the Venezuelan Crisis, the mutual understanding between two English-speaking great powers was gradually developing, in particular the British acceptance of the rising American power in the Western hemisphere and in the international system. This coconstitution would shape the identities and interests of those expansionists more obviously, allowing American expansionism to become possible in the years to come.

2.4 Structural transformations of American body politics: Preliminaries Realists might argue that the international system has almost always constrained and provided an opportunity for states‟ expansionism. However, in this thesis, American expansionism was structurally constituted by the international system. To put in Wendtian terms, American expansionism was what expansionists made of it, whereas expansionists were also socially and culturally constructed by the international structure. The following sections provide an outline of the important structural transformations in American body politics according to a change in American perceptions of the international system.

2.4.1 Mahan, „sea power‟ and Anglo-American relations During the 1890s, the historian captain, later rear admiral, Alfred Thayer Mahan was internationally renowned for his treatise on sea power in The Influence of Sea Power upon History (1890), much more so than at home.84 Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, for example,

83 84

Perkins, The Great Rapprochement, p. 20. Alfred Mahan, The Influence of Sea Power upon History, 1660-1783 (Boston: Little, Brown, 1890). On Mahan, see Harold and Margaret Sprout, The Rise of American Naval Power (Princeton: Princeton University


wrote to a friend in 1894, „I am just now not reading but devouring Captain Mahan‟s book and am trying to learn it by heart‟.85 Mahan‟s ideas provided an intellectual foundation for American expansionism. Although at the outset he was an anti-imperialist, after drawing from the lessons of the history (and in particular the great sea powers), he became one of a „triumvirate‟, along with Roosevelt and Lodge, that spurred American expansionism. As Zimmermann puts it nicely, „The success of the British Navy and his admiration for the British Empire had helped turn [Mahan] into an imperialist‟.86 In his writings, he almost always favoured the primacy of the British Navy in world politics and its decisive achievement: „England‟s naval bases have been in all parts of the world; and her fleets have at once protected them, kept open the communications between them, and relied upon them for shelter‟.87 The contemporary international context helped constitute him as an Anglophile expansionist who strongly supported a large navy. Moreover, Mahan, envisioning the sea as a „great highway‟, urged the US to develop the isthmian canal in the Caribbean by using the analogy of the Suez Canal: „The British needed a large navy to protect their passage to India through Suez. The US would need a similar navy to protect its Atlantic and Pacific coasts, exposed by the opening of the isthmus‟.88 After examining geography, he had suggested the establishment of the Panama Canal, instead of Nicaragua. As he wrote, the implication of the canal „may bring [American] interests and those of foreign nations in collision—and in that case—which it is for statesmen to forecast—we must without any delay begin to build a navy which will be at least equal to

Press, 1939), pp. 202-22; William Puleston, Mahan (London: Jonathan Cape, 1939); and Robert Seager II, Alfred Thayer Mahan (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1977). 85 Quoted in Evan Thomas, The War Lovers (New York: Little, Brown, 2010), p. 71. 86 Zimmermann, First Great Triumph, p. 113. 87 Mahan, The Influence of Sea Power upon History, p. 83. See also Alfred Mahan, The Influence of Sea Power upon the French Revolution and Empire, 1793-1812 (Boston: Little, Brown, 1892). 88 Zimmermann, First Great Triumph, p. 93


that of England‟.89 The naval strategy thereby had to change from defensive to offensive. It was necessary for the new sea power to have bases, stations, or colonies along its „trade routes‟ to re-fuel, rest, and repair. To put it differently, the motivation behind the US‟s navy buildup was „probably now quickening in the isthmus‟. Mahan was culturally constructed by the international lessons in general, and he reasoned analogically in particular so as to make an argument for American expansionism.90 With regard to the Venezuelan Crisis, Mahan thought the incident „indicates, as I believe and hope, the awakening of my countrymen to the fact that we must come out of isolation, which a hundred a years ago was wise and imperative, and take our share of the turmoil of the world‟.91 In short then, the US should abandon isolationism and „look outward‟. Mahan said himself that he was an expansionist and imperialist because he was not an isolationist: „I am frankly imperialist, in the sense that I believe that no nation, certainly no great nation, should henceforth maintain the policy of isolation which fitted our early history; above all, should not on that outlived plea refuse to intervene in events obviously thrust upon its conscience‟.92 As an advocate of the Monroe Doctrine, Mahan asserted that the US required its hemispheric hegemony, thereby excluding European powers from the region. However, as an Anglophile, he was highly sympathetic with Britain. Later on, he wrote to Roosevelt that, „circumstances almost irresistible are forcing [the US] and Great Britain, not into alliance, but into a silent cooperation, dependent upon conditions probably irreversible in the next two generations‟.93


Alfred Mahan, Letters and Papers of Alfred Thayer Mahan, eds. Robert Seager II and Doris Mahuire, Vol. 1, 1847-1889 (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1975), p. 482. Quoted in Raymond O‟Connor, „The Imperialism of Sea Power‟, Reviews in American History, Vol. 4: No. 3 (September 1976), p. 410. 90 Mahan, The Influence of Sea Power upon History, pp. 30-2, 61, 83. For the cognitive-psychological approach in IR, see Larson, Origins of Containment; and Yuen Foong Khong, Analogies at War (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992). 91 Mahan, Letters and Papers of Alfred Thayer Mahan, Vol. 2, 1890-1901, p. 441. Quoted in O‟Connor, „The Imperialism of Sea Power‟, p. 413. 92 Quoted in Zimmermann, First Great Triumph, pp. 120-1. 93 Mahan, Letters and Papers of Alfred Thayer Mahan, Vol. 3, 1902-1914, p. 113. Quoted in O‟Connor, „The Imperialism of Sea Power‟, p. 413.


2.4.2 Henry Cabot Lodge and the „large policy‟ Lodge, along with his close friend Theodore Roosevelt, was an arch-expansionist who strongly supported a large navy and an assertive foreign policy. He insisted that the US take up an appropriately high position in the hierarchy of great powers. His attention to foreign policy, however, came later in his political career and until 1985 he did not consider overseas annexation as a prerequisite of sea power, as well as not believing in the necessity of foreign markets. Lodge, as Grenville and Young suggest, became an expansionist because of his rabid nationalism.94 However, domestic politics alone cannot fully explain his development. This thesis argues that, like Mahan, Lodge‟s ideas of American expansionism developed significantly through the internationalisation of agents at the end of the 1880s. Since 1895 in particular, his ideas and preferences were obviously formed in terms of more Anglophile and export-oriented expansion. As Widenor puts it, Lodge‟s expansionism was „a gloss on his conception of the nature of international relations and of how foreign policy ought to be conducted‟.95 Since the international conditions were changing, Lodge‟s ideas were constitutively shifting along them as well. In March 1895, as a Junior Senator from Massachusetts, Lodge actively delivered a series of foreign policy speeches on the floor of the Senate against the Cleveland administration‟s reversed decision of the annexation of Hawaii, which he claimed was „blundering foreign policy‟.96 In Congress, presenting a large map illustrating the British


John Grenville and George Young, Politics, Strategy, and American Diplomacy (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1966), p. 224. 95 William Widenor, Henry Cabot Lodge and the Search for an American Foreign Policy (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980), p. 67. In fact, in domestic politics, Lodge also had gradually transformed from „highminded idealist‟ to practical politician, in particular following his switch to support the „obnoxious‟ James Blaine as the Republican presidential candidate in 1884, for which he and Roosevelt were strongly criticised by their old allies, the Mugwumps reformers, later the anti-expansionists. Harvard President Eliot, for example, called them „degenerated sons of Harvard‟. See Richard Immerman, Empire for Liberty (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010), p. 133. 96 Henry Cabot Lodge, „Our Blundering Foreign Policy‟, Forum, Vol. XIX (March 1895), pp. 8-17. Hawaii had been a de facto American „sphere of influence‟ for many years. In 1893, an uprising occurred before American


bases around the world, Lodge put the Hawaiian Islands in a larger strategic context. He said, „That they have a great commerce and fertile soil merely adds to the desirability of our taking them… Even if they were populated by a low race of savages, even if they were desert rocks‟, Hawaii should be annexed, otherwise it would fall into the hands of other great powers like Britain or Japan. Put simply, this was because „they lie there in the heart of the Pacific‟.97 With regard to Britain, the US was „the rival and competitor of England for the trade and commerce of the world‟. Britain, he continued, „has always opposed, thwarted, and sought to injure‟ the US and „desires to keep her control of the great pathways of commerce‟.98 At that time, Lodge was sceptical of the British hegemon—an Anglophobe. Annexation of Hawaii was part and parcel of the so-called „large policy‟, which fundamentally stressed the strategic importance of sea power, bases and canals. 99 Greatly influenced by the writings of Mahan, Lodge asserted that it was vital for the US to develop its navy and build an isthmian canal across Central America. Learning from the history of sea powers, he declared that, „sea power has been one of the controlling forces in history. Without the sea power no nation had been really great. Sea power consists, in the first place, of a proper navy and a proper fleet; but in order to sustain a navy we must have suitable posts for naval stations, strong places where a navy can be protected and refurnished‟.100 According to Lodge, the large policy aimed at: (1) Maintaining influence and control in the Caribbean and parts of the Pacific; (2) Annexing strategic islands like Hawaii, Cuba, and the Philippines; (3) Strengthening the Navy;

political and economic elites overthrew the Hawaiian monarchy and annexed Hawaii. Republican President Harrison decided to annex it shortly before the new Democrat President Cleveland recalled the treaty. However, when McKinley came to power, he signed a second treaty for the annexation of the Hawaiian Islands. 97 Henry Cabot Lodge, „Naval Policy of the United States‟, 2 March 1985, Speeches and Address, 1884-1909 (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1909), pp. 181-2. 98 Lodge, „Naval Policy of the United States‟, pp. 184-5. 99 See Lodge to Roosevelt, 24 May 1898, Selections, Vol. 1, pp. 299-300; and Pratt, „The “Large Policy” of 1898‟, pp. 219-42. 100 Lodge, „Naval Policy of the United States‟, pp. 182.


(4) Building an Isthmian canal across Central America; (5) Obtaining „at least one strong naval station‟ in the West Indies; and (6) Incorporating Canada (if possible). These strategic interests were vital to the citadel of American power. The Venezuelan Crisis of 1895 reinforced Lodge‟s large policy. However, after the end of the crisis, he came to the conclusion that Anglo-American rapprochement was important for American expansionism. His identity was re-shaped as an Anglophile and export-oriented expansionist, by the changing international context. After Balfour‟s speech at Manchester, Lodge sent him a letter showing the better understanding between the „two great English speaking peoples‟. He said, „I readily accept your statement that you do not desire to extend your possessions in the Americas, but other nations are less scrupulous.‟ As Lodge summed up nicely, „There is no nation on earth which England could so easily make her fast friend as the United States‟.101 At times, after the British appeasement, the supremacy of the Monroe Doctrine was generally accepted both at home and abroad, and American social agents were internationally structurally transformed.

2.4.3 Expansionists and anti-expansionists: Structured agents? There were at least two social agents in American body politics during the late 1890s: expansionists and anti-expansionists. In general, historians examine who the expansionists as well as anti-expansionists were, their backgrounds, preferences and roles in the process of American expansionism. Pratt asserts that, influenced by Mahan‟s „brilliant, if dangerous, interpretation of history‟, Roosevelt and Lodge „planned to utilise the full opportunities‟ of war with Spain in 1898 in order to achieve the large policy. They performed this through the „hesitant instrumentality of William McKinley‟, who had been „genuinely surprised by the


Quoted in John Garraty, Henry Cabot Lodge: A Biography (New York: Alfred A. Knoff, 1953), p. 164.


new responsibilities‟ after the end of the Spanish-American-Cuban War.102 Recently, scholars have added Brook Adams, John Hay, Elihu Root, and William Randolph Hearst to the list of the so-called „jingos‟. Portrayed as the „movers and shakers of American expansion‟ and its great power ascendancy, they had „conspired‟ to convince President McKinley to declare war.103 Many of them were a group of like-minded friends who met frequently at Harvard historian Henry Adams‟s house on Lafayette Square in Washington DC. They included his neighbour and Abraham Lincoln‟s secretary Hay, his former graduate student Lodge, Lodge‟s closest friend Roosevelt, his younger brother and Lodge‟s brother-in-law Brooks Adams, and an influential British friend Cecil Spring-Rice, the secretary of the British legation in Washington and later ambassador to the US (1912-8). On the other hand, the anti-expansionists, anti-imperialists, or „goo-goos‟,104 were those who strongly opposed American expansionism in general and the annexation of the Philippines in particular. Some anti-expansionists tolerated American intervention in Cuban affairs on humanitarian grounds. Beisner identifies „twelve against empire‟, who formed the Anti-Imperialist League after the war in Boston, including Andrew Carnegie, Mark Twain, Charles Eliot, Carl Schurz, William James, Edwin Godkin, and Thomas Reed. Some of them were dissident Republicans, while the others were the Mugwump reformers, who turned away from the Republican candidate Blaine in 1884 because of his corruption, thereby helping the victory of Democrat Cleveland105 (see Table 2).

