THE GREAT AMERICAN WRITER, MARK TWAIN had a great deal to say on imperialism in the Carribean. As a member of the Anti-Imperialist League, along with such notables as Jane Addams, William Jennings Bryan, Clarence S. Darrow, Andrew Carnegie, William James, David Starr Jordan and Samuel Gompers with George S. Boutwell, former secretary of the Treasury and Massachusetts, as its president, spoke vociferously against our adventurism in that arena.
Here is just one sample of his writings on the subject. It was published in the New York Herald on October 15, 1900. He was writing about the Phillipines, but it takes little imagination to substitute the name "Puerto Rico". I would go so far as to say with confidence that Twain would heartily endorse that exchange as it fits the context, the geography and the spirit of his words.
I left these shores, at Vancouver, a red-hot imperialist. I wanted the American eagle to go screaming into the Pacific. It seemed tiresome and tame for it to content itself with the Rockies.
Mark Twain on Imperialism
Why not spread its wings over the Phillippines, I asked myself? And I thought it would be a real good thing to do.
I said to myself, here are a people who have suffered for three centuries. We can make them as free as ourselves, give them a government and country of their own, put a miniature of the American constitution afloat in the Pacific, start a brand new republic to take its place among the free nations of the world. It seemed to me a great task to which had addressed ourselves.
But I have thought some more, since then, and I have read carefully the treaty of Paris, and I have seen that we do not intend to free, but to subjugate the people of the Phillippines. We have gone there to conquer, not to redeem. . .
It should, it seems to me, be our pleasure and duty to make those people free, and let them deal with their own domestic questions in their own way. And so I am an anti-imperialist. I am opposed to having the eagle put its talons on any other land.
- You may read more about the Anti-Imperialist League at: http://lcweb.loc.gov/rr/hispanic/1898/league.html