In an article called “Minding Our Own Business,” Steve Bonta quotes a speech given in 1898 by Representative Richard P. Bland, a Democrat from Missouri, during the congressional fight over the annexation of Hawaii. Bland said that those promoting the American empire,
“boldly assert on this floor that Hawaii is necessary to us in our new policy. This new policy is defined as being the permanent occupation of the Philippine Islands, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and whatever other territory we may conquer during this war, and more still, they tell us that we must make alliances with England and Japan to the end that we may participate in carving up and parceling out the Chinese Empire…. Such a policy as this is intended and is urged by its promoters for the purpose of building up in this country a centralized power of wealth with big standing armies and navies to protect this plutocratic control…. You are on the road to imperialism, with a large Navy and standing armies and oppressive taxation and adopting a military government instead of republican institutions and constitutional liberty.”
Bonta says that Republican James F. Stewart of New Jersey answered:
“The silly argument of national isolation, the outgrowth of fear and timidity, is lame and impotent…. Every nation must at all times be prepared to protect its citizens and interests abroad, and in order to do this we must have mid-stations as bases of supply and resort, in order that our just resentment against foreign nations may be sure and certain of management and control…. Gentlemen on the other side, with tearful solicitude for our Constitution, and knowing our tender regard for that majestic instrument, interpose it as a bar…. Our country has arisen from lusty youth to vigorous manhood. We must share the responsibilities as well as the blessings of modern civilization. We must participate in the world’s destiny.”
What are life, liberty, property, peace and reason worth against such claptrap?