102 103

Pratt, „The “Large Policy” of 1898‟, p. 242. See also Pratt, Expansionists of 1898. The term „jingo‟ came from a London music hall ballad of 1878, when the Disraeli government was deciding whether to defend Turkey against Russia. Zimmermann, First Great Triumph, p. 38. See also LaFeber, The New Empire; Thomas, The War Lovers; William Leuchtenburg, „Progressivism and Imperialism‟, The Mississippi Valley Historical Review, Vol. 39: No. 3 (1952), pp. 483-504; and Joseph Fry, „The Architectures of the “Large Policy” Plus Two‟, Diplomatic History, Vol. 29: No. 1 (January 2005), pp. 185-188. 104 Roosevelt‟s term referring to the self-proclaimed advocates of „good government‟. Zimmermann, First Great Triumph, p. 328. 105 Beisner, Twelve Against Empire; Fred Harrington, „The Anti-Imperialist Movement in the United States, 1898-1900‟, The Mississippi Valley Historical Review, Vol. 22: No. 2 (September 1935), pp. 211-30; and I. Dementyev, USA: Imperialists and Anti-Imperialists (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1979).


Table 2: Expansionists and anti-expansionists (Selected) Expansionists -William McKinley (1843-1901) -Henry Cabot Lodge (1850-1924) -Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) Republican President (1897-1901) Senator for Massachusetts (1893-1924) Assistant Secretary of the Navy (1897-8); Vice President (1901); Republican President (1901-09) -John Hay (1838-1905) Secretary of State (1898-1905) -Elihu Root (1845-1937) Secretary of War (1899-1904); Secretary of State (1905-09) -Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan President of the Naval War College (1886-1889, 1892-1893); (1840-1914) author of The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, 16601783 (1890) -Brook Adams (1848-1927) Historian; author of The Law of Civilisation and Decay (1895) and America‟s Economic Supremacy (1990) -Henry Adams (1838-1918) Harvard Professor of History -William Randolph Hearst (1863- Newspaper publisher (The New York Journal) 1951) -Joseph Pulitzer (1847-1911) Newspaper publisher (New York World) -Whitelaw Reid (1837-1912) Newspaper publisher (New York Tribune) -Albert J. Beveridge (1862-1927) Senator for Indiana (1899-1911) -Charles A. Conant (1861-1915) Economist and an advisor to the McKinley and Roosevelt administrations Anti-Expansionists -Grover Cleveland (1837-1908) -Benjamin Harrison (1833-1901) -Thomas Brackett Reed (1839-1902) Democratic President (1885-89, 1893-97) Republican President (1889-93) Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives (188991, 1895-99) -William Jennings Bryan (1860- Populist politician; Democratic Candidate for President (1896, 1925) 1900 and 1908) -Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) Industrialist -Samuel Gompers (1850-1924) Trade union leader -Carl Schurz (1829-1906) The German-American reformer and politician -Mark Twain (1835-1910) Writer -Edwin L. Godkin (1831-1902) Journalist and writer -Charles W. Eliot (1834-1926) President of Harvard University -Charles Francis Adams, Jr. (1835- A member of the Harvard Board of Overseers and Boston 1915) businessman -William James (1892-1910) Harvard Professor of Philosophy -Charles Eliot Norton (1827-1908) Harvard Professor -Edward Atkinson (1827-1905) Boston businessman -George F. Hoar (1826-1904) Senator for Massachusetts (1877-1904) Sources: Pratt (1936); Beisner (1968); Zimmermann (2002); and Thomas (2010)

Most of the literature takes these social actors as exogenously given or domestically driven agents. In this research, social agents are also influenced and socially constructed by the international structure through the process of the internationalisation of agents. It can be hypothesised that the changes in the international system that had occurred since the late

1880s and more especially after the Venezuelan Crisis brought about the transformation of social agents‟ identities and interests. Expansionists were largely transformed from antiBritish and pro-protectionists into pro-British and pro-free-trade liberals, as shown through the aforementioned examples of Mahan and Lodge. The next chapter will examine in detail the changing identities and interests of three expansionists: Lodge, Roosevelt and Hay. Though the thesis fundamentally studies expansionists, it may be speculated that antiexpansionists too were more or less internationally oriented. And, just as with the former, most of the latter were likely to be Anglophile and supportive of international free trade, with the exception of Andrew Carnegie and George Hoar who favoured protectionism. Despite his support for import-substitution, Carnegie unquestionably favoured Anglo-American friendship. In his article „Does America Hate England?‟, he claimed that, despite the Venezuelan Crisis, „…there is no deep-seated, bitter national hatred in the United States against Britain, there is no question but there has been recently a wave of resentment and indignation at her conduct‟. According to Carnegie, „the educated class of Americans‟ or the transatlantic elites, „who were and are Britain‟s friends… do know and appreciate that the best people in America had with them the best people in Great Britain in favour of settlement by arbitration‟. He concluded: „There is… no reason in the world why the two nations should not now again draw closer and closer together‟.106 Similarly, free-trade anti-expansionists like journalist Edwin Godkin argued that the restoration of harmony or good feeling between England and America is a consummation so devoutly to be wished that no difficulties or obstacles should be allowed to stand in its way… England has plainly recognised, at last that America is her best and only natural ally and friend. We believe that the most enlightened Englishmen have long felt this and tried to show it… Is it a good thing for us? Is it a good thing for liberty and civilisation? No one who sees how things are going in the great Continental states can well help answering these questions in the affirmative.107


Quoted in William Mountz, „Shadowing British Imperialism: Origins of the US Open Door Policy, 18901899‟, MA Dissertation, Texas Tech University, August 2007, pp. 128-30. 107 Quoted in Mountz, „Shadowing British Imperialism‟, p. 130.


Carl Schurz, the German-American anti-expansionist politician, argued in the same way that „the Anglo-American friendship will signalise itself to the world by an act that will not only benefit the two countries immediately concerned, but set an example to other nations which, if generally followed, will do more for the peace and happiness of mankind and the progress of civilisation than anything that can be effected by armies and navies‟.108 Both expansionists and anti-expansionists shared an Anglo-American common identity and understanding. As one British author neatly puts it, Great Britain and the US „have common ties, common interests, common memories, common kinship, which they do not and cannot possess with the world outside their own families‟.109 Some might question why, given the same structure, actors acted differently, with expansionists pursuing an assertive foreign policy an anti-expansionists against it. As Hoffman‟s critique of Mearsheimer asserts in a different context, „Structural factors do not cause or explain outcomes themselves. In anarchy, any structure can lead either to peace or to war; it depends on the domestic characteristics of the main actors, on their preferences and goals, as well as on the relations and links among them‟.110 That is to say, then, that the structural explanation was insufficient. It is partly true, and partly false. It is impossible that structure, similar to domestic factors, can be universally explicable. But to a certain degree, it is influential in determining the outcome and in constructing the agents. As the thesis attempts to suggest, expansionists did not act out of context, whether domestic or international; they were structurally constituted. The way in which agents performed differently can be partly explained by the fact that there are many types of international structure as actors conceived of it. For expansionists, it was the Hobbesian-Machiavellian international system with which they were

108 109

Quoted in Mountz, „Shadowing British Imperialism‟, p. 114. Quoted in Mountz, „Shadowing British Imperialism‟, p. 130. 110 Stanley Hoffman, Robert Keohane, and John Mearsheimer, „Back to the Future, Part II: International Relations Theory and Post-Cold War Europe‟, International Security, Vol. 15: No. 2 (Autumn 1990), p. 192.


affiliated. By contrast, for anti-expansionists, structure was conceived in Kantian terms.111 If the democratic peace theory, for instance, was counted into the explanation,112 my argument is that it provides a good explanatory power for the anti-expansionists‟ behaviour, rather than expansionists‟. This is because anti-expansionists mostly perceived world politics in terms of democratic and commercial pacifism, thereby arguing against war, intervention, and imperialism. However, expansionists never have that kind of worldview. If democratic peace theory was right, American expansionism would have been an accident, rather than the result of democratic peace, according to which democracies never go to war against each other. But the facts are to the contrary. To put it bluntly, democratic peace theory explains antiexpansionism better than expansionism, not vice versa. Actors were constituted by structure but also themselves constructed structure: they were thus structured agents. Despite the importance of domestic political structure, the identities and interests of agents are intersubjectively formulated and socially constituted partly by the international structure. Expansionists like Mahan, Lodge, Roosevelt and Hay were internationally socialised as members of internationalised elites, whose identities and interests were largely like those of European imperial elites and Britain‟s in particular. It is worth saying again: American expansionism was what American expansionists made of it. Thus, it was not motivated merely by a domestic or international factors but, rather, by a coconstitution between them that made American expansionism plausible at the end of the 1890s.

2.5 Summary International structural change brought about the great transformation of US foreign policy in world politics. It was not the expansionists Seward and Blaine but McKinley who
111 112

See Wendt, Social Theory of International Politics. For a constructivist reading of the democratic peace theory see Peceny, „A Constructivist Interpretation of the Liberal Peace‟, pp. 415-30.


succeeded in expanding American power abroad. This fundamentally came about because structural opportunities made American expansionism in the late 1890s possible. The internationalisation of the state and agents constitutively shaped the perceptions and preferences of crucial decision-makers and political circles. They were intersubjectively constructed as the internationalised elite, which pursued Anglophile, export-oriented policies. The next chapter will examine these expansionists and their roles in setting the discourses and policies that led the US to expand regionally and globally after the war of 1898.


Chapter 3 American Expansionism and the Spanish-American-Cuban War „The [McKinley] administration is now fully committed to the large policy that we both desire‟. Henry Cabot Lodge113 After 1895, America‟s internationally oriented expansionists had begun to think and act like other great powers‟ imperialists. They thus strongly promoted the ideas of buying and leasing ports, acquiring protectorates, making commercial treaties, and annexing strategic islands. The Cuban crisis that erupted during that year further inflamed the expansionists. In 1898, the explosion of the USS Maine in Havana harbour provided a pretext for a war against Spain, as a result of which Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines became US protectorates. Thereafter, the US both achieved regional hegemony in the Western hemisphere and began to emerge as a world power. The year 1898 is thus a milestone on the road toward US hegemony in the twentieth century. This chapter argues, firstly, that the international system, in particular European internal divisions and Britain‟s appeasement of the US, provided an opportunity for American expansionism. That European powers did not intervene to support Spain created American competitive advantages in the war. Second, expansionists, who were socially constructed by the international structure, proactively laid out the expansionist discourses and practices and influentially convinced the McKinley administration to go to war. This chapter principally concentrates on Cuba and has three main sections. The first provides a brief history of the Spanish-American-Cuban War. The second section then explores the international structure and its strategic encouragement of American expansionism before that war. The last section examines the social construction by American expansionists of the


Lodge to Roosevelt, 24 May 1898, Selections, Vol. 1, pp. 299-300.


„Spanish-American-Cuban War‟ through the discourses of such important expansionists as Lodge, Roosevelt, and Hay. It also considers the policy options of the government and the way in which McKinley chose armed intervention and a naval blockade over other peaceful means. This chapter ends by examining the changing identities and interests of American expansionists. Indeed this is an American narrative of the war of 1898.

