Spanish American War and U.S. Imperialism
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Spanish American War and U.S. Imperialism

Spanish American War and U.S. Imperialism | Spanish American War and U.S. Imperialism |

Spanish American War Annotations


The first primary document talks about the Delome Letter, which is Spanish diplomats’ letter of the U.S. president, McKinley and the prospects for peace. It was considered to the U.S. press of forcing recall of their minister. They were trying to make peace so the Americans and the England’s would not go to war with each other.


The second primary document talks about a speech about Strenuous Life, which is about how America is a great place and how men live the strenuous life of being powerful in their own way of life. Also about true national greatness and how we would use that in wars and our environment of how we live with our families.


The third primary document is a poem that is called The White Mans Burden and it talks about war and how his burden affects his way life and the war. Also how he views the world and explains how his burden is very heavy on him.

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Current Event #2

Current Event #2 | Spanish American War and U.S. Imperialism |
North Korea: Ready to go to war with U.S., South Korea
By Paula Hancocks, CNN
updated 11:35 AM EST, Mon February 27, 2012

This undated photo shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, with a senior military officer at an undisclosed location.
Military drills are scheduled through March 9
South Korea and the United States regularly hold military drills
The most recent talks between North Korea and the United States ended with little progress
Seoul (CNN) -- North Korea said it's ready to fight a war with the United States and South Korea, as the two allies kicked off their annual joint military drills Monday, according to state-run media.
"Hundreds of thousands of troops are poised for a war carrying nuclear war equipment," North Korea's KCNA news agency reported, saying Pyongyang considers the drills to be practice for a preemptive strike on the North.
The international community has been negotiating with North Korea over its nuclear program for years.
The most recent talks between North Korea and the United States ended Friday with little visible progress. They were the first high-level talks since the death of North Korea's longtime leader, Kim Jong Il, in December and the subsequent transition of power to his youngest son, Kim Jong Un.
Kim's death threw into flux U.S. plans for renewed diplomacy with North Korea, including formal talks on ending Pyongyang's nuclear program and possible resumption of U.S. food assistance.
North Korean defectors face repatriation North Korea image makers hard at work New book on Kim Jong Il's eldest son
The North Korea government was expected to suspend its uranium enrichment in exchange for food assistance as part of a deal that was to be announced around the time of Kim's death.
The annual Key Resolve military drills that began Monday involve 2,100 U.S. troops with their South Korean counterparts. Washington insists the exercises are defensive in nature and unrelated to any geopolitical events.
The current military drills are scheduled through March 9, with a second set of overlapping exercises beginning March 1 and running through the end of April.
South Korea and the United States regularly hold military drills, and just as often North Korea denounces them as a provocation.
KCNA reported Saturday that Kim Jong Un, the new North Korean leader, visited military units in the southwest of the country, including one that fired upon a South Korean island in November 2010, killing two civilians and two marines. North Korea said its forces were responding to a South Korean military drill in the area.
While visitng the troops, Kim Jong Un "ordered them to make a powerful retaliatory strike at the enemy, should the enemy intrude even 0.001 mm into the waters of the country where its sovereignty is exercised," KCNA reported.

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Primary Document#3

Take up the White Man’s burden—

Send forth the best ye breed—

Go send your sons to exile

To serve your captives' need

To wait in heavy harness

On fluttered folk and wild—

Your new-caught, sullen peoples,

Half devil and half child

Take up the White Man’s burden

In patience to abide

To veil the threat of terror

And check the show of pride;

By open speech and simple

An hundred times made plain

To seek another’s profit

And work another’s gain

Take up the White Man’s burden—

And reap his old reward:

The blame of those ye better

The hate of those ye guard—

The cry of hosts ye humour

(Ah slowly) to the light:

"Why brought ye us from bondage,

“Our loved Egyptian night?”

Take up the White Man’s burden-

Have done with childish days-

The lightly proffered laurel,

The easy, ungrudged praise.

Comes now, to search your manhood

Through all the thankless years,

Cold-edged with dear-bought wisdom,

The judgment of your peers!

Source: Rudyard Kipling, “The White Man’s Burden: The United States & The Philippine Islands, 1899.” Rudyard Kipling’s Verse: Definitive Edition (Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1929).





This primary document is a document called "The White Man's Burden." It was written by Rudyard Kipling. This document is considered to be a poetic source. This is a poem. He wrote it about the hardships white people went through back then. It was written in 1899.

