The American Republic Since 1877 © 2007

Chapter 12: Becoming a World Power, 1872—1912

Web Lesson Plans

Students have read about the U.S. acquisition of the Philippines after the Spanish-American War and how Americans debated whether or not to annex the territory. In this activity they will examine speeches from the 1900s that present both imperialistic and anti-imperialistic views on the annexation question.

Lesson Description
Students will use information from the Great American Speeches Web site to read three 1900s speeches on the Philippines annexation debate. They will read a speech by Albert J. Beveridge, who favored annexation, and a speech by William Jennings Bryan, who opposed annexation. They will also read a selection by Mark Twain that offers a mock defense of the American general who captured the Filipino resistance leader. Students will then answer four questions and apply this information by creating a chart that identifies the arguments presented on both sides of the annexation debate.

Instructional Objectives
  1. Students will identify the views of imperialists and anti-imperialists in the debate of Philippines annexation.
  2. Students will be able to use this knowledge to chart imperialistic and anti-imperialistic arguments in the debate of Philippines annexation.
Student Web Activity Answers
  1. Beveridge uses the following to argue for annexation: annexation would allow the United States access to China and other Asian markets; it is the duty of the American people to annex the Philippines since the Filipinos cannot govern themselves; imperialism is the mission of the Anglo-Saxon race; God has chosen the United States to establish order where there is none; the Philippines is rich in natural resources; and the Constitution validates imperialism.
  2. In his speech, Beveridge uses the following phrases to describe Americans and the United States: "His chosen people," "master organizers of the world," "His chosen nation," and "guardians of the righteous peace." He uses these phrases to describe the Filipino nation: "barbarous race," "not capable of self-government," and "savage."
  3. To those who state that the United States must annex the Philippines in order to become a world power, Bryan answers that the United States already is a world power. Some argue that the United States should annex in order to keep markets open, but Bryan says that it is not necessary to own people (or annex their nation) in order to trade with them. To those who argue about Americans’ Christian duty to civilize the world, Bryan says, "Imperialism has no warrant in the Bible." Some contend that since American blood was shed in the Philippines, the United States is compelled to hold the territory. However, Bryan states that bloodshed does not make it imperative that the United States holds the territory forever.
  4. Twain is condemning the methods that General Funston used in capturing the Filipino leader Aguinaldo. He contrasts what he sees as the deplorable deed of General Funston with the virtues of President George Washington. Twain criticizes that Funston killed Aguinaldo’s bodyguard and that the Americans tortured Filipino prisoners after the Filipino leader instructed his soldiers to "treat the American prisoners well" and sent food that prevented the General and his men from starving.
  5. Students’ charts should accurately present imperialistic and anti-imperialistic arguments from the speeches. Their responses to the debate will vary.
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