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Betrayed by Yankees Perverting the Constitution

The presidential messages of Jefferson Davis were filled with assertions of the South’s legal right to secede and form a more perfect union, and determine its own form of government to the letter of Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence. Not losing sight of this, even in early 1865, one Confederate congressman stated that “This is a war for the Constitution, it is a constitutional war.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Betrayed by Yankees Perverting the Constitution

“Contributors to Confederate periodicals explored parallels between the Confederacy and other fledgling nations or independence movements – the Dutch republic, the “young kingdom of Italy,” and the Polish and Greek rebellions.

But the authors were careful to dissociate the South from genuinely radical movements; it was the conservative European nationalism of the post-1848 period with which the Confederacy could identify most enthusiastically. The Dutch struggle, an essayist in the July, 1862, issue of the Southern Presbyterian Review explained approvingly, was like the Confederate, for in both situations, “not we, but our foes, are the revolutionists.”

The Daily Richmond Enquirer was even more explicit about the Poles:

“There is nothing whatever in this movement of a revolutionary, radical or Red Republican character. It is the natural, necessary protest and revolt of, not a class or order, but an ancient and glorious nation, against that crushing, killing union with another nationality and form of society. It is . . . the aristocratic and high-bred national pride of Poland revolting against the coarse brute power of Russian imperialism . . . At bottom, the cause of Poland is the same cause for which the Confederates are now fighting.”

The Southern government welcomed a Spanish analogy between Napoleon’s invasion of Spain and northern advances across the Potomac. British recognition of the new Italian state encouraged [Robert] Toombs to see parallels there, as well. “Reasons no less grave and valid than those which actuated the people of Sicily and Naples,” he explained, had prompted the Confederacy to seek its independence.

But the nationalist movement with which the Confederates most frequently identified was . . . the American War of Independence. A central contention of Confederate nationalism, as it emerged in 1861, was that the South’s effort represented a continuation of the struggle of 1776. The South, Confederates insisted, was the legitimate heir of American revolutionary tradition. Betrayed by Yankees who had perverted the true meaning of the Constitution, the revolutionary heritage could be preserved only by secession. Southerners portrayed their independence as the fulfillment of American nationalism.

Secession represented continuity, not discontinuity; the Confederacy was the consummation, not the dissolution, of the American dream. A sermon preached in South Carolina explained that “The doctrines of the original Puritans were, and are, the doctrines of the Bible . . . but the descendants of the Puritans have gone far astray from the creed of their forefathers.”

[Southerners strived] to avoid the dangerous “isms” – feminism, socialism, abolitionism – that had emerged from Northern efforts at social betterment. But the logic of Confederate nationalism . . . was to prescribe significant shifts in the Southern definition of Christian duty. Secession thus became an act of purification, a separation from the pollutions of decaying Northern society, that “monstrous mass of moral disease,” as the Mobile Evening News so vividly described it.”

(The Creation of Confederate Nationalism, Drew Gilpin Faust, LSU Press, 1988, pp. 13-14, 27, 29-30)

Cuba Libre Si, Southern Libre No

Thirty-three years after Appomattox the United States Congress, still dominated by Republicans, resolved that the oppressed and invaded Cuban people “are, and of right ought to be, free and independent.” A further irony is that Captain-General Valeriano “Butcher” Weyler, who instituted the cruel “reconcentrado” policy in Cuba, was a young Spanish attache in Washington observing the War Between the States, and especially, Sherman’s brutal tactics to subjugate Americans.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Cuba Libre Si, Southern Libre No

“When the civil war in Cuba began in 1895 the old methods of resistance were adopted by the insurgents, and although 200,000 Spanish troops were sent to Cuba the revolt was not suppressed. Small bands struck at Spanish detachments, raided from the swamps the plantations of the cane growers, or levied contributions on property owners. They had the sympathy of the poorer men in general, from whom they received supplies or recruits.

To put down this form of resistance demanded more enterprising soldiers than Spain’s. General [Valeriano] Weyler, the Captain-General, undertook to overcome it with a decree of reconcentration. In 1896 he ordered all Cubans living outside of garrison towns to move within such towns or be treated as rebels. The inhabitants, forced to leave their homes, were huddled together in narrow spaces in towns and, provided with little food, many died from malnutrition.

[President William] McKinley, less inclined than [his predecessor Grover] Cleveland to oppose the public [sentiment], took a more earnest attitude with Spain. [On] June 27, 1897 he protested to Madrid against the harsh policy adopted by [General Weyler] and against reconcentration in particular.

