Twain, The Greatest American Humorist, Returning
Home, New York World [London, 10/6/1900]
ask me about what is called imperialism. Well, I have formed views
about that question. I am at the disadvantage of not knowing whether
our people are for or against spreading themselves over the face
of the globe. I should be sorry if they are, for I don't think that
it is wise or a necessary development. As to China, I quite approve
of our Government's action in getting free of that complication.
They are withdrawing, I understand, having done what they wanted.
That is quite right. We have no more business in China than in any
other country that is not ours. There is the case of the Philippines.
I have tried hard, and yet I cannot for the life of me comprehend
how we got into that mess. Perhaps we could not have avoided it
-- perhaps it was inevitable that we should come to be fighting
the natives of those islands -- but I cannot understand it, and
have never been able to get at the bottom of the origin of our antagonism
to the natives. I thought we should act as their protector -- not
try to get them under our heel. We were to relieve them from Spanish
tyranny to enable them to set up a government of their own, and
we were to stand by and see that it got a fair trial. It was not
to be a government according to our ideas, but a government that
represented the feeling of the majority of the Filipinos, a government
according to Filipino ideas. That would have been a worthy mission
for the United States. But now -- why, we have got into a mess,
a quagmire from which each fresh step renders the difficulty of
extrication immensely greater. I'm sure I wish I could see what
we were getting out of it, and all it means to us as a nation.
Twain in America Again, Chicago Tribune [New York, 10/15/1900]
"You've been quoted here as an anti-imperialist."
I am. A year ago I wasn't. I thought it would be a great thing
to give a whole lot of freedom to the Filipinos, but I guess now
that it's better to let them give it to themselves. Besides, on
looking over the treaty I see we've got to saddle the friars and
their churches. I guess we don't want to."
you're for Bryan?"
guess not. I'm rather inclined toward McKinley, even if he is
an imperialist. But don't ask political questions, for all I know
about them is from the English papers."
Twain Home, New York Tribune [New York, 10/15/1900]
Once I was not anti-imperialist. I thought that the rescue of
those islands from the government under which they had suffered
for three hundred years was a good business for us to be in. But
I had not studied the Paris Treaty. When I found that it made
us responsible for the protection of the friars and their property
I changed my mind.
Twain Home, An Anti-Imperialist, New York Herald [New York, 10/15/1900]
I left these shores, at Vancouver, a red-hot imperialist. I wanted
the American eagle to go screaming into the Pacific. It seemed
tiresome and tame for it to content itself with the Rockies. Why
not spread its wings over the Philippines, I asked myself? And
I thought it would be a real good thing to do.
said to myself, here are a people who have suffered for three
centuries. We can make them as free as ourselves, give them a
government and country of their own, put a miniature of the American
constitution afloat in the Pacific, start a brand new republic
to take its place among the free nations of the world. It seemed
to me a great task to which we had addressed ourselves.
I have thought some more, since then, and I have read carefully
the treaty of Paris, and I have seen that we do not intend to
free, but to subjugate the people of the Philippines. We have
gone there to conquer, not to redeem.
have also pledged the power of this country to maintain and protect
the abominable system established in the Philippines by the Friars.
should, it seems to me, be our pleasure and duty to make those
people free, and let them deal with their own domestic questions
in their own way. And so I am an anti-imperialist. I am opposed
to having the eagle put its talons on any other land.
From Mark Twain's Weapons of Satire: Anti-Imperialist Writings
on the Philippine-American War, Jim Zwick, ed., (Syracuse: Syracuse
University Press, 1992).