NEGenWeb Project
Resource Center OLLibrary




   419. Our Seventh Step in National Expansion, -- Annexation of Hawaii1 and of the Islands ceded by Spain; the Treaty of Peace; Our Total Territorial Additions, 1803-1917. After Dewey's splendid victory at Manila (§ 415) Captain Mahan and other eminent men in our navy urged the annexation of Hawaii. They believed that we needed the islands as a military base of defense and of naval operations in the Pacific.
   When the question came up in the United States Senate a number of senators declared that the people of the republic of Hawaii had not been fully and fairly consulted, and that the great majority of them were unfit for self-government. But Congress passed a resolution to annex, and Hawaii became a part of the territory of the United States (1898).
   The following year (1899) we came into possession of the Samoan Islands in the South Pacific. We now own a number of other small islands in the Pacific, several of which we use as coaling, naval, or telegraph stations. (Map, p. 380.)
   Meanwhile, the final treaty of peace between the United States and Spain had been signed (1898). The terms of the treaty were as follows:
   1. Spain gave up all right and title to Cuba.
   2. Spain gave up Porto Rico2 and Guam, the largest island in the Ladrones,3 to the United States.
   3. Finally, Spain gave up the entire group of the Philippines4 to us, on payment by us of $20,000,000 for the public works which the Spanish government had constructed in those islands.

   1 The Hawaiian group consists of twelve islands having a total area of less than 7000 square miles. The total population in 1900 was a little over 153,000. Of this number over 61,000 are Japanese and 25,000 are Chinese. There are over 28,000 white inhabitants and about 30,000 Hawaiians. Only a part of the population can speak English.
   2 Porto Rico, with its three small dependent islands, has an area of a little over 3600 square miles, and is therefore nearly three times as large as the state of Rhode Island. It has a population of nearly a million, composed of whites, negroes, and mulattoes.
   3. Guam (Map, p. 380) has an area of 200 square miles and a population of 8661. It was seized by the United States, during the war with Spain, as a naval port.
   4 The Philippines (Map, p. 380) comprise over 400 islands, many of which are very small. They have a total area of over 122,000 Square miles. Luzon, the largest of the islands, of which Manila is the capital, has an area of nearly 40,000 square miles and is therefore nearly as large as the state of Ohio. The Philippines have a population of less than 8,000,000. The greater part of the inhabitants are (1) Malays, (2) savage tribes of an undersized negro-like race, and (3) Chinese.

Map: U. S. A. & Island Possessions
[Click to View Full Size Map]

Island possessions of the United States: (1) in the Atlantic -- Porto Rico and a group of three small islands which we purchased from
Denmark in 917; (2) in the Pacific -- Hawaii, the Philippines, Guam, Aleutian, Midway, Baker, Howland, Wake, and Tutuila and
Manua in the Samoan group. We hold the Panama Canal Zone by a lease (§ 425), and under certain conditions we hold
the right to act as guardians for Cuba. Several of the small islands are used as telegraph or landing stations.

1898-1899 ]



   When the question of accepting the treaty came before the Senate,1 a part of the members objected to our taking possession of the Philippines. They contended that we could not give the semicivilized or barbarous people of those islands the rights and privileges of American citizenship; and that, on the other hand, we could not hold them under permanent military rule without violating the spirit of the American Republic. They urged, too, that the expense and difficulty of governing so distant a territory would be very great, and that there would be serious danger of our getting into war with some of the nations of Europe over questions that would arise about the islands.
   They wished to amend the treaty so that it would simply make us the guardians over the Philippines, as in the case of Cuba, until the people of those islands should be able to govern themselves.
   But a large majority of the Senate held that the Philippines would be safer, and in every way better off, if they became a part of the United States. They argued that we had no choice; the war, said they, has forced us to annex distant islands; it has thus made us a "world power"; and our trade interests with China and the Far East demand that we should own the whole of the Philippines. We can hold them, they said, as we do Alaska, under some form of territorial government, until we see our way to do differently.
   While the discussion was going on the natives attacked our forces at Manila. A fierce battle ensued, with the result that General Otis and Rear Admiral Dewey drove back the insurgents with terrible loss. The news of the battle was at once sent to Washington. The next day the Senate met to take action on the treaty of peace with Spain (1899). Fifty-seven senators voted for the treaty as it stood, against twenty-seven who voted against it. The result was that the treaty was accepted by one more than the two thirds' majority which the Constitution requires.2 This gave the whole Philippine group and the islands of Porto Rico and Guam to the United States.

