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In the final tumultuous years of the nineteenth century the American government abandoned its traditional role in the field of foreign affairs when it adopted a policy of imperial expansion. This drastic change created a lengthy and fascinating, if divisive, national debate between the imperialists and anti-imperialistswith charges and countercharges, presentations and rebuttals filling the pages of the nation's journals and echoing in the halls of Congress and councils of state.
This book, which emphasizes the anti-imperialist position, spans the period between the beginning of the debate in 1890 and the demise of the Anti-Imperialist League in 1920. It examines in a basically chronological context the interesting issues, events, ideas, and organizations that were a part of American anti-imperialism, and stresses the thought of the leading anti-imperialists in relation to changing incidents and circumstances. It is based on a wide range of materials and unexploited sources of the period and provides the first comprehensive treatment of the subject. The text, as well as contemporary editorial cartoons, conveys a vivid sense of the spirit and drama of the times.
The opponents of imperialism insisted it would yield grave economic, social, military, constitutional, ethical, and other problems, and that it constituted an inherent negation of the finest facets of our governmental heritage. They pointed out that the United States had always stood as the champion of liberty, democracy, equality, and self-government, and that imperialism denied these basic tenets. The anti-imperialists' memorable struggle was long and frustrating, but eventually successful.
Although the author concentrates upon the exciting events and ideas of the period in question, the reader will note at many points intriguing parallels with various aspects of contemporary foreign affairs and the reaction to them.