The New York Times/Anti-Imperialists in Mass Meeting

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search


Carl Schurz Urges that the

Philippine War Be Ended.


Mr. Boutwell Accuses Mr. McKinley of

a War Policy — The League's


The mass meeting held last night in Cooper Union under the auspices of the Anti-Imperialist League of New York for the purpose of advocating an anti-expansion policy started with a large and somewhat quiet audience. As the evening wore on the audience diminished, but the enthusiasm increased so that when the last speakers had finished the auditorium was only half full, but almost every one in the audience was cheering at the top of his voice. The speakers of the evening were Carl Schurz, George S. Boutwell of Massachusetts, and Capt. Patrick O'Farrel of Washington, formerly of the Sixty-ninth Regiment.

Mr. Boutwell read a long speech in which he attempted to show that the action taken by the American Government in the Philippines was a direct violation of the provisions of the Constitution. He also cited at some length several of the arguments advanced in favor of the expansion policy and attempted to show that they were fallacious. He accused President McKinley of resorting to pretexts in order to lead the country into a war, and said that he alone was responsible for the condition of affairs in the Philippines.


Mr. Schurz in his speech urged his hearers to put an end to the war in the Philippines by the overthrow of the Republican Party at the next election, and declared that the United States had broken its faith in its dealings with the Filipinos. His speech aroused a great deal of enthusiasm, and he was forced to stop speaking several times until the applause should subside.

Capt. O'Farrel, who came last on the list, addressed only half the audience that had assembled at the beginning of the meeting. He made a hit, however, by an attack on President McKinley, and kept his audience cheering and shouting all through his speech.

At the close of the meeting a set of resolutions was adopted censuring the imperialistic policy of the Government, advocating the cessation of the war and the recognition of the right of the Philippines to independence on the same basis as that of the Cubans.

Ernest H. Crosby, who presided, opened the meeting with a speech, in which he said that the Filipinos would derive anything but benefit from the spread of the American industrial system.

“Better that the islands be robbed by Spain,” he said, “than by a friend of Senator Beveridge. People with delicate nerves may fear that the anti-imperialist party will be identified with the silver party. They need have no such fear. There is no silver question this year. It is only a Nebraska delusion. If Washington were alive to-day, I think that he would feel more at home with Aguinaldo than in our army. What an opportunity President McKinley has lost!”


When Mr. Crosby mentioned the President's name he was interrupted by a chorus of hisses. When they had subsided he introduced the first speaker, Mr. Boutwell, who was greeted with a great burst of applause. His speech was in part as follows:

“I have set before myself the task of specifying some of the errors in which President McKinley and his Administration have indulged in regard to the Constitution of the United States, and I shall then mention some of the pretexts that have been resorted to as apologies or excuses or shields for what has been done.

“Of many propositions that may be laid down concerning the Constitution of the United States, no one can be more worthy of universal acceptance than this, namely: The Constitution cannot, of its own force, apply to territory that is not of the United States.

“A second proposition, which seems to justify itself without argument, is this: The Constitution by its own force applies equally and everywhere and always to every part of the United States.

“Following the preamble to the Constitution, and standing at the head of all things and of all declarations else, are these words: 'All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.' Hence it follows that Congress must find authority in the Constitution for each and every of its legislative acts.

“We have the right to acquire territory, but we must govern it under the Constitution. Any further attempt is a criminal usurpation.


“The power of Congress to legislate over acquired territory is so limited that the duties, imposts, and excises must be the same in the newly acquired possessions as in the pre-existing States and Territories. The claim that Congress can extend the Constitution over Porto Rico or the Philippines is an assumption of arbitrary power that must prove fatal to our republican system. A dissenting opinion has been given by Mr. Whitelaw Reid.

“America has caught the land-grabbing disease from England. The speeches of the President indicate that he is going to ask us to vote for what we know is wrong and that he will adopt various pretexts to conceal his own wrongdoing. Was not the statement that the war was ended and that civil rule was to be established a pretext designed to mislead this country?

“Nothing more brutal could have occurred than the assassination of twenty-four Filipinos last March after one of our officers had been killed. [Cheers and hisses.]

“There will be an inquiry, investigation, scrutiny upon the question of the fitness of President McKinley for his office.


