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The Racial Overtones of Imperialism as a Campaign Issue, 1900

The Democratic party chose William J. Bryan, unsuccessful can­ didate in 1896, to head its ticket in 1900. Bryan characterized the recent expansion of the American people as a departure from es­ tablished principles which ushered in a process of absorbing distant areas populated with aliens "for which there is no warrant in our constitution or our laws.”1 Arguing from a position of national self-interest, Bryan charged that the United States, in securing juris­ diction over alien peoples, not only departed from its high purpose in entering the War,2 but adhered as well to the "divine right of race” which was nothing more than the modern counterpart to the “ancient and discredited... divine right of kings.”3 Bryan proposed, if elected, to convene Congress for the purpose of clarifying the American position relative to the recent War, and of drawing up a plan for a stable, terminal government in the Philippine Islands,

as in Cuba. The United States would agree to protect the Islands from outside interference until such time as the native inhabitants were capable of defending themselves.4