President McKinley gives hims reasons for the U.S. to keep the Philippines


President William McKinley had been in a quandry for some time as to what to do with the Philippines. The issue preyed strongly on McKinley, a very religious man. Finally, as a visiting delegation of the General Missionary Committee of the Methodist Episcopal Church was about to leave his presence, the president called them back and explained his reasons for deciding to retain the Philippines. His reason for revealing this explanation to this particular group was apparently because it showed how his faith had guided him in the decision.

McKinley's Explanation:

"Hold a moment longer! Not quite yet, gentlemen! Before you go I would like to say just a word about the Philippine business.... The truth is I didn't want the Philippines, and when they came to us as a gift from the gods, I did not know what to do with them.... I sought counsel from all sides - Democrats as well as Republicans - but got little help. I thought first we would take only Manila; then Luzon; then other islands, perhaps, also.  I walked the floor of the White House night after night until midnight; and I am not ashamed to tell you, gentlemen, that I went down on my knees and prayed Almighty God for light and guidance more than one night."

"And one night late it came to me this way - I don't know how it was, but it came: (1) That we could not give them back to Spain - that would be cowardly and dishonorable; (2) that we could not turn them over to France or Germany - our commercial rivals in the Orient - that would be bad business and discreditable; (3) that we could not leave them to themselves - they were unfit for self-government - and they would soon have anarchy and misrule over there worse than Spain's was; and (4) that there was nothing left for us to do but to take them all, and to educate the Filipinos, and uplift and civilize and Christianize them, and by God's grace do the very best we could by them, as our fellow men for whom Christ also died.  And then I went to bed and went to sleep and slept soundly."


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Millis, Walter, The Martial Spirit. (Cambridge: The Riverside Press, 1931) 383-384.

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