    1 The President may make a treaty provided two thirds of the senators present vote in favor of it. See the Constitution in the Appendix, p. xv, Article II, Section 2, Paragraph 2.
   2 See the Constitution in the Appendix, Article II, Section 2, Paragraph 2.




   Let us stop here long enough to review the seven great steps of our national territorial expansion from the first step to the present time (see Map, p. 332).
   1. (1803) We purchased the province of Louisiana from France (§ 215).
   2. (1819) We purchased Florida from Spain (§ 238).
   3. (1845) We annexed the independent state of Texas at the urgent request of the people of that state (§ 285).
   4. (1846) We settled our claim to Oregon by a treaty with Great Britain (§§ 287, 289).
   5. (1848-1853) We added California and other Mexican land cessions obtained through the Mexican War (§ 294), and the Gadsden tract obtained by purchase from Mexico (§ 294).
   6. (1867) We bought Alaska of Russia (§ 368).
   7. (1898-1917) We got peaceful possession of Hawaii, and obtained the Philippines, Guam, and Porto Rico through our war with Spain. Later (1904), we hired the use of the Panama Canal Zone (§ 425). Finally (1917), we bought the Virgin Islands in the West Indies (§ 444) (see Map facing p. 380). In these ways we added nearly 3,000,000 square miles to the United States.1
   When the natives of the Philippines ceased to fight against us, we established a government there in which we gave the people power to help make the laws. We also opened many excellent public schools for their benefit.
   In the meantime the Spanish had withdrawn from Cuba, which was to remain under our guardianship until the people should be prepared to govern themselves (§ 413). At noon on New Year's Day (1899) the Spanish flag was hauled down at Havana and the Stars and Stripes were hoisted above the palace and the castle of that ancient city. The Spanish general then bade a sorrowful farewell to the beautiful island. Spain, once so rich in American possessions (§ 410), does not now own a single foot of land on this side of the Atlantic.

   1 The total area of the United States in 1800 was 827,844 square miles; its present area (including Alaska and our island possessions) is 3,756,884 square miles. The total additions amount to nearly 3,000,000 square miles.

1898- ]



   Three years later (1902) the United States formally recognized the new republic of Cuba, but on the condition that the Cubans should acknowledge the right of the United States to take what ever action might be necessary to preserve the independence of the island and to protect the life, property, and liberty of its people.
   Cuba soon had occasion to ask for our assistance. An insurrection broke out (1906); the Cuban Clara BartonPresident resigned his office and appealed to the United States for help. We made Secretary Taft provisional governor of the island and held it, for a time, by military power. Our government now has good reason to hope that the people of Cuba have succeeded in reëstablishing their republic on a permanent and peaceful foundation.
   420. Few of our Men lost in the War with Spain; Important Results of the Conflict. No successful campaign in the records of our history was ever fought at such small cost of life in battle, the total loss in the entire hundred days being only 402; but many times that number died from sickness.
   The war showed the wonderful fighting spirit of our navy and of our land forces. It greatly increased our island possessions (see p. 382); it united the Union and the Confederate veterans under the old flag; and it brought the "Red Cross Society"1 and the women of America to the front in their noble work of ministering to the wounded the sick, and the dying.

   1 The "Red Cross Society" was organized in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1864, by delegates from the chief nations of the world. its object is to take care of all sick and wounded soldiers, whether friends or enemies, who may need immediate help. The society also interests itself in helping to stamp out the widespread disease of consumption, and it aids in providing relief for great calamities. Miss Clara Barton was the founder of the "American National Red Cross." It did great work here, but far greater abroad after we entered the war against Germany. Then thousands upon thousands of these devoted friends of humanity followed our fighting men to minister to their needs and to those of countless innocent sufferers from the awful conflict.