Spain replied that the situation was not as bad as represented and that reconcentration was no worse than the devastation in the Civil War by [Northern Generals] Sheridan and Hunter in the Shenandoah Valley and by Sherman in Georgia.

[On] April 11 [1898] the President laid before Congress the whole Cuban question . . . Congress took a week to debate and on April 19 adopted resolutions declaring that the right of the people Cuba “are, and of right ought to be, free and independent” and empowering the President to use force to carry these resolutions into effect.”

(Expansion and Reform, 1889-1926, John Spencer Bassett, Kennikat Press, 1971 (original 1926), pp. 71-72; 76)

 

Apr 25, 2016 - Emancipation, Foreign Viewpoints, Freedmen and Liberty, Historical Amnesia/Cleansing, Propaganda    Comments Off on Canadian Slavery Amnesia

Canadian Slavery Amnesia

Very few recall that African slavery existed in Canada until 1833, and that between 1787 and 1800 fugitive slaves fled south to New England and the Northwest (Michigan) Territory. Throughout the 1800s Canadians segregated schools and communities, as well as military units.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Canadian Slavery Amnesia

“Canadian comments about American racial problems are further colored by the fact that few Canadians are well informed on Canada’s own Negro record. Cowper, in celebrating Justice Mansfield’s decision, thought that “Slaves cannot breathe in England: if their lungs receive our air, that moment they are free.” This was adequate poetry but inaccurate current events, for “Mansfield” decision freed no substantial body of slaves, even in England, and in Imperial Britain they remained enslaved until 1834.

Yet today most Canadians assume that slavery in British North America was struck down unilaterally by colonial assemblies which, in fact, lacked power to move against such Imperial laws. A standard account of Ontario’s history, published in 1898, concluded that because of the passage of Simcoe’s Bill (which prohibited the import of slaves) in 1793, “Canadians can therefore claim the proud distinction for their flag….that it has never floated over legalized slavery.”

An extensive guidebook to Canada credits the entire Negro population of Nova Scotia to men “who came north as slaves from the British West Indian colonies . . ,” ignoring totally the Maroon and Refugee elements. An attempt to plumb the character of Canadians found that the Negroes of the Maritime Provinces – 15,000 in all – were descendants of runaway slaves, when in truth not even half are such.

And one of Canada’s leading students of race relations, in writing specifically of discrimination against the Negro, asserts that slavery did not exist in British North America in the Nineteenth Century, although slavery was in fact legal until 1833. In short, there is no accurate historical memory in Canada of British North America’s own experiences with the Negro, and even a clouded awareness of an earlier Negro presence is slight.

In truth, only Canada West [Ontario] served to any considerable extent as a haven for fugitive slaves, but the whole of the Canadian nation later accepted a mythology arising from but one of its units.”

Canadian Jim Crow

The popular legend of an underground creates the impression that escaped slaves found freedom and social equality in Canada, and standard historical accounts lead Canadians to believe that passage of Simcoe’s Bill in 1793 ended slavery there, but slavery actually remained legal in British North America until 1833. Author Robin Winks of Yale University wrote: “Canadians did give refuge to thousands of fugitives, and the mythology of the underground railway, the North Star, and the lion’s paw naturally fed the later Canadian assumption that Negroes fared better in Canada than elsewhere.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Canadian Jim Crow

“Canadian law drew no distinction between black and white in matters of citizenship, of which education was one. In practice, however, there were not infrequently some distinctions likely to be drawn, the whites preferring that Negroes should have schools of their own. When Benjamin Drew visited [Amherstburg, Ontario] in 1854 he found the Negro separate school having neither blackboard nor chairs. The whole interior was comfortless and repulsive. The teacher was a colored woman, apparently doing the best she could under the discouragement of poor surroundings and frequent absences of her pupils.

The coming of so many people of another race and color into southwestern Ontario was not pleasing to all the white inhabitants. Deep prejudice manifested itself at times and an occasional outburst in some newspaper reflected the feelings of an element of the population. The Amherstburg Courier of October 27, 1849, prints a resolution of the district council passed on October 8 of that year, protesting vigorously against the proposed Elgin settlement which was planned by Reverend William King as a home for fugitives from slavery.

This resolution, which appears to have been instigated by a local politician, Larwill, resident in Chatham, declared that “there is but one feeling, and that is of disgust and hatred, that they (the Negroes) should be allowed to settle in any township where there is a white settlement.”

