America on the World Stage
I. “Little Brown Brothers” in the Philippines
- The Filipinos had assumed that they would receive freedom after the Spanish-American War, but when they didn’t they revolted against the U.S.
- The insurrection began on February 4, 1899, and was led by Emilio Aguinaldo, who took his troops into guerrilla warfare after open combat proved to be useless.
- Stories of atrocities abounded, but finally, the rebellion was broken in 1901 when U.S. soldiers invaded Aguinaldo’s headquarters and captured him.
- President McKinley formed a Philippine Commission in 1899 to deal with the Filipinos, and in its second year, the organization was headed by amiable William Howard Taft, who developed a strong attachment for the Filipinos, calling them his “little brown brothers.”
- The Americans tried to assimilate the Filipinos, but the islanders resisted; they finally got their independence on July 4, 1946.
II. Hinging the Open Door in China
- Following its defeat by Japan in 1894-1895, China had been carved into “spheres of influence” by the European powers.
- Americans were alarmed, as churches worried about their missionary strongholds while businesses feared that they would not be able to export their products to China.
- Finally, Secretary of State John Hay dispatched his famous Open Door note, which urged the European nations to keep fair competition open to all nations willing and wanting to participate. This became the “Open Door Policy.”
- All the powers already holding spots of China were squeamish, and only Italy, which had no sphere of influence of its own, accepted unconditionally.
- Russia didn’t accept it at all, but the others did, on certain conditions, and thus, China was “saved” from being carved up.
- In 1900, a super-patriotic group known as the “Boxers” started the Boxers’ Rebellion where they revolted and took over the capital of China, Beijing, taking all foreigners hostage, including diplomats.
- After a multi-national force broke the rebellion, the powers made China pay $333 million for damages, of which the U.S. eventually received $18 million.
- Fearing that the European powers would carve China up for good, now, John Hay officially asked that China not be carved.
IV. Imperialism or Bryanism in 1900?
- McKinley was the easy choice to be president in 1900, and New York Republican party leaders wanted to get rid of burdensome progressive reform maverick Teddy Roosevelt, so they cooked up a scheme to kick him into the vice presidency, a traditional political graveyard.
- “TR” received a unanimous vote for VP, except for his own.
- The Democrats could only decide on William Jennings Bryan (rather, he decided for them that he would be the candidate).
- Just like four years before, it was McKinley sitting on his front porch and Bryan actively and personally campaigning, but Theodore Roosevelt’s active campaigning took a lot of the momentum away from Bryan’s.
- Bryan’s supporters concentrated on imperialism—a bad move, considering that Americans were tired of the subject, while McKinley’s supporters claimed that “Bryanism,” not imperialism, was the problem, and that if Bryan became president, he would shake up the prosperity that was in America at the time; McKinley won easily.
VI. TR: Brandisher of the Big Stick
- Six months later, a deranged murderer shot and killed William McKinley, making Theodore Roosevelt the youngest president ever at age 42.
- TR promised to carry out McKinley’s policies.
- Theodore Roosevelt was a barrel-chested man with a short temper, large glasses, and a stubborn mentality that always thought he was right.
- Born into a rich family and graduated from Harvard, he was highly energetic and spirited, and his motto was “Speak softly and carry a big stick,” or basically, “Let your actions do the talking.”
- Roosevelt rapidly developed into a master politician, and a maverick uncontrollable by party machines, and he believed that a president should lead, which would explain the precedents that he would set during his term, becoming the “first modern president.”
VII. Columbia Blocks the Canal
- TR had traveled to Europe and knew more about foreign affairs than most of his predecessors, and one foreign affair that he knew needed to be dealt with was the creation of a canal through the Central American isthmus.
- During the Spanish-American War, the battleship U.S.S. Oregon had been forced to steam all the way around the tip of South America to join the fleet in Cuba.
- Such a waterway would also make defense of the recent island acquisitions easier (i.e. Philippines, Puerto Rico, Guam, Hawaii).
- However, the 1850 Clayton-Bulwer Treaty with Britain had forbade the construction by either country of a canal in the Americas without the other’s consent and help, but that statement was nullified in 1901 by the Hay-Pauncefote Treaty.