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Topic Website#2

Topic Website#2 | Spanish American War and U.S. Imperialism |

The Spanish-American War was a four-month conflict between Spain and the United States, provoked by word of Spanish colonial brutality in Cuba. Although the war was largely brought about by the efforts of U.S. expansionists, many Americans supported the idea of freeing an oppressed people controlled by the Spanish. At war's end, America emerged victorious with newly acknowledged respect as a world power.
Reasoning for war
Until the 1890s, ambivalence about overseas possessions had restrained America's drive to expand overseas. Suddenly, near the turn of the 20th century, inhibitions collapsed and American power thrust its way to the far reaches of the Pacific. The occasion for that explosion of imperialism lay neither in the Pacific nor in the quest for bases and trade, but to the south in Cuba. The chief motive was a sense of outrage at another country's imperialism.
It revived only briefly during a 10-year Cuban insurrection from 1868 to 1878. After the insurrection was brought under control in 1878 by the Spanish, American investments in Cuba, mainly in sugar and mining, rose to about $50 million. The United States in fact traded more with Cuba than Spain did.
On February 24, 1895, insurrection broke out again. Simmering discontent with Spanish rule had been aggravated by the Wilson-Gorman Tariff of 1894, which took sugar off the free list in the midst of a depression already damaging to the market for Cuban sugar. Public feeling in the U.S. lay with the rebels, and many Americans extended help to the Cuban revolutionary party that organized the revolt from its headquarters in New York.
The insurrectionists' strategy was to wage guerrilla warfare and to damage the island's economic life, which in turn would provoke the concern of American investors. The strategy employed hit-and-run attacks on trains, railways, and plantations. Ordinary Americans were more than ready to look upon the insurrection in the light of their own War of Independence.
Pressure for war
The American press had a field day with many of the events leading up to and during war with Spain. William Randolph Hearst's New York Journal and Joseph Pulitzer'sNew York World became major contributors to the sentiment for conflict with imperialistic Spain.
On April 6, 1896, The Second Cleveland Administration attempted to negotiate with Spain, urging that empire to seek peace in Cuba on the basis of home rule. The Spanish politely refused.
The direction of official neutrality changed sharply when William McKinley assumed office. He had been elected on a platform that endorsed independence for Cuba, as well as American control of Hawaii and of a Panama canal. On January 25, 1898, as a "courtesy call," but actually for the protection of American citizens and property in Cuba, the battleship USS Maine arrived in Havana harbor.
Meanwhile, on February 9, a private letter written by Enrique Dupuy de Lôme, the Spanish minister to Washington, surfaced in the U.S. press. The letter disparaged President McKinley, thus provoking more anti-Spanish sentiment.
On February 15, the Maine exploded in the harbor and sank with a loss of 260 men. Immediately afterwards, the American press sparked a nationwide uproar, and flung various unproven accusations of sabotage at Spain — giving rise to the slogan, "Remember the Maine!"
A month later, under mounting pressure from the American people, President McKinley obtained a joint resolution of Congress: It declared Cuba independent and demanded a withdrawal of Spanish forces. It also included an amendment that disavowed any U.S. plan to permanently occupy the island. The resolution was then sent to Spanish authorities with unconditional compliance to occur by April 23, 1898. On April 22, McKinley announced a blockade of Cuba's northern coast and the port of Santiago. Rather than give in to an ultimatum, the Spanish government declared war on April 24. The U.S. Congress — determined to be first — declared war on April 25, retroactive to the April 21 resolution signing.
However, the U.S. Army was not prepared for war. Following the Civil War, the nation had drastically reduced the size of its army. Most army units were scattered throughout the West, where they had fought and subdued Native Americans. Volunteer and National Guard units quickly assembled in Tennessee. Regular army divisions, filled with new recruits, rushed to Florida in anticipation of the invasion of Cuba.
Captain Henry Glass, commander of the cruiser USS Charleston, was on the way toManila when he received orders instructing him to proceed to the island of Guam and wrest it from Spain.
On June 20, Captain Glass and his anxious sailors arrived off the shore of Guam. When the Charleston got within range, it fired upon fortifications on the island from three of its port-side cannons. Shortly after the cannon explosions — with little harm done — a ship flying the Spanish flag approached the Charleston, its crew completely unaware of any war taking place. In fact, a Spanish officer climbed aboard theCharleston and asked for gunpowder to return what they believed to be a salute.
Governor Juan Marina was then notified by an American courier from the Charlestonthat a state of war existed between the two countries. The Spaniards could not mount a serious defense; Governor Marina was compelled to surrender the island of Guam without so much as a murmur. Captain Glass flew the red, white, and blue off the coast of Guam as he made way for Manila.
The Philippines, Wake Island, and Hawaii eventually became occupied by the U.S. by the end of the war. Guam remained under U.S. control until being overrun by the Japanese during World War II.
Dewey takes Manila
The first battle of the Spanish-American War occurred in the Philippines. On May 1, 1898, Commodore George Dewey, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, pulverized Admiral Patricio Montojo y Pasar’s Spanish forces at the Battle of Manila Bay without losing a man. The Spanish force lost 381 men, while Dewey's squadron sustained only eight wounded.
While the Americans were handily capturing Manila Bay, Filipino nationalist Emilio Aguenaldo and his guerilla force pursued the Spanish by land. The Americans then staged their own land assault at the Battle of Manila — ultimately forcing the surrender of Manila to the Americans.
Cuban Campaign
At the beginning of war with Spain, the Americans preparation was spotty. They navy was fit, but the army could muster only an ill-assorted force of 28,000 regulars and about 100,000 militiamen. Altogether during the war about 200,000 more militiamen were recruited, mostly as state volunteers. The armed forces of the U.S. suffered badly from both inexperience and maladministration, with the result that more died from disease than from enemy action. The United States' salvation was that the Spanish forces were even worse off.
On April 29, Spanish admiral Pascual Cervera left the Cape Verde Islands with four cruisers and three destroyers, turning up in Santiago de Cuba where the U.S. Navy put the Spanish fleet under a blockade. Then a force of some 17,000 troops hastily assembled at Tampa, Florida, under the command of General William Shafter. One significant element of that force was Colonel Leonard Wood's First Volunteer Cavalry, better known as the "Rough Riders," and best remembered because Lt. ColonelTheodore Roosevelt was second in command. Roosevelt, always active, got his regiment ashore quickly. "We disembarked with our rifles, our ammunition belts, and not much else," he remembered. "I carried some food in my pocket, and a light coat which was my sole camp equipment for the next three days."
The major land action of the Cuban Campaign occurred on July 1. About 7,000 Americans took the fortified village of El Caney from about 600 of the enemy garrison. While a much larger force attacked San Juan Hill, a smaller unit, including the dismounted Rough Riders, together with black soldiers from the Ninth and 10th Cavalry, seized the enemy position atop nearby Kettle Hill.
On July 3, Admiral Cervera made a run for it, but his ships were little more than sitting ducks to be picked off by a sturdy American navy. The casualties were as one-sided as at Manila: 474 Spaniards were killed and wounded and 1,750 were taken prisoner, while only one American was killed and one wounded. Santiago surrendered with a garrison of 24,000 on July 17.
Puerto Rico and war's end
On July 25 a force under General Nelson A. Miles and his convoy of 3,300 soldiers and nine transports (escorted by the USS Massachusetts) moved into Puerto Ricoagainst minor resistance — easily taking the island. The day after General Miles landed, the Spanish government sued for peace through the French ambassador in Washington. After negotiations lasting two weeks, an armistice was signed on August 12, less than four months after the war's beginning.
The peace protocol specified that the U.S. annex Puerto Rico and one island in the Ladrones (later called the Marianas), and should occupy the city, bay, and harbor of Manila pending disposition of the Philippines. Among more than 274,000 Americans who served during the war and the ensuing demobilization, 5,462 died, but only 379 in battle. The total wounded numbered 1,704.
In February 1899, the Treaty of Paris received the necessary two-thirds ratification in the U.S. Senate by a single vote. America had once again overcome adversity in victorious fashion.
The United States annexed the former Spanish-ruled colonies of Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and Guam. However, some Americans did not like the idea of the United States playing the part of an imperial power with foreign colonies. President McKinley and the pro-imperialists did, however, win their way over the majority public opinion. Such men as Mark Twain heavily opposed this act of imperialism, which inspired him to pen The War Prayer.
Even though the Americans had liberated a Spanish ruled Philippines, insurrection broke out once again, which put McKinley in another rough spot. With help from God and country, McKinley's decision for reform in the Philippines was one of humanity and American heart.
Overall, the Spanish-American War became a stepping stone to conciliation between America's still-bitter North and South. The war had provided a common enemy and fostered a sort of rapport that helped to repair bad relations following a bloody American Civil War.

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Topic Website#3

1898 HOME > Introduction

The Battleship Maine
Photographic History of the Spanish American War, p. 36.

On April 25, 1898 the United States declared war on Spain following the sinking of the Battleship Maine in Havana harbor on February 15, 1898. The war ended with the signing of the Treaty of Paris on December 10, 1898. As a result Spain lost its control over the remains of its overseas empire -- Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines Islands, Guam, and other islands.


Beginning in 1492, Spain was the first European nation to sail westward across the Atlantic Ocean, explore, and colonize the Amerindian nations of the Western Hemisphere. At its greatest extent, the empire that resulted from this exploration extended from Virginia on the eastern coast of the United States south to Tierra del Fuego at the tip of South America excluding Brazil and westward to California and Alaska. Across the Pacific, it included the Philippines and other island groups. By 1825 much of this empire had fallen into other hands and in that year, Spain acknowledged the independence of its possessions in the present-day United States (then under Mexican control) and south to the tip of South America. The only remnants that remained in the empire in the Western Hemisphere were Cuba and Puerto Rico and across the Pacific in Philippines Islands, and the Carolina, Marshall, and Mariana Islands (including Guam) in Micronesia.


Following the liberation from Spain of mainland Latin America, Cuba was the first to initiate its own struggle for independence. During the years from 1868-1878, Cubans personified by guerrilla fighters known as mambises fought for autonomy from Spain. That war concluded with a treaty that was never enforced. In the 1890's Cubans began to agitate once again for their freedom from Spain. The moral leader of this struggle was José Martí, known as "El Apóstol," who established the Cuban Revolutionary Party on January 5, 1892 in the United States. Following the grito de Baire, the call to arms on February 24, 1895, Martí returned to Cuba and participated in the first weeks of armed struggle when he was killed on May 19, 1895.