The resolution proceeded to ask for a disallowance of sale of lands to Negroes, suggested a poll tax on Negroes entering the country, asked for an enactment against amalgamation and a requirement that Negroes shall furnish good security that they will not become a burden. It was also suggested that it would be well to ascertain whether it would be impolitic to allow them the suffrage.

Dr. Samuel G. Howe, who visited [Amherstburg] in 1863 to investigate conditions….[was told by a Mr. Park of the town] that the Negroes were part of them indolent and part industrious. They tended to neglect their own poor and begged more than the whites. A Captain Averill who was interviewed said that the Negroes were satisfactory as sailors, “the very best men we have,” but they were never made mates and none owned ships of their own.”

(Amherstburg, Terminus of the Underground Railroad, Fred Landon, The Journal of Negro History, Vol. X., No. 1, January 1925, pp. 5-8)

 

Lincoln’s Cotton Dilemma

To underscore that the war was fought by the North against secession – not to end slavery – Lincoln and his Secretary of State William Seward early sought the capture Southern ports to restore tariff collection and supply slave-produced cotton for starved New England mills. Also, if the ports were opened by force and cotton exported once again, the chance of European recognition of the new American republic was further diminished.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Lincoln’s Cotton Dilemma

“During the winter of 1861-62 Seward assured Britain and France that a significant volume of cotton would soon be exported to Europe through Confederate ports captured by Union forces. Lincoln thought that the United States should “show the world we were fair in this matter favoring outsiders as much as ourselves.”

Although he was “by no means sure that [the planters] would bring their cotton to the port after we opened it, it would be well to show Europe that it was secession that distressed them and not we.”

The Confederates soon demonstrated that they would rather burn their cotton than allow it to fall into Yankee hands. The French consul estimated that about a quarter of a million bales were burned at New Orleans just prior to its capture by Union forces in April 1862. In August of that year the British consul in Charleston estimated that “about 1,000,000 bales have been destroyed at various places to prevent them falling into the hands of Federals.”

The unsuccessful Federal effort to promote cotton exports through captured Confederate ports was described in a pamphlet published in England in 1862:

“No sooner did the Government succeed in regaining possession . . . of cotton markets, than it made provision for reopening of the cotton trade. The blockade . . . was removed from the ports of Beaufort in North Carolina, Port Royal in South Carolina, and New Orleans in Louisiana on the 12th of May 1862. Cotton agents accompanied the armies of the North, who were licensed to purchase cotton . . . The United States Government assured the British government of their anxiety to grant every facility for the obtaining of cotton, and gave the rebels every facility to sell it. But the net result has been what? Simply an order from Jefferson Davis to burn the cotton and starve the English.”

Seward was delighted by the increased cotton production in other countries: “The insurrectionary cotton States will be blind to their own welfare if they do not see how their prosperity and all their hopes are passing away, when they find that Egypt, Asia Minor and India supplying the world with cotton.”

Nevertheless, cotton exports made a major contribution to the Confederate economy and war effort. Lincoln’s frustration with the Union’s inability to eliminate this trade is indicated in a letter he wrote in December 1864:

“By the external blockade, the [cotton] price is made certainly six times as great as it was. And yet the enemy gets through at least one sixth part as much in a given period . . . as if there were no blockade, and receives as much for it as he would for a full crop in time of peace. The effect . . . is that we give him six ordinary crops, without the trouble of producing any but the first and . . . leave his fields and laborers free to produce provisions . . . This keeps up his armies at home and procures supplies from abroad.”

(One War at a Time, The International Dimensions of the American Civil War, Dean B. Mahin, Brassey’s, 1999, pp. 85-86; 90-91)

Apr 16, 2016 - Abolitionists & Disunionists, Foreign Viewpoints, Prescient Warnings    Comments Off on Lincoln a Talented Farmer and Stump Speaker

Lincoln a Talented Farmer and Stump Speaker

British public opinion of the North’s war upon the South was informed by their newspapers. The conservative London Dispatch viewed the true motives of the war as “the continuance in power of the North to tax the industry of the South and the consolidation of a huge confederation to sweep every other power from the American continent, to enter into the politics of Europe with a Republican propaganda, and to bully the world.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Lincoln a Talented Farmer and Stump Speaker

“The British aristocrats’ negative view of the U.S. system of government was enhanced by their negative reaction to Abraham Lincoln as president. His immediate predecessors – [Franklin] Pierce and [James] Buchanan – had had backgrounds that seemed familiar to those of British cabinet ministers. Pierce had been a congressman, a major-general in the Mexican War, and a senator while Buchanan had been a senator, secretary of state, and minister to Britain.