- A Nicaraguan route was one possible place for a canal, but it was opposed by the old French Canal Company that was eager to build in Panama and salvage something from their costly failure there.
- Their leader was Philippe Bunau-Varilla.
- The U.S. finally chose Panama after Mount Pelée erupted and killed 30,000 people.
- The U.S. negotiated a deal that would buy a 6-mile-wide strip of land in Panama for $10 million and a $250,000 annual payment, but this treaty was retracted by the Columbian government, which owned Panama.
- TR was furious, since he wanted construction of the canal to begin before the 1904 campaign.
VIII. Uncle Sam Creates a Puppet Panama
- On November 3, 1903, another revolution in Panama began with the killing of a Chinese civilian and a donkey, and when Columbia tried to stop it, the U.S., citing an 1846 treaty with Columbia, wouldn’t let the Columbian fleet through.
- Panama was thus recognized by the U.S., and fifteen days later, Bunau-Varilla, the Panamanian minister despite his French nationality, signed the Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty that gave a widened (6x10 mi.) Panamanian zone to the U.S. for $15 million.
- TR didn’t actively plot to tear Panama away from Columbia, but it seemed like it to the public, and to Latin America, and his actions in this incident saw him suffer a political black eye.
IX. Completing the Canal and Appeasing Columbia
- In 1904, construction began on the Panama Canal, but at first, problems with landslides and sanitation occurred.
- Colonel George Washington Goethals finally organized the workers while Colonel William C. Gorgas exterminated yellow fever.
- When TR visited Panama in 1906, he was the first U.S. president to leave America for foreign soil.
- The canal was finally finished and opened in 1914, at a cost of $400 million.
X. TR’s Perversion of the Monroe Doctrine
- Latin American nations like Venezuela and the Dominican Republic were having a hard time paying their debts to their European debtors, so Britain and Germany decided to send a bit of force to South America to make the Latinos pay.
- TR feared that if European powers interfered in the Americas to collect debts, they might then stay in Latin America, a blatant violation of the Monroe Doctrine, so he issued his Roosevelt Corollary, which stated that in future cases of debt problems, the U.S. would take over and handle any intervention in Latin America on behalf of Europe, thus keeping Europe away and the Monroe Doctrine intact.
- It said in effect, no one could bully Latin America except the U.S.
- However, this corollary didn’t bear too well with Latin America, whose countries once again felt that Uncle Sam was being overbearing.
- When U.S. Marines landed in Cuba to bring back order to the island in 1906, this seemed like an extension of the “Bad Neighbor” policy.
XI. Roosevelt on the World Stage
- In 1904, Japan attacked Russia, since Russia had been in Manchuria, and proceeded to administer a series of humiliating victories until the Japanese began to run short on men.
- Therefore, they approached Theodore Roosevelt to facilitate a peace treaty.
- At Portsmouth, New Hampshire, in 1905, both sides met, and though both were stubborn (Japan wanted all of the strategic island of Sakhalin while the Russians disagreed), in the end, TR negotiated a deal in which Japan got half of Sakhalin but no indemnity for its losses.
- For this, and his mediation of North African disputes in 1906 through an international conference at Algeciras, Spain, TR received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1906.
- However, due to the Russo-Japanese incident, America lost two allies in Russia and Japan, neither of which felt that it had received its fair share of winnings.
XII. Japanese Laborers in California
- After the war, many Japanese immigrants poured into California, and fears of a “yellow flood” arose again.
- The showdown came in 1906 after the San Francisco earthquake when the city decreed that, due to lack of space, Japanese children should attend a special school.
- Instantly, this became an international issue, but TR settled it eventually.
- San Francisco would not displace students while Japan would keep its laborers in Japan.
- To impress the Japanese, Roosevelt sent his entire battleship fleet, “The Great White Fleet,” around the world for a tour, and it received tremendous salutes in Latin America, New Zealand, Hawaii, Australia, and Japan, helping relieve tensions.
- The Root-Takahira Agreement pledged the U.S. and Japan to respect each other’s territorial possessions in the Pacific and to uphold the Open Door Policy in China.
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