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About The commoner. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-1923 | View Entire Issue (April 19, 1901)
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Boutwell vs. flcKinley.
Hon. George S. Boutwell, Kx-Govcrnpr of
MnHHiiehuHettB, cx-cabinot officer, and for many
years a leader among eastern republicans, Was
one of the most active oppononls of imperial
ism during the oampaign of J 900. Defeat did
not reconcile him to the doctrine of empire,
neither did it silence him. The following in
dictment of the administration, reprinted from
the columns of the Philadelphia Timet), shows
that Governor Boutwell is more attached to the
principles of our government than to the party
of which he was for so long a time an honored
Is tlio administration of President McKinley
worthy of the,approval, or uoes It deserve the con
demnation ot the country?
As a political question, his administration 1ms
been approved, but it is open, and it must ever re
main open, for inquiry upon othlcal grounds. The
election of. November, 1900, ended the contest ovor
the presidqney, but it did not end the contest over
the war in the Philippine Islands, nor did it check
inquiry as to the wisdom of a public policy of
which that War is but a symptom.
How can a people organized as a nation be
come a world power, and how can a natiom con
tinue to be a world power? How is America to, be
come a world power? These are the questions that
l'avo been thrust upon the country by President
McKinley. It Is assumed by the questions that
previous to 1897 America did not have a rank as a
world power, and it may be assumed further, that
the president entered upon a policy which,, in,, his
opinion, would advance the country to that(i;ank.
The president is supported by bodies of rnen
who think his policy an erroneous policy, a dan
gerous policy, and who yet excuse him and tolerate
liim upon the ground that he is under bad influ
ences from which he may in time escape. They
who belittle the president and condemn liis policy
and yet siitfrnit themselves to his leadership,
knowing'V?a,t) his policy means the overthrow of
tlio repulil'iu;"and they who proclaim his greatness
and condemn' his policy whilo they continue to
tolerate it' and to give it support, are one and all
alike witnfsssfef'to his supremacy over them.
Do you expect me to auvancd a step and to
indicate, th'e tnotlvo under which the president is
acting? May there come a president with an over
leaping ambition who will not bo satisfied to seo
his name in the list and in rank with Polk and.
Pierce and Buchanan and Hayes? Even Johnson
may bo an historical personage when those whom
I have mentioned shall be neglected or shall have
been forgotten utterly.
The president who can seize a republic of a
crmtury of 75,000,000 strong, born to an inheritance
of freedom, of great principles in self-government,
illustrated by worthy examples, and can build an
empire on foundations so laid with possibilities
not attained by Rome nor possessed by Britain
will have gained a place in history as permanent
as that occupied by Washington, and such a presi
dent is already assured of the approval of no in
considerable portion of mankind.
If you press me for more definite answer to
the question, What motive? I ask you this ques
tion as my answor: What vision of the future led
.Napoleon to carry the eagles of franco under the
"burning suns of Egypt and amid the .wintry
storms of Russia" and concealed from his eye the
dismal outlopk from the mid-ocean island, of St.
An inquiry into the motives of tire president
may have more interest for-the historian -than for
If there is a cardinal principle in the idea and
in the organization' of a republic by .which it is
distinguishable from .a monarchy or an lempire it
must be found in this declaration: That .the. right
to govern is in the man, and that the power to
govern is not derivable from any other source
whatsoever. An organized republican government
must rest upon one or both of two conditions:
First, the assent of the people expressed volun
tarily and upon full opportunity, or, secondly, sub
missive assent to an existing form of government
when there is an opportunity for protest and re
sistance. It that can be shown to be true which
possibly is true, that no such government has ever
existed, the fact cannot justify a people, claiming
to be republicans, in a policy by which they pro
ceed to violate with deliberation and system, the
ideal in government, which is the only security for
the bettering of that which is.
It is an art of despotic governments, an art
essential to the existence of despotic governments,
that the facts on which public interests may cen
ter shall be subordinated to circumstances as they
When tlio presidential election was pending,
the country was assured that the life of the insur
rection in the Philippines was in the anti-imperialists
of America, and that the defeat of Mr.
Bryan would be followed in sixty days with sub
mission, peace and happiness in the islands. The
president made himself responsible for the first
part of the statement. In October votes for' Mr.
McKinley were needed.
When the sixty days were ending votes were
r.ceded for the army bill. Fortunately for the ad
ministration the condition of affairs in the islands
was favorable to the policy at Washington, and
Senator Sewell,' from the committee on military
'affairs, was able to say in January that the insur
rection had reached a height that it had not at
tained at anytime previous. To be sure, the pre
dictions of October had been falsified, the truth of
' the declaration' of peace which was made at the
opening of the fccw year had not been vindicated,
but destiny had 'come to the aid of the president,
and the reasons for the passage of the army bill
could no longer be resisted by any except those
who were prepared to disgrace the country by the
abandonment of a contest in which we were en
gaged. The army bill has been passed, but insur
rections are not suppressed by army bills unless
army bills are followed by recruits.