But in 1860 the nation had elected a man from the frontier whose only experience in the national government was a single two-year term in Congress.

The British minister in Washington, Lord Lyons, reported in May 1860 that the Republican nominee for president was “a rough Westerner, of the lowest origins and little education.” Two months later he still referred to Lincoln as a “rough farmer who began life as a farm laborer and got on by a talent for stump speaking.”

British journalists who met the president in 1861 and 1862 emphasized his rustic and ungainly appearance. Edward Dicey, correspondent for the Spectator and Macmillan’s Magazine, wrote a similar description in 1862 and added that “you would never say he was a gentleman.”

[Dicey] wrote that Lincoln “works hard . . . does little, and unites a painful sense of responsibility to a still more painful sense, perhaps, that his work is too great for him to grapple with.” Alexander J. Beresford-Hope, a wealthy ultraconservative, remarked that “nobody in this county, clever as he might be at rail-slitting, at navigating a barge, or at an attorney’s desk, would, without other qualifications, ever become prime minister of England, let alone county court judge.”

Richard Cobden, an important Radical leader in Parliament and a stout friend of the North, thought . . . [after] the emancipation proclamation [that] “Lincoln had a certain moral dignity, but is intellectually inferior.” A London correspondent reported to Die Presse in Vienna that Lincoln was “a plebian, who made his way from rail splitter to representative in Illinois, a man without intellectual brilliance, without special strength of character, not exceptionally impressive – an ordinary man of goodwill.” The correspondent’s name was Karl Marx.

A British scholar, Martin Crawford, described the [London Times] persistent belief that the North could not win the war and that continued separation of North and South was inevitable:

“The longer the [war] lasted, the more convinced The Times became that Lincoln’s government should accept disunion for what it was, a sad and irrevocable fact . . . Britain’s leading newspaper had established itself as a committed opponent of the [Northern] cause . . . “

(One War at a Time, The International Dimensions of the American Civil War, Dean B. Mahin, Brassey’s, 1999, pp. 28-29)

Lincoln’s Goal a Futile Dream

The British were wary of the American expansionist William Seward who became a dominant leader of the new Republican party in the mid-1850s. He spoke indiscreetly of annexing Canada and usually sided with anti-monarchical revolutionaries in Europe. The British, experiencing American secession 80-some years before and discovering the positive effects of independence movements, advised accepting secession as an accomplished fact.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Lincoln’s Goal a Futile Dream

“The great majority of British observers remained convinced until very near the end of the war that the North could not win and that the Union could not be restored. There is abundant evidence of this belief in British publications and in the correspondence of British leaders.

“I do not see how the United States can be cobbled together again by any compromise,” the [British] Foreign Secretary wrote the British minister in Washington in January 1861. “The best thing would be that the right to secede should be acknowledged, that there should be a separation . . . “

During the first month of the Civil War the British minister reported from Washington that all chance of reconstructing the Union was “gone forever.” The Economist thought Lincoln’s goal of restoring the Union was “a futile dream. Everyone knows and admits that the secession is an accomplished and irrevocable fact.”

In a memorandum to Queen Victoria at the end of 1861, the British prime minister listed the “virtually accomplished dissolution in America of the great Northern Confederation” as one of the noteworthy events of the previous year.

The belief that the North could not win the war was based on British experience during the American Revolution, on inadequate information reaching Britain on conditions and capabilities in both North and South, and most of all on wishful thinking by Britain’s ruling classes, which welcomed the division of the American superpower and feared the consequences in Britain of the triumph of popular democracy in the North.

The British remembered that during the American Revolution Lord Cornwallis had found it impossible to control very much of the American South. The Times of London, Britain’s most influential newspaper, doubted that it would be possible “to reduce and hold in permanent subjection a tract of country nearly as large as Russia in Europe and inhabited by Anglo-Saxons.” It advised the North to “accept the situation as we did 80 years ago upon their soil.”

(One War at a Time, The International Dimensions of the American Civil War, Dean B. Mahin, Brassey’s, 1999, pp. 24-25)

South Regards Itself as Unbeatable

Southerners in early 1861 exhibited the same intense desire for political independence and fighting spirit as their revolutionary fathers. Though Russell did not fully know at the time why his country would not come to the aid of the Confederacy, after September 1863 it had more to do with hostile Russian fleets in Northern ports and threats against British shipping.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

South Regards Itself as Unbeatable

“[William H. Russell’s] Diary is as rich in historical value as in interest, which is saying much. His energy and reputation at first carried him everywhere, and his courage made him signally outspoken. In New York, where Mayor Fernando Wood and half the press were opposed to the war, he was shocked by the apathy and want of patriotism . . . The pages of the Herald and several other journals were filled with the coarsest abuse of the Great Rail Splitter, but contained not a word to encourage the government in any decided policy. In Washington the correspondent found much bustle and nervousness, but complete uncertainty.