The Philippines Islands

The Philippines too was beginning to grow restive with Spanish rule. José Rizal, a member of a wealthy mestizo family, resented that his upper mobility was limited by Spanish insistence on promoting only "pure-blooded" Spaniards. He began his political career at the University of Madrid in 1882 where he became the leader of Filipino students there. For the next ten years he traveled in Europe and wrote several novels considered seditious by Filipino and Church authorities. He returned to Manila in 1892 and founded the Liga Filipina, a political group dedicated to peaceful change. He was rapidly exiled to Mindanao. During his absence, Andrés Bonifacio founded Katipunan, dedicated to the violent overthrow of Spanish rule. On August 26, 1896, after learning that the Katipunan had been betrayed, Bonifacio issued the Grito de Balintawak, a call for Filipinos to revolt. Bonifacio was succeeded as head of the Philippine revolution by Emilio Aguinaldo y Famy, who had his predecessor arrested and executed on May 10, 1897. Aguinaldo negotiated a deal with the Spaniards who exiled him to Hong Kong with 400,000 pesos that he subsequently used to buy weapons to resume the fight.

Puerto Rico

During the 1880s and 1890s, Puerto Ricans developed many different political parties, some of which sought independence for the island while others, headquartered like their Cuban counterparts in New York, preferred to ally with the United States. Spain proclaimed the autonomy of Puerto Rico on November 25, 1897, although the news did not reach the island until January 1898 and a new government established on February 12, 1898.

United States

U.S. interest in purchasing Cuba had begun long before 1898. Following the Ten Years War, American sugar interests bought up large tracts of land in Cuba. Alterations in the U.S. sugar tariff favoring home-grown beet sugar helped foment the rekindling of revolutionary fervor in 1895. By that time the U.S. had more than $50 million invested in Cuba and annual trade, mostly in sugar, was worth twice that much. Fervor for war had been growing in the United States, despite President Grover Cleveland's proclamation of neutrality on June 12, 1895. But sentiment to enter the conflict grew in the United States when General Valeriano Weyler began implementing a policy of Reconcentration that moved the population into central locations guarded by Spanish troops and placed the entire country under martial law in February 1896. By December 7, President Cleveland reversed himself declaring that the United States might intervene should Spain fail to end the crisis in Cuba. President William McKinley, inaugurated on March 4, 1897, was even more anxious to become involved, particularly after the New York Journal published a copy of a letter from Spanish Foreign Minister Enrique Dupuy de Lôme criticizing the American President on February 9, 1898. Events moved swiftly after the explosion aboard the U.S.S. Maine on February 15. On March 9, Congress passed a law allocating fifty million dollars to build up military strength. On March 28, the U.S. Naval Court of Inquiry finds that a mine blew up the Maine. On April 21 President McKinley orders a blockade of Cuba and four days later the U.S. declares war.

The War

Following its declaration of war against Spain issued on April 25, 1898, the United States added the Teller Amendment asserting that it would not attempt to exercise hegemony over Cuba. Two days later Commodore George Dewey sailed from Hong Kong with Emilio Aguinaldo on board. Fighting began in the Phillipines Islands at the Battle of Manila Bay on May 1 where Commodore George Dewey reportedly exclaimed, "You may fire when ready, Gridley," and the Spanish fleet under Rear Admiral Patricio Montojo was destroyed. However, Dewey did not have enough manpower to capture Manila so Aguinaldo's guerrillas maintained their operations until 15,000 U.S. troops arrived at the end of July. On the way, the cruiser Charleston stopped at Guam and accepted its surrender from its Spanish governor who was unaware his nation was at war. Although a peace protocol was signed by the two belligerents on August 12, Commodore Dewey and Maj. Gen. Wesley Merritt, leader of the army troops, assaulted Manila the very next day, unaware that peace had been declared.

In late April, Andrew Summers Rowan made contact with Cuban General Calixto García who supplied him with maps, intelligence, and a core of rebel officers to coordinate U.S. efforts on the island. The U.S. North Atlantic Squadron left Key West for Cuba on April 22 following the frightening news that the Spanish home fleet commanded by Admiral Pascual Cervera had left Cadiz and entered Santiago, having slipped by U.S. ships commanded by William T. Sampson and Winfield Scott Schley. They arrived in Cuba in late May.

War actually began for the U.S. in Cuba in June when the Marines captured Guantánamo Bay and 17,000 troops landed at Siboney and Daiquirí, east of Santiago de Cuba, the second largest city on the island. At that time Spanish troops stationed on the island included 150,000 regulars and 40,000 irregulars and volunteers while rebels inside Cuba numbered as many as 50,000. Total U.S. army strength at the time totalled 26,000, requiring the passage of the Mobilization Act of April 22 that allowed for an army of at first 125,000 volunteers (later increased to 200,000) and a regular army of 65,000. On June 22, U.S. troops landed at Daiquiri where they were joined by Calixto García and about 5,000 revolutionaries.

U.S. troops attacked the San Juan heights on July 1, 1898. Dismounted troopers, including the African-American Ninth and Tenth cavalries and the Rough Riders commanded by Lt. Col. Theodore Roosevelt went up against Kettle Hill while the forces led by Brigadier General Jacob Kent charged up San Juan Hill and pushed Spanish troops further inland while inflicting 1,700 casualties. While U.S. commanders were deciding on a further course of action, Admiral Cervera left port only to be defeated by Schley. On July 16, the Spaniards agreed to the unconditional surrender of the 23,500 troops around the city. A few days later, Major General Nelson Miles sailed from Guantánamo to Puerto Rico. His forces landed near Ponce and marched to San Juan with virtually no opposition.

Representatives of Spain and the United States signed a peace treaty in Paris on December 10, 1898, which established the independence of Cuba, ceded Puerto Rico and Guam to the United States, and allowed the victorious power to purchase the Philippines Islands from Spain for $20 million. The war had cost the United States $250 million and 3,000 lives, of whom 90% had perished from infectious diseases.

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Two Paragraphs


Because the United States expanded in the later 19th century and early 20th century, there were many changes that occurred. First, one expansion was the annexation of Hawaii. Our president basically stole Hawaii from their people. Second, the US expanded by taking over different states in buying land. The US bought land in the Louisiana Purchase so they could have a lot of the Western lands. Although the US still wanted to expand their country, it does not make it right for them to do so. Third, the US expanded by buying land so they could have Alaska. Since Russia already had a lot of land, we got that too. Fourth, the US expanded by taking over islands like the Philippines, Guam, and Puerto Rico. We needed islands like those and Hawaii so we could use them with our military. Although we already had a lot of land, we needed the islands so we could refuel our planes in the military. Lastly, the US expanded by trade. We began to trade more with China. To conclude, it was important for our country to expand so we could have the land we do today.




Although there were many reasons to expand, the US made a lot of positive and negative impacts. First, the US took over Hawaii and their country did not like that. Roosevelt was friends with the queen and he did not want the new president to do that. The negative impact was we took over land. The positive impact was we got to have more fruit available to us by Dole. Second, we bought land with the Louisiana Purchase. A negative impact is we got land for cheap. A positive impact is we got land for cheap to have more land in our country. Third, we acquired Alaska. A positive impact is we have more land and land with oil in it. It is good to have more natural resources. Fourth, we acquired more islands. Although some island people lost their land, the US acquired beautiful islands. Lastly, we traded with China. It was important for us to trade with other countries. A negative impact would be we spread illnesses. A positive impact was we got to try new foods and materials. To conclude, it was both positive and negative that the United States expanded across the world.

