Spanish-American War and Philippine occupationThe war, and its subsequent annexation of countries, marks the turnaround of American foreign policy from isolationism to direct interventionism and imperialism. Before the war, American interventionism had been "limited" to the destruction of Native American nations such as the Cherokee, the Sioux, the Nez Perce, the Apache, and so many others. (It also marks the first time after the Civil War that Northern and Southern troops and politicians cooperate on anything of importance.) Upon winning office in 1897, Republican president William McKinley reverses his campaign pledge of staying out of other nations' affairs and almost immediately responds to what he calls "the cries of outraged humanity" from Cuba, at the time living under Spanish rule. (McKinley and his political aide Mark Hanna overtly court white Southern Democrats, the first Republicans to do so after the Civil War.) McKinley knows that the American people will not accept an overt invasion of Cuba, so he begins covertly destabilizing the Cuban regime, funneling monies to largely nonexistent Cuban revolutionary groups, ordering his State Department to make increasingly aggressive demands of the Spaniards, thwarting Spanish attempts to negotiate a peaceful withdrawal from Cuba, and prodding the New York newspapers to print wildly exaggerated stories of horrible repression.
Philippine occupation"The struggle must continue til the misguided creatures there shall have their eyes bathed in enough blood to cause their vision to be cleared, and to understand that not only is resistance useless, but that those whom they are now holding as enemies have no purpose toward them expect to consecrate to liberty and to open for them a way to happiness." That same year, a New York Tribune editorial reads, "Whether we like it or not, we most go on slaughtering the natives in English fashion, and taking what muddy glory lies in wholesale killing til they have learned to respect our arms. The more difficult task of getting them to respect our intentions will follow." (Wikipedia)
Philippine occupation"I walked the floor of the White House night after night until midnight, and I am not ashamed to tell you, gentlemen, that I went down on my knees and prayed to Almighty God for light and guidance more than one might. And one night late it came to me this way -- I don't know how it was, but it came...that we could not leave [the Filipinos] to themselves -- they were unfit for self-government -- and they would soon have anarchy and misrule over there worse than Spain's was...that there was nothing left for me to do but to take them all, and to educate the Filipinos, and uplift and Christianize them, and by God's grace do the very best we could by them, as our fellow-men for whom Christ also died." McKinley is apparently unaware that the vast majority of Filipinos have been Christian since the late 1500s. Author Sarah Vowell, comparing McKinley to George W. Bush, notes that "these God-made-me presidential war rationales apparently never go out of fashion." (Sarah Vowell)
First Zionist CongressOver 200 Jewish representatives from 24 states and territories attend. The delegation agrees to seek the formation of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. (Dan Cohn-Sherbok)