“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.
“Why not spread its wings over the Philippines, 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 we 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 Philippines. 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 be surprised to learn that leading businessmen who had substantial investments in Cuba stood with President McKinley in opposition to the war. However, once it began, they supported its quick and decisive end. The truth is that America's ideology has always borne a close relationship to its economy. It is not a matter of conspiracy so much as a matter of free men and women pursuing their own interests. Others frequently fail to recognize the prominence of the work ethic in America's psyche and often mistake it for greed and avarice. After all, most of the wealthy in other countries either inherited or stole their riches.
Ultimately, America did not wage war against Spain in 1898 to replace Spanish domination with its own. It fought to free Cuba and lay the foundations of freedom and democracy by which the Island and its people and their American partners could become prosperous. The proof is in the history of the period of American paternalism that followed the Spanish-American War.
Unfortunately, most Cubans rejected these opportunities. Those that didn't were forced to emigrate to America.