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Spanish American War and U.S. Imperialism VOCABULARY

Spanish American War and U.S. Imperialism VOCABULARY | Spanish American War and U.S. Imperialism |

Spanish American War Vocabulary


Exile –A person who lives away from their native country either from choice or compulsion.


They exiled out of the country.


Judgment – The ability to make considered decisions or come to sensible conclusions.


The supreme court made a judgement about the defendant of "guilty."


Preeminently – Above all, in particular.


This is preeminently the best cheesecake!


Doctrine – A state principle of government policy, mainly in foreign or military affairs.


That doctrine made it so everyone could trade with each other.


Ignoble – Of humble origin or social status.


That person was ignoble in status because they came from the slums.


Strenuous – Requiring or using great exertion.


The strenuous exercise made me tired.


Controversial – Giving rise or likely to give rise to public disagreement.


The debate was controversial because the day before was when his wife left him.


Prospect – The possibility or likelihood of some future event occurring.


There was no prospect for her to say she is sorry.


Diplomat – An official representing a country.


Hillary Clinton is a diplomat when traveling to other countries.


Emissary – A person sent on a special mission, usually as a diplomatic representative.


The emissaries were sent to negotiate a peace treaty in Japan.

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Current Event#1

Current Event#1 | Spanish American War and U.S. Imperialism |

Will Mexico Declare Peace In The War On Drugs, And Will Obama Let Them?
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US President Barack Obama shakes hands with Mexican President Felipe Calderón. (Image credit: AFP/Getty Images via @daylife)

The Drug War is over. The U.S. government hasn’t stopped arresting people for using pot and other illicit substances. But no one seriously believes Washington is going to “win,” whatever that means. The Drug War is on autopilot, with American politicians afraid to admit the obvious.

However, foreign leaders are beginning to break ranks with Washington, despite the combination of bribes and threats which it has used to keep other governments in line. For instance, last month Mexican President Felipe Calderon, who has vigorously prosecuted the violent drug war that is tearing his nation apart, asked Washington to consider “market solutions” to cut drug gang revenues.

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In early July Mexican president-elect Enrique Pena Nieto announced that while he wasn’t for legalization, he wanted to start a discussion on drug policy. Explained Pena Nieto: “I’m in favor of opening a new debate in the strategy in the way we fight drug trafficking. It is quite clear that after several years of this fight against drug trafficking, we have more drug consumption, drug use and drug trafficking. That means we are not moving in the right direction. Things are not working.”

Mexico has paid a high price for failure. As many as 60,000 people have died over the last six years in rising drug-related violence. Yet illicit drugs are getting cheaper, and thus more available, in the U.S. Explained Eduardo Porter in the New York Times, Mexican cartels bring in 95 percent of the cocaine sold on America’s streets, yet the retail price of one gram “is 74 percent cheaper than it was 30 years ago.”

Unfortunately, while Pena Nieto recognized that militarized drug prohibition has failed, he said he’s not talking about reducing enforcement activities—or returning to the Mexican government’s traditional corrupt truce with drug smugglers. Rather, “We will adjust the strategy so that we can focus on certain type of crimes, like kidnapping, homicide, extortion, which today, unfortunately, have worsened or increased, because we have a lot of impunity in some areas. The state’s task is to achieve more efficiency.” Toward that end, he proposed increased cooperation with Washington, just no joint armed operations.

Alas, greater efficiency is a fantasy. In the U.S. the federal, state, and local governments have spent decades futilely attempting to adjust, reform, fine tune, and otherwise improve drug enforcement policies. Pena Nieto said “We should set measurable objectives over a determined period of time,” but by almost every “measurable objective” the drug war in America has failed. Tens of millions of people have used drugs while millions of people have been imprisoned for using them. Corruption undermines the police and criminal justice systems, while igniting violent crime across the nation. All three branches of government have curtailed American liberties, creating essentially a “drug exception” to the Bill of Rights. All for naught.

There is good news, however. Opposition to drug prohibition is spreading around the world.

European governments long have proved willing to ignore U.S. pressure and go their own way. Britain, Netherlands, and Switzerland have experimented with various forms of legalization. Portugal most recently decriminalized all drug use. In a detailed study for the Cato Institute Glenn Greenwald concluded that “None of the parade of horrors that decriminalization opponents in Portugal predicted, and that decriminalization opponents around the world typically invoke, has come to pass.”

However, the newest front in the war on the war on drugs is in Latin America.

Vicente Fox, the first candidate of the more conservative, opposition National Action Party to win Mexico’s presidency, proposed decriminalizing personal use of cocaine, heroin, and pot. Virulent U.S. opposition—for American policymakers, everything is always about them—helped kill the measure. He argued earlier this year: “Prohibitions don’t work, and the last remaining frontier of prohibition is drug, and we should question ourselves why drugs.” He now advocates “legalization all the way—all drugs and in all places.”

In 2009 Mexico decriminalized personal possession of cocaine, heroine, LSD, and pot. The same year Argentina’s Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to punish people for personal use of marijuana. A Brazilian appellate court also ruled that possession for personal use was not illegal.

The same year the Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy denounced current policy as an expensive and deadly failure. Members Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Cesar Gaviria Trujillo, and Ernesto Zedillo, former presidents of Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico, respectively, took the public lead, advocating decriminalization of drug use. More recently Presidents Laura Chinchilla and Mauricio Funes of Costa Rica and El Salvador, respectively, urged reform of strict drug laws and discussion of legalization as an alternative, though Funes believes that the latter would “create a moral problem.”

Earlier this year Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina, an anti-communist general who campaigned against crime, said the drug war had failed and that “consumption and production should be legalized.” He added: “We’re bringing the issue up for debate.” He pushed the idea at a meeting of Central American leaders and at the April Summit of the Americas, attended by President Barack Obama.

In June Uruguay’s President Jose Mujica proposed legislation to legalize marijuana. The government would sell marijuana to citizens, with revenues used for drug treatment and rehabilitation. Roughly five percent of the population, about 150,000, is thought to smoke dope regularly. President Mujica explained: “We are doing this for the young people, because the traditional approach hasn’t worked.”

Defense minister Eleuterio Fernandez Huidobro announced the plan. He argued that the violence caused by prohibition is causing “more problems than the drugs themselves” and that financial “corruption is affecting Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala, on a greater scale, and now it is coming to Ecuador and Brazil. We don’t want our country to follow this route.” The legislation also calls on other nations to consider pot legalization.

In early July the Colombian government won approval from the Constitutional Court for a proposal, previously passed by the Chamber of Representatives, to decriminalize personal use of cocaine and marijuana. Anyone possessing less than 20 grams of pot or one gram of cocaine would be offered treatment. President Juan Manuel Santos argued that “One extreme can be to put all users in prison” while the other would be legalization; he sought to find “more practical policies” in between. Nevertheless, his objective was eliminating “the violent profit” of the drug trade and “If that means legalizing and the world thinks that’s the solution, I would welcome it.” Former president Gaviria Trujillo said “We cannot be condemned to live in war because Americans do not want to talk about it. No one speaks in favor of the war on drugs.”

There long have been leading commentators and economists—William F. Buckley and Milton Friedman, for instance—who have challenged the conventional wisdom in favor of drug prohibition. Now heads of state and government are pushing for a serious rethink. Noted Ethan Nadelmann of the Drug Policy Alliance: “there’s the beginning of change here. I don’t think it’s going to be possible to put this genie back in the bottle.”

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The Strenuous Life *

*This speech was spoken before the Hamilton Club, Chicago, April 10, 1899.

