By David Mayers
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Extra info for Wars and Peace: The Future Americans Envisioned, 1861-1991
Not so Mark Twain. His was a grand readership. After his triumphal homecoming from Europe in 1900, he threw Splendid Little War • 33 himself into the anti-imperial crusade, taking upon himself the cause of victimized Africa (especially Belgium’s Congo) and Asia. When the United States sought through the Philippines to join the colonial club—becoming “kin in sin” said Twain—he attacked his own, giving his name as a vice president to the Anti-Imperialist League. 26 Twain excoriated in speeches and articles the suppression of the Philippines as an unjust war; it amounted to a robbing expedition.
The dilemma resided in this obvious logic: mutually exclusive claims could not be equally legitimated. Despite Radical efforts, racial justice was subsequently sacrificed to national unity. Deplorable conditions of black life in the South (and elsewhere) festered for decades until a revitalized civil rights movement began after World War II to redress the inequities. These appreciations raise the harrowing question of whether Union victory justified the cost. Only in the long view of history can the answer be unambiguously yes.
29 Hoar believed in common with James and Twain that the chief danger was that the United States was taking the road to perdition and would be transformed from a liberty-loving republic to a commonplace empire: the moral realm would be usurped by the logic of ruthless force. Hoar wrote (1902) this epitaph for Filipino ambition: We crushed the only republic in Asia. We made war on the only Christian people in the East. We converted a war of glory to a war of shame. We vulgarized the American flag.