Mark Twain, Returning Home, an article in New York
You ask me about what is called imperialism. Well, I have formed views about that
question. I am unsure if our people are for or against spreading themselves over the
face of the globe. I should be sorry if they are for it, for I don’t think that it is wise
or a necessary development. We have no more business in… any other country that
is not ours. There is the case of the Philippines. I have tried hard, and yet I cannot
for the life of me comprehend how we got into that mess. Perhaps we could not
have avoided it –perhaps it was inevitable that we should come to be fighting the
natives of those islands –but
I cannot understand it, and have never been able to get at the bottom of the origin
of our resentment toward the natives. I thought we should
act as their protector –not try to get them under our control. We were to relieve
them from Spanish rule to enable them to set up a government of their own, and we
were to stand by and see that it got a fair trial. It was not to be a government
according to our ideas, but a government that represented the feeling of the
majority of the Filipinos, a government according to Filipino ideas. That would
have been a worthy mission for the United States. But now –why, we have
got into a mess, a quagmire from which each fresh step renders the difficulty of
getting out immensely greater.
1)Is Mark Twain for or against Imperialism? Why?
2) What are two aspects of U.S. Imperialism that Twain disagrees with?
3) Does Twain think that the United States acting as a “protector” of certain
nations is acceptable? Cite specific evidence from the text.
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