In speaking to you, men of the greatest city of the West, men of the State which gave to the country Lincoln and Grant, men who preëminently and distinctly embody all that is most American in the American character, I wish to preach, not the doctrine of ignoble ease, but the doctrine of the strenuous life, the life of toil and effort, of labor and strife; to preach that highest form of success which comes, not to the man who desires mere easy peace, but to the man who does not shrink from danger, from hardship, or from bitter toil, and who out of these wins the splendid ultimate triumph.

A life of slothful ease, a life of that peace which springs merely from lack either of desire or of power to strive after great things, is as little worthy of a nation as of an individual. I ask only that what every self-respecting American demands from himself and from his sons shall be demanded of the American nation as a whole. Who among you would teach your boys that ease, that peace, is to be the first consideration in their eyes-to be the ultimate goal after which they strive? You men of Chicago have made this city great, you men of Illinois have done your share, and more than your share, in making America great, because you neither preach nor practice such a doctrine. You work yourselves, and you bring up your sons to work. If you are rich and worth your salt, you will teach your sons that though they may have leisure, it is not to be spent in idleness; for wisely used leisure merely means that those who possess it, being free from the necessity of working for their livelihood, are all bound to carry on some kind of non-remunerative work in science, in letters, in art, in exploration, in historical research-work of this type we most need in this country, the successful carrying out of which reflects most honor upon the nation. We do not admire the man of timid peace. We admire the man who embodies victorious effort; the man who never wrongs his neighbor, who is prompt to help a friend, but who has those virile qualities necessary to win in the stern strife of actual life. It is hard to fail, but it is worse to never have tried to succeed. In this life we get nothing save by effort. Freedom from effort in the present merely means that there has been some stored up effort in the past. A man can be freed from the necessity of work only by the fact that he or his fathers before him have worked to good purpose. If the freedom thus purchased is used aright, and the man still does actual work, though of a different kind, whether as a writer or as a general, whether in the field of politics or in the field of exploration and adventure, he shows he deserves his good fortune. But if he treats this period of freedom from the need of actual labor as a period , not of preparation, but of mere enjoyment, even though perhaps not of the vicious enjoyment, he shows that he is simply a cumberer of the earth's surface, and he surely unfits himself to hold his own with his fellows if the need to do so should again arise. A mere life of ease is not in the end a very satisfactory life, and, above all, it is a life which ultimately unfits those who follow it for serious work in the world.

In the last analysis a healthy state can exist only when the men and women who make it up can lead clean, vigorous, healthy lives; when the children are so trained that they shall endeavor, not to shirk difficulties, but to overcome them; not to seek ease, but to know how to rest triumph from toil and risk. The man must be glad to do a man's work, to dare and endure and to labor; to keep himself, and those dependent on him. The woman must be the housewife, the helpmeet of the homemaker, the wise and fearless mother of many healthy children. In one of Daudet's powerful and melancholy books he speaks of "the fear of maternity, the haunting terror of the young wife of the present day." When such words can be truthfully written of a nation, that nation is rotten to the heart's core. When men fear work or fear of righteous war, when women fear motherhood, they tremble on the brink of doom; and well it is they should vanish from the earth, where they are fit subjects for the scorn of all men and women who are themselves strong and brave and high-minded.

As it is with the individual, so it is with the nation. It is a base untruth to say that happy is the nation that has no history. Thrice happy is the nation that has a glorious history. Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat. If in 1861 the men who loved the Union had believed that peace was the end of all things, and war and strife the worst of all things, and had acted upon their belief, we would have saved hundreds of thousands of lives, we would have saved hundreds of millions of dollars. Moreover, besides saving all the blood and treasure we then lavished, we would have prevented the heartbreak of many women, the dissolution of many homes, and we would have spared the country those months of doom and shame when it seemed as if our armies marched only to defeat. We could have avoided all this suffering simply by shrinking from strife. And if we had thus avoided it, we would have shown that we were weaklings, and that we were unfit to stand among the great nations of the earth. Thank God for the iron in the blood of our fathers, the men who upheld the wisdom of Lincoln, and bore the sword or rifle in the armies of Grant! Let us, the children of the men who proved themselves equal to the mighty days, let us, the children of the men who carried the great Civil War to a triumphant conclusion, praise the God of our fathers that the ignoble counsels of peace were rejected; that the suffering and loss, the blackness of sorrow and despair, were unflinchingly faced, and the years of strife endured; for in the end the slave was freed, the Union restored, and the mighty American republic placed once more as a helmeted queen among nations.

We of this generation do not have to face a task such as that our fathers faced, but we have our tasks, and woe to us if we fail to perform them! We cannot, if we would, play the part of China, and be content to rot by inches in ignoble ease within our borders, taking no interest in what goes on beyond them, sunk in scrambling commercialism; heedless of higher life, the life of aspiration, of toil and risk, busying ourselves only with the wants of our bodies for the day, until suddenly we should find, beyond a shadow of question, what China has already found, that in this world the nation that has trained itself into a career of unwarlike and isolated ease is bound, in the end, to go down before other nations which have not lost the manly and adventurous qualities. If we are to be a really great people, we must strive in good faith to play a great part in the world. We cannot avoid meeting great issues. All that we can determine for ourselves is whether we shall meet them well or ill. In 1898 we could not help being brought face to face with the problem of war with Spain. All we could decide was whether we should shrink like cowards from the contest, or enter into it as beseemed a brave and high-spirited people; and, once in, whether failure or success shall crown our banners. So it is now. We cannot avoid the responsibilities that confront us in Hawaii, Cuba, Porto Rico, and the Phillippines. All we can decide is whether we shall meet them in a way that will redound to the national credit, of whether we shall make of our dealings with these new problems a dark and shameful page in our history. To refuse to deal with them at all merely amounts to dealing with them badly. We have a given problem to solve. If we undertake the solution, there is, of course, always danger that we may not solve it aright; but to refuse to undertake the solution simply renders it certain that we cannot possibly solve it aright. The timid man, the lazy man, the man who distrusts his country, the over-civilized man, who has lost the great fighting, the masterful values, the ignorant man, and the man of dull mind, whose soul is incapable of feeling the mighty lift that thrills "stern men with empires in their brains"-all these, of course, shrink from seeing the nation undertake its new duties; shrink from seeing us build a navy and an army adequate to our needs; shrink from seeing us do our share of the world's work, by bringing order out of the chaos in the great, fair tropic islands from which the valor of our soldiers and sailors has driven the Spanish flag. These are the men who fear the strenuous life, who fear the only national life which is really worth leading. They believe in that cloistered life which saps the hearty virtues in a nation, as it saps them in the individual; or else they are wedded to that base spirit of grain and greed which recognizes commercialism the be-all and end-all of national life, instead of realizing that, though an indispensable element, it is, after all, but one of the many elements that go to make up true national greatness. No country can long endure if its foundations are not laid deep in the material prosperity which comes from thrift, from business energy and enterprise, from hard, unsparing efforts in the fields of industrial activity; but neither was any nation ever yet truly great if it relied upon material prosperity alone. All honor must be paid to the architects of our material prosperity, to the great captains of industry who have built our factories and our railroads, to the strong men who toil for wealth with brain or hand; for great is the debt of the nation to these and their kind. But our debt is yet greater to the men whose highest type is to be found in a statesman like Lincoln, a soldier like Grant. They showed by their lives that they recognized the law of work, the law of strife; they toiled to win a competence for themselves and those dependent upon them; but they recognized that there were yet other and even loftier duties - duties to the nation and duties to the race.