When he saw the District of Columbia militia and volunteers drilling before the War Department Building, he set them down as a sorry crowd. “Starved, washed-out creatures most of them, interpolated with Irish and flat-footed, stumpy Germans.”

Crossing to the South, the correspondent found a far more belligerent spirit than among the Northerners. At Norfolk a crowd was yelling “Down with the Yankees! Hurrah for the Southern Confederacy!” and threatening the frigate Cumberland. On the Wilmington [North Carolina] quay there were piles of shot and shell, which a resident identified as “anti-abolitionist pills.” All along the way in the Carolinas he found Confederate flags whipping in the breeze, troops waiting for the train, and an excited buzz about Fort Sumter, which had just been captured.

At Charleston the fury, the animosity, and the eagerness for war astounded him. He went out to Morris Island, where there was a camp, full of life and excitement. Tents were pitched everywhere, the place was full of tall, well-grown young men in gray, and the opening of hostilities had plainly put everyone in high spirits:

“But secession is the fashion here. Young ladies sing for it; old ladies pray for it; young men are dying to fight for it; old men are ready to demonstrate it. The founder of the school was St. Calhoun. Here his pupils carry out their teaching in thunder and fire. States’ Rights are displayed after its legitimate teaching, and the Palmetto flag and the red bars of the Confederacy are its exposition.

The utter contempt and loathing for the venerated Stars and Stripes, the abhorrence of the very words United States, the immense hatred of the Yankees on the part of these people cannot be conceived by anyone who has not seen them. I am more satisfied than ever that the Union can never be restored as it was, and that it has gone to pieces, never to be put together again, in its old shape, at all events, by any power on earth.”

At Pensacola, Mobile, and New Orleans he was struck by the same intense fighting spirit, reporting that “as one looks at the resolute, quick, angry faces around him, and hears but the single theme, he must feel that the South will never yield to the North, unless as a nation beaten beneath the feet of a victorious enemy.”

The South regarded itself as unbeatable. But from one other belief, the belief that England would intervene, Russell strongly dissented. “Why, I expect, sir,” one Charleston merchant told him, “that if those miserable Yankees try to blockade us, and keep you from our cotton, you’ll just send their ships to the bottom and acknowledge us.” Russell said no.”

(America Through British Eyes, Allan Nevins, Oxford University Press, 1948, pp. 217-218)

Britain’s Splendid Decision

Though lost in their effective propaganda against Germany in WWII, it was the British who commenced the indiscriminate bombing of civilians on May 11, 1940, as they “dispatched eighteen Whitley bombers against railway installations in western Germany, breaching what had been regarded by many as a fundamental rule of civilized warfare, that hostilities must only be waged against the enemy forces.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Britain’s Splendid Decision

“During the war, the Nazi Party punished severely – often by death – any written or spoken violation of the “Parole Endsieg,” of that “word” or “slogan” of confidence in “the final victory.” Germany, however, was not the only nation with a “Parole Endsieg,” nor with prohibitions against the expression of anything contrary to it. Although the British did not resort to severe punishment of violations, Great Britain did have its own “Parole Endsieg,” its own words that would contribute to final victory.

Part of that propaganda was the widespread dissemination of the belief that Germany had initiated the bombing of cites and civilians well behind the lines of combat at the front. Indeed, it was this belief that made the metaphor of the of the reversed newsreel – of German bombers that had initiated the bombing war over civilian targets receding as the Allied bombers increased their attacks over German cities – work most completely as effective metaphor and propaganda.

It was not until April 1944, when J.M. Spaight, former principal secretary of the British Air ministry, was permitted to publish his book, “Bombing Vindicated,” that the British and Allied public in general learned that it was Britain and not Germany that had initiated “the strategic bombing offensive” – the large-scale bombing of civilian targets. Spaight writes:

“Because we were doubtful about the psychological effect of propagandist distortion of the truth that it was we [British] who started the strategic bombing offensive, we have shrunk from giving our great decision of May 11, 1940, the publicity it deserved. That, surely, was a mistake. It was a splendid decision. It was as heroic, as self-sacrificing, as Russia’s decision to adopt her policy of “scorched earth” [against Germany]. “

Some would argue that Hitler followed [the rule of not bombing noncombatants] by using the Luftwaffe against cities only in support of ground forces already at the gates of those cities.

