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millions of Filipinos are entitled to be free from every government except their own choice . . . They are intelligent enough to decide for themselves.”
Even if this picture is too optimistic, if disorder and confusion should follow the first attainment of their liberty, this is no more than usually happens when a new nation is launched, no more than happened in our own case. And, after all, it is not for us to judge what is best for them; it is their own right to decide.
At the very outset of our rule, President McKinley announced that we came as "a liberating rather than a conquering nation.” “The Philippines are ours, not to exploit, but to develop, to civilize, to educate, to train in the science of self-government. This is the path of duty which we must follow or be recreant to a mighty trust committed to us."
President Roosevelt declared that the honor of the United States was pledged to the doctrine of "the Philippines for the Filipinos," and caused many steps to be taken during his administration increasing the measure of self-government accorded to them.
President Taft, who had been Governor General of the Philippines, and knew the situation intimately, espoused the same policy: “The Filipino people, through their officials, are making real steps in the direction of self-government. I hope and believe that these steps mark the beginning of a course which will continue until the Filipinos become fit to decide for themselves whether they desire to be an independent nation."
In recognition of this long-proclaimed principle of Americanism, Congress in 1914 pledged the United States "to withdraw their sovereignty over the Philippine Islands and to recognize their independence as soon as a stable government can be established therein.” President Wilson later declared, “We must hold steadily in view their ultimate independence, and we must move toward the time of that independence as steadily as the way can be cleared and the foundations thoughtfully and permanently reared.”
When this is finally accomplished, it will be another rebuke to our cynical critics in the Old World, who have distrusted the sincerity of our promises, and a relief to those South or Central American republics that fear the growth of an imperialistic policy in this country. That fear is not without justification, in view of the high-handed methods that our officials have sometimes used, in Santo Domingo and Haiti, in Nicaragua and other neighboring republics. But, however autocratic our officials may at times be, and however unjust some individual act, there can be no possible doubt that Americans will loyally maintain in every case their right to national independence.
It may, indeed, be asked why, believing as we do in self-determination, the North refused to the South the right to secede, in 1860. And at once we must admit that the ideal of Liberty often conflicts with that other great ideal of Union which we shall presently discuss. At this point we may be content to point out that North and South were essentially one people, one in language and political experience, in essential traditions and beliefs—except for the issue of slavery—as well as in race. The case was very
different from that of an alien race in far-off islands, or even from that of the democratic American colonists and their monarchical rulers across the ocean. The advantages of union and disadvantages of separation were immeasurably greater. And further, the case was heavily complicated by the fact that the South wanted secession in order to perpetuate slavery. That is, the ideal of Liberty itself fought against them. The present complete and happy reunion of North and South and the eminence that the united nation has attained, purged of sectionalism and of slavery, testifies that although both sides fought for genuine ideals, the ideal of the North was the higher.
Our nation will tolerate no disintegration of its own unity. But it will maintain, to the last drop of its blood, its right to its own national liberty. And it will maintain an equal liberty as the birthright of every other people, the weakest as well as the strongest, yellow, black and brown as well as white.
The Declaration of Independence.
these reprinted in Foerster and Pierson, op. cit.) Woodrow Wilson, Address to the Senate, Jan. 22, 1917. (Re
printed in Why We are at War, and in Foerster and
Pierson, p. 233.) F. M. Gregg, The Founding of a Nation. L. R. Heller, ed., Early American Orations. P. M. Brown, International Realities, Chap. II. M. M. Kalaw, Self-Government in the Philippines. F. N. Thorpe, History of the American People, Chapters
XIV-XV. R. L. Ashley, The American Federal State, Part I. M. C. Tyler, The Declaration of Independence in the Light of
Modern Criticism, North American Review, vol. 163, p. 1.
(Reprinted in Fulton, op. cit., p. 158.) H. Fielding-Hall, in Atlantic Monthly, vol. III, p. 577. Bernard Moses, in Atlantic Monthly, vol. III, p. 585. G. F. Barbour, in International Journal of Ethics, vol. 24, p. 1.
THE liberty of a nation, as a nation, to choose its own rulers and policies is a precious right. But the absence of such independence does not necessarily mean any loss save a sentimental one to the people thereof. A colony governed by a wise mother-country may well have more security and attain a higher civilization than would have been possible if it had stood on its own feet. Indeed, where agitation arises for political independence it is usually because of violations of the civil liberties of the people. So it was in the case of America.
The civil rights which were more or less explicitly asserted by the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution include: (1) Liberty of person. No one to be deprived of
life or freedom of movement except by due process of law. No one to be made a slave or serf. No one to be arrested or imprisoned
without a warrant. (2) Security of property. No one to be deprived
of anything that he owns except by due process
of law. (3) Freedom of belief and worship, of speech, and
of the printed word. (4) Freedom from needless restrictions and tyran
nies by the law, even when approved by the majority. Personal affairs to be interfered with only in so far as is necessary for the
common good. (5) Freedom from a tyrannical public opinion. No
one to be persecuted or ostracized because he acts or lives in a different way from that ap
proved by the majority. No people, perhaps, have ever been so sensitive to encroachments upon personal liberty as ours. This passionate libertarianism had one of its roots in the Calvinism of the Puritans. According to that highly individualistic faith, every man was directly responsible to God; the State had no authority over him comparable to that of his creed and conscience. Another root was the sturdy self-reliance fostered by pioneer life. An unusual number of men in this country have been “self-made” men, men who carved their own fortunes and asked nothing better than to be left free to do so. Still another source lay in the past experience of the early settlers, and indeed of many later immigrants, which made them distrust all government as being naturally tyrannical. The fear lest the republican form of government which they set up would be captured by ambitious men and usurp too great power lies behind many of the clauses of the Constitution and persisted long as a bugaboo in the thought of American statesmen. Emerson expressed this ideal and this fear in his well-known lines,
"For what avail the plough or sail
The glaring inconsistency in a people that sing of their country as the "sweet land of liberty” was, of course, the toleration of negro slavery. Almost every. one took for granted the rightfulness of this longestablished institution, Christian ministers as well as