Who Is Jane Addams's Argument For American Imperialism?
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From the traditional masculine point of view, Manifest Destiny provides a strong argument for American imperialism. Quoting John O’Sullivan, as “the great nature of futurity,” United States for many imperialists had a fundamental duty to help heathen countries reach “the star-studded heavens,” and if expansion could further result in free trade and markets, all the better . The bloody conflicts peppered throughout this path of enlightenment – the Spanish-American war, the Philippine-American war, the Boxer Rebellion – were but small hiccups to this fundamental goal, committed by racial inferiors not yet aware of the beauties of democracy.
Yet to progressive reformers such as Jane Addams, Manifest Destiny meant something different. Coming…show more content… Indeed, in her speech critiquing America’s “civilizing mission,” fittingly made during the Universal Peace Congress in 1904, she stated, “Perhaps we [as Americans] shall be able, through our very confidence, to nourish [people of a different color] into another type of government, not Anglo-Saxon even.” A close reading of this sentence alone yields numerous telling conclusions about Addams’s views towards expansionism and imperialism. Addams’s use of the word nourish, for instance, hinted at Addams’s desire for America to continue influencing other races for the better, as a gentle mother might to a budding child. Note, however, that Addams did not argue to militaristically fight a “splendid little war” in order to gain control of foreign territories such as the Philippines, as male Secretary of State John Hay did. Rather, thanks to her perspective as a woman in a patriarchal society, Addams realized that although invading a foreign land with guns blazing and pocketbooks flashing involved thorny moral issues of self-interest, allowing other nations to develop democracy by themselves with only subtle assistance from the United States raised fewer moral questions. Ahead of her time, Addams in this speech essentially codified an early version of self-determinism, a right that Wilson would repeatedly advocate for after World War I demonstrated the dangers of