Ratification Of The Treaty Of Paris
The Treaty of Paris signed in 1899 after the Spanish-American War had ended the six month hostilities between Spain and the United States and the public turned their focus on overseas expansion. The treaty later was the subject of debate in the U.S. Senate on whether it should be ratified or not and finally the treaty was approved to ratify. The ratification of the Treaty of Paris in 1899 seems a turning point of the United States in becoming a new colonial power. For years historians have raised many factors that evoked to the ratification but seemed only few of them are persuasive and comprehensive.
Form the documents provide, there are different factors showing significance to the ratification of the Treaty of Paris in 1899. First of all, the idea of “the white man’s burden” from the British imperialists seems influential to the American imperialists. This idea led the expansionists and the public of the United States had the “excuse” to expand and conquer overseas and govern the other races.
In document I, Theodore Roosevelt sent the poem “The White Man’s Burden” which was written by Rudyard Kipling to Henry Cabot Lodge and regarded the poem was a good explanation from the expansion standpoint. In the document G, Orville Platt expressed a similar perspective that they will, “confer upon them the blessings of happiness and prosperity”. It is because the Americans stated that they had the responsibility to civilize and Christianize the inferior races. Therefore, the white man’s burden provided a strong reason for the Americans expand overseas, just as George F. Hoar said in document F that, “The power to conquer alien peoples and hold them in subjection is nowhere expressly granted.” Document K shows the opposite opinion to the ratification of the treaty but shares a similar perspective on the idea’s of the White Man’s Burden. Senator John L. McLaurin stated that the White Man’s Burden and right to rule the inferior races was a violation to the ideal of United States – “pitch his tent outside the spirit of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth amendments of Constitution”. In short, the idea from British imperialist seems influential to the Americans and it is also an essential factor that led to the ratification of the treaty.
Second of all, the commercial interest is also another factor that influenced the Senate to ratify the treaty. It was because the Americans can control the sugar market in the Philippines after they controlled there. Moreover, the Americans could get assess into the Asian trade after they get a stepping stone in Asia. In document A, there is abundant resources represented by different food which means the expansion policy can bring the Americans numerous resources and profit. Besides, document L also shows that, “…all commercial interest which can be reached are bringing pressure on Senators in the most shameful manner.” Since the profits and resources the Americans was not only from the Philippines and Hawaii, but also the huge profit from trade with China and the Japan after the Meiji restoration. These two major Asian powers were the real targets of the United States.
Thirdly, the president did not want to return the Philippines to Spain or made it independence. Therefore, McKinley stated that the Americans had the responsibility to civilize them and train them to be independence. In order to make it happened, the treaty needed to be ratified. The Americans did not want to become another “cruel Spain”, so they pretended to help the Filipino people getting liberty and independence. In document E, Uncle Sam declares that the Philippines are the lands of the United States but there is “liberty” behind. In document N, the Aguinaldo’s Cabinet seems helping Aguinaldo. Nevertheless, the members of the Cabinet are all Americans and they seems helping the United States to get all kind of resources from the Philippines instead of make it independence or to help them getting liberty.
Fourthly, Mckinley seems a weak president that would do whatever is in his power according his people. The public turned their focus to the overseas expansion and the planters also wanted to get assess into the islands to have more land from agriculture. Moreover, the president also believed that the inhabitants were unprepared for retuning the Philippines to Spain or led it independence. Therefore, the president will try also means to retain the islands. In document D, the editorial comment says, “…attention to the large power of our executive.” It shows Mckinley will do whatever he can to retain the islands. In document J, William Jennings Bryan also states that, “I have faith in the people…We ought not to succeed unless the people are with us.” It reveals that the ratification of the treaty would not succeed if the people did not want to. Document u also mentions Mckinley did everything he could do with greatest firmness and strength. In addition, in document R and S, they reveal that the president wanted the senators to support the ratification of the treaty.
In short, there are some factors can be regarded as reasons to the ratification of the Treaty of Paris in 1899. However, these factors are interrelated and cannot give a comprehensive explanation to the issue separately. On the one hand, the Americans wanted overseas expansion after the war with Spain because the overseas markets and abundant resources in Hawaii, the Philippines, and Cuba are temptation to the United States. It is obvious that the public would not want to simply help the Philippines to be independence without anything. On the other, the president is weak and bowed to the will of the public. Therefore, Mckinley wanted to do everything he can to retain the islands. In order not to violate the spirit of the Fourteenth and the Fifteenth amendments of the Constitution, the president adopted the ideas of the White Man’s Burden as an evidence or excuse to ratify the treaty and the influence of the British imperialists’ idea and the influence of American imperialists cannot be underestimated. Then, the United States pretended they were different with the Spain and would give the people of the conquered territories liberty and freedom by civilizing them and educating them, in other words, ruling them. Because of each factor influence and interrelated with each other, so finally evoked to the ratification of the treaty.