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Analysis of Albert Beveridge’s “America’s Destiny”

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In Albert Beveridge’s speech “America’s Destiny”, he argues for the U.S. to keep the Philippines after winning it from Spain in 1900. The U.S. was thinking about returning it to Spain or possibly giving it independence, but Beveridge and the imperialists advised otherwise. With control over the Philippines Beveridge saw an opportunity to secure an Asian empire with access to Asian markets and naval control over the Pacific. He even felt it to be America’s “destiny” to have a future strong relationship with the Far East. In addition to benefits to the U.S., he claimed America to have the duty of helping the people of undeveloped lands such as the Filipinos. However, Beveridge makes assumptions based on Anglo-Saxon supremacy that cannot be looked over. He does not consider the wants and freedoms of the Filipinos and assumes that the U.S. has the right to take over another nation of people. While Beveridge has strong, attractive arguments to keep the Philippines: access to Asian markets and naval control over the Pacific for the future, he assumes that the Filipinos are inferior and need to be improved; he does not take in to account whether the Filipino people actually would be willing and eager to let the U.S. control their land and government.

In his speech, Beveridge delivers a strong economic and military argument for keeping the Philippines. He argues that control over the Philippines gives the U.S. an opportunity that cannot be passed up: access to the Far East’s “illimitable markets” to go along with naval control over the Pacific for the future. To Beveridge, the future success of America’s economy was reliant on commercial success in Asia. He claims that China would be a perfect and “natural customer” of the U.S.’s increasing surplus manufacturing goods coming from the current Industrial Revolution. If the U.S. were to occupy the Philippines, China would become a natural neighbor as it would actually now be closer than Europe. European powers have colonies to manufactured goods to, so in order to keep up, the U.S. needs to a neighbor to trade with. Beveridge also points out that bases at the Philippines would give the U.S. naval supremacy in the Pacific which would be very useful in the future. The U.S. would obtain a commercial monopoly in East and Southeast Asia and would have military control over an entire half of the world, which would make for a huge advantage in war. In general, a pacific empire would counter-act the great European empires that had already claimed colonies in Africa, India, Latin America, India, the Middle East, and elsewhere.

While Beveridge’s main motives in keeping the Philippines are commercial opportunity and naval power, he also puts forth the idea that the U.S. has the duty to improve undeveloped civilizations. This was not uncommon during the time period; other European empires justified their colonies as part of their plan to develop the rest of the world. This view was characterized in English poet Rudyard Kipling’s famous poem “The White Man’s Burden”. Beveridge shares this belief. He believes that the Anglo-Saxon race is responsible to eliminate “chaos” in countries that do not have stable governments. He claims it to be America’s duty in particular; that we are God’s “chosen people”, for only America is strong enough for such a task as leading “the regeneration of the world”. This idea of America being superior stems back from the “city on a hill” ideology held by the Puritans back in the 17th Century.

During the controversy, the Filipinos were labeled as one of the people’s that needed to be civilized. Like other Americans, Beveridge viewed them as “children” and a “race which civilization demands be improved”. However, while Beveridge’s thoughtfulness seems nice, his argument turns out to be relatively weak if it is seen from another perspective. In reality he is a racist and is actually aiming to subjugate other people for his own benefit. Beveridge’s policy towards the Filipinos is based off a disgusting belief of white supremacy. While says he wants to help the Filipinos, he fails to realize that they never actually asked for help. Like other imperial nations throughout history, he seems to think that developed countries have the right and duty to intervene in other countries and assumes that the people of those countries are willing to be subjugated, ruled by a race totally different from themselves, and even in some cases stripped of their culture.

While imperial countries claim to be trying to aid in the development of those countries, they always have selfish motives behind it, like trying to gain resources, get access to new markets, or gain land to place military bases. As it turns out, the U.S. ended up keeping the Philippines but did not actually give it independence. Like Beveridge says, they are “children” and “are not capable for self-government”. As one would predict, unhappy with their oppression, the Filipinos ended up rebelling under their leader Emilio Aguinaldo, and rather than helping the Filipinos, the U.S. army actually ended up slaughtering innocent people to keep order. In his speech begging the U.S. to keep the Philippines, “America’s Destiny”, Albert Beveridge delivers a strong, logical argument pointing out how control over the Philippines would give the U.S. new access to Asian markets and naval supremacy over the Pacific in the future. He also argues that it is America’s God-given duty to help develop the rest of humanity into strong, stable nations. However, if one looks closely, Beveridge turns out to be a racist and fails to consider the actual well-being and rights of the Filipino people.

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