Thursday, October 30, 2008

William Jennings Bryan: Imperialism vs. Expansionism

In his speech delivered on December 13, 1898 in Savannah, Ga., democrat William Jennings Bryan expressed his concern about America's increased interest in what clearly resembled the ideology of European Imperialism. He believed the concept of Imperialism to go against the very essence upon what America was based. In his own words:
"The imperialistic idea is directly antagonistic to the idea and ideals which
have been cherished by the American people since the signing of the Declaration
of Independence."

Bryan did not opposed the concept of expansion, as long as there were clear beneficial reason to justify it, such as securing contiguous territory for future settlement. Also, he was in favor of expanding to surrounding areas, but against expanding to remote areas, which he considered impractical.
"The Philippine Islands are too far away and their people too different from us
to be annexed to the United States, even if they desired it."
In this regard, Bryan believed that the issues with Cuba and Philippines should be handled in similar manner. He argued that the best policy was to take possession of this countries only to try to establish a stable government and then hand the government back to their people.

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