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Toolbox Library, primary resources thematically organized with notes and discussion questionsOnline Seminars, professional development seminars for history and literature teachersThe Gilded and the Gritty: America, 1870-1912
The Gilded and the Gritty: America, 1870-1912
Topic: MemoryTopic: ProgressTopic: PeopleTopic: PowerTopic: Empire
Topic: Empire: Manifest Destiny and Beyond
Toolbox Overview: The Gilded and the Gritty: America, 1870-1912
Resource Menu: Empire
Text 1. Frederick Jackson Turner, The Significance of the Frontier in American History
Text 2. Stephen Crane, The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky
Text 3. The Future of the Red Man
Text 4. William F. Cody and John M. Burke, Buffalo Bill's Wild West and Congress of Rough Riders of the World
Text 5. The New Frontier, Albert Beveridge and William Jennings Bryan
Text 6. Theodore Roosevelt, The Strenuous Life
Text 7. The White Man's Burden
Text 8. Mark Twain, To the Person Sitting in Darkness, The Dervish and the Offensive Stranger
Text 9. Aguinaldo's Case Against the United States
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Text 10. Two Wars, Memorial Day, The Twelve-Inch Gun

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Reading Guide
Aguinaldo, ca. 1900
Aguinaldo, ca. 1900
"Aguinaldo's Case Against the United States. By a Filipino," North American Review, September 1899, excerpts

In addition to presenting American voices in the debate over global expansion, we include the appeal of the Filipino revolutionary leader, Emilio Aguinaldo, as published in an American magazine during the Philippine-American War (1899-1902). Soon after the U.S. declared war on Spain in April 1898, the U.S. navy attacked the Philippines and defeated the Spanish fleet at Manila Bay. At first Aguinaldo, whose rebel army had been fighting the Spanish for two years, allied with the U.S. in defeating the Spanish, hoping the U.S. would support the independence of the Philippine republic that he had declared in 1898. But it soon became apparent that the U.S. intended to keep the Philippines as a colony and, in early 1899, the conflict erupted into full war between the U.S. army and Aguinaldo's army. Two years later Aguinaldo was captured. He agreed to swear allegiance to the U.S., and the war was effectively over. In July 1902 the U.S. declared an official end to the war. (In 1946 the U.S. granted independence to the Philippines.)

In September 1899, as intense jungle fighting continued in the Filipino-controlled areas, Aguinaldo published two appeals to Americans. One was a pamphlet entitled A True Narrative of the Philippine Revolution addressed "To All Civilized Nations and Especially to the Great North American Republic," in which he accuses the U.S. of manipulating the Filipino leaders into a false hope of independence. The second was this article published in the North American Review, in which he challenges Americans to consider the Philippine struggle as equivalent to the American Revolution—with the same ideals of freedom and republican government that the U.S. was violating in its foreign policy, he argues. He also warns the U.S. that it is "falling into the pit you have dug for yourselves," and that the American public—even its president—is being misled about the true course of the war. A strong piece to pair with the essays in this section by Mark Twain (a member of the short-lived Anti-Imperialist League), and to introduce students to an oft-neglected war in U.S. history. 4 pages.

Discussion questions
  1. How does Aguinaldo frame his appeal to urge sympathetic Americans to action?
  2. How does he catch the attention of pro-imperialist Americans to offer them cogent arguments?
  3. Consider how pro-imperialists such as Beveridge, Roosevelt, and Kipling would have responded to Aguinaldo's reasoning. How would they have refuted his pairing of the American and Philippine revolutions?
  4. Why does Aguinaldo not address the trade and economic aspects of U.S. policy in the Philippines?
  5. Is Aguinaldo's appeal effective? Who is his ultimate audience, do you think?

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Topic Framing Questions
  •  How was the West incorporated into the nation?
  •  How did Americans respond to the nation's changing role in world affairs at this time?
  •  How did issues and concerns at home shape American policies and actions abroad?
  •  How did America project its power beyond its own borders?

Toolbox: The Gilded and the Gritty: America, 1870-1912
Memory | Progress | People | Power | Empire

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