   421. The Omaha Exposition; Cheap Lands; Agricultural Prosperity; Agricultural Colleges. While the war with Spain was going on, an Exposition was opened at Omaha, Nebraska (1898). The object of this grand fair was to exhibit to the world the marvelous growth and resources of the states and territories West of the Mississippi.
   Spain held that vast region when Coronado wandered through it in his search for gold (§ 22). Then France laid claim to a large part of it (§§ 131, 143). Finally, we purchased the French province of Louisiana (§ 215). Seventy years ago the greater part of it was an unexplored wilderness. Not a single mile of railway penetrated the country; and the school maps of that day marked a central portion, covering many thousand square miles, with the forbidding name "GREAT AMERICAN DESERT."1
   The building of railways (§§ 255, 270, 370) and the generous offer by the government of cheap lands, and finally of free lands, made rapid changes in that part of the country and converted the "American Desert" into what is now popularly called the "Bread Basket of the World."
   Under the Homestead Act, to which reference has been made (§ 371), every permanent settler received 160 acres of land practically free of charge. It is estimated that Western farmers have taken up so many millions of acres that they cover 260,000 square miles. This area is more than four times the size of England and Wales, and nearly six times larger than Pennsylvania. Once it was the home of the buffalo and the hunting ground of the Indian; now it is cultivated by men who own it, live on it, and prosper by it.
   A noted writer has said that it is a great thing for any one to make two ears of corn or two blades of grass grow where only one grew before. But the Omaha Exposition showed that the Western farmer had done even better than this; for he made

    1 The Great American Desert: this name was formerly applied to an unexplored region lying west of the Mississippi. It had no very definite limits. Later, the name was given to a tract of country south and west of Great Salt Lake, Utah. At present the name is scarcely ever used, but when it is, it designates a section of the region lying between the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountains. Irrigation (see §§ 279,422) is rendering portions of this barren tract increasingly productive. Much of this and region is rich in valuable minerals.




corn grow where it never grew before, and in some cases he made grass spring up where not a blade of it was ever seen. Furthermore, he planted groves on land which for hundreds of years had been as bare of trees as a barn floor. In many cases the farmer's children helped him in this excellent work and they now enjoy the results of their labor.
   The liberal government policy which gave homesteads to tens of thousands of hard-working, thrifty settlers, and thereby enriched the country, also gave large tracts of land to each state to establish agricultural and mechanical colleges. More than sixty of these educational institutions have been founded. In many cases they have been productive of much good; and, if well managed, they will sow the seed for a harvest of still greater good.
   The same year (1898) was one of great agricultural prosperity for the United States. The West raised enormous crops of grain. The foreign demand put up the price. Millions of bushels were sent abroad which wore paid for in gold, filling the farmer's pockets and adding largely to the wealth of the country.
   Since then American farmers and planters have harvested in a single season crops of corn, cotton, wheat, and other products of the soil, and raised cattle and other animals, which were together worth, as estimated by the Secretary of Agriculture, about nine billion dollars! Out of the profits, the producers could have paid all the ordinary expenses of the national government for that year and still have had a handsome balance left in the banks.1 That was thought to be a remarkable year's work; but we have since seen just as great results, or possibly even greater.2
   422. The Preservation of Our Forests; Irrigation of Desert Regions. Progress has been made in other directions, equally important to agriculture and to the country at large. An old maxim tells us that a "penny saved is a penny got." This holds as true of millions of dollars as it does of pennies.
   One of the chief sources of waste in the United States has been the unwise destruction of great areas of forest. Where the

   1 The ordinary expenses of the government for that year were a little under $660,000,000.
   2 See government reports for 1918-1920.

Prior page
General Index
Next page

© 1999, 2000, 2001 for NEGenWeb Project, T&C Miller