Remember the Maine, to Hell with Spain: America's 1898 Adventure in Imperialism (Studies in American History No. 55)

Remember the Maine, to Hell with Spain: America's 1898 Adventure in Imperialism (Studies in American History No. 55)

By: Robert B. Edgerton (author)Hardback

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This book describes and evaluates the turn-of-the century foray by the U.S. into imperialism. It describes our conflict with Spain over the sinking of the battleship USS Maine in Cuba followed by our invasion of the island and its seizure. Preface; Anthropology has relatively few practitioners who have investigated the conduct of colonial warfare by Western nations, leaving such studies to historians and political scientists for the most part. Robert Edgerton is notable exception. He has looked into military action such as Custer's campaign in the West, the Zulu Wars, and the Crimean War. He here extends the interests he has previously demonstrated by not only examining the conduct of American military action in the Caribbean and the Pacific, but also by considering American colonial policy as it emerged following the annexations in those areas. "Manifest Destiny" and "Remember the Maine" are catch phrases recognized by everyone who has passed through the American schools and read about the Spanish American war. Some have even been taught that there was substantial public debate about a U.S. entry into war with Spain, but few have learned anything about U.S. policy in territories gained during that war. Familiar with the Westward Expansion and the relatively quick extension of constitutional rights to American settlers in the new territories in North America, most Americans assume such policies are a part of American democracy everywhere. Most forget, or at least have never thought seriously about the systematic denial of rights to Native Americans and Alaskans, the discrimination and land grabs against Hawaiians, and the great difficulties of Black Americans in actually gaining the rights for which so much blood was spilled in the Civil War. Protests in Puerto Rico or Guam are reported from time to time, but do not lead to extensive debate in the American media. Generally speaking, most Americans seem to regard the gaining of independence in the Philippines or Cuba as the goal of regular outcome of all American colonial action. In reading these pages, one is truck by the relationship between the hubris that found expression in America's westward expansion and the drive for empire that emerged in the late nineteenth century. Both of these sentiments found enthusiastic popular support, and neither contained much concern for the peoples whose territories and societies were annexed. Popular sentiment did not contemplate anything beyond incorporation for new territories. Powerful voices were raised against expansionism and imperialism, but such sentiments were swept aside during the nineteenth century by the vision of a triumphant American democracy. That distant territories such as Alaska and Hawaii should become states in the Union was an appropriate outcome even during a time in the mid-twentieth century when great colonial powers were gradually releasing their hold on distant lands. In the present age of an apparent renewal of American imperial adventures it is salutary to examine an earlier era of pride in American achievement and widespread belief in the superiority of American life to that of others. Mistakes made by leaders were ignored, and glory extended to all Americans. The formal conduct of the campaign in Cuba was filled with errors, especially of logistics and protection of the health and well-being of the troops as many have pointed out. What has been less well covered is the plans, or perhaps one should say, lack of plans, for the aftermath of the conduct of hostilities. Edgerton makes this an important element of his discussion of Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines, and shows it to have been true in other holdings as well. It was not just in the execution of war, but also in the conduct of administration that America fell short of its own democratic ideals. For long periods after annexation in many areas, administration was in the hands of the military, and there was little thought given to some sort of extension of civil rights and local political participation. We can look to these examples of long-continued military rule, denial of local participation, disdain for culture patterns different from our own, and refusal to hear the voices of our own more far-seeing politicians, soldiers and social critics to provide us with a guide to the twenty first century. Many aspects of American democratic ideals, industrial development and commercial organization have been widely adopted in the world without any military action. American popular culture is emulated by the young globally. American corporations operate worldwide and music and film are pervasive. None of this required anything beyond the pursuit of excellence by Americans. Attempts to expand American social forms by the use of force, to introduce our own patterns of governance, and to maintain a physical presence solely by military occupation did not succeed in the nineteenth century, nor is it likely to succeed in the twenty first. Peoples' wars are not a new phenomenon, Napoleon experienced them in the Peninsular War, and they were not new then. We have seen dozens since the end of World War II, and we shall see them continue unless we learn the lessons that emerge in Edgerton's examination of our earlier forays into imperialism. There are other themes in American culture; themes that are widely admired, such as equal administration of justice, pride in hard work, tolerance for difference, and impatience with class privilege. To see these denied in our quest for our "manifest destiny" is to be reminded of what our destiny really is and of how we must value it in all times and places. Surely learning from past mistakes has been a vital part of the resiliency of American culture. Can a lesson be gained yet again, we must assuredly hope that it can.

About Author

Dr. Edgerton has been on the faculty of UCLA since 1962. His research spans a number of areas especially warfare. Dr. Edgerton has published books on African warfare, including The Warrior Women of Dahomey, the socalled "Amazons" as well as research on Japanese military history, the Crimean War, and the heroism of black American soldiers.

Contents

Preface; Acknowledgements; 1. Manifest Destiny: U.S. Imperialism; 2. Hawaii: Paradise Lost? Samoa: Paradise Gained 3. Cuba: Preparing for War; 4. War in Cuba and Puerto Ric; 5. "Goo-Goo Land" - The Philippine War; 6. The United States and Guam; 7. Puerto Rico - The World's Oldest Colony; 8. United States Rule Over the Philippines - 1898-1947; 9. Cuba: A Precious Jewel Gone Astray; Epilogue The Destiny of Manifest Destiny; References; Index

Product Details

  • ISBN13: 9780773462663
  • Format: Hardback
  • Number Of Pages: 235
  • ID: 9780773462663
  • ISBN10: 077346266X

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