3.1 Historical background114 The Spanish-American-Cuban War had its origins in the Cuban crisis. In 1895, Cuban rebels, led by Jose Marti, launched a new war of independence against Spain.115 Spain responded by sending more troops under General Valeriano Weyler, known as the „butcher‟, whose reconcentrado (reconcentration) policy was damagingly brutal. Many Americans, though not the Cleveland administration, sympathised with „Cuba Libre!‟ Besides, the rebellion threatened American economic relations and private property. In 1897, the new Republican President William McKinley pressured Spain to end the revolt by granting Cuba more autonomy and modifying Weyler‟s policies in the name of humanitarianism. After the anarchist assassination of a conservative Spanish prime minister, a new liberal government under Praxedes Mateo Sagasta was formed in late 1897, which duly recalled General Weyler, promoted reforms and announced Cuban autonomy, albeit under continuing Spanish sovereignty. However, these attempted reforms could not water down the Cuban nationalist movement. At home, America‟s yellow press, such as William Hearst‟s New York Journal


See, for example, Offner, An Unwanted War; May, Imperial Democracy; Trask, The War with Spain in 1898; Linderman, The Mirror of War; James C. Bradford, ed., Crucible of Empire: The Spanish-American War and Its Aftermath (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1993); and Joseph Smith, The Spanish-American War (London: Longman, 1994). 115 This was partly because of the 1894 Wilson-Gorman Tariff on sugar imports that meant many plantations closed, creating unemployment and chaos in Cuba in 1895. Between 1894 and 1896, Cuba‟s exports to the US fell by 50 percent. Walter LaFeber, The American Search for Opportunity, 1865-1913 (Cambridge University Press, 1993), p. 129.


and Joseph Pulitzer‟s New York World, had aroused anti-Spanish public opinion and continually called for American expansionism and war since 1895. From late 1897 until February 1898, American-Spanish relations had seemed to improve. However, after McKinley dispatched the battleship USS Maine on a „friendly‟ visit to Havana harbour in January to protect US citizens and property interests, the relationship between two countries rapidly deteriorated. Initially, this was because of a leaked letter in which Enrique Dupoy de Lome, the Spanish minister to Washington, dismissed McKinley as a weakling. Dupoy was immediately recalled to Spain, but on 15 February, the Maine exploded in Havana harbour, with the loss of 266 American lives. The US and Spain ordered their own investigations of the sinking. While the Spanish inquiry argued that the explosion had been internal, the American commission held that it had occurred outside the ship, implying Spanish responsibility. Shortly before that, Senator Redfield Proctor of Vermont, who had previously opposed expansionism, returned from a visit to Cuba to tell the Senate that American intervention was the only solution.116 Together with the hysterically jingoist mantra of „„Remember the Maine!‟, Proctor‟s speech palpably intensified the clamour for expansionism in the US. The Maine incident was widely interpreted as justifying war.117 McKinley tried to find alternatives to war, ranging from the purchase of Cuba to an armistice and arbitration. From the outset, the Spanish government, fearing that such a concession would damage national honour and dignity as well as the fragile monarchy, rejected these proposals and sought diplomatic help from European powers. Late in the day, however, it decided to settle disputes peacefully, agreeing to arbitration and proclaiming an unconditional armistice and a liberal constitution for Cuba. Nonetheless, on 11 April, McKinley asked Congress to authorise the use of force in „the name of humanity, in the name

116 117

Owen, Liberal Peace, Liberal War, p. 178. See Louis Perez, Jr., „The Meaning of the Maine: Causation and the Historiography of the Spanish-American War‟, Pacific Historical Review, Vol. LVIII (August 1989), pp. 293-322.


of civilisation‟.118 Congress hotly debated not a declaration of war per se, but Cuban independence and recognition of the revolutionary government. On 21 April, Congress passed the Teller Resolution, asserting that the US would not attempt to exercise hegemony over Cuba: „The United States hereby disclaims any disposition or intention to exercise sovereignty, jurisdiction, or control‟ over Cuba, „except for the pacification thereof‟.119 McKinley ordered a naval blockade of Cuba. By August, the US triumphantly ended the nearly four-month-long war: Commodore George Dewey attacked the Spanish fleet in Manila Bay, and Theodore Roosevelt and his Rough Riders, the first US voluntary cavalry, won the battle of San Juan Heights. The Treaty of Paris signed on 10 December 1898 provided for Spain‟s concession of Puerto Rico, Guam, and Wake Island, its selling of the Philippines, and its granting of Cuban independence. Despite this last deal, the Platt Amendment (1902) subsequently gave the US the right to intervene in the case of unrest and to maintain naval bases on the island, thereby making it in effect a protectorate, which stoked Cuban resentment. 1898 was a definitive and decisive watershed in US foreign policy; it made America not only an emerging hegemon in the Western hemisphere but a great power in relation to its ownership of the Philippines.

3.2 International structure before the Spanish-American-Cuban War Structure has here been defined as a social power relationship between states; states, albeit in varying degrees, thus interacted and engaged with this American-Spanish confrontation. Though some of them—Germany, Russia, and Austria-Hungary—shared the common identities and interests of monarchical rules with Spain, such solidarity was not enough to drive them to intervention or war. They had their own interests in this conflict. Their main aim was to question the rise of America‟s hemispheric hegemony, which would
118 119

For McKinley‟s speech, see FRUS, 1898, pp. 750-60. Offner, An Unwanted War, p. 189.


possibly challenge other powers‟ spheres of influence. To use Wendt‟s term, states were not „autistic‟, but self-interested, and therefore strategically maximised advantages and minimised risks. Shortly before the outbreak of the Spanish-American-Cuban War, European powers attempted to settle the crisis by forming a concert of the powers.120 None of them, however, wanted to lead a coalition against the US without the strong support and commitment of others, in particular Great Britain. British appeasement of the US thus made the attempted concert unattainable.121 By late 1897, European chancelleries began to seriously discuss the SpanishAmerican dispute. Germany and Austria-Hungary were diplomatically the most enthusiastic. Kaiser Wilhelm II, coupled with his foreign minister and then the chancellor Count Bernhard von Bulow, sought to mobilise the European powers to help the Spanish monarchy, on the assumption that France, Britain and Russia agreed with such a policy.122 Cautiously, Germany had done so indirectly, persuading Austria, closely bound to Spain by dynastic ties, to take the first step. Germany‟s goal, as Grenville puts it, was not „to save Spain but to collect some more colonies for Germany‟, and there was no desire for conflict with the US, which was Germany‟s second largest import and export market after Britain.123 As Bulow wrote to Count Eulenburg, the Kaiser‟s close friend and Ambassador to Vienna, „If England and France abstain… not only would the success of the action become doubtful, but this very fact could, from a political as well as an economic standpoint, bring us important disadvantages‟. Moreover, he later gave an instruction to the German embassy in Vienna that, „Germany cannot for practical reasons anticipate the western powers in taking a positive

J. Fred Rippy, „The European Powers and the Spanish-American War‟, James Sprunt Historical Studies, Vol. XIX: No. 2 (1927), pp. 22-52. 121 See Charles Campbell, Jr., Anglo-American Understanding (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1957); A.E. Campbell, Great Britain and the United States, 1895-1903 (London: Longman, 1960); Lionel Gelber, The Rise of Anglo-American Friendship, 1898-1906 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1938); and R. G. Neale, Britain and American Imperialism, 1898-1900 (Brisbane: University of Queensland Press, 1965). 122 Lester Burrell Shippee, „Germany and the Spanish-American War‟, The American Historical Review, Vol. 30: No. 4 (July 1925), pp. 754-5. 123 Grenville, Lord Salisbury and Foreign Policy, p. 201; Shippee, „Germany and the Spanish-American War‟, p. 755.


stand on the Cuban question, though she will be ready to give the most earnest consideration to any appropriate proposals which come to us from London or Paris‟. Similarly, despite its concern with dynastic ties, Austrian foreign minister Count Agenor Goluchowski admitted that, without British support, European intervention in the American-Spanish affairs was useless.124 After the Maine incident, Spain called on Europe‟s monarchical powers to settle the conflict. Germany felt sympathetic towards the Spanish monarchy, but would act only if France, whose large economic stake in Spain prevailed, took the initiative and other great powers helped to restrain American power. Bulow informed the German ambassador in Madrid that Germans „must always be ready to support the monarchical principle wherever it can be done with success, but that a suggestion… by Germany would not be a suitable method… [T]he only attitude possible for Germany… [is] to hold aloof. There is no need to explain in justification that it is Germany‟s duty to avoid engaging herself further or earlier than France in a question which has aroused the passions of the American people more and more‟.125 France, on the other hand, considered that a united European demonstration was necessary, but doubted whether Britain or Russia could be counted on. At that time, therefore, all the great powers were unwilling to take the first initiative against the US.126 For Britain, the Anglo-American rapprochement was still intact. Lord Salisbury insisted that, with regard to the Cuban question, „it‟s no affair of ours; we are friendly to Spain and should be sorry to see her humiliated, but we do not consider that we have anything to say in the matter whatever may be the course the United States may decide to
124 125

Quoted in May, Imperial Democracy, pp. 198-200; Grenville, Lord Salisbury and Foreign Policy, p. 201. Shippee, „Germany and the Spanish-American War‟, p. 756; and Quoted in May, Imperial Democracy, p. 200. 126 However, the Vatican moved to help Spain. The pope sent words to McKinley that the granting of an armistice „would avert danger of war‟ but McKinley paid no attention to it. Offner, Unwanted War, pp. 156-9. For France and the Spanish-American War, see John Offner, „The United States and France: Ending the Spanish-American War‟, Diplomatic History, Vol. 7: No. 1 (1983), pp. 1-21; and Louis Martin Sears, „French Opinion of the Spanish-American War‟, The Hispanic American Historical Review, Vol. 7: No. 1 (1927), pp. 25-44.


pursue‟. During the course of Lord Salisbury‟s illness, his nephew Arthur Balfour took charge of the Foreign Office and ensured its neutrality. He assured John Hay, American Ambassador in London, that „neither [in London] nor in Washington did the British Government propose to take any steps which would not be acceptable to the Government of the United States‟.127 Balfour declined to support Spain or to join a protest by the European powers. He frankly gave Sir Julian Pauncefote, British Ambassador to the US, the authority „to consult with the President on the subject, and thereafter take any steps in consultation with your colleagues, or separately, which you might think desirable‟.128 A professionally and gentlemanly pro-American diplomat Pauncefote, however, controversially asserted the attempted concert before the outbreak of the Spanish-American-Cuban War, which risked the European powers‟ intervention against the US, but in the end the British government reversed his initiative. After contact with McKinley and Acting Secretary of State William R. Day, Pauncefote came to the conclusion that the American administration seriously attempted to avoid war with Spain, at least until 11 April. Austria had initially directed its ambassador, acting in common with the representatives of the other powers, to approach the US in the interests of peace. Having consulted Day, Pauncefote asserted that the „collective manifestation of the Great Powers in the interests of peace would be of use in calming to some extent the popular excitement at this particular juncture‟.129 On 6 April 1898, the ambassadors of six such countries—Great Britain, Germany, France, Austria, Russia, and Italy—delivered the joint note to the President, hoping for the maintenance of peace and the

127 128

Quoted in Grenville, Lord Salisbury and Foreign Policy, pp. 202-3. Quoted in Lewis Einstein, „British Diplomacy in the Spanish-American War‟, Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Vol. 76 (1964), p. 36. 129 Shippee, „Germany and the Spanish-American War‟, p. 759; and Quoted in Einstein, „British Diplomacy in the Spanish-American War‟, p. 37.


reestablishment of order in Cuba through further negotiations.130 Though infuriating American public opinion, the note was written in neutral, diplomatic language. However, the second, but confidential, identical note of 14 April was controversial and far more hostile toward the US.131 After McKinley‟s War Message to Congress on 11 April, Pauncefote was deeply shocked; furthermore, as „doyen‟ of the diplomatic corps in Washington, he initiated and led the meeting of the powers‟ ambassadors and drafted a proposed communiqué:132 The attitude of Congress and the Resolution of the House of Representatives passed yesterday by a large majority leaves but little hope for peace and it is popularly believed that the warlike measures advocated have the approval of the Great Powers. The Memorandum of the Spanish Minister delivered on Sunday appeared to me and my colleagues to remove all legitimate cause of war. If that view should be shared by the Great Powers the time has arrived to remove to erroneous impression which prevails that the armed intervention of the United States in Cuba commands, in the words of the President‟s Message, “the support and approval of the civilised world”. It is suggested by the foreign Representatives that this might be done by a collective expression from the Great Powers of the hope that the United States Government will give a favourable consideration to the Memorandum of the Spanish Minister…as offering a reasonable basis of amicable settlement and removing any grounds for hostile intervention which may have previously existed.133