“There are those who admit the badness of the President's policy and who yet exonerate the President. If the President is a man of ability, as I think he is, then he alone is responsible for his policy. If, as some assume, the President is a weak man and under the influence of bad advisers, then, manifestly, his rule in office ought not to be extended. If the President's policy is a bad policy, it is immaterial whether the policy originated with the President or with advisers by whom he has been misled. In either case he is thereby unfitted for the office of President.

“Has any one from the President along the line of imperialists taken upon himself the responsibility of the assertion that the condition of the United States, or its fortunes present or prospective, have been improved by the acquisition of a paper title to the Philippine Islands?

“There are supporters of the Administration who are not content with the possession of the Philippines, but who advocate a warlike undertaking to extend our trade into China.

“Russia has gained more in the last five years by peaceful means than England has gained by war in the closing quarter of this century. The British Empire in India is now embraced in the arms of Russia.”


Mr. Boutwell closed by saying:

“In the year 1895 or 1896 a man emerged from the obscurity of unrecognized citizenship, and in the intervening time he had advanced himself to the head of the Republican Party, and without delay he became the apparent director of its policy. He contributed most largely to the nomination and election of President McKinley.

“Following the inauguration, he secured a seat in the Senate by the enforced retirement of a statesman who, in an experience of forty years, had never before yielded to the menaces of those in power, nor been misled by vain promises. During the three years now ended this man, so recently unknown, has stood before the country as the author of our public policy. This may be error, but in the month of April, 1900, he announced the renomination of President McKinley, and predicted his re-election.

“At the same time the Republican Party waited in submissive silence for his utterance in regard to a candidate for the Vice Presidency. All this appears to have been the outcome of immense energy in one man, combined with unlimited resources in money. For the moment the combination is supreme in the Republican Party.

“And thus a party that became historically great for its victories in war and for its achievements in peace bows in subserviency to a self-created dictator.

“What is the remedy? The party must be overthrown, and in its downfall the dictatorship will disappear, and in a quadrennial period, or in a decade, the party, regenerated, may come again to the head of affairs in the Republic.


Carl Schurz, who was introduced next, was greeted with a roar of applause that lasted for several moments. He opened his speech by saying that he felt convinced that if the imperialistic policy was submitted to a popular vote on its merits it would be indignantly rejected by the American people. Its defenders are aware of this, he said, and make special efforts to mislead the intelligence of the people by pretending that their opponents were afraid to meet the responsibilities devolved upon the country by the late Spanish war.

“We went into the war for the purpose of helping the Cubans in their struggle for liberty,” he continued. “Then came Dewey's victory at Manila Bay. The case of the Philippine Islands was in all respects similar to Cuba. But the Filipinos had a stronger claim on us than the Cubans. They acted most efficiently as our allies. We permitted them to believe that in fighting on the same side with us they were fighting for their own independence. We permitted them to believe this until we had troops enough on the field to make us masters of the situation.”


“Thus we deliberately turned our loudly-vaunted war of liberation and humanity into a shameless war of conquest.

“Then the conflict wantonly provoked by the President's order came. We destroyed by force the Government the Filipinos had set up — a very respectable Government, as all competent witnesses testify — a far better Government than the insurgent Cubans ever had. We carried death and devastation into the towns and villages of our late allies. We killed many, many thousands of them, and still go on killing them at the rate of 1,000 to 1,500 a month, for no other reason than that, as we call it, they refuse to submit to our sovereignty; but, as it may in truth be called, for no other reason than that our former allies object to being sold and bought like a herd of cattle, and that they still demand that liberty and independence to which by the principle we ourselves had affirmed in the case of Cuba they are rightfully entitled.

“I have always believed that the republic of Washington and Lincoln should and would always recognize it as the first and highest responsibility to give to the world an example of good faith and perfect justice in the recognition of the rights of others, be they ever so humble. Unless I am altogether wrong in this belief, our true responsibilities in the case of the Philippines demand not that we regard it as a mere academic question how we got them, or that we should keep the stolen goods under the sanctimonious pretense of benevolent purposes, but that, as an honest and righteous people, we should restore them to their rightful owners.

“Our imperialists, determined to make the Philippine Islanders our subjects, find no end of reasons to show that those people cannot be their own masters. It might even be shown in the same way that the people of New York City, or of Philadelphia, or of Chicago have proved themselves unable to govern themselves.


“The fine pretense that we must subjugate them in order to teach and secure to them honest government is probably not as proudly insisted upon to-day as it was a month ago. It is not too much to say that the recent disclosures in Cuba have advertised our disgrace in that respect to the whole world more glaringly than it had ever been advertised before. Nor can we flatter ourselves with the belief that the Cuban instance is an isolated one. Some time ago Gen. Otis issued an order against evil practices in our administration of things in the Philippines, which clearly indicated that our service there was honeycombed with corruption.

