Myths of American History - Part 8

kaylarStarred Page By kaylar, 25th May 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>History

How and When the United States of America became an imperialist/colonist power.

Index of Previous Articles in the Series

This is the 8th Part of Myths of American History.

The previous parts are:

Myths of American History-1 which examines the 'discovery' of a land already occupied, and the response of the 'settlers' to the inhabitants.

Myths of American History-2 analyses the Tripolitan war, another forgotten battle of the United States.

Myths of American History-3 deals with slavery

Myths of American History-4 covers the War of 1812

Myths of American History-5 deals with the Presidency from 1837 - 1861

Myths of American History-6 examines the Cowboy

Myths of American History -7 examines Women's Rights

The Truth of the Spanish American War

Americans are schooled to believe that their country has always been in the forefront of the fight against colonialism. They are taught to see themselves as ‘liberators’, pro-democracy and self government.

The Spanish-American War was not fought to ‘liberate’ anyone, but to replace Spain as the colonial master.

The United States wanted a ‘base’ in Asia. Where other powers had carved up spheres of influence and created colonies from the 1600s deep into the 1800s, America was late.

England, France, Spain had already captured the prime areas.

Asia was the goal. Getting a base in Asia had to be managed. The idea was to capture Hawaii, then a island to the East, then the Philipines, in effect replacing Spanish Colonisation with American.

The Spanish American war was created for that purpose.
Areas ‘liberated’ from Spain by the Treaty of Paris became colonies of the United States.

In the Philipines, war officially began on June 2 1899 and offically ended on July 4 1902. An estimated 200,000- 1,500,000 Filipinos died in this war. The Catholic Church was disestablished and English became the primary language of government and business.

This is how it happened.

Taking Advantage of a Situation

Filipinos began to fight against the Spanish colonisers on their own. In 1897 the Spanish Governor-General agreed to pay the leader, Emilio Aguinaldo, a sum of money to go into exile.

He took the money and he went.

In 1899 Aguinaldo met with U.S. representatives. They persuaded him to take up the leadership of the revolution against Spain.

Admiral George Dewey, by telegram, assured Aguinaldo of the support of America and that the United States would recognise the independence of the Phillipines.

Aguilnaldo met Dewey who assured him that the United States had come to the Philippines to protect the natives and free them from the yoke of Spain.

Shortly after, Dewey was ordered to distance himself from Aguinaldo.

Waiting and Watching then Stepping In

The Army of the Phlippines was successful against the Spanish, save in Manila. This city was surrounded, and the Spanish eventually surrendered to American forces which had aligned themselves with Filipinos.

The Spanish American War ended in 1899 by the Treaty of Paris and Spain ceded the Philippines to the United States.

President McKinley appointed the First Philippine Commission to investigate conditions and make recommendations. The report stated that the Philippines were not ready for Independence.

This did not go over well. The Filipinos had fought Spain, had aligned with America as it's helper. Now America was going to replace Spain?

There was a protest, and America's first step was the shooting of a Filipino soldier on February 4 1899.

Shortly after, war was declared.

Here Comes America

By the end of February 1899, America conquered Manila.

The Philippine Army retreated north and the war continued, shifting to guerrilla tactics. The Americans retaliated by taking no prisoners. The Americans burnt villages, shot surrendering Filipino soldiers. Civilians were forced into concentration camps if suspected of being guerrilla sympathizers.

Thousands of civilians died.

On March 23 1899 Aguinaldo was captured by trick, and on the 1st of April 1901 he swore an oath to accept the United States control over the Philippines.

On April 19th he issued a Proclamation of Formal Surrender.

On July 4th, President Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed a full and complete pardon and amnesty for all people in the Philippines.

However, war unofficially continued to about 1914.

There were Protests...

There were many Americans who objected to annexation of the Philippines, among them William Jennings Bryan, Mark Twain, Andrew Carnegie and other members of the American Anti-Imperialist League.

These famous people, and the Anti-Imperialist League claimed America had become a colonial power, replacing Spain in the Philippines

This happened to be true, although, of course, denied.

In 1916 America granted self-government to the Philipines and eventual independence.

Independance did not come until 1946.

For obvious reasons, this aspect of the Spanish-American war is ignored by most American historians.


Colonialism, Concentration Camps, Imperialism, Phillipines, Spanish-American War

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author avatar kaylar
I am passionate about history, culture, current events, science and law

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
25th May 2015 (#)

Interesting look at history that can be an inconvenient truth to some. When countries become powerful, it goes to their head in no time - siva

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author avatar kaylar
25th May 2015 (#)

The United States pretends it is 'different' from other nations, when it is exactly the same.

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author avatar Steve Kinsman
25th May 2015 (#)

I'm glad you are pointing out some of the real facts of American history. Keep up the good work kaylar.

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author avatar kaylar
25th May 2015 (#)

You're very welcome Steve. I think most people don't know the truth and are afraid of it.

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author avatar Retired
25th May 2015 (#)

Many would say that American colonialism has been alive and well ever since. American cultural colonialism has certainly stretched its tentacles over much of the world.

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author avatar kaylar
25th May 2015 (#)

That is very true, the fact America pretends it isn't, that is the interesting factor

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author avatar M G Singh
27th May 2015 (#)

Interesting snippet of American history

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author avatar kaylar
27th May 2015 (#)

Thank you Madan

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