THE United States Government now stands definitely committed to a policy of foreign conquest. As the shot which rang out at Lexington in 1775—that shot which was heard around the world—committed the American colonies to a struggle with Great Britain for national independence, so the battle at Manila has committed the nation to the new and untried experiment of imperialism.
The short fired at Lexington was aimed at imperialism in government, as represented by Great Britain. The shot fired at Manila reverses what was accomplished at Lexington, and unites America from Great Britain; the shot fired at Manila joins America again with the British government. In the former union with Great Britain there was involved a tax which the American people were unwilling to pay; in this new union with Great Britain there is likewise involved a tax upon the American people, which they will be most unwilling to pay, but which they cannot repudiate.
The short fired at Manila has been heard around the world, and has been noted with the deepest interest by every nation of Europe. And would that the American people themselves appreciated its significance as fully as do those nations.
The relation into which the United States has now brought itself with Great Britain may be understood from considering some facts to which allusion has recently been made by the press and by representative men both in this country and Great Britain.
The English premier, Lord Salisbury, at the banquet of the Lord Mayor of London, said that the appearance of the United States as a factor in Asiatic politics was likely to conduce to the interests of Great Britain, though it might not conduce to the interests of peace.
The London Saturday Review was more outspoken, and said this:—
“The American commissioners in Paris are making their bargain—whether they realize it or not—under the protecting naval strength of England. And we shall expect, to be quite frank, a material quid pro quo for this assistance. We shall expect the States to deal generously with Canada in the matter of tariffs; we shall expect to be remembered when she comes into her kingdom in the Philippines; above all, we shall expect her future of China shall come up for settlement. [Italics ours.] For the young imperialist has entered upon a path where she will require a stout friend; and lasting friendship between nations is to be secured, not by the frothy sentimentality of public platforms, but by reciprocal advantages in their solid material interests.”
Not long ago, Senator Foraker, speaking for the ratification of the treaty with Spain, said that the Government was not proceeding “with the idea and view of permanently holding them [the Philippines] and denying to the people there the right to have a government of their own;” but that the possession contemplated was but temporary. Of the effect of this language in Great Britain, the associated press dispatches said:—
“When the American correspondents succeeded in impressing upon the British minds that Senator Foraker, in his recent speech in the United States Senate, spoke only for himself when he suggested that the United States might eventually withdraw from the Philippine Islands, a distinct sigh of relief might have been read between the lines of the British newspapers.
“Everyone here assumed that because the senator was from the President’s State he was speaking for the President, and the declaration made not only succeeded in giving British public officialdom an unpleasant shock, but it fell like a dash of cold water on the ardor of the British for an Anglo-American understanding. They began to question what was the profit of this friendship if America did not propose to back up Great Britain’s policy in the far East by retaining the most important base of operations in the event of war over China.”
If this Government, then, retains the Philippines, it will be as the ally of the Great Britain in a struggle for dominion in the Orient. That is how Great Britain views it, and that is the view made necessary by the logic of circumstances. The naval power of Great Britain has already been of material service to the United States in the islands, and no one can tell how soon or how seriously its assistance may be needed again. And Great Britain, on the other hand, will expect and demand a “material quid pro quo” for her services, which will be nothing less than to “back up Great Britain’s policy in the far East.”
This is what must be if America remains in the Philippines. And what has occurred at Manila renders it all but certain that America will remain. That greatest of barriers has been erected in the way of retreat—national pride. Spain retained her pride and lost her colonies; she clung to her “honor” in the face of the certainty that such loss would be the result. And in all nations, the dictates of national pride are the most imperative, the hardest to set aside.
But what will be the cost of adhering to the sentiment that what has been taken in war must be retained,  and that where the flag has been raised it must never be hauled down? What will be the cost of this new union with Great Britain, in which the United States “backs up” British policy in China? A war for dominion in the far East, in which Great Britain measures her strength against the powers of continental Europe, will be a struggle from participation in which the United States may well wish to be excused. As Senator Bacon said, “If that war comes it will not be confined to the Orient. If that war comes it will involve every leading nation of the world. If that war comes, not only will our young men lay their bones upon the distant soil of Asia, but our own country will have to stand its defense. When that war comes, there is not a seacoast city but what will be in danger of destruction from the allied navies of the world.”
And for all this a tax must be put upon the American people—a heavy tax—far heavier than that which brought about the separation from Great Britain. But unlike that tax, it will be self imposed, and one that cannot be repudiated. If the American people are not willing to pay that tax, they must repudiate it now.