33 Pages

Imperialism and the Anglo-Saxon

The war of 1898 was not the first American war in which an appeal had been made to the magnificent destiny of AngloSaxons. During the debates over expansion before and during the Mexican War, we can detect the emergence of race theories which later were to play so large a part in justifying war, ex­ pansion, and imperialism. As early as 1845, John O’Sullivan, the founder and editor of the Democratic Review and the supposed coiner of the phrase "manifest destiny,” was convinced that the continent should belong to Americans because they were mem­ bers of a superior race. Of Mexican territory he said:

During the Civil War there seems to have been little em­

phasis upon Anglo-Saxon race themes. Sir Charles Lyell, an Eng­ lish sympathizer with the Confederate cause, explained the early southern victories as the result of "'the prowess of the southern army, in which was not that large mixture of Celtic and Ger­ man blood found on the Northern side.”3 Years after the war was over, one northern observer thought that it had been waged between two distinct races-the Goths of the North typified by the matter-of-fact and steady Grant and the Celts of the South typified by fire-eating southern gentlemen. The proponent of this novel view traced the cause of the war back to early immi­ gration from separate parts of England.4 As late as the 1920’s, Clinton S. Burr explained the Civil War as representing a race war between the "yeomanry” of New England who were "A n­ glo-Saxon in the strictest sense of the word,” on one side, and the "Normans” of the South, on the other.5 The division of Yankees and Confederates into separate races, however, was never more than a curiosity as an idea.