Today’s reading from PHUS showed me once again the true motives from post civil war America. I was shocked, yet still not entirely surprised by some of the tactics used in both the Spanish American war, and the conquest of the Philippines. First, as Dr. Bezio mentioned in class, an effective tactic to use when a large group of the population is frustrated, angry, upset, or has a lot of negative energy and hate is to direct it towards something else. In this case, early United States, with its’ selfish and still racist tendencies, turned their focus towards international conquest. With the industrialization of the country on the rise, there was a surplus of goods, and in order to capitalize on their excess product, the United States needed to turn to outward expansion. However, I do not agree with the methods they took, and the tactics they used. First, they looked to Cuba, who was inhabited by Spain at the time. Interestingly, president McKinley was convinced by Cabot Lodge that “bankers, brokers, businessmen, editors, and clergymen (not surprisingly, all white men) wanted the Cuban question solved. Masked by the claim to deliver Cubans from the harsh rule of the Spaniards, they overtook the country, and made it seem as if Cuba still retained freedom and rights to its own liberty. However, the Platt and Teller Agreements were put in place that essentially restricted Cuba to revert back to America to make any substantial decisions within the country, and the “right to intervene” (p. 310).
Secondly, the United States used black soldiers in this war and the conquest of the Philippines. This tactic showed the true mission of American imperialism. Zinn highlights the fact that blacks were at such a crossroads when it came to fighting for the United States forces here. First, they did not want to fight for the men who wanted them enslaved, called them derogatory phrases, and shamed their existence. On the other hand, and Zinn says, blacks needed to get ahead in society, and there was a “need to show that blacks were as courageous, as patriotic, as anyone else.” (p. 318) While their hearts may have lied in refusing to fight, feeling more closely connected to the Filipino people, they felt the need to fight for the United States as more important at the time. Blacks needed to start their new lives. Rich white men realized this desire, capitalized on it, and used blacks once again to further their mission of expansion and imperialism, this time, just outside of the borders of the country rather than within.