Page images

combination of like and unlike industries) was the form in which the business world answered the demand for a new method of coördinating business relations. The Standard Oil Company had been organized in 1870. Other businesses had followed this lead, and now, in the years that followed the 1893 holocaust, there was a vast increase in corporation development that culminated in the organization of the master corporation—the United States Steel Corporation—in 1901. The theory of the advantage of competition had been definitely abandoned. In its place was a new formula,—“Business men, unite!”

This change in the viewpoint of the industrial leaders coincided with their accession to a point of political ascendency. The years preceding 1893 had witnessed a bitter struggle between western farmers and eastern bankers. The Interstate Commerce Act of 1887, and the Sherman AntiTrust Law of 1890, were passed at the behest of the rural community which desired by these means to punish its exploiters, the railroads and the trusts. The Greenbackers, the Populists and the Free Silverites were the spokesmen of the same movement of independent countrymen against the money powers centered in the cities. The Spanish-American War, with its triumph for the imperial policy inaugurated under President McKinley, ended the hopes of those who had dreamed of continuing the Republic on the old individualistic basis laid down by Jefferson and his fellow statesmen. The acquisition of the Spanish possession ended American isolation and marked her as a coming world power.

Until about the year 1900 the United States was a borrowing nation. Great Britain, Belgium, France and even Germany could boast extended investments in American resources, railroads and industrial enterprises. Great Britain had more money invested in the United States than in any other single country in the world.

The end of the nineteenth century marked the end of the dependence of American industry upon foreign support. From that time forward the surplus produced in the United States was sufficient to take care of the internal needs of the country and to make a beginning in foreign investment fields. The end of the nineteenth century marked the end of American dependence upon foreign capital and the beginning of a policy which, by 1920, had placed the world in America's debt by something like sixteen or eighteen billions of dollars.

The Hawaiian "revolution" occurred in 1893. Hawaii was annexed to the United States in 1898.

The war with Spain occurred in 1898, involving the conquest of Porto Rico, Cuba and the Philippine Islands. Within two years a decision had been reached to retain Porto Rico and the Philippines and to release Cuba for an independent existence limited by the leading strings of the Platt Amend. ment.

When the Hawaiian revolution occurred in 1893 the American people were still strongly anti-imperialistic. When the United States Steel Corporation was organized in 1901 the United States had inaugurated a policy of acquiring "possessions” in tropical territory.

This change marked a departure from the traditions that had dominated American public life since the Civil War. Up to 1860, while American public policy was dictated from the South, the United States had followed an imperialistic course. The Southwest was secured by purchase from the French and by conquest from Mexico and from the Indians. There was strong talk of the annexation of Cuba and of other portions of the West Indies in which slavery could be perpetuated on a . paying basis. The triumph of the North in 1865 turned the energies of the United States into a new direction. Southern statesmen had been forced to look for new land on which to plant cotton and tobacco. The civilization of the North, built on the new industrial order, found in the mountains of the east and west vast stores of iron, copper, coal, oil and timber upon which to expend its surplus wealth. From 1865 to 1898 the business world was busy with the development of internal improvements. During the succeeding years, for the first time since the Civil War, American surplus was freed for foreign investment.

American bankers and business men were still busy with

internal improvements in 1893. By 1901 they had begun to turn their eyes abroad. The big business enterprises were still on a precarious foundation in 1893. In 1901 they expressed themselves in their most highly organized form in the United States Steel Corporation. The policy of the United States, still dictated by the rural districts in 1893, was based upon isolation and self-sufficiency. By 1901 the United States was already in possession of extensive tropical territories. During this period "individualism” was finally laid to rest and organized business took the center of the stage.

The anti-imperialists were vigorous in their opposition to this policy during the years that immediately preceded and followed the Spanish-American War. More than half a million of them were organized into a League, the stated object of which was "to aid in holding the United States true to the Principles of the Declaration of Independence. It seeks the preservation of the rights of the people as guaranteed to them by the Constitution. Its members hold self-government to be fundamental, and good government to be but incidental. It is its purpose to oppose by all proper means the extension of the sovereignty of the United States over subject peoples. It will contribute to the defeat of any candidate or party that stands for the forcible subjugation of any people.” (Declaration of Principles, 1899.)

The anti-Imperialist League held conferences in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Indianapolis, Boston and other large cities. An extensive pamphlet literature was published and circulated at these conferences and through the protest meetings that were being organized throughout the country, Imperialism was the burning issue and the forces that favored a continuance of the traditional policy of non-annexation of peoples and of territories that could not form an integral part of the United States were able to muster very large support and to command the interest of some of the ablest men then in the forefront of American public life.

Among the leaders in this anti-imperialist campaign was United States Senator R. F. Pettigrew of South Dakota, a pioneer in the wilderness of the Middle West. Elected as a Republican, Senator Pettigrew soon found himself out of harmony with the imperial policy of McKinley and the domination of the Republican Party by Mark Hanna. Senator Pettigrew fought the annexation of Hawaii from the time of the Hawaian Revolution of 1893 until annexation was made possible by the war hysteria of 1898. He opposed the conquest of the Philippines by American soldiers and insisted upon the right of self-determination for the inhabitants of these and other newly acquired possessions of the United States. He fought against imperial policy at home as vigorously as he fought against it abroad-knowing that an imperial class must establish its power at home in order to protect its international interests. He was equally emphatic in condemning the practice of imperialism by Great Britain in Ireland, in South Africa and in the other portions of her Empire. His speeches reiterate the dangers of imperialism to the United States and the necessity, if liberties are to be preserved, of adhering to the traditions that had dominated American public life for more than a century.

Senator Pettigrew brought the spirit of the pioneer West into the Senate Chamber and kept it there during twelve eventful years.

Although delivered at different times and under widely varying circumstances, Senator Pettigrew's speeches fall into three groups :—those that were concerned with the Hawaiian Islands, the Revolution and the struggle for annexation; those that were concerned with the conquest and annexation of the Philippines; and those that deal with the sturdy opposition of the West to the imperial policies of the Eastern banking and business syndicates. A pioneer in an unsettled country; a man of the people; an eager observer; an energetic reader; widely acquainted with men and events during the most eventful period of modern American history, Senator Pettigrew was able to build his speeches upon a broad foundation of fact and to put behind them an enthusiasm born of a profound faith in the integrity of American institutions.

Senator Pettigrew's speeches contain a wealth of data bearing upon a part of American history that is as yet little known and less understood. Men and women who are at a loss to grasp the significant changes that have recently come to the surface of American public life will find many of their questions answered by a careful study of the public events that transpired during the nineties.

Senator Pettigrew was intimate with public affairs at home during these years. He made a trip to the East, and in Hawaii, Japan and China saw the situation at first hand. He held up the record of previous experiments in imperialism and warned the American people to pause before it was too late. Like many other men who have foreseen events, he was vilified and denounced, called unpatriotic and disloyal, accused of being pro-Spanish and pro-Philippino. His counsel was not followed but his predictions already are coming true.

The period from 1901 to 1917 has been a period of harvest from the sowing of 1893-1901. Any one who will acquaint himself with the story of this period set down in the following pages as a running comment on imperial tendencies in the United States will have gone a long distance toward an understanding of the bewildering changes in American public events and policies during the past five years.


« PreviousContinue »