We cannot sit huddled within our own borders and avow ourselves merely an assemblage of well-to-do hucksters who care nothing for what happens beyond. Such a policy would defeat even its own end; for as the nations grow to have ever wider and wider interests, and are brought into closer and closer contact, if we are to hold our own in the struggle for naval and commercial supremacy, we must build up our power without our own borders. We must build the isthmian canal, and we must grasp the points of vantage which will enable us to have our say in deciding the destiny of the oceans of the East and the West.

So much for the commercial side. From the standpoint of international honor the argument is even stronger. The guns that thundered off Manila and Santiago left us echoes of glory, but they also left us a legacy of duty. If we drove out a mediaeval tyranny only to make room for savage anarchy, we had better not begun the task at all. It is worse than idle to say that we have no duty to perform, and can leave to their fates the islands we have conquered. Such a course would be a course of infamy. It would be followed at once by utter chaos in the wretched islands themselves. Some stronger, manlier power would have to step in and do the work, and we would have shown ourselves weaklings, unable to carry to successful completion the labors that great and high-spirited nations are eager to undertake.

The work must be done; we cannot escape our responsibility; and if we are worth our salt, we shall be glad of the chance to do the work - glad of the chance to show ourselves equal to one of the great tasks set modern civilization. But let us not deceive ourselves as to the importance of the task. Let us not be mislead by the vainglory into underestimating the strain it will put on our powers. Above all, let us, as we value our own self-respect, face the responsibilities with proper seriousness, courage and high resolve. We must demand the highest order of integrity and ability in our public men who are to grapple with these new problems. We must hold to a rigid accountability those public servants who show unfaithfulness to the interests of the nation or the inability to rise to the high level of the new demands upon our strength and our resources.

Of course we must remember not to judge any public servant by any one act, and especially should we beware of attacking the men who are merely the occasions and not the causes of disaster. Let me illustrate what I mean by the army and the navy. If twenty years ago we had gone to war, we should have the navy as absolutely unprepared as the army. At that time our ships could not have encountered with success the fleets of Spain any more than nowadays we can put untrained soldiers, no matter how brave, who are armed with archaic black-powder weapons, against well-drilled regulars armed with the highest type of modern repeating rifle. But in the early eighties the attention of the nation became directed to our naval deeds. Congress most wisely made a series of appropriations to build up a new navy, and under a succession of able and patriotic secretaries, of both political parties, the navy was gradually built up, until its material became equal to its splendid personnel, with the result that in the summer of 1898 it leaped to its proper place as one of the most brilliant and formidable fighting navies in the entire world. We rightly pay all honor to the men controlling the navy at the time it won these great deeds, honor to Secretary Long and Admiral Dewey, to the captains who handled the ships in action, to the daring lieutenants who braved death in the smaller craft, and to the heads of the bureaus at Washington who saw that the ships were so commanded, so armed, so equipped, so well engined, as to insure the best results. But let us also keep ever in mind that all of this would not have availed if it had not been for the wisdom of the men who during the preceding fifteen years had built up the navy. Keep in mind the secretaries of the navy during those years; keep in mind the senators and congressmen who by their votes gave the money necessary to build and to armor the ships, to construct the great guns, and to train the crews; remember also those who actually did build the ships, the armor, and the guns; and remember the admirals and captains who handled battle-ship, cruiser, and torpedo-boat on the high seas, alone and in squadrons, developing the seamanship, the gunnery, and the power of acting together, which their successors utilized so gloriously at Manila and off Santiago. And, gentleman, remember the converse, too. Remember that justice has two sides. Be just to those who built up the navy, and, for the sake of the future of the country, keep in mind those who opposed its building up. Read the "Congressional Record." Find out the senators and congressmen who opposed the grants for building the new ships; who opposed the purchase of armor, without which the ships were worthless; who opposed any adequate maintenance for the Navy Department, and strove to cut down the number of men necessary to man our fleets. The men who did these things were one and all working to bring disaster on the country. They have no share in the glory of Manila, in the honor of Santiago. They have no cause to feel proud of the valor of our sea-captains, of the renown of our flag. Their motives may or may not have been good, but their acts were heavily fraught with evil. They did ill for the national honor, and we won in spite of their sinister opposition.

Now, apply all this to our public men of to-day. Our army never has been built up as it should be built up. I shall not discuss with an audience this puerile suggestion that a nation of seventy millions of freemen is in danger of losing its liberties from the existence of an army of one hundred thousand men, three fourths of whom will be employed in foreign islands, in certain coast fortresses, and on Indian reservations. No man of good sense and stout heart can such a proposition seriously. If we are such weaklings as the proposition implies, then we are unworthy of freedom in any event. To no body of men in the United States is the country so much indebted as to the splendid officers and enlisted men of the regular army and navy. There is no body from which the country has less to fear, and none of which it should be prouder, none which it should be more anxious to upbuild.

Our army needs complete reorganization,-not merely enlarging,-and the reorganization can only come as a result of legislation. A proper general staff should be established, and the positions of ordnance, commissary, and quartermaster officers should be filled by detail from the line. Above all, the army must be given the chance to exercise in large bodies. Never again should we see, as we saw in the Spanish war, major-generals in command of divisions who had never before commanded three companies together in the field. Yet, incredible to relate, Congress has shown a queer inability to learn some of the lessons of war. There were large bodies of men in both branches who opposed the declaration of war, who opposed the ratification of peace, who opposed the upbuilding of the army, and who even opposed the purchase of the armor at a reasonable price for the battle-ships and cruisers, thereby putting an absolute stop to the building of any new fighting ships for the navy. If, during the years to come, any disaster should befall our arms, afloat or ashore, and thereby should shame the United States, remember the blame will lie upon the men whose names appear on the roll-calls of Congress on the wrong side of these great questions. On them will lie the burden of the loss of our soldiers and sailors, of any dishonor to the flag; and upon you and the people of this country will lie the blame if you do not repudiate, in no unmistakable way, what these men have done. The blame will not rest upon the untrained commander of the untried troops, upon the civil officers of a department the organization of which has been left utterly inadequate, or upon the admiral with an insufficient number of ships; but upon the public men who have so lamentably failed in forethought as to refuse to remedy these evils long in advance, and upon the nation that stands behind those public men.

So, at the present hour, no small share of the responsibility for the blood shed in the Philippines, the blood of our brothers, and the blood of their wild and ignorant foes, lies at the thresholds of those who so long delayed the adoption of the treaty of peace, and of those who by their worse than foolish words deliberately invited a savage people to plunge into a war fraught with sure disaster for them-a war, too, in which our own brave men who follow the flag must pay with their blood for the silly, mock humanitarianism of the prattlers who sit at home in peace.

The army and the navy are the sword and the shield which this nation must carry if she is to do her duty among the nations of the earth-if she is not to stand merely as the China of the western hemisphere. Our proper conduct towards the tropic islands we have wrested from Spain is merely the form of which our duty has taken at the moment. Of course we are bound to handle the affairs of our own household well. We must see that there is civic honesty, civic cleanliness, civic good sense in our home administration of the city, State, and nation. We must strive for honesty in office, for honesty towards the creditors of the nation and of the individual; for the widest freedom of the individual initiative where possible, and for the wisest control of individual initiative where it is hostile to the welfare of the many. But because we set our own household in order we are not thereby excused from playing our part in the great affairs of the world. A man's first duty is to his own home, but he is not thereby excused from doing his duty to the State; for if he fails in this second duty it is under the penalty of ceasing to be a free-man. In the same way, while a nations first duty in within its own borders, it is not thereby absolved from facing its duties in the world as a whole; and if it refuses to do so, it merely forfeits its right to struggle for a place among the peoples that shape the destiny of mankind.