We commemorated the 19th of April, 1898, as
a day of freedom in the annals of America, an'l on
the 20th" we volunteered a tender of independence
and unqualified sovereignty to Cuba, whose free
dom from the dominion of Spain we had pro
claimed. In that pledge of freedom to Cuba the
president and the congress united, and with the
general approval of the American people. We are
now redeeming that pledge, and by what process?
We demand concessions that are inconsistent with
our pledge of independence and sovereignty.
If such a power of supervision and interven
tion existed in our congress over the states of
this union there would remain not even a shadow
of that sovereignty which was once claimed for
We announced a purpose to protect American
states against the injustice we are now to practice
on Cuba. The Monroe doctrine was designed to
protect American states from the injustice which
we are imposing upon an embryo state which is
powerless to defend itself. Thus does the admin
istration subvert a policy of freedom and sover
eignty in states into a policy by which strong
.States may tyrannize over the weaker ones upon
the pretext of aiding and defending them. And
thus is the administration struggling to become
a world power by alliances with the strong, as in
the case of- China, and by usurpations over the
weak, as in Hawaii, Porto Rico, Quba and the
. Let us -first of all perform our obligations to
Cuba in their, fullness, and then, by. negqtiatlons
with Cuba,0as a free, independent .and sovereign
state, wonm.y, secure every concession that Cuba
ought to nmftp or that we ought t,0j seek. To.en--
forced concession from Cuba can compensate tliai
American people for' 'the willful violation of tha
pledge of April, 1898. The purpose of the president'
is so well known that there can be no hope for tho
honor of America or for justice to Cuba if the con-
duct of tho measure shall be left in his hands.
The demand has been made in congress and In
tho country that the Philippines should be put
upon the basis of Cuba. If the terms named can
be imposed upon Cuba with the approval of con
gress and the consent of the country the president
may accept like terms for the Philippines. Thus,
upon the theory-of the president, the republic will
have been far advanced as a world power, and
thus the republic will have taken on, irretrievably,
taken on; all the characteristics of an empire.
I give the president credit for having contem
plated all this as the outcome of the policy that he
l& pursuing. Thus the steps by which the presi
dent seeks to advance the country to the rank of a
world power aid him in like degree in his ambition
to create an empire on the foundations of the re
public. The president has never faltered in his
purpose. We can now trace his policy step by step
from the 19th of April, when by the declaration of
war against Spain a way was opened for the exe
cution of the ambitious designs of the president.
We entered China as one of the world powers
for the protection of our minister. That purpose
was accomplished many months ago and yet we
remain. Why? The president says the integrity
of China ought not to be disturbed. .In like man
ner he has said that our pledge to Cuba is to be
kept. That pledge has been in his keeping, and
with what result? Why does the president retain
his hold upon Pekin? The answer must be this:
As a world power we were of the allies that
achieved the conquest of the city. If China is to be
divided why should not the United States as''a
world power and as one of the allies take a share
in the fruits of the conquest? By what authority
did the'president make war upon China; a nation,
with which we were at peace? Had he any pur- .
pose in view but the acquisition of more territory?
And now that our minister is secure, and when
the missionaries have had an opportunity to leave
the country, can the president have any other
motive for remaining at Pekin than greed of ter
ritory and lust for power?, A fragment of our
army Is to remain In Pekin, not to prevent a di
vision of the empire, but to' share in it, if division
shall become inevitable.
We have secured from England and Germany
exclusive jurisdiction of islands in the Sampan
group, -where we are engaged in keeping the peace
by the presence of a naval force.
Porto Rico has been annexed unconditionally.
In that island we have a civil government that
has been created by the order of the president.
In disregard of our pledge of freedom and sov
ereignty to Cuba we are imposing on that island
conditions of colonial vassalage.
The island of Guam has been made a penal
colony and one person, whose name has become
historical, has been deported by a military order
without a trial and without an opportunity for de
fence. Finally congress has given the president full
power to govern Cuba, Porto Rico and the Philip
pines and in none of these vast pos'sessions can the
people appeal either to the constitution or the laws
of the United States.
Has power more unlimited been exercised by
any despot in any age or country? We may not
as yet 'doubt the disposition of the country to do
what is right, but in these facts there is ground for
denying to President McKinley the purpose to do
what is right. The question is not as the president
, would have the country believe whether we can
conquer the Philippine Islands, the question is
.not whether we have power to make Cuba a vassal
slate, the question is, .this i ... Are we justified in the
attempt to do eithr,,, h