≡ Menu

Quotation of the Day…

… is from pages 183-184 of Arthur Ekirch’s 1974 volume, Progressivism in America:

The anti-imperialist movement [in the late 19th and early 20th centuries], though never well-organized outside Boston and a few other large cities, included some of the most distinguished statesmen and men of letters in America.  William Dean Howells, Mark Twain, William Vaughn Moody, and Thomas Bailey Aldrich all opposed colonial expansion, while Samuel Bowles, Edwin L. Godkin, and Finley Peter Dunne were important journalistic critics.  In the Democratic party eight members of Cleveland’s Cabinet, including the former President and his Secretary of State Richard Olney, were ranged against imperialism.  Among Republicans it was mostly the liberal reform element of elder statesmen carrying on the old antislavery traditions who protested against McKinley’s annexationist policies.  Typical of this group was Carl Schurz, one of the German forty-eighters, who denied the imperialist argument that the United States had a mission to serve those outside its own boundaries.  He recognized that America naturally desired to advance its own principles of government, but he believed that if his adopted country assumed a universal responsibility for the progress of civilization, American democracy itself would break down….

The anti-imperialists, frequently dismissed as unrealistic idealists, out of step with the direction of world politics in the twentieth century, were actually often quite discerning in their awareness of the affinity between Progressivist and imperialist ideologies.