The US and the Philippines

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Why does Bryan say "we dare not educate" Filipinos?  

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William Jennings Bryan was a strong anti-imperialist and an outspoken critic of the Spanish-American War. When he stated that "we dare not educate" Filipinos, he was being sarcastic in that the United States should not give the Filipinos American values. Bryan pointed out that the United States started off as...

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William Jennings Bryan was a strong anti-imperialist and an outspoken critic of the Spanish-American War. When he stated that "we dare not educate" Filipinos, he was being sarcastic in that the United States should not give the Filipinos American values. Bryan pointed out that the United States started off as a colony and it resisted rule by an aloof government that did not represent its interests. Bryan claimed that the United States would govern the Philippines without caring about the people who actually lived there. If the Filipinos were exposed to the history of the United States and its Declaration of Independence and Constitution, then the Filipinos might also agitate for self-government. Bryan's statement was meant as a criticism of American imperialism. This imperialism was already present before Bryan's statement, as American plantation owners had already overthrown a legitimate government in Hawaii. Bryan's argument was not popular with the government at the time who saw imperialism as a way to secure more markets and to promote American values even if the people who lived in these areas did not want their territories owned by the United States.

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In 1900, William Jennings Bryan received the Democratic nomination for president. In his acceptance speech, he rejected imperialistic foreign policy. While discussing the Philippines, he satirically stated that "we dare not educate" the Filipinos. He was not degrading the Filipinos, as this quotation might suggest, but actually arguing for their self-determination.

One imperialistic argument for maintaining an American presence in the Philippines was that the Americans could bring them better education. Bryan snarkily replied that the Americans had better not educate the Filipinos, because they might accidentally teach them about the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Learning about these American founding documents, Bryan attested, would show the Filipinos that the Americans were hypocrites for resisting England's colonialism in the 18th century, but imposing the same imperialistic system upon the Philippines in the 20th. In this way, Bryan was warning the Americans not to act like the British had prior to the Revolutionary War.

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