After the meeting, this note was altered to contain more offensive language by French Ambassador Jules Cambon, before being telegraphed by the ambassadors to their respective governments. Cambon‟s demarche stated that the great powers disapproved of an American


R.B. Mowat, The Life of Lord Pauncefote: First Ambassador to the United States (London: Constable, 1929), pp. 213-4. See „Joint note of the Powers‟ and „The President‟s reply‟ FRUS, 1989, pp. 740-1. 131 In 1902, late in the ongoing Boer War, this note became publicly controversial. George Smalley, The Times New York correspondent, tried to revive the spirit of British-American rapprochement amongst the American public in 1898, in the midst of the European powers‟ intervention. However, Germany published the telegram dispatched by Holleben, the then German Ambassador in Washington, indicating that British Ambassador Pauncefote had initiated and led the conference of ambassadors in an attempt to collectively intervene in the conflict. Shortly afterwards, Pauncefote died suddenly. See Mowat, The Life of Lord Pauncefote, pp. 217-22; R.G. Neale, „British-American Relations during the Spanish-American War: Some Problems‟, Australian Historical Studies, Vol. 6: No. 21 (1953), pp. 72-89; and Einstein, „British Diplomacy in the Spanish-American War‟, pp. 30-54. 132 The French representative reported Pauncefote as having said that „One cannot, without protesting in the name of conscience, allow to be committed the act of brigandage which the United States are preparing at this moment‟. Quoted in May, Imperial Democracy, p. 216. My Emphasis. 133 Quoted in Einstein, „British Diplomacy in the Spanish-American War‟, p. 40.


intervention in Cuba intended „to create an independent state‟ and denied McKinley‟s claim to have „the support and approval of the civilised world‟.134 Counterfactually, if the concert of Europe, spearheaded by a moral man such as Pauncefote, was successfully formed, the US might have been defeated in the SpanishAmerican-Cuban War and there would have been other regional hegemonic powers. However, Balfour, together with Joseph Chamberlain, refused to follow the advice of the British Ambassador. Since at least 1895, Balfour, Chamberlain and other British leaders were more overtly sympathetic and friendly to the US than to the continental powers. After receiving Pauncefote‟s second note, Balfour peremptorily replied that, … we are quite ready to join in any representation agreed on by the other Powers in favour of peace. We are also ready to make it quite clear that we have formed no judgment adverse to Spain, as is assumed apparently by Congress and to express the hope that the declaration of an armistice by Spain may afford an opportunity for a peaceful settlement. But it seems very doubtful whether we ought to commit ourselves to a judgment adverse to the United States, and whether in the interests of peace anything will be gained by doing so.135

With strong support from Chamberlain, Balfour sent another telegram to Pauncefote forbidding any further action without London‟s instruction: I gather that President is most anxious to avoid if possible a rupture with Spain. In these circumstances advice to USA by other Powers can only be useful if it strengthens his hands and of this he must be the best judge. Considering our present ignorance as to his views, the extreme improbability that unsought advice will do any good, and the inexpediency of adopting any course which may suggest that we take sides in the controversy we shall, at least for the moment, do nothing.136

The German Ambassador in Washington Theodor von Holleben wrote that Britain first showed an „inclination toward the United States‟, and manifested a „lukewarm attitude‟ toward concerted European action.137 After realising that the British would not go along,

134 135

Einstein, „British Diplomacy in the Spanish-American War‟, p. 40. Quoted in Grenville, Lord Salisbury and Foreign Policy, pp. 202-3. 136 Quoted in Einstein, „British Diplomacy in the Spanish-American War‟, pp. 47-8. My Emphasis. 137 The Kaiser further commented that „England wants to play the same game she did years ago when avowedly she provoked the outbreak of the Greco-Turkish war. She stirs up action of all the powers and apparently


other great powers, particularly Germany, also backed down. At the onset of the SpanishAmerican-Cuban War, despite their bitter mood, the European powers failed to balance against the US. Structurally, this was due to the Anglo-American rapprochement and intersubjective understandings. As US Ambassador Hay wrote to Senator Lodge, Britain was the only European power whose sympathies were not openly against the US and that, „if we wanted it—which of course we do not—we could have the practical assistance of the British Navy‟. Chamberlain later made a speech at Birmingham in favour of an Anglo-American alliance: „I even go so far as to say that, terrible as a war may be, even war itself would be cheaply purchased if, in a great and noble cause, the Stars and Stripes and the Union Jack should wave together over an Anglo-Saxon alliance‟.138 Structure, therefore, consisted of the hierarchy of states, a hierarchy that had „the Union Jack‟ and „the Stars and Stripes‟ flying at its summit.

3.3 Constructing the Spanish-American-Cuban War 3.3.1 Expansionists and the preparations for war Many historians have claimed that a like-minded group of expansionists—Roosevelt, Lodge, and Mahan—intentionally „conspired‟ to persuade McKinley to go to war with Spain in 1898. Pratt, for example, suggests that McKinley had been „clay in the hands of the little group of men who knew all too well what use to make of the war‟.139 Although they were the „movers and shakers of American expansion‟,140 these expansionists were unsocially

participates until they have compromised themselves with the belligerents; then she draws back, pharisaically, beats her breast, declares she never had a part in it, secretly joins with one of the combatants—naturally always the stronger—and incites it against the Continental powers… England won‟t belong to Europe, it won‟t throw in its lot with the Continental Powers… but wants to establish an independent continent for herself between this continent and Asia or America‟. Quoted in Shippee, „Germany and the Spanish-American War‟, pp. 762-3. 138 William Thayer, The Life and Letters of John Hay, Vol. II (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1915), pp. 165, 169. 139 Pratt, Expansionists of 1898, p. 327. See also Pratt, „The “Large Policy” of 1898‟, pp. 219-42; Charles Beard and Mary Beard, The Rise of American Civilization (New York: Macmillan, 1972), Vol. II; Millis, The Martial Spirit; and Zimmermann, First Great Triumph. 140 Zimmermann, First Great Triumph, p. 38.


constructed by the international context. In Chapter 2, I asserted that expansionists had been socially constituted by the international structure dominant since 1895. They shared the intersubjective understandings and perceptions of other imperialist powers, especially Pax Britannica. Their identities and interests were gradually and incrementally formulated. By the end of the 1890s, most of expansionists (and in particular Lodge, Roosevelt, Mahan and Hay) leaned toward the more Anglophile, more internationally export-oriented elite. Looking across the Atlantic, they desired that the US, as Roosevelt put it, „uphold its interests in the teeth of the formidable Old World powers‟.141 Underwriting this stance was the AngloAmerican rapprochement. This section explores the way in which expansionists argued for war with Spain. It represents a constructivist understanding of the Spanish-American-Cuban War. By early 1896, many expansionists, who previously knew little about Cuba, became rabid interventionists. While the Cleveland administration had strictly avoided entanglement with Cuban affairs and the business community had opposed war, these expansionists needed the government to officially recognise the Cuban rebels, thereby legitimising them. As Roosevelt put it to his sister Anna, the President „ought now to recognise Cuba‟s independence and interfere; sending our fleet promptly to Havana‟.142 Lodge, with the help of his mentor Henry Adams, secretly met with two Cuban lobbyists at the house of Senator J. Donald Cameron of Pennsylvania, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee at Lafayette Square, Adams‟ and Hay‟s neighbour. At that time, Lodge was appointed to a special subcommittee on Cuban affairs under the chairmanship of Senator John Sherman of Ohio, who later became McKinley‟s Secretary of State.143 As Henry Adams wrote to his

141 142

Quoted in John Judis, The Folly of Empire (New York: Scribner, 2004), p. 36. Roosevelt to Anna Roosevelt Cowles, 2 January 1897, Letters, Vol. 1, p. 574. 143 On their visit to Spain in 1895, Lodge and Joseph Chamberlain called on Antonio Canovas del Castillo, the Spanish prime minister, who was preoccupied with the Cuban situation. Mentioning that violence had hurt American business interests, Lodge urged him to put down the disputes quickly in order to avoid American intervention. John Garraty, Henry Cabot Lodge (New York: Knopf, 1953), p. 180.


brother Brooks, while business interests would inevitably dismiss the Cuban issue, the only solution was to persuade them that Cuba was „a great field for their greed‟—new markets with abundant resources and cheap labour.144 Later, Lodge argued in the Senate that a „Free Cuba would mean a great market for the United States; it would mean an opportunity for American capital invited there by special exemptions; it would mean an opportunity for the development of that splendid island‟. He also made a strategic argument for American global supremacy, saying that Cuba „lies athwart the line which leads to the [unbuilt] Nicaraguan Canal‟.145 For Lodge, the Cuban uprising was an opportunity for the US to drive the European powers out of the Western hemisphere. The Cameron Resolution non-bindingly recognising the Cuban insurgents as legitimate belligerents was passed in both houses of Congress. It was a symbolic victory, transcending the executive power of President Cleveland. After McKinley defeated Bryan, Lodge prevailed upon the new president to make Roosevelt, then police commissioner in New York City, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, which was a second-ranking position in the department associated with US foreign and defense affairs in state structure. McKinley chose Senator John Sherman of Ohio as Secretary of State, Russell Alger as Secretary of War, and John Davis Long as Secretary of the Navy. He also appointed John Hay, his financial contributor and Anglophile foreign policy advisor, the US Ambassador to the Court of St. James‟s in 1897. In his inaugural address, McKinley stated neutrally that, „We want no wars of conquest. We must avoid the temptation of territorial aggression. War should never be entered upon until every agency of peace has failed; peace is preferable to war in almost every contingency‟. As he spoke privately with


Quoted in Patricia O‟Toole, The Five of Hearts: An Intimate Portrait of Henry Adams and His Friends, 1880-1918 (New York: Clarkson Potter Publishers, 1990), p. 283. 145 Quoted in Evans, The War Lovers, p. 132.


Carl Schurz, a leading Mugwump anti-expansionist, „[T]here will be no jingo nonsense under my administration‟.146 However, in fact, even McKinley himself was becoming a jingo. At the Department of the Navy, Roosevelt promoted American expansionism which, he believed, would make the US a great power. Shortly after taking the position, Roosevelt told Mahan: „If I had my way we would annex [the Hawaiian] islands tomorrow. If that is impossible I would establish a protectorate over them. I believe we should build the Nicaraguan Canal at once, and in the meantime that we should build a dozen new battleships, half of them on the Pacific Coast; and these battleships should have large coal capacity and a consequent increased radius of action‟. He also noted that the US would turn Spain out of Cuba „tomorrow‟ and that „no strong European power, and especially nor Germany, should be allowed to gain a foothold by supplanting some weak European power‟.147 Constrained by economic stagnation, however, some politicians, such as Speaker of the House Thomas Reed, opposed building up the navy. In his letter to the President, Roosevelt suggested that the US „should keep the battleships on our own coast, and in readiness for action should any complications arise in Cuba‟.148 He obviously kept Lodge‟s large policy in mind: the US needed a naval buildup, the annexation of strategic islands in the Caribbean, and the construction of an isthmian canal. With regard to Cuba, like Roosevelt, Mahan argued that, „in the cluster of island fortresses of the Caribbean is one of the greatest of the nerve centres of the whole body of European civilisation; and it is to be regretted that so serious a portion of them now is in hands which not only never have given, but to all appearances never can give, the development which is required by the general interest‟.149 He told Mahan that, although Secretary Long was „only lukewarm about building up our Navy, at any rate as

146 147

Quoted in Evans, The War Lovers, p. 152. My Emphasis. Roosevelt to Mahan, 3 May 1897, Letters, Vol. 1, p. 607. 148 Roosevelt to McKinley, 26 April 1897, Letters, Vol. 1, p. 602. 149 Quoted in Zimmermann, First Great Triumph, p. 235.


regards battleships‟, Roosevelt was seriously moving toward „pressing our ideas into effect‟.150 Roosevelt publicly elaborated his policy during a speech at the Naval War College in New Port on 2 June 1897: All the great master races have been fighting races, and the minute that a race loses the hard fighting virtues, then, no matter what else it may retain, no matter how skilled in commerce and finance, in science or art, it has lost its proud right to stand as the equal of the best. Cowardice in a race, as in an individual, is the unpardonable sin, and a willful failure to prepare for danger may in its effects be as bad as cowardice. The timid man who cannot fight, and the selfish, short-sighted, or foolish man who will not take the steps that will enable him to fight, stand on almost the same plane.151 There were, he continued emotionally, „higher things in this life than the soft and easy enjoyment of material comfort. It is through strife, or the readiness for strife, that a nation must win greatness. We ask for a great navy, partly because we feel that no national life is worth having if the nation is not willing, when the need shall arise, to stake everything on the supreme arbitrament of war, and to pour out its blood, its treasure, and its tears like water, rather than submit to the loss of honour and renown‟.152 To achieve these goals, the US needed to build up its navy. His published speech, which repeated the word „war‟ sixty-two times, strengthened American support for expansionism. In Secretary Long‟s absence, Roosevelt was in charge and ran the Navy independently, a state of affairs he evidently enjoyed: „The Secretary is away, and I am having immense fun running the Navy‟.153 He busily lobbied both the White House and Congress for a large navy and prepared war plans. Although Roosevelt was afraid that, as he wrote to Lodge, it would be „difficult for us to get them to go on with the building up of the Navy, and if they stop I fear they will never begin again‟, he remained optimistic about the
150 151

Roosevelt to Mahan, 17 May 1897, and Roosevelt to Mahan, 9 June 1897, Letters, Vol. 1, p. 611, p. 622. Theodore Roosevelt addressed the Naval War College in Newport, Rhodes Island, on 2 June 1897. Quoted in his An American Mind: A Selection from His Writings, ed. Mario Di Nunzio (London: Penguin Books, 1994), pp. 173-9. 152 Quoted in Roosevelt, An American Mind, pp. 173-9. 153 Roosevelt to Bellamy Storer, 19 August 1897, Letters, Vol. 1, p. 655.


