The Blood of Government: Race, Empire, the United States, and the Philippines

The Blood of Government: Race, Empire, the United States, and the Philippines

The Blood of Government: Race, Empire, the United States, and the Philippines

The Blood of Government: Race, Empire, the United States, and the Philippines

Synopsis

In 1899 the United States, having announced its arrival as a world power during the Spanish-Cuban-American War, inaugurated a brutal war of imperial conquest against the Philippine Republic. Over the next five decades, U. S. imperialists justified their colonial empire by crafting novel racial ideologies adapted to new realities of collaboration and anticolonial resistance. In this pathbreaking, transnational study, Paul Kramer reveals how racial politics served U. S. empire, and how empire-building in turn transformed ideas of race and nation in both the United States and the Philippines.

Kramer argues that Philippine-American colonial history was characterized by struggles over sovereignty and recognition. In the wake of a racial-exterminist war, U. S. colonialists, in dialogue with Filipino elites, divided the Philippine population into "civilized" Christians and "savage" animists and Muslims. The former were subjected to a calibrated colonialism that gradually extended them self-government as they demonstrated their "capacities." The latter were governed first by Americans, then by Christian Filipinos who had proven themselves worthy of shouldering the "white man's burden." Ultimately, however, this racial vision of imperial nation-building collided with U. S. nativist efforts to insulate the United States from its colonies, even at the cost of Philippine independence. Kramer provides an innovative account of the global transformations of race and the centrality of empire to twentieth-century U. S. and Philippine histories.

Excerpt

Race, Empire, and Transnational History

On January 9,1900, Senator Albert Beveridge, Republican of Indiana, stood before the U.S. Senate, defending a war on the other side of the world that refused to end by American command. The previous November, Gen. Elwell Otis had declared victory and an end to major combat operations in the Philippines, where American troops were struggling to impose U.S. sovereignty on the forces of the Philippine Republic. Over the next months, however, much to the frustration of U.S. generals and the McKinley administration, resistance would both vanish and intensify as Filipinos adopted a guerrilla strategy to fight off the invaders. Beveridge was uniquely suited to justify the war before the Senate and “anti-imperialist” critics, having built his early reputation on thundering rhetoric in defense of American empire. Campaigning in Indianapolis on September 19, 1898, for example, he had turned the recent U.S. victory against Spain in the Caribbean into a mandate for global liberation. America's mission-field would be a world contracted by electricity and steam. “Distance and oceans are no arguments,” he asserted. The seas did “not separate us from lands of our duty and desire” but bound Americans to them. A half century earlier, California had been “more inaccessible” from the eastern United States than was the presentday Philippines, where U.S. troops had captured the city of Manila from Spanish forces the previous month. For Beveridge, Americans had “world duties” as “a people imperial by virtue of their power, by right of their institutions, by authority of their Heaven-directed purposes.” He urged his countrymen to “broaden “the” blessed reign” of freedom “until the empire of our principles is established over the hearts of all mankind.” As for criticism that “we ought not to govern a people without their consent,” Beveridge asked his audience, “Would not the people of the Philippines prefer the just, humane, civilizing government of this Republic to the savage, bloody rule of pillage and extortion from which we have rescued them?” . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.