“The declaration of the Administration leader in the House of Representatives that we want to make all the money we can out of the Philippines and the equally brutal appeals to greed put forth by the Denbys and the Beveridges are by this time generally taken to reveal the true spirit of the enterprise.”

“What the American people really think,” concluded Mr. Schurz, “they will soon have an opportunity for declaring, and I know that an overwhelming majority of the American people will show themselves eager to demonstrate their moral soundness by washing their hands of this bloody iniquity, and by thus making it manifest that the Republic of Washington and Lincoln still lives.”


Mr. Schurz's speech being concluded, the Chairman partially stopped the exodus that followed by reading the following set of resolutions:

Resolved, That when our present National Administration turned the war against Spain which had been by a solemn resolution of Congress commended to the approval of the American people and to the good opinion of civilized mankind as being solely a war of liberation and humanity, into a war of conquest and “criminal aggression,” it committed a flagrant breach of faith and most seriously discredited the profession and the character of the Republic in the eyes of the world.

Resolved, That the imperialistic policy of subjugating foreign countries and populations to our sovereignty and arbitrary rule is absolutely subversive of the primary principles upon which this Republic is founded, and utterly repugnant to the political ideas, beliefs, and traditions which so far have been the pride of the American people as well as to the spirit of our Constitution; and that if that policy be persisted in, it will inevitably bring about the overthrow of our democratic institutions.

Resolved, That the attempt to subjugate the Philippine Islands to the sovereign rule of the United States is especially heinous and disgraceful in view of the fact that the Filipinos had to all intents and purposes been our allies in our war with Spain, and had rendered valuable service as such; that while accepting such service and profiting from it, we permitted our Filipino allies to believe that they were fighting for their own independence; that without allowing them to be heard in our peace negotiations with Spain, we enacted and obtained from Spain the cession of sovereignty over the country rightfully belonging to our allies, which sovereignty we know Spain did no longer possess and could not deliver; that the President, even before the peace treaty had acquired any legal force by the assent of the Senate, by flagrant usurpation of power, ordered the navy to enforce that sovereignty which amounted to a declaration of war against the Filipinos striving for independence; that when the Filipinos refused to submit, we killed many thousands of them and devastated their homes in order to subjugate them by force, and that this betrayal of our allies constitutes one of the basest acts of perfidy and cruel inhumanity every perpetrated by any tyrant in the history of the world.

Resolved, That it is the plain duty of the American people to stop the bloody war against the Philippines, to recognize their right and title to freedom and independence on the same basis on which we have recognized the right of the Cubans, and to withdraw our armed forces from those islands as soon as they may no longer be needed to assist and protect the people thereof in setting up and maintaining an independent Government.

Resolved, That the question of imperialism overshadows in importance all other public questions; that the approval or disapproval of the imperialistic policy pursued by the present Administration should be the supreme issue in the coming National election, and that all American citizens having the good name and the best interests of our country and the integrity and perpetuity of our free institutions at heart should unite in an earnest effort to secure the condemnation of that policy, and the sternest possible rebuke of its authors and promoters by a decisive popular vote.


Capt. O'Farrel, the last speaker, found his audience already aroused to a state of enthusiasm. He said in part:

“The thing that McKinley is doing has a religious side to it. There are 7,000,000 Catholics in the Philippines, and the Friars there own 20,000,000 acres of land. McKinley wants to restore it to them. (Hisses).

“He wants to end the war before the next election, but he won't do it. He's a wobbler. One day he goes and preaches to the boys in a Catholic Summer school about the flag, the next week he's down in Asbury Park preaching to a Methodist Sunday school there, and the next week he's making a treaty with a heathen Sultan, recognizing polygamy and slavery. Then you'll see him the next day on knees to the Pope of Rome.

“I'm a Catholic myself,” concluded Capt. O'Farrel; “but if I had a chance I would take that land away from those friars. I don't believe in joining the State and the Church, and I think that Mr. McKinley is the worst and most dangerous man we could have in the Presidential chair.”

Capt. O'Farrel sat down amid general applause, and the audience, after unanimously adopting the resolutions that had been read, dispersed.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1925. It may be copyrighted outside the U.S. (see Help:Public domain).