The interventions of America
brought freedom, peace, and Christian temperament,
as savage masters cried their last hurrah.
And this was followed by self-government.
Americans (the men) were thus defined in Nineteen-One:
a Protestant Republican, three children and a son
or daughter dying young, an income higher than a Brit,
a quart of beer per day, tobacco habit. Women fit
a different profile, moral, resolute, with half the pay.
The "Gilded Age" and economic progress would dismay
the socialists and "scientists" who felt we needed change.
With Christian Scientists, Jehovah's Witnesses, and strange
religious cults, prosperity was always under fire.
But Liberty, for most of us, was crucial. To acquire
more land to share our special blessings seemed a human right
to offer all the world. As in Hawaii, where in spite
of islander desire to join us and a lawless queen
our nation stood for liberty, and served as go-between
when Japanese expansion posed a threat. And Cuba, too:
humanitarian appeals inspired us to pursue
the proper course for Cubans hoping for release from Spain.
The "yellow press" of Pulitzer, the famous Hearst refrain
"you furnish pictures, I the war," and military need
aroused McKinley, and The Maine would intercede
in bold support of Cuban independence. But The Maine
exploded -- indications were that treachery by Spain
was cause. "Remember," Dewey said, "The Maine!" The valiant charge
up San Juan Hill by Teddy's men (Rough Riders) came up large
in history as Spanish and Americans waged war,
and black and white and North and South, as rarely seen before,
would fight together in their duty as Americans.
And with the victory, our function as custodians
was clear. McKinley said about the Philippines:
"unfit" to govern by themselves, to educate them means
"uplift and civilize and Christianize." And so control
was wrested from the European powers, though the whole
affair was hindered by the Populists and those who cried
"imperial intentions!" Certainly, when satisfied
that peace would last, the Philippines and other lands returned
to self-dominion. When the war was won, McKinley earned
another term, but then before his pledged "full dinner pail"
was realized, America would once again bewail
assassination of a leader. Teddy Roosevelt took
control. "Square deal," this man, but never going by the book,
a "brilliant madman," ally of the poor and the oppressed,
but never understanding corporations, too obsessed
with "busting trusts" to see that business serves the common good.
An interventionist -- though never feeling brotherhood
with "savages" in other lands -- he talked of wielding "sticks"
while speaking softly. Second term, and Teddy's politics
improved on business issues. In the end, in Panama,
the much-desired canal was Teddy Roosevelt's last hurrah,
Colombia and Europeans seeking to compete,
America accomplishing the engineering feat.