McKinley administration, which was „opening, unlike every other administration of the last twenty years, with the prospects steadily brightening for its continuance during a second term‟.154 Roosevelt personally convinced McKinley about his plan by showing „exactly where all our ships are‟ and sketching in outline „what… ought to be done if things looked menacing about Spain, urging the necessity of taking an immediate and prompt initiative if we wished to avoid the chance of some serious trouble‟. He proposed dispatching the main fleet to Cuba within forty-eight hours of the declaration of war, harassing the coast of Spain with „four big, fast, heavily armed cruisers‟, sending an expeditionary force into Cuba, and also blockading, and if possible taking Manila. However, he went on, if the US hesitated and let the Spanish take the initiative, they „could give us great temporary annoyance by sending a squadron off our coast‟ and „there would be plenty of German and English, and possible French, officers instructing them how to lay mines and use torpedoes for the defense of the Cuban ports‟.155 In addition to his war plans, Roosevelt also installed Commodore George Dewey as a commander of the Asiatic Squadron, who would later play a significant role in the battle for Manila. He strongly admitted that, „war will have to, or at least ought to, come sooner or later; and I think we should prepare for it well in advance. I should have the Asiatic squadron in shape to move on Manila at once‟.156 Roosevelt gradually won Secretary Long‟s commitment for the extension of the navy. As he wrote to Cecil Spring-Rice, Long was a „perfect dear‟ whose „views of foreign policy would entirely meet your approval‟. Roosevelt wrote to Long arguing for a defensive naval capability, stating that „a great navy does not make for war, but for peace. It is the cheapest

154 155

Roosevelt to Lodge, 3 August 1897, Letters, Vol. 1, pp. 637-8. Roosevelt to Lodge, 21 September 1897, Selections, pp. 278-9. 156 Roosevelt to William Wirt Kimball, 19 November 1897, Letters, Vol. 1, p. 717. Lieutenant William Kimball had developed plans in the Navy Department calling for an assault on the Philippines as early as 1896. See John Grenville, „American Naval Preparations for War with Spain, 1896-1898‟, Journal of American Studies, Vol. 2 (April 1968), pp. 33-47.


kind of insurance. No coast fortifications can really protect our coasts; they can only be protected by a formidable fighting navy‟. Otherwise, the US might encounter „a disaster which would wrap and stunt our whole national life, for the moral effect would be infinitely worse than the material‟. He suggested that the Navy should ask Congress for six new battleships in the Pacific and the Atlantic, six large cruisers, and seventy-five torpedo boats. He ended the letter saying that, „if the work is interrupted, and new vessels are not begun, we shall soon find it necessary to start all over again‟. Long, finally, approved it and recommended an additional battleship and additional torpedo boats.157 The US had begun to ready itself before the war of 1898. On the other side of the Atlantic, Ambassador Hay, strongly persuaded of the need for America‟s emergence as a great power, attempted to improve Anglo-American relations. As General Steward Woodford, the new ambassador to Spain, who stopped by London to discuss with Hay, informed McKinley, Hay believed the Cuban situation provided an opportunity to increase Anglo-American solidarity, as well as to increase American prestige: „The British people do not yet take any active interest in Cuban affairs. They are only concerned in seeing that their commercial and business relations are not disturbed or injured. They probably expect that Cuba will eventually come under the control of the United States either by a virtual protectorate or by actual annexation. I do not believe that recognition of Cuban belligerency by the United States would be followed by any protest or unfriendly action on the part of England. The British Government probably would do only what it might deem necessary to protect the commercial and financial interests of British subjects in Cuba‟.158 Subsequently, Hay‟s informal conversation with Lord Salisbury confirmed his understanding of Anglo-American rapprochement. As he said after that discussion, it „deepened the


Roosevelt to Cecil Spring-Rice, 28 April 1897, Letters, Vol. 1, p. 604; Roosevelt to John Long, 30 September 1897, Letters, Vol. 1, pp. 695-6; and Roosevelt to Lodge, 5 November 1987, Selections, p. 294. 158 Quoted in Kenton Clymer, John Hay: The Gentleman as Diplomat (Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 1975), p. 117.


impression I already had, that we need apprehend no interference from England, if it becomes necessary for us to adopt energetic measures for putting an end to the destruction and slaughter now going on‟.159 During the Maine incident of 15 February 1898, Hay, together with Henry Adams, was away on vacation in Egypt, and thus well placed to appreciate the British sympathy for the US. He assured the President that the British generally favoured an American war with Spain: „The commonest phrase (from Liberals, Conservatives, and Radicals) is “We wish you would take Cuba and finish up the work”.‟160 He forwarded some journals to the State Department showing their pro-American support. The Chronicle, for example, asserted that „whatever may have been our differences with the United States, the heart of our people will go out to the great attempt to be made to liberate an American colony from a cruel yoke‟. Spain, it concluded, „will fight alone‟.161 In his famous letter to Lodge, Hay insisted on the special Anglo-American relations in the Cuban crisis: I do not know whether you especially value the friendship and sympathy of this country in the present state of things—as it is the only European country whose sympathies are not openly against us. We will not waste time discussing whether the origin of this feeling is wholly selfish or not. Its existence is beyond question. I find it wherever I go—not only in the press, but in private conversation. For the first time in my life I find the “drawing room” sentiment altogether with us. If we wanted it— which, of course, we do not—we could have the practical assistance of the British Navy… The commonest phrase is here:—“I wish you would take Cuba at once. We wouldn‟t have stood it this long”.162 Hay later stated emphatically that, „the only power cordially friendly to us on this side of the water is England and England is the one power which has most to dread from our growing power and prosperity. We are her most formidable rival and the trade balances show a portentous leaning in our favor. But notwithstanding all this the feeling here is more
159 160

Quoted in Clymer, John Hay, p. 118. Quoted in O‟Toole, The Five of Hearts, p. 295. However, Roosevelt misunderstood Hay‟s far-sightedness: „I don‟t understand how John Hay was willing to be away from England at this time‟. Roosevelt to Brooks Adams, 21 March 1898, Letters, Vol. 1, p. 797. 161 Quoted in Clymer, John Hay, p. 119. 162 Thayer, The Life and Letters of John Hay, pp. 165-6.


sympathetic and cordial than it has ever been‟.163 However, what most concerned Hay was neither sympathetic Britain nor weak Spain, but Germany. His close friend and then British ambassador to Germany, Cecil Spring-Rice, warned that „the jealousy and animosity felt toward us in Germany is something which can hardly be exaggerated‟. In Spring-Rice‟s view, Germany wanted „the Philippines, the Carolines, and Samoa—they want to get into our markets and keep us out of theirs. They have been flirting and intriguing with Spain ever since the war began and now they are trying to put the Devil into the head of [the Filipino leader Emilio] Aguinaldo‟. This made Hay advise the State Department that, „authority in German matters suggests prompt annexation of Hawaii before war closes as otherwise Germany might seek to complicate the question with Samoa or Philippine Islands‟.164 Similarly, Roosevelt was confident that „the English have genuinely sympathised with‟ the Americans, whereas „Germany is the Power with which we may very possible have ultimately to come into hostile contact‟.165 In his letter to Spring-Rice, he noted that, if Germany expanded into the English-speaking world: As an Englishman, I should seize the first opportunity to crush the German Navy and the German commercial marine out of existence, and take possession of both the German … possessions in South Africa, leaving the Boers absolutely isolated. As an American I should advocate … keeping our Navy at a pitch that will enable us to interfere promptly if Germany ventured to touch a foot of American soil… [W]e did not intend to have the Germans on this continent… and if Germany intended to extend her empire here she would have to whip us first.166

To put it another way, Britain and the US began to intersubjectively perceive Germany as their common threat. Coupled with Lodge and Roosevelt, Ambassador Hay, who was one of the internationally and transatlantically oriented elite, constitutively reinforced the
163 164

Quoted in O‟Toole, The Five of Hearts, p. 299. Quoted in Clymer, John Hay, p. 124, pp. 126-7. 165 Roosevelt to Henry White, 9 March 1898, Letters, Vol. 1, p. 791; and Roosevelt to Bowman Hendry McCalla, 3 August 1897, Letters, Vol. 1, p. 636. For more information on the change in American perceptions toward Germany, see Clara Schieber, „The Transformation of American Sentiment towards Germany, 18701914‟, Journal of International Relations, Vol. 12: No. 1 (July 1921), pp. 50-74; and Ido Oren, „The Subjectivity of the „Democratic Peace‟: Changing US Perceptions of Imperial Germany‟, International Security, Vol. 20: No. 2 (Fall 1995), pp. 147-84. 166 Roosevelt to Cecil Spring-Rice, 13 August 1897, Letters, Vol. 1, p. 645.


transatlantic Anglo-American relationship at the turn of the century before he returned to the US in late September to serve as Secretary of State. In Washington, although the prospects for war over Cuba were fading, after the Maine incident, expansionists were actively in favour of intervention and war with Spain. On the one hand, Lodge declared in the Senate, „I have no more doubt than that I am now standing in the Senate of the United States that that ship was blown up by a government mine, fired by, or with connivance of, Spanish officials‟. He warned McKinley in March, „If the war in Cuba drags on through the summer with nothing done, we shall go down in the greatest defeat ever known‟.167 On the other hand, Roosevelt noted that, „this Cuban business ought to stop. The Maine was sunk by an act of dirty treachery on the part of the Spaniards I believe; though we shall never find out definitely, and officially it will go down as an accident‟.168 Roosevelt, again acting Secretary of the Navy, seized an opportunity when Long was away to do „everything in [his] power to put [the US] in readiness‟. Importantly, on 25 February 1898, Lodge called on Roosevelt at the Navy Department when he was preparing to cable Dewey, a commander of the Asiatic Squadron who Roosevelt himself chose. The telegraphic instruction read as follows: „Order the squadron… Keep full of coal. In the event of declaration of war with Spain, your duty will be to see that the Spanish squadron does not leave the Asiatic coast, and then offensive operations in Philippine Islands.‟169 At the time, Roosevelt took all possible precautions in case the war was decided.

3.3.2 Why did McKinley decide to go to war with Spain?

167 168

Quoted in Garraty, Henry Cabot Lodge, p. 190. Roosevelt to Benjamin Harrison Diblee, 16 February 1898, Letters, Vol. 1, p. 775. 169 Roosevelt to George Dewey, 25 February 1898, Letters, Vol. 1, pp. 784-5; and Roosevelt, An American Mind, p. 196.


