Today in History: April 11

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In 1899

Spain and the U.S. were no longer foes.

The Spanish-American War

Came to a close.*

This date actually was when the Cuban people by plebiscite ratified the Treaty of Paris which had officially ended the war.  The war lasted less than 3 months. It was an amalgam of manifest destiny, Monroe Doctrine, popular sovereignty, and idealism. At its end the U.S. found itself an indisputable world power with its own brand of "White man's burdens". We had possessions in the Pacific and well as the Atlantic. And a naval base in Cuba with a lease in perpetuity.  A good reason to call it 'a splendid little war'.

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"I left these shores, at Vancouver, a red-hot imperialist. I wanted the American eagle to go screaming into the Pacific. It seemed tiresome and tame for it to content itself with the Rockies. Why not spread its wings over the Philippines, I asked myself? And I thought it would be a real good thing to do.

I said to myself, here are a people who have suffered for three centuries. We can make them as free as ourselves, give them a government and country of their own, put a miniature of the American constitution afloat in the Pacific, start a brand new republic to take its place among the free nations of the world. It seemed to me a great task to which we had addressed ourselves.

But I have thought some more, since then, and I have read carefully the treaty of Paris, and I have seen that we do not intend to free, but to subjugate the people of the Philippines. We have gone there to conquer, not to redeem.

We have also pledged the power of this country to maintain and protect the abominable system established in the Philippines by the Friars.

It should, it seems to me, be our pleasure and duty to make those people free, and let them deal with their own domestic questions in their own way. And so I am an anti-imperialist. I am opposed to having the eagle put its talons on any other land."

Mark Twain

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  • Thank you very much for the beautiful Twain essay as well as the poetry. The efforts to free other people to make up their own minds remind me of a "MASH" joke about being "an individual -- just like everybody else." We still need help with the "make up their own minds" part.

  • Twain was prescient. His Duke and Dauphin in Huck Finn foreshadowed President Trump as we go down the river.

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    Speaking of which, the Filipinos appear to on their own have subjected themselves to their bloodthirsty psycho. They also had Marcos.

  • BTW, Today in History, Julian Assange was turned over by Ecuador to face charges. Somehow, the twitterverse thinks standard journalistic procedure is conspiracy to hack computers.

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