2009-10-17

19th Century American Anti-Imperialism

In 1892, the monarchy under Queen Liliuokalani in Hawaii was overthrown by American businessmen. The revolutionaries (although for less romantic reasons I'm sure) soon established the Republic of Hawaii in 1894. By 1897, both Houses of Congress had approved a resolution calling for the annexation of Hawaii. One year later sovereign power was transferred to the United States and two years after that in 1900, Hawaii became a territory and as a result its all Hawaiians became U.S. citizens. It officially became a state in 1959 - lucky for Magnum P.I.

However, not all politicians were in favor of annexing Hawaii. President Grover Cleveland (America's 22nd and 24th Democratic President) believed this to be an imperialist enterprise. His anti-expansionist stance made him unpopular against the internationalist policies of the Republicans under Benjamin Harrison and William McKinley.

Here's a quote from his speech to Congress opposing the annexation:

[...] I mistake the American people if they favor the odious doctrine that there is no such thing as international mortality; that there is one law for a strong nation and another for a weak one, and that even by indirection a strong power may with impunity despoil a weak one of its territory [...]

[...] The considerations that international law is without a court for its enforcement and that obedience to its commands practically depends on good faith instead of upon the mandate of a superiour tribunal only give additional sanction to the law itself and brand any deliberate infraction of it not merely as a wrong but as a disgrace. A man of true honor protects the unwritten word which binds his conscience more scrupulously, if possible, than he does the bond a breach of which subjects him to legal liabilities, and the United States, in aiming to maintain itself as one of the most enlightened nations, would do its citizens gross injustice if it applied to its international relations any other than a high standrd of honor and morality.

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