In the historiographical literature, there are broadly two different interpretations of the leadership of McKinley: the anti-McKinley and the pro-McKinley.170 The anti-McKinley interpretation has been dominant in American politics: McKinley, closely tied with antiwar businessmen via his political advisor and Ohio Senator Mark Hanna, was portrayed as a weak, reluctant, politically expedient, cowardly and incompetent leader who was driven to war by emotional public pressure, party political expediency, jingoist press, and expansionist manipulation.171 In Linderman‟s interpretation, McKinley „did not choose war… he simply slipped over the line between peace and war in moving as slowly as possible to accommodate demands he could no longer resist‟. The President, in Roosevelt‟s famous phrase, had „no more backbone than a chocolate éclair‟.172 Given McKinley‟s weakness, his government was also strikingly weak. The State Department was criticised as including, „a secretary who knew nothing, a first assistant who said nothing, and a second assistant who heard nothing‟.173 In this sense, public opinion overwhelmingly dictated McKinley‟s unnecessary war. On the other hand, the more recent pro-McKinley interpretation has challenged the former thesis: McKinley has in this view been revitalised as a strong, adept, purposeful, courageous, and cautious leader, who made the decisive decision-making instead of party manipulators, expansionist conspirators, or hostile public opinion.174 As Morgan puts it,


The best review of McKinley‟s leadership is Joseph Fry, „William McKinley and the Coming of the SpanishAmerican War: A Study of the Besmirching and Redemption of an Historical Image‟, Diplomatic History, Vol. 3: No. 1 (January 1979), pp. 77-97. 171 See, for example, Pratt, Expansionists of 1898; Bemis, A Diplomatic History of the United States; Millis, The Martial Spirit; Morgenthau, In Defense of the National Interest; Kennan, American Diplomacy; Osgood, Ideals and Self-Interest in America‟s Foreign Relations; Foster Rhea Dulles, America‟s Rise to World Power, 18981954 (New York: Harper& Brothers, 1954); Graebner, „The Year of Transition‟; May, Imperial Democracy; Richard W. Van Alstyne, The Rising American Empire (Oxford: Blackwell, 1965); Linderman, The Mirror of War. 172 Linderman, The Mirror of War, p. 34; Millis, The Martial Spirit, p. 413. 173 Zimmermann, First Great Triumph, p. 253. 174 See, for example, Offner, An Wanted War; Margaret Leech, In The Days of McKinley (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1959); H. Wayne Morgan, William McKinley and His America (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1963); LaFeber, The New Empire; Beisner, From the Old Diplomacy to the New; Campbell, The Transformation of American Foreign Policy; Lewis Gould, The Spanish-American War and President McKinley (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1982); Lewis Gould, The Modern American Presidency (Lawrence: University


McKinley „did not surrender to public opinion. He only accepted in the end the implicit aim of his policy; intervention when peaceful pressure failed‟. Beisner similarly extolled McKinley‟s ability, arguing that he decided to go to war because he wanted „what only war could bring—an end to the Cuban rebellion, which outraged his humanitarian impulses, prolonged instability in the economy, destroyed American investments and trade with Cuba, created a dangerous picture of an America unable to master the affairs of the Caribbean, threatened to arouse uncontrollable outburst of jingoism, and diverted the attention of US policymakers from historic happenings in China… Neither spineless nor bellicose, McKinley demanded what seemed to him morally unavoidable and essential to American interests‟.175 In contrast with the anti-McKinley interpretation, recent research suggests that letters from private citizens to McKinley since the Maine incident praised McKinley‟s peaceful diplomacy, thereby expressing no tense public feelings urging immediate war.176 McKinley‟s decision to declare war in 1898 was „a moment of unprecedented presidential power‟ rather than his weak leadership and naiveté.177 Similarly, many historians have argued that what drove McKinley‟s decision was humanitarianism. According to Offner, McKinley „frequently referred to US economic interests adversely affected by the Spanish-Cuban war, but he never saw them as justification for military intervention. It was the terrible human suffering in Cuba

Press of Kansas, 2002); Richard Hamilton, President McKinley, War and Empire (New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 2006). 175 Morgan, William McKinley and His America, pp. 373-4; Beisner, From the Old Diplomacy to the New, p. 114. 176 See Bettye Grable, „American Elitist Attitudes and Private Letters Influence President McKinley‟s Decision to Declare War in 1898‟, Proceedings of the First Annual University Research Summit, „Building Research Capacity Through Collaborations‟, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, 25-27 March 2009, pp. 5176. 177 Nick Kapur, „William McKinley‟s Values and the Origins of the Spanish-American War: A Reinterpretation‟, Presidential Studies Quarterly, Vol. 41: No. 1 (March 2011), pp. 18-38. See also Lyman Johnson, „Presidential Leadership in Foreign Affairs: McKinley‟s Role in the Spanish-American War‟, Boletin Americanista, Vol. 28 (1986), pp. 55-74.


that convinced him that war was justified, and he consistently attempted to place this issue at the forefront of his policy‟. 178 In other words, the war was a humanitarian intervention. Undoubtedly, McKinley was structurally constrained by not only domestic politics but also the international system. I argue that his decision was influenced less by public opinion than by his own judgment and the ideas of internationally oriented expansionists. As John Hay observed, McKinley had „a strong will, as you know, and… likes to have things his own way‟.179 This section examines McKinley‟s actions prior to declaring war and his policy options between March and April 1898. Within the cabinet, there were two fundamental factions: interventionist and diplomatic. Among the former, Roosevelt represented a minority advocate of immediate action against Spain and armed intervention. He consistently acknowledged what anti-expansionists called „jingo doctrines‟, which steadily preached a vigorous foreign policy in general and a war with Spain in particular.180 He argued that, „a year ago [the US] could have ended a war with Spain with very little difficulty. The delay has steadily been to our disadvantage, but we can still end it without much difficulty if we act with promptness [and] decision. Of course the real time to strike was a year and a half ago, when we had most excuse and could have struck to most advantage‟.181 He later wrote to Lodge saying that the McKinley administration was „very anxious for the House resolution‟, because „they regard that resolution as requiring immediate intervention, by which they understand diplomacy to be included, but as not requiring them to use the Army and Navy at once‟.182 Thus, for Roosevelt the sooner war came, the better.


John Offner, „McKinley and the Spanish-American War‟, Presidential Studies Quarterly, Vol. 34: No. 1 (March 2004), p. 61. 179 Quoted in Richard Hamilton, „McKinley‟s Backbone‟, Presidential Studies Quarterly, Vol. 36: No. 3 (September 2006), p. 491. 180 See Roosevelt to William Bigelow, 29 March 1898, Letters, Vol. 2, p. 803; and Roosevelt to Alexander Lambert, 1 April 1898, Letters, Vol. 2, p. 808. 181 Roosevelt to Henry White, 9 March 1898, Letters, Vol. 1, p. 791. 182 Roosevelt to Lodge, 14 April 1898, Letters, Vol. 2, p. 815.


In the diplomatic faction, McKinley, Secretary of the Navy Long, Secretary of State Sherman, and Assistant Secretary of State William Day continued to seek alternative peaceful means, with war as a last and unwanted resort. As Roosevelt accurately predicted, „the President will not make war, and will keep out of it if he possibly can… if [the report] says the explosion was due to outside work, it will be very hard to hold the country; but the President will undoubtedly try peaceful means even then, at least at first‟. He held that, coupled with the House Speaker Thomas Reed, McKinley was „resolute to have peace at any price‟.183 Indeed, the president acted conscientiously in order to make peace before his War Message of 11 April and when there were no longer any viable alternatives, he picked up intervention as his last resort, which was enormously influenced by expansionists. In other words, at the end, the policy option expansionists suggested was decidedly chosen. Before elaborating further, it is worth recalling Elihu Root‟s long letter to Secretary of the Interior Cornelius Bliss on 2 April 1898, which summarises McKinley‟s diplomatic strategy. Roosevelt endorsed it and said that it had a profound effect in „heartening the healthy-minded Americans here‟184: If we are to have war with Spain, and I assume that we are, the President should lead and not be pushed. He has deserved and won endless praise at home and abroad for his judicious and courageous restraint both upon himself and upon his people. The exhibition of calm and deliberate judgment and sincere desire for peace in lieu of passion and recklessness has been worth hundreds of millions to the country in its effect upon the opinion of the Civilised World. But when it is once certain that diplomacy has failed and that the Government… is about to engage in war with Spain, the duty of restraint is ended and the duty of leadership begins. Fruitless attempts to hold back or retard the enormous momentum of the people bent upon war would result in the destruction of the President‟s power and influence, in depriving the country of its natural leader, in the destruction of the President‟s party, in the elevation of the Silver Democracy to power. 185


Roosevelt to Douglas Robinson, 6 March 1898, Letters, Vol. 1, p. 789; Roosevelt to Douglas Robinson, 30 March 1898, Letters, Vol. 2, p. 805. 184 Roosevelt to Elihu Root, 5 April 1898, Letters, Vol. 2, p. 812. 185 Quoted in Philip Jessup, Elihu Root, Vol. I (New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1938), pp. 196-7.


„I deplore war‟, Root went on. „I agree with the President that it is not his duty to sacrifice his own people for the benefit of others, but I cannot doubt that if the American people wish to make war upon Spain because of her acts in Cuba, if they are willing to make the sacrifices required, they have a moral right to do so… When we take up their just quarrel we are doing no wrong to Spain and violating no law divine or international‟. Although he preferred that „we should not do it; I don‟t think we are bound to do it; I would prevent it if I could; I think the President has been right in trying to prevent it‟, „if it is to be done, then every American ought to be for the war heart and soul, and first and foremost and without the slightest uncertainty or question should be the President of the United States‟.186 For McKinley, war with Spain was not inevitable. Under pressure from within and without, McKinley, consulting with his advisors, was working deliberately to find alternatives to war. Between March and April 1898, his policy options for Cuba included: (a) The purchase of Cuba; (b) An armistice; (c) Immediate revocation of reconcentrado policy; (d) Arbitration; (e) Blockade; and (f) Armed intervention/war. During March 1898, McKinley introduced purchasing Cuba from Spain with a fixed sum as his first policy option (option a). The agreement with Spain would be made through a secret memorandum to satisfy Spanish pride and honour. Moreover, the Maine explosion may be peacefully settled if full reparation were promptly made. The American ambassador to Madrid Stewart Woodford wrote that the American people „would prefer to but rather than suffer the pains of war, since purchase or war must result in the same thing—the occupation


Quoted in Jessup, Elihu Root, Vol. I, p. 196-7.


and ownership of the island‟.187 Roosevelt was against this option. As he said cynically, „personally, I should hate to see us pay a dollar to Spain as a reward for having during the past three years revived the policy of Alva and Torquemada at the expense of the Cubans, and it seems to me that the time has come for us to fight‟.188 However, after considering any possible cession of Cuba, the Spanish Queen preferred to abdicate her regency, rather than ceding any of her colonies. Woodford also feared that the Spanish might regard the purchase of Cuba as America‟s business deal.189 This first option was therefore dropped. By the end of March, recognising that the Maine report would be held in Congress very soon, Day, a de facto Secretary of State, confidentially told Woodford that the investigation report would unanimously conclude that the Maine was blown up by a submarine mine or an outside explosion. This definitely affected American-Spanish relations.190 Day asserted, „The President‟s desire is for peace… He wants an honourable peace … [which] is the desired end… [I]f Spain will revoke the reconcentration order and maintain the people until they can support themselves and offer to the Cubans full selfgovernment, with reasonable indemnity, the President will gladly assist in its consummation. If Spain should invite the United States to mediate for peace and the insurgents would make like request, the President might undertake such office of friendship‟. By the words „full selfgovernment, with reasonable indemnity‟, Day later answered Woodford‟s question regarding what the McKinley administration meant by Cuban independence.191 McKinley suggested three importantly diplomatic policy options: (b) an immediate armistice or truce; (c) an end to reconcentration; and (d) arbitration to be enforced by Spain and the Cuban belligerents so as to restore „honourable peace‟ in Cuba. As Day instructed the American ambassador:

187 188

Woodford to the President, 18 March 1898, FRUS, 1898, p. 691. Roosevelt to William Frye, 31 March 1898, Letters, Vol. 2, p. 806. 189 Woodford to the President, 19 March 1898, FRUS, 1898, p. 693. 190 Day to Woodford, 20 March 1898, FRUS, 1898, p. 692. 191 Day to Woodford, 26 March 1898, FRUS, 1898, p. 704; and Day to Woodford, 28 March 1898, FRUS, 1898, p. 713.


