“‘Imperial America’” American Sentinel 13, 26, pp. 402, 403.

“IMPERIAL AMERICA” is a term now seriously proposed and actually used to suggest the “manifest destiny” of the United States in the “enlarged sphere” opened to her by the guns directed by Dewey on the morning of May day at Manila. This sentiment is fast growing. In a speech at a dinner tendered to him a few days ago at San Francisco, Major-General Merritt, the proposed military governor of the Philippines, said:—

“I believe in the new national policy of the United States, which looks to the acquisition of additional territory represented in outlying islands that are requisite for the development of national strength and growth. The war was begun for the enforcement of the idea of human liberty, and with no thought of national aggrandizement; but the logic of events has brought about an unexpected result and the Government has taken the Philippines by right of conquest. What the navy has won the army will hold. The strong hand of the Government on those islands ought never to be loosened. This great people is in need of room in which to spread. The people feel this, and the Government will never be able to let go of the islands that have been won by American prowess.”

The Chicago Times-Herald is almost strictly an administration paper. With General Merritt’s words—“What the navy has won the army will hold”—for a text, the Washington correspondent of the Times-Herald tells what he finds at the National Capital as follows:—

“‘What the navy conquers the army must hold.’”

“So said Major-General Wesley Merritt, prospective military governor of the first colony of the United States, and his sentiment has awakened a responsive echo from the nation.

“Admiral Deweys’ victory at Manila has filled the American blood with the fever of conquest. Conservatives may preach on the ‘policy of the fathers,’ but they cannot hold the ears of the masses while the fever is on. The cooler judgment of the second sober thought may quiet the public pulse, but there is abundant evidence that for the time being the sentiment of the nation is against the surrender of any territory wrenched from the grasp of Spain, with the exception of Cuba.


“Hawaii will be annexed as one of the first results, and, once launched on a policy of colonial expansion, who can say where it will end? Speaker Reed and the sugar trust and other powerful interests were opposed to Hawaii, but they have been engulfed in the flood of public sentiment. The House of Representatives will vote for annexation Wednesday afternoon. The opposition in the Senate may filibuster indefinitely, but the wearers of the toga might better accept their fate gracefully, for the handwriting is on the wall.

“But it is the jewels of Alfonso’s crown at which the newborn lust of conquest aims. It is the Spanish isles of the Orient and Occident that have challenged the American prowess. It is the idea of empire that has filled the American soul with world-wide ambitions. These aspirations are a new force in American life, and sooner or later the guiding statesmen must face that force. Washington is the nerve center of the country, and the new sentiment is [403] surging to this center with such intensity as to command earnest attention.


“Already the cry is that Spain must be stripped of all her island POSSESSIONS IN AMERICAN AND Asiatic seas. Let the figures tell the price of that stubborn quality termed ‘Spanish honor.’ This is the list of the principal islands, with their area and population, according to the latest statistics:—


Square Miles.
Porto Rico


Carolines and Pelews
Ladrones, or Marianos

“President McKinley has no colonial policy. He is not counting any chickens before they are hatched. He will not cross the bridge until he comes to it. It is his purpose to bring the war to a successful end before formulating any policy for the disposition of the pearls of the sea garnered by American valor, but there is a tide of public opinion already set in for colonial expansion that may sweep all opposition before it. This statement must not be taken as an implication that the President will oppose such a policy, for he has stated distinctly to close friends that he will not be diverted by such problems from the main purpose of crowning American arms with complete and lasting victory.


“Unused to the possession of insular colonies, taught by a hundred years of precept and example to avoid it, the first thought of Americans on learning of the triumph of Admiral Dewey was that Spain should not be punished by the loss of the Philippines. American sentiment has changed. It has become familiar with the thought of ‘colonial empire,’ and there is something in the sonorous term that appeals to the imagination. Advocates of colonial expansion have sprung up on every hand. The disease is contagious, and the masses have caught the fever.

“General Merritt not only touched a popular chord, or at least awoke a dormant chord to responsive rhythm, but his phrase has furnished the country with a telling shibboleth. Statesmen may make the laws, but greater than they is he who turns the sentiment or passion of a nation into a pat epigram. General Merrit [sic.] has made the epigram, and if he were a younger man it might make him President of the United States and its dependencies.


“By one of the accidents with which all history is strewn the American people have a new destiny opened before them. One need not be for or against a policy of colonial expansion to recognize the fact that the nation is at the parting of the ways, nor should one be blind to the wonderful possibilities and the grave responsibilities presented to the United States for its choosing, but a calm survey of the field from Washington is calculated to convince one that there has been a remarkable transformation in the American habit of thought. It has been revolutionized, apparently, within a few weeks. The change is reflected in Congress, for the representatives of the people are quick to catch the public pulse.

“The American Government entered on this war to free Cuba and hand it over to the Cubans, but the American people may change their mind. Influences are at work that may ultimately force the retention of the pearl of the Antilles, though this Government would be quick to disavow such a possibility. It is conceded that a protectorate will probably be established over Cuba for a time, until the Cubans shall have organized a competent government of their own, and from a protectorate it may be a short passage to actual possession. There are faint murmurings that betoken the growth of a new sentiment for the retention of Cuba, and the Government may have to face a tidal wave when the war is over and the cost is counted.”

In a sermon only a few days ago President Patton, of Princeton, said:—

“History knows not what it is to retreat. Every step we take shuts a door behind us. The boom of Admiral Dewey’s cannon across the Pacific made us forget Washington’s farewell address and throw the Monroe doctrine for a time into the background. It is impossible, some one says, for a nation to secede from the family of nations, and if it stays in the family it is going to have family complications.”

All these things are worthy of thoughtful consideration; for no one knows what “manifest destiny” may produce. And if we mark events as they pass, we shall be able better to understand each new phase that may open to the world. These are times in which the world moves rapidly, and must may occur in a day. “Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments.”

A. T. J.

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