In the West Indies and the Philippines alike was are confronted by most difficult problems. It is cowardly to shrink from solving them in the proper way; for solved they must be, if not by us, then by some stronger and more manful race. If we are too weak, too selfish, or too foolish to solve them, some bolder and abler people must undertake the solution. Personally, I am far too firm a believer in the greatness of my country and the power of my countrymen to admit for one moment that we shall ever be driven to the ignoble alternative.

The problems are different for the different islands. Porto Rico is not large enough to stand alone. We must govern it wisely and well, primarily in the interest of its own people. Cuba is, in my judgement, entitled ultimately to settle for itself whether it shall be an independent state or an integral portion of the mightiest of republics. But until order and stable liberty are secured, we must remain in the island to insure them, and infinite tact, judgement, moderation, and courage must be shown by our military and civil representatives in keeping the island pacified, in relentlessly stamping out brigandage, in protecting all alike, and yet in showing proper recognition to the men who have fought for Cuban liberty. The Philippines offer a yet graver problem. Their population includes half-caste and native Christians, warlike Moslems, and wild pagans. Many of their people are utterly unfit for self-government and show no signs of becoming fit. Others may in time become fit but at the present can only take part in self-government under a wise supervision, at once firm and beneficent. We have driven Spanish tyranny from the islands. If we now let it be replaced by savage anarchy, our work has been for harm and not for good. I have scant patience with those who fear to undertake the task of governing the Philippines, and who openly avow that they do fear to undertake it, or that they shrink from it because of the expense and trouble; but I have even scanter patience with those who make a pretense of humanitarianism to hide and cover their timidity, and who cant about "liberty" and the "consent of the governed," in order to excuse themselves for their unwillingness to play the part of men. Their doctrines, if carried out, would make it incumbent upon us to leave the Apaches of Arizona to work out their own salvation, and to decline to interfere in a single Indian reservation. Their doctrines condemn your forefathers and mine for ever having settled in these United States.

England's rule in India and Egypt has been of great benefit to England, for it has trained up generations of men accustomed to look at the larger and loftier side of public life. It has been of even greater benefit to India and Egypt. And finally, and most of all, it has advanced the cause of civilization. So, if we do our duty aright in the Philippines, we will add to that national renown which is the highest and finest part of national life, will greatly benefit the people of the Philippine Islands, and, above all, we will play our part well in the great work of uplifting mankind. But to do this work, keep ever in mind that we must show in a very high degree the qualities of courage, of honesty, and of good judgement. Resistance must be stamped out. The first and all-important work to be done is to establish the supremacy of our flag. We must put down armed resistance before we can accomplish anything else, and there should be no parleying, no faltering, in dealing with our foe. As for those in our own country who encourage the foe, we can afford contemptuously to disregard them; but it must be remembered that their utterances are not saved from being treasonable merely by the fact that they are despicable.

When once we have put down armed resistance, when once our rule is acknowledged, than an even more difficult task will begin, for then we must see to it that the islands are administered with absolute honesty and with good judgement. If we let the public service of the islands be turned into prey of the spoils of politician, we shall have begun to tread the path which Spain trod to her own destruction. We must send out there only good and able men, chosen for their fitness, and not because of their partizan service, and these men must not only administer impartial justice to the natives and serve their own government with honesty and fidelity, but show the utmost tact and firmness, remembering that, with such people as those with whom we are to deal, weakness is the greatest of crimes, and next to weakness comes lack of consideration for their principles and prejudices.

I preach to you, then, my countrymen, that our country calls not for the life of ease but for the life of strenuous endeavor. The twentieth century looms before us big with the fate of many nations. If we stand idly by, if we seek merely swollen, slothful ease and ignoble peace, if we shrink from the hard contests where men must win at the hazard of their lives and at the risk of all they hold dear, then the bolder and stronger peoples will pass us by, and will win for themselves the domination of the world. Let us therefore boldly face the life of strife, resolute to do our duty well and manfully; resolute to be both honest and brave, to serve high ideals, yet to use practical methods. Above all, let us shrink from no strife, through hard and dangerous endeavor, that we shall ultimately win the goal of true national greatness.




This document is a primary document because it is a speech. This speech was given in front of the Hamilton Club. The Hamilton Club is in Chicago. This speech was told on April 10, 1899. This speech is called, "The Strenuous Life." It was about going into war to help others. 

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W. Joseph Campbell

The Spanish-American War in 1898 was a brief conflict of sweeping consequence. In just 114 days, American forces operating in two theaters separated by thousands of miles destroyed two Spanish fleets, forced the surrender of a Spanish army in eastern Cuba, and compelled the capitulation of the Spanish garrison in Manila. These victories signaled an end to four centuries of Spanish colonial rule in the Western hemisphere and, more important, announced the rise of the United States as an unambiguous global power.

The war in many respects was infused by irony and defined by unexpected turns. The United States went to war in April 1898 to fulfill a moral and humanitarian imperative—that of ending the abuses created by Spain’s failed attempt to quell an island-wide rebellion in Cuba. While conditions there were the primary cause of the Spanish-American War, the conflict’s first and the last important military engagements were fought not in the Caribbean but in the distant Philippines. When the two-front war ended in August 1898, the United States had in effect become an imperial power, with new dependencies in the West Indies, Asia and the Pacific—an outcome wholly unanticipated four months before.

It was said to have been a “splendid little war.” But splendid scarcely characterized the war’s logistical dimensions, which were ineptly managed by American military and civilian leaders of uneven competence and limited planning ability. As a result, far more American servicemen died from tropical disease during the Spanish-American War than from battlefield wounds.

To an extent unmatched in other conflicts, American journalists figured prominently in the prelude to the Spanish-American War, in the war’s conduct, and in its aftermath. “Never, before or after, were correspondents so conspicuous for audacity and daring—and interference in matters not their business,” Charles Brown, a media historian, has perceptively written.1 The antics, exploits, and accomplishments of American correspondents offer a ready frame by which to consider the Spanish-American War. Some journalists—including William Randolph Hearst, the newspaper publisher and single most prominent figure in American journalism of the late 1890s—injected themselves into the story of the war in ways that would be regarded as unthinkable and unethical by professional standards of the early twenty-first century. The examples of their audacity and recklessness were many and included:

• Correspondents firing on Spanish forces: During the U.S. invasion of Cuba, at least two war correspondents—Richard Harding Davis and Edward Marshall—took up weapons and fired on Spanish soldiers.2 Davis, a reporter for the New York Herald, was perhaps the war’s most prominent correspondent. Marshall, who wrote for the New York Journal, was shot and severely wounded while firing at the Spanish.

• Correspondents collecting intelligence for the U.S. military: Some American journalists conducted low-level intelligence-gathering missions in Cuba for the U.S. military. Notable among them was the New York World’s flamboyant Sylvester Scovel, who made no secret about his several reconnaissance missions in Cuba for the American naval commander in the Caribbean, Admiral William T. Sampson.3 Scovel, one historian has written, seemed to feel it was as much his duty to collect information for the American military as it was to report for his newspaper.4

• Correspondents aboard press boats positioning themselves close to the war’s climatic naval battle off Santiago de Cuba in July 1898: Hearst, who steamed to Cuba aboard a lavish, converted fruit steamer he chartered, covered the smashing U.S. naval victory off Santiago, and took twenty-nine Spanish sailors prisoner.

