13 Pages

The Anti-Imperialists, the Philippines, and the Inequality of Man

That Northerners of the expansionist persuasion made no reply to those who in the course of challenging the annexation of the Philippines challenged some of the fundamental assumptions of American democracy should come as no surprise. The ex­ pansionists were in a delicate predicament. Men who favored acquiring the Philippines on the grounds that the natives were unfit for self-government could hardly afford to apply another logic to the Negro problem in the South; Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, among others, might well look back on his recent Force Bill as a youthful indiscretion which it were prudent to forget.1 But one would not have expected anti-imperialists in the North to share this reluctance to revive the dispute over equality. Because they professed a fervid devotion to the rights of man, the anti­ imperialists might have been expected to guide the debate over annexation to higher ground by rejecting outright the leading argument both of the expansionists and of the Southern anti­ expansionists, namely that men are created unequal. Most his­ torians have in fact assumed that anti-imperialism was genuinely liberal in inspiration and that the anti-imperialists were voicing objections to colonialism now commonly accepted.2