First. Armistice until October 1. Negotiations meantime looking for peace between Spain and insurgents through friendly offices of President United States. Second. Immediate revocation of reconcentrado order so as to permit people to return to their farms, and the needy to be relieved with provisions and supplies from United States cooperating with authorities so as to afford full relief… Third. If terms of peace not satisfactorily settled by October 1, President of the United States to be final arbiter between Spain and insurgents. If Spain agrees, President will use friendly offices to get insurgents to accept plan. 192

In other words, the McKinley administration deliberately proposed an immediate ceasefire between Spain and the Cuban belligerents while, at the same time, ending the brutal reconcentrado policy. If there were no peace or satisfactory agreements by 1 October, the US would act as a „final arbiter‟ in the dispute. McKinley gave Spain an ultimatum of 48 hours to respond satisfactorily to his proposals. If Spain rejected his offer, he would then turn the Cuban issue over to Congress. In response, the Spanish government said that it was ready to arbitrate the Maine incident and close the concentration camps and furnished employment in Cuba, thereby accepting American economic assistance. On armistice, Spain would at once grant and enforce an immediate armistice on the condition that, „if it were asked by the insurgents‟, and mentioned nothing about the American role as arbitrator.193 Diplomatically speaking, Spain would refuse to offer an immediate armistice. Spain‟s „pacification of Cuba‟ amounted to a degree of Cuban autonomy under continuing Spanish sovereignty. Therefore, as Woodford asserted, „the “pacification of Cuba” does not mean immediate or assured peace. It means… continuation of this destruction, cruel, and now needless war‟.194 He reported that, although Spanish public opinion was moving steadily toward peace, the war spirit prevailed among the aristocrats and military officials, who remained the controlling factor in Spanish politics.195

192 193

Day to Woodford, 27 March 1898, FRUS, 1898, pp. 711-2. Woodford to the President, 29 March 1898, FRUS, 1898, pp. 718-20. 194 Woodford to Day, 31 March 1898, FRUS, 1898, p. 727. 195 Woodford to the President, 1 April 1898, FRUS, 1898, pp. 727-8.


In short, Spain hesitantly accepted America‟s option c, but rejected options b and d. Diplomatic means to peace seemed to have vanished and war seemed unavoidable. On 3 April, Woodford informed Washington that Spain proposed to invite the pope to mediate an armistice in Cuba. If such an armistice had been proclaimed, the Spanish would have asked the US to withdraw its battleships from Key West as a quid pro quo. Optimistically, the Ambassador believed that „when armistice is once proclaimed hostilities will never be resumed and that permanent peace will be secured‟ and asked McKinley for additional time for diplomacy and negotiation.196 However, at the time, Woodford and McKinley and Day defined „peace‟ differently. For the latter, the Spanish manifesto of the Cuban autonomy was neither the independence of Cuba nor armistice. Day replied provocatively that Woodford was „instructed to make an armistice to be offered by Spain to negotiate a permanent peace between Spain and insurgents‟, which „Spain had already rejected. An armistice involves an agreement between Spain and insurgents which must be voluntary on the part of each, and if accepted by them would make for peace… An armistice, to be effective, must be immediately proffered and accepted by insurgents‟. It proved to be an appeal, he continued, by the Spanish colonial government in Cuba, which urged „the insurgents to lay down their arms and to join with the autonomy party in building up the new scheme of home rule. It is simply an invitation to the insurgents to submit, in which event the autonomy government, likewise suspending hostilities, is prepared to consider what expansion if any of the decree home-rule scheme is needed or practicable… [T]his is a very different thing from an offered armistice‟.197 We can conclude that, having attempted but failed to find peaceful solutions to war (options a-d), President McKinley was left with only the last resort of armed intervention and war, such as was favoured by the expansionists. Without any other options, McKinley and his
196 197

Woodford to the President, 3 April 1898, FRUS, 1898, p. 732. Day to Woodford, 3 April 1898, and Day to Woodford, 4 April 1898, FRUS, 1898, pp. 732-3.


administration chose a naval blockade and armed intervention (options e and f), even though Spain at last offered an unconditional armistice.198 If McKinley wanted „peace at any price‟, he could have decided not to go to war, but in fact he deliberately decided to deliver a war speech on 11 April. In addition, he strongly believed that Cuba was not ready for independence. Secretary Long, who shared McKinley‟s views, explained: „We can‟t recognise independence on the part of a people who have no government; no capitol; no civil organization; no place to which a representative of a foreign government could be sent‟.199 I argue that McKinley‟s decision was neither reluctant nor easily manipulated by public opinion; rather, the international and domestic environments structurally shaped him, and for that reason opted positively for war. Although McKinley „never thought of himself as an imperialist‟, the war with Spain was „pulling him inexorably into the imperialist camp‟.200 Until the war ended, he asserted, „we must keep all we get; when the war is over we must keep what we want‟. The McKinley administration, as Lodge wrote Roosevelt, was „now fully committed to the large policy that we both desire‟.201

3.3.3 American expansionists: „Who are we?‟202 Roosevelt might have been right to say that, „If we can attain our object peacefully, of course we should try to do so; but we should attain it one way or the other anyhow‟.203 The US intentionally decided to attain its objective in an expansionist way. For the US, the Spanish-American-Cuban War was a „splendid little war‟, as Hay famously propounded, beginning with „the highest motives, carried on with magnificent intelligence and spirit,

198 199

See Woodford to Day, 9 April 1898, FRUS, 1898, p. 746. Quoted in Thomas, The War Lovers, p. 227. 200 Zimmermann, First Great Triumph, p. 313. 201 Lewis Gould, The Presidency of William McKinley (Lawrence: Regents Press of Kansas, 1980), p. 101; and Lodge to Roosevelt, 24 May 1898, Selections, p. 300. 202 I borrow the title from Samuel Huntington, Who Are We? (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2004). 203 Roosevelt to Henry White, 9 March 1898, Letters, Vol. 1, p. 791.


favoured by that fortune which loves the brave‟.204 The war structurally transformed the US into a great power in the international system and an emerging hegemonic power in the Western hemisphere. With the acquiescence of Britain and the disappearance of Spain, the Monroe Doctrine was both de jure and de facto a rule of the game in the region: „We have risen to be one of the world‟s great powers‟, Lodge proclaimed delightedly.205 The US had achieved its objectives, but the acquisition and maintenance of expansionism, in particular the Philippines, were different stories. Existing literature has abundantly covered these topics. I argue that 1898 was a pivotal moment—an expansionist moment—in American foreign relations not only because it marked the emergence of American power in the Caribbean and the Pacific, but also because of a change in American identities and interests in world politics. That is, American expansionists had intersubjectively shared imperialist and AngloSaxon understandings and thinking with European, especially British, elites. This section preliminarily explores the emergence of transatlantic identities and interests among American expansionists, which crystallised after the war of 1898. Soon after the end of the Venezuelan Crisis in December 1895, Britain and the US gradually developed an alliance of what Lodge and Roosevelt called „the English speaking peoples‟, evoking a common interest and identity. This development socially constituted the Anglophile expansionists in the US, who had a tendency to sympathise with Britain. From the outset, this alliance aimed at counterbalancing the growing German power.206 They cognitively shared the understanding that Britain and the US would cooperate in the new imperialist system and perceive Germany as the emerging threat. The dialogues between Hay, Roosevelt, and Spring-Rice mentioned above represent well the moves towards it. During and after the Spanish-American-Cuban War, transatlantic relations rapidly developed with the British support for the American drive for expansionism.
204 205

Frank Friedel, The Splendid Little War (New York: Dell, 1958), p. 9. Quoted in Thomas, The War Lovers, p. 369. 206 Thomas, The War Lovers, p. 366.


Lodge and Roosevelt, who had been consistently Anglophobe until 1895, were reconstituted as Anglophiles. Lodge began to imagine an Anglo-American hegemony in world politics. He wrote to Hay in early April 1898 in the following terms: Now behold—[Britain] has expressed her sympathy with us in this Spanish business & down go the dykes & what I have always predicted has come to pass. The heart of America goes out to England at this moment… Race, blood, language, identity of beliefs & aspirations all assert themselves… To me the drawing together of the English speaking peoples all over the world & of the two great nations seems far more momentous, more fraught with meaning to the future of mankind than the freeing of Cuba or the expulsion of Spain from this hemisphere. 207 In his Story of the Revolution, Lodge argued that, „The millions who speak the English tongue in all parts of the earth must surely see now that, once united in friendship, it can be said, even as Shakespeare said three hundred years ago: “Come the three corners of the world in arms, and we shall shock them.”‟208 After the war, he initially urged the McKinley government to divide the Philippines between Britain and the US. Lodge presented his plan to Acting Secretary of State Day: I see very plainly the enormous difficulties of dealing with the Philippines… and am by no means anxious to assume the burden of possession outside of Luzon—if we go as far as that—for I assume that as a matter of course we shall retain Manila… The only practical solution that occurs to me is that we should take the whole group as an indemnity for the war, and then cede all the islands except Luzon to England in exchange for the Bahamas and Jamaica and the Danish Islands, which I think we should be entitled to ask her to buy and turn over to us. This would relieve us of the burden of administering that great group in the East… and would leave us in the Philippines associated with a friendly power with whom we should be in entire accord. 209 Being cautious about German interference, Lodge asserted later that, „We want no German neighbours there‟. Although Lodge‟s plan proved fruitless and he changed his argument for the acquisition of the whole Philippines, it can be seen that Lodge‟s identity had significantly transformed once and for all. Moreover, so had Roosevelt‟s. After returning to
207 208

Quoted in Garraty, Henry Cabot Lodge, p. 198. My Emphasis. Henry Cabot Lodge, Story of the Revolution (New York: Charles Scribner‟s Sons, 1898), pp. 568-71. Quoted in Widenor, Henry Cabot Lodge and the Search for an American Foreign Policy, p. 112. 209 Quoted in Widenor, Henry Cabot Lodge and the Search for an American Foreign Policy, p. 115.


the US a national hero, Roosevelt told a British friend that, „I feel very strongly that the English-speaking peoples are now closer together than for a century and a quarter, and that every effort should be made to keep them close together; for their interests are really fundamentally the same, and they are far more closely akin, not merely in blood, but in feeling and principle, than either is akin to any other people in the world. I think we are both of us the stronger for what has happened in the last eight months‟.210 According to Roosevelt and Lodge then, Anglo-American relations were largely based on a commonality of identity and interests. Like Lodge and Roosevelt, Ambassador-cum-Secretary of State Hay was a strong Anglophile, consistently invoking the idea of the English-speaking peoples and admiring imperialism in the British model. Hay was not only a gentlemanly diplomat but a transatlantic coordinator of what became known as the special relationship. He personally developed friendships with the British, including Chamberlain, Balfour, and Spring-Rice, and talked of „a partnership in beneficence‟, in which the US and Britain „are bound by a tie which we did not forge and which we cannot break‟.211 Although Hay had sympathy with the Cubans, he, like McKinley, had taken a cautious attitude toward war and expansionism before 1898. As Kenton Clymer has shrewdly observed: „If Hay had been a reluctant imperialist as late as early 1898, he was soon converted to the expansionist gospel‟.212 After the war, Hay as the new Secretary of State favoured the annexation of the Philippines, though he prudently did not pronounce this until McKinley had finally decided on the matter. Greatly influenced by Spring-Rice, Hay believed that the Filipinos were incapable of self-government, and feared that Germany would scramble to take them over. Indeed, he had negatively portrayed the Filipino leader Aguinaldo as a „German puppet‟. Similarly, McKinley told a group of clergymen in October 1898 that returning the Philippines
210 211

Roosevelt to Arthur Hamilton Lee, 25 November 1898, Letters, Vol. 2, p. 890. Quoted in Campbell, Anglo-American Understanding, p. 125. 212 Clymer, John Hay, p. 141.


to Spain would be „cowardly and dishonourable‟; giving them to France or Germany would be „bad business and discreditable‟; and granting them independence would generate „anarchy and misrule‟ because the Filipinos were „unfit for self-government‟. In such a prognosis then, there were no alternatives except to „take them all, and to educate the Filipinos, and uplift them and civilise and Christianise them‟.213 Hay suggested further that the Philippines were a key stepping stone to the China market. The acquisition of the islands was, in Hay‟s words, due to its „abilities to send our troops and ships in defense of our ministers, our missionaries, our consuls, and our merchants in China, instead of being compelled to leave our citizens to the casual protection of other powers‟. The US conclusively chose to acquire the Philippines in 1899. As Lodge claimed earlier, „the administration is grasping the whole policy at last‟. 214

3.4 Summary From the American perspective, that the Spanish-American-Cuban War in 1898 was a splendid little war was made possible largely due to the non-interference of the European powers in consequence of British refusal to help Spain. The international structure of the time provided a strategic opportunity for the rise of American power in the Western hemisphere and in world politics at the turn of the century, which was subsequently called „the American Century‟. This chapter has focused on the internationally oriented expansionists, with particular reference to three apostles of American expansionism—Lodge, Roosevelt, and Hay—who shared the intersubjective understandings and expectations of other European imperialists. Fundamentally, these were transatlantic elites, which gradually fostered a special relationship between the two English-speaking states. The next, and concluding, chapter examines the major developments and trends of these relationships after 1898. These
213 214

Quoted in May, Imperial Democracy, pp. 252-3. Clymer, John Hay, pp. 133-4, 142; Lodge to Roosevelt, 24 May 1898, Selections, p. 299.


expansionists significantly influenced the policy decision-making of the McKinley administration. Although the President had laid out his policy options, the final outcome was in the hands of these American expansionists. McKinley implicitly became part of their discourses and agendas. In short, during the late 1890s, the global structure socially constituted the agents while the agents made a final decision, which in turn shaped the international system and the emergence of the new world power.


