National Geographic : 1907 Jul
VOL. XVIII, No. 7 WASHINGTON JULY, 1907 THI MA ARlEh SOME RECENT INSTANCES OF NATIONAL ALTRUISM* The Efforts of the United States to Aid the Peoples of Cuba, Porto Rico and the Philippines BY HON. WILLIAM H. TAFT SECRETARY OF WAR I ASK your attention today to the page of the nation's history cov ering the last nine years, with the hope of showing that there never has been on the part of any country a greater exhibition of pure altruism than that ex hibited by the United States from the beginning of the Spanish War down to the present day, toward the peoples who were immediately affected. Aswereadthehistoryofamanora nation, that which excites our admiration is courageous action for which no motive can be found save that of a desire to dis charge a duty to mankind. A study of the conduct of our nation with respect to Cuba, Porto Rico, and the Philippines, covering now nearly a decade, ought to fill every American with pride. I do not mean to say that there were not Ameri cans who entered upon the war or fav ored the Cuban or the Philippine policy from motives of selfishness, and with a hope of increasing our trade and enlarg- ing our dominion from the mere love of exploitation and empire, but the great body of the people went into and fought out the Cuban war, assumed the burden of the temporary government of Cuba, and the more or less permanent govern ment of Porto Rico, fought out the Philippine wars and assumed the govern ment of the Philippines all from a sense of duty only, and that most reluctantly, because they could not foresee the extent of the burdens which we were taking up. It is hardly necessary for me to recall the resistance that President McKinley, in 1898, offered to the popular movement, that carried him slowly but surely to the point of an open conflict with Spain. That which the American people believed to be the oppression of the Cuban people, the misgovernment of that beautiful island, and the continued failure of Spain to restore any kind of order-all com pelled the United States to interfere to prevent a continuance of that which * An address to the Miller's Convention in Saint Louis, Mo., May 30, 1907.