Although it might be argued that communications and arms manufacturing centers had always been considered legitimate targets in warfare, Spaight’s statement and the fact that British bombardment was not in support of any invading or retreating ground force seems to indicate that some in Britain thought they were breaking new ground with such attacks from the air.

Thus, what Britain’s “splendid decision” had also achieved was to introduce a new kind of terrorism into an already terrible war: the Allied airmen, who ostensibly were trying to hit factories to slow down munitions production, but who more often hit civilian homes, came to be known to the German civilians who had to suffer that indiscriminate area bombing as Der Terrorflieger, or “terror fliers.”

(Wolfsangel, A German City on Trial, 1945-48, Augusto Nigro, Brassey’s Inc., 2000, pp. 3-5)

The Former Colony Becomes Colonialist

The American commander in the Philippines in 1898 was Gen. Thomas Anderson, a Northern lieutenant-colonel in the War Between the States, who knew firsthand about invasion and thwarting independence movements. In a twist of irony, Sen. George Hoar of Massachusetts, a radical Republican who was instrumental in subjugating the American South thirty-some years earlier, became outspoken in 1898 regarding US military force creating vassal states.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

The Former Colony Becomes Colonialist

“At the Paris Peace Conference of December 1898, where the terms of final surrender were fixed, Spain tried to retain Puerto Rico, arguing that the United States had never before challenged its sovereignty there. President McKinley rejected [this] . . . and said he decided that Puerto Rico was “to become the territory of the United States.” The Spanish, defeated and weak, had no choice but to accept.

No American alive in 1898 could have had any doubt about why the United States had gone to war with Spain. The conflict was fought to resolve a single question: Who would control Cuba? [But] as a result of Commodore Dewey’s victory at Manila, the United States suddenly exercised power over [the Philippines].

At first, McKinley seemed to want only enough territory in the Philippines to build a naval base at Manila. Then he considered the idea of granting the islands independence . . . [though] “One night late, it came to me this way.” He said. “there was nothing left for us to do but to take them all, and educate the Filipinos and uplift them and Christianize them, and by God’s grace do the very best we could for them, as our fellow men for whom Christ also died.”

What is certain is that McKinley, in the words of one historian, “knew the Filipinos not at all, and would misjudge their response with tragic persistence.” He himself admitted that when he heard news of Dewey’s victory at Manila, he “could not have told where those darned islands were within two thousand miles.” His fervor to “Christianize” the Filipinos, most of whom were already practicing Catholics, suggested his ignorance of conditions on the islands.

He certainly had no idea that they were in the throes of the first anticolonial revolution in the modern history of Asia. “The episode marked a pivotal point in the American experience,” Stanly Karnow wrote in his history of the Philippines. “For the first time, US soldiers fought overseas. And, for the first time, America was to acquire foreign territory beyond its shores – the former colony itself becoming colonialist.”

On May 1, 1898 . . . Dewey welcomed the Filipino guerilla leader Emilio Aguinaldo aboard his flagship, the Olympia. Their versions of what transpired are contradictory. Aguinaldo said they agreed to fight the Spanish together and then establish an independent Republic of the Philippines. Dewey swore that he made no such commitment. Whatever the truth, when Aguinaldo declared the independence of the Philippine, on June 12, neither Dewey or any other representative of the United States turned up at the ceremony.

General Thomas Anderson . . . was the first commander of American troops in the Philippines, sought to reassure them “I desire to have amicable relations with you,” he wrote Aguinaldo on July 4, “and to have you and your people cooperate with us in military operations against the Spanish forces.”

On December 21, [1898], McKinley issued an “executive letter” proclaiming American sovereignty over the Philippines. Rebels there were already proceeding along their own path. They had elected a constituent assembly that produced a constitution, and under its provisions the Republic of the Philippines was proclaimed on January 23, 1899. Twelve days later, this new nation declared war against the United States forces on the islands.

McKinley took no notice. To him, the Filipinos were what the historian Richard Welch called “a disorganized and helpless people.” Senator George Frisbie Hoar of Massachusetts warned that [this oppression] would turn the United States into “a vulgar, commonplace empire founded upon physical force, controlling subject races and vassal states, in which one class must forever rule and the other classes must forever obey.”

(Overthrow, America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq, Stephen Kinzer, Times Books, 2006, pp. 46-49)