Chapter 4 Conclusion

„No war ever transformed us quite as the war with Spain transformed us… The nation has stepped forth into the open arena of the world‟. Woodrow Wilson, the then president of Princeton University215 „The interests of civilisation are bound up in the direction the relations of England and America are to take in the next few months [and years]‟. John Hay, Secretary of State216 „Americans remembered 1898 as something done for Cubans; Cubans remembered 1898 as something done to them‟, writes historian Louis Perez. In January 1959, when he led a rebel army into Santiago, Fidel Castro proclaimed that, „This time the revolution will not be thwarted! This time, fortunately for Cuba, the revolution will be consummated. It will not be like the war of 1895 [1898?], when the Americans arrived and made themselves masters of the country; then intervened at the last minute and later did not even allow Calixto Garcia, who had been fighting for thirty years, to enter Santiago‟.217 The memory of 1898 remains alive in Cuba. For the Cubans, the Spanish-American-Cuban War can be narrated differently. This thesis, on the other hand, focuses only on the narrative of American expansionists. It does not tell other possible stories, such as those of anti-expansionists, of Cubans, of Philippines, of Puerto Ricans, and so on.218 The thesis has argued that the international structure matters. And it matters in the sense that structure, being defined as the social relationships of power, not merely affects and

215 216

Quoted in George Herring, From Colony to Superpower (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), p. 335. Quoted in A.L.P. Dennis, „John Hay‟, in The American Secretaries of State and their Diplomacy, ed. Samuel Flagg Bemis (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1929), p. 122. 217 Louis Perez, Jr., War of 1898 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998), pp. 125-7. Quoted in Thomas, The War Lovers, p. 395. 218 For this kind of interpretation, see Paterson, „United States Intervention in Cuba, 1898: Interpretations of the Spanish-American-Cuban-Filipino War‟, pp. 341-61. In this approach, I am influenced by Weldes, „Constructing National Interests‟, pp. 275-318.


restrains but socially and culturally constructs the identities and interests of agents—that is, what is here meant by the internationalisation of the state and agents. It mainly illuminates the emergence of the internationalised and transatlantic elites—in particular, the American expansionists—and their discursive ideas, perceptions, and preferences. As internationally oriented agents, expansionists decisively spoke and acted in favour of American hegemonic expansionism. The co-constitution of structure and agency, in particular the process of internationalisation, helps us to explain and understand the structural transformation of US foreign policy at the end of the nineteenth century. The US emerged as a new world power, one that pursued a more assertive foreign policy abroad in general and in the Western hemisphere in particular. Despite a „splendid little war‟ with Spain, the US peacefully arose without any power balancing from European states. This was largely because of Britain‟s declining power and decisive appeasement of the US after the end of the Venezuelan Crisis of 1895. The emergence of an Anglo-American special relationship was fundamentally based on shared intersubjective understandings, particularly the common identity and interests of the transatlantic elites of the two English-speaking states. This is what McKinley recognised when he commented on „the remarkable enthusiasm all over the country at any reference to the Union Jack and the Stars and Stripes flying together‟ in world politics.219 This rapprochement significantly led to many positive concessions to the US over the isthmian canal, the Alaska boundary dispute between Canada and the US, seal fishing, and so on. This also took the British out of a strategically untenable position in the Western hemisphere, which incrementally turned into America‟s backyard. Above all, this thesis attempts to contribute to the literature on IR theories and foreign policy analysis in general and US foreign policy in particular. First, it is indirectly written


Campbell, The Transformation of American Foreign Relations, p. 322.


with the aim of addressing the structure-agent debate, analysing whether scholars tend to privilege either structure or agency over the other or the co-constitution between them. Currently, diplomatic history literature seems to have a particular focus on American expansionism during the period; however, they are supposedly „all agency and no structure‟.220 By adapting Wendt‟s structural idealism, the thesis is a structural explanation, intrinsically weighted toward structure. Unlike Wendt, it has emphatically studied the international system as a social structure and power relationship, the internationalisation of agents as a structural process of intersubjective interaction, and the social agents as socially constituted by the international system. Despite focusing on the co-constitution mostly from structure to agency and internationalisation, the thesis tries to achieve a balance between the primacy of structure and agency without privileging one over the other. It is a narrative of American expansionists, who were not a given, but rather a select group of internationally socially constructed agents. They had transformative potential and capacity to change social reality. American expansionism was what expansionists made of it. As stated at the outset, the thesis is intended to be a constructivist assertion of the American expansionism of 1898. Second, the thesis seeks to contribute to the broader debate in IR about the rise and fall of the great powers in the international system in general and the peaceful power transition in particular. Despite its historical importance, America‟s hegemonic rise in world politics and its expansionist foreign policy seem to be comparatively little studied. The year 1898 and after was the expansionist moment in contemporary international history. The thesis has argued that the transformations of the international system at the end of the nineteenth century and in particular the decline of the Pax Britannica made the transformation of US foreign policy and the concomitant expansionism possible. It also argues that the peaceful change can occur when the declining and rising powers are able to agree and share a mutual

See David Patrick Houghton, „Reinvigorating the Study of Foreign Policy Decision Making: Toward a Constructivist Approach‟, Foreign Policy Analysis, Vol. 3 (2007), pp. 24-45.


understanding and expectation of the new hierarchy of the international system.221 In this case, transatlantic ties—common identities and interests among transatlantic elites—were decisive factors that brought about the absence of a major war, the emergence of America‟s new world power, and the Anglo-American special relationship that has been a feature of geopolitics since then. To conclude, some remarks will be made about how the Anglo-American special relationship manifested itself after the war of 1898. The new Secretary of State John Hay, whom Queen Victoria saluted as „the most interesting of all the Ambassadors I have known‟,222 was undoubtedly an important conductor who orchestrated transatlantic relations at the turn of the century. Two scenarios illustrated this development, the first being the Open Door Policy. As early as March 1898, the British government had confidentially encouraged the US to adopt the Open Door doctrine—the principle of equal commercial rights for all great powers—in China, by asking „whether they could count on the cooperation of the United States in opposing any such action by Foreign Powers and whether the United States would be prepared to join with Great Britain in opposing such measures should the contingency arise‟.223 Preoccupied with the Cuban crisis, Washington did nothing at that time. After the war of 1898, the British and American identities and interests increasingly converged. As Chamberlain put it, with regard to the fate of China, the „interest of the United States in the decision is the same as that of Great Britain‟. The two English-speaking countries viewed „the Chinese market as enormously important for their exports, and they both feared Russian, German, and French encroachments on it‟.224 In 1899, Hay issued the Open Door Note urging the great powers involved in China not to discriminate against the commerce of other nations within their spheres of influence. The following year, the US
221 222

See Kupchan, et al., Power in Transition. Quoted in William Thayer, The Life and Letters of John Hay, Vol. II (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1915), p. 181. 223 Kennan, American Diplomacy, pp. 25-6. 224 Quoted in Campbell, The Transformation of American Foreign Relations, pp. 327-8.


joined the European powers and Japan in an eight-nation multilateral military intervention in China after the Boxer rebellion broke out. In 1900, Hay launched the second Open Door Note, stating that the US intended to protect the lives and property of its citizens in China, to commit to lift the siege of Beijing, and to determine to protect „all legitimate interests‟. The policy of the US was to promote „permanent safety and peace to China, preserve Chinese territorial and administrative entity… and safeguard for the world the principle of equal and impartial trade with all parts of Chinese empire‟.225 Although Kennan dismissed Hay‟s policy as the naïveté of idealism and legalism,226 Hay himself admitted its inherent weakness: „we do not want to rob China ourselves, and our public opinion will not permit us to interfere, with an army, to prevent others from robbing her. Besides, we have no army. The talk in the papers about “our preeminent moral position giving us the authority to dictate to the world” is mere flap-doodle‟ He believed that „concerted action‟ with Britain was „out of question‟.227 The common interests in the Pacific helped draw the two transatlantic states closer together. The second was the construction of the Panama Canal, which was the American expansionists‟ dream.228 The Clayton-Bulwer Treaty, signed in 1850 and keeping either Britain or the US from acquiring exclusive use of the canal or asserting dominion over any part of Central America, constrained any unilateral American canal buildup. Although Secretary of State James Blaine had formerly failed in his attempt to revise the treaty in 1881, Hay nevertheless fulfilled Blaine‟s dream. This was largely because of the transatlantic special relationship in effect after the Spanish-American-Cuban War. Hay pushed the British government to abrogate the treaty. Preoccupied with the Boer War (from late 1899 to early
225 226

Quoted in Herring, From Colony to Superpower, p. 333. See Kennan, American Diplomacy, Chapter 2. 227 Quoted in Zakaria, From Wealth to Power, p. 163; and Campbell, The Transformation of American Foreign Relations, p. 329. See also Thomas McCormick, China Market: America‟s Quest for Informal Empire, 18931901 (Chicago: Quadrangle Books, 1967); and Michael Hunt, The Making of a Special Relationship: The United States and China to 1914 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1983). 228 See, for example, John Grenville, „Great Britain and the Isthmian Canal, 1898-1901‟, The American Historical Review, Vol. 61: No. 1 (October 1955), pp. 48-69; Grenville, Lord Salisbury and Foreign Policy, pp. 370-89; and Clymer, John Hay, pp. 173-89.


1902) and eager for a special relationship with the US, Lord Salisbury chose to accommodate a rising power by authorising Pauncefote to amicably negotiate with Hay and only requesting that the new arrangement levy tolls on the ships of all nations. The first Hay-Pauncefote Treaty was concluded in early 1900, giving the US the authority to build and operate but not to fortify a canal, thereby allowing passage to all, in war as well as in peace. The Senate and even Lodge and Roosevelt vehemently opposed Hay‟s treaty.229 Hay subsequently renegotiated with the British, who, in a second Hay-Pauncefote Treaty of November 1901, conceded to the Americans an exclusive right to build, operate, and fortify a canal. As one historian notes, „This treaty granted to the United States everything James G. Blaine had unsuccessfully sought from Great Britain… Britain‟s friendly acquiescence in 1901 illustrates how much the United States‟ international stature had changed in two decades‟.230 These examples show the unmistakable emergence of US preeminence in the Western hemisphere and tell an exceptional story of the peaceful transition between the declining and rising powers at the turn of the twentieth century, in line with their shared commonality and understandings. In conclusion, this development is the result of the international constructing of American expansionism that occurred in 1898.

(29,533 words)


Lodge wrote to Hay saying that the American people „can never be made to understand that if they build a canal at their own expense and at vast cost, which they are afterwards to guard and maintain at their own cost, and keep open and secure for the commerce of the world at equal rates, they can never be made to understand, I repeat, that the control of such a canal should not be absolutely within their own power‟. Likewise, Roosevelt complained that Hay‟s proposal was „fraught with very great mischief… If that canal is open to the warships of an enemy, it is menace to us in time of war; it is an added burden, an additional strategic point to be guarded by our fleet. If fortified by us, it becomes one of the most potent sources of our possible sea strength. Unless so fortified it strengthens against us every nation whose fleet is larger than ours‟. Quoted in O‟Toole, The Five of Hearts, pp. 314-5. 230 John Dobson, America‟s Ascent (De Kalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 1978), p. 154. Quoted in Zakaria, From Wealth to Power, p. 167.


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