• Correspondents capturing towns: During the U.S. invasion of Puerto Rico in the war’s later stages, correspondents sometimes found themselves ahead of advancing U.S. forces and in at least two cases, reported that towns had surrendered to them. The American journalists who figured in such “captures” were Davis and Stephen Crane, the author of The Red Badge of Courage who covered the Puerto Rico campaign for Hearst’s Journal.5

• Correspondents challenging senior army officers: In one of the most astonishing press-military encounters of any American war, Scovel of the New York World, berated and threw a punch at Major General William Rufus Shafter, the U.S. army commander, during a ceremony in July 1898 to accept the surrender of Spanish forces at Santiago de Cuba. Scovel was expelled from Cuba and dismissed by theWorld. He was later rehired, however. Shafter’s high-handed ways were exceedingly unpopular among U.S. correspondents.

• Correspondents participating in a prewar jailbreak: Six months before the Spanish-American War, Hearst’s New York Journal organized the successful jailbreak of a nineteen-year-old political prisoner, Evangelina Cossío y Cisneros. She was a Cuban imprisoned in Havana in a suspected conspiracy against the Spanish military. While some newspapers deplored the case of “jail-breaking journalism,”6 the Journalcelebrated the rescue as “the greatest journalistic coup of this age.”7 It claimed that Cisneros’ imprisonment was emblematic of Spain’s routine mistreatment of Cuban women, a theme that resonated powerfully in American public opinion. Tens of thousands of people turned out for receptions honoring Cisneros in New York City and Washington, DC.

While certainly startling, such episodes do not suggest that American correspondents were all frivolous or inclined to treat the war as farce or comic opera. Many correspondents reported earnestly, imaginatively, and well, often at considerable risk to their health and safety. Many of them fell ill with tropical diseases and three died from yellow fever or typhoid. Others suffered battlefield wounds.
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The DeLome Letter
The following letter is the controversial De Lome letter. The Spanish diplomat's letter was critical of U.S. President McKinley and the prospects for peace . It was leaked to the U.S. press, forcing the recall of the highly capable minister.

My Distinguished and Dear Friend: - You need not apologize for not having written to me; I also ought to have written to you, but have not done so on account of being weighed down with work and nous sommes quites.

The situation here continues unchanged. Everything depends on the political and military success in Cuba. The prologue of this second method of warfare will endthe day that the Colonial Cabinet shall be appointed , and it relieves us in the eyes of this country of a part of the responsibility for what happens there, and they must cast the responsibility upon the Cubans, whom they believe to be so immaculate.
Until then we will not be able to see clearly, and I consider it to be a loss of time and an advance by the wrong road - the sending of emissaries to the rebel field, the negotiations with the Autonomists not yet declared to be legally constituted, and the discovery of the intentions and purpose of this government. The exiles will return oneby one, and when they return, will come walking into the sheepfold, and the chiefs will gradually return. Neither of these had the courage to leave en masse, and they will not have the couragethus to return.
The message has undeceived the insurgents who expected something else, and has paralyzed the action of Congress, but I consider it bad.
Besides the natural and inevitable coarseness with which he repeats all that the press and public opinion of Spain has said of Weyler, it shows once more whatMcKinley is: weak and catering to the rabble, and, besides, a low politician, who desires to leave a door open to me and to stand well with the jingoes of his party.
Nevertheless, as a matter of fact, it will only depend on ourselves whether he proves bad and adverse to us. I agree entirely with you; without a military success nothing will be accomplished there, and without military and political success, there is here always danger that the insurgents will be encouraged, if not by the government, at least bypart of the public opinion.
I do not believe you pay enough attention to the role of England. Nearly all that newspaper canaille which swarms in your hotel are English, and at the same time are correspondents of the Journal, they are also correspondents of the best newspapers and reviews of England. Thus it has been since the beginning. To my mind the only object of England is that the Americans should occupy themselves with us and leave her in peace,and if there is a war, so much the better; that would further remove what is threatening her - although that will never happen.
It would be most important that you should agitate the question of commercial relations, even though it would be only for effect, and that you should send here a man of importance in order that I might use him to make a propaganda among the senators and others in opposition to the Junta and win over exiles.
There goes Amblard. I believe he comes deeply taken up with little political matters, and there must be something very great or we shall lose.
Adela returns your salutations, and we wish you in the new year to be a messenger of peace and take this New Year's present to poor Spain.
Always you attentive friend and servant, who kisses your hands.

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Primary Document#1

Primary Document#1 | Spanish American War and U.S. Imperialism |

The DeLome Letter

The following letter is the controversial De Lome letter. The Spanish diplomat's letter was critical of U.S. President McKinley and the prospects for peace . It was leaked to the U.S. press, forcing the recall of the highly capable minister. 

                                                   LEGATION DE ESPANA, WASHINGTON


My Distinguished and Dear Friend: - You need not apologize for not having written to me; I also ought  to have written to you, but have not done so on account of being weighed down with work and nous sommes quites.

The situation here continues unchanged. Everything depends on the political and military success in Cuba. The prologue of this second method of warfare will endthe day that the Colonial Cabinet shall be appointed , and it relieves us in the eyes of this country of a part of the responsibility for what happens there, and they  must cast the responsibility upon the Cubans, whom they believe to be so immaculate.

Until then we will not be able to see clearly, and I consider it to be a loss of time and an advance by the wrong road - the sending of emissaries to the rebel field, the negotiations with the Autonomists not yet declared to be legally constituted, and the discovery of the intentions and purpose of this government. The exiles will return oneby one, and when they return, will come walking into the sheepfold, and the chiefs will gradually return. Neither of these had the courage to leave en masse, and they will not have the couragethus to return.

The message has undeceived the insurgents who expected something else, and has paralyzed the action of Congress, but I consider it bad.

Besides the natural and inevitable coarseness with which he repeats all that the press and public opinion of Spain has said of Weyler, it shows once more whatMcKinley is: weak and catering to the rabble, and, besides, a low politician, who desires to leave a door open to me and to stand well with the jingoes of his party.

Nevertheless, as a matter of fact, it will only depend on ourselves whether he proves bad and adverse to us. I agree entirely with you; without a military success nothing will be accomplished there, and without military and political success, there is here always danger that the insurgents will be encouraged, if not by the government, at least bypart of the public opinion.

I do not believe you pay enough attention to the role of England. Nearly all that newspaper canaille which swarms in your hotel are English, and at the same time are correspondents of the Journal, they are also correspondents of the best newspapers and reviews of England. Thus it has been since the beginning. To my mind the only object of England is that the Americans should occupy  themselves with us and leave her in peace,and if there is a war, so much the better; that would further remove what is threatening her - although that will never happen.

It would be most important that you should agitate the question of commercial relations, even though it would be only for effect, and that you should send here a man of importance in order that I might use him to make a propaganda among the senators and others in opposition to the Junta and win over exiles.

There goes Amblard. I believe he comes deeply taken up with little political matters, and there must be something very great or we shall lose.

Adela returns your salutations, and we wish you in the new year to be a messenger of peace and take this New Year's present to poor Spain.

Always you attentive friend and servant, who kisses your hands.

                                            ENRIQUE DUPUY DE LOME


This is a primary document. This document is called the "De Lome Letter." This letter was written before the war. The man called our president "weak." It is supposed to be one of the "sparks" that caused the war to happen (WWI).

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