Modern History Sourcebook:
Albert Beveridge: The March of
Albert Beveridge was US Senator from Indiana (1899-1911), and,
as is evident here, a fervent supporter of American imperialism.
He gave this speech as a campaign speech on September 16, 1898.
The March of the Flag
It is a noble land that God has given us; a land that can feed
and clothe the world; a land whose coastlines would inclose half
the countries of Europe; a land set like a sentinel between the
two imperial oceans of the globe, a greater England with a nobler
It is a mighty people that He has planted on this soil; a people
sprung from the most masterful blood of history; a people perpetually
revitalized by the virile, manproducing workingfolk
of all the earth; a people imperial by virtue of their power,
by right of their institutions, by authority of their Heaven-directed
purposes-the propagandists and not the misers of liberty.
It is a glorious history our God has bestowed upon His chosen
people; a history heroic with faith in our mission and our future;
a history of statesmen who flung the boundaries of the Republic
out into unexplored lands and savage wilderness; a history of
soldiers who carried the flag across blazing deserts and through
the ranks of hostile mountains, even to the gates of sunset; a
history of a multiplying people who overran a continent in half
a century; a history of prophets who saw the consequences of evils
inherited from the past and of martyrs who died to save us from
them; a history divinely logical, in the process of whose tremendous
reasoning we find ourselves today.
Therefore, in this campaign, the question is larger than a party
question. It is an American question. It is a world question.
Shall the American people continue their march toward the commercial
supremacy of the world? Shall free institutions broaden their
blessed reign as the children of liberty wax in strength, until
the empire of our principles is established over the hearts of
Have we no mission to perform no duty to discharge to our fellow
man? Has God endowed us with gifts beyond our deserts and marked
us as the people of His peculiar favor, merely to rot in our own
selfishness, as men and nations must, who take cowardice for their
companion and self for their deity-as China has, as India has,
as Egypt has?
Shall we be as the man who had one talent and hid it, or as he
who had ten talents and used them until they grew to riches? And
shall we reap the reward that waits on our discharge of our high
duty; shall we occupy new markets for what our farmers raise,
our factories make, our merchants sell-aye, and please God, new
markets for what our ships shall carry?
Hawaii is ours; Porto Rico is to be ours; at the prayer of her
people Cuba finally will be ours; in the islands of the East,
even to the gates of Asia, coaling stations are to be ours at
the very least; the flag of a liberal government is to float over
the Philippines, and may it be the banner that Taylor unfurled
in Texas and Fremont carried to the coast.
The Opposition tells us that we ought not to govern a people without
their consent. I answer, The rule of liberty that all just government
derives its authority from the consent of the governed, applies
only to those who are capable of selfgovernment We govern
the Indians without their consent, we govern our territories without
their consent, we govern our children without their consent. How
do they know what our government would be without their consent?
Would not the people of the Philippines prefer the just, humane,
civilizing government of this Republic to the savage, bloody rule
of pillage and extortion from which we have rescued them?
And, regardless of this formula of words made only for enlightened,
selfgoverning people, do we owe no duty to the world? Shall
we turn these peoples back to the reeking hands from which we
have taken them? Shall we abandon them, with Germany, England,
Japan, hungering for them? Shall we save them from those nations,
to give them a selfrule of tragedy?
They ask us how we shall govern these new possessions. I answer:
Out of local conditions and the necessities of the case methods
of government will grow. If England can govern foreign lands,
so can America. If Germany can govern foreign lands, so can America.
If they can supervise protectorates, so can America. Why is it
more difficult to administer Hawaii than Nevs Mexico or California?
Both had a savage and an alien population: both were more remote
from the seat of government when they came under our dominion
than the Philippines are today.
Will you say by your vote that American ability to govern has
decayed, that a century s experience in selfrule has failed
of a result? Will you affirm by your vote that you are an infidel
to American power and practical sense? Or will you say that ours
is the blood of government; ours the heart of dominion; ours the
brain and genius of administration? Will you remember that we
do but what our fathers did-we but pitch the tents of liberty
farther westward, farther southward-we only continue the march
of the flag?
The march of the flag! In 1789 the flag of the Republic waved
over 4,000,000 souls in thirteen states, and their savage territory
which stretched to the Mississippi, to Canada, to the Floridas.
The timid minds of that day said that no new territory was needed,
and, for the hour, they were right. But Jefferson, through whose
intellect the centuries marched; Jefferson, who dreamed of Cuba
as an American state, Jefferson, the first Imperialist of the
Republic-Jefferson acquired that imperial territory which swept
from the Mississippi to the mountains, from Texas to the British
possessions, and the march of the flag began!
The infidels to the gospel of liberty raved, but the flag swept
on! The title to that noble land out of which Oregon, Washington,
Idaho and Montana have been carved was uncertain: Jefferson, strict
constructionist of constitutional power though he was, obeyed
the AngloSaxon impulse within him, whose watchword is, ''Forwardl'':
another empire was added to the Republic, and the march of the
flag went on!
Those who deny the power of free institutions to expand urged
every argument, and more, that we hear, today; but the people's
judgment approved the command of their blood, and the march of
the flag went on!
A screen of land from New Orleans to Florida shut us from the
Gulf, and over this and the Everglade Peninsula waved the saffron
flag of Spain; Andrew Jackson seized both, the American people
stood at his back, and, under Monroe, the Floridas came under
the dominion of the Republic, and the march of the flag went on!
The Cassandras prophesied every prophecy of despair we hear, today,
but the march of the flag went on!
Then Texas responded to the bugle calls of liberty, and the march
of the flag went on! And, at last, we waged war with Mexico, and
the flag swept over the southwest, over peerless California, past
the Gate of Gold to Oregon on the north, and from ocean to ocean
its folds of glory blazed.
And, now, obeying the same voice that Jefferson heard and obeyed,
that Jackson heard and obeyed, that Monroe heard and obeyed, that
Seward heard and obeyed, that Grant heard and obeyed, that Harrison
heard and obeyed, our President today plants the flag over the
islands of the seas, outposts of commerce, citadels of national
security, and the march of the flag goes on!
Distance and oceans are no arguments. The fact that all the territory
our fathers bought and seized is contiguous, is no argument. In
1819 Florida was farther from New York than Porto Rico is from
Chicago today; Texas, farther from Washington in 1845 than Hawaii
is from Boston in 1898; California, more inaccessible in 1847
than the Philippines are now. Gibraltar is farther from London
than Havana is from Washington; Melbourne is farther from Liverpool
than Manila is from San Francisco.
The ocean does not separate us from lands of our duty and desire_
the oceans join us, rivers never to be dredged, canals never to
be re paired. Steam joins us; electricity joins us-the very elements
are in league with our destiny. Cuba not contiguous? Porto Rico
not contiguous! Hawaii and the Philippines no contiguous! The
oceans make them contiguous. And our navy will make them contiguous.
But the Opposition is right- there is a difference. We did not
need the western Mississippi Valley when we acquired it, nor Florida!
nor Texas, nor California, nor the royal provinces of the far
northwest We had no emigrants to people this imperial wilderness,
no money to develop it, even no highways to cover it. No trade
awaited us in its savage fastnesses. Our productions were not
greater than our trade There was not one reason for the landlust
of our statesmen from Jefferson to Grant, other than the prophet
and the Saxon within them But, today, we are raising more
than we can consume, making more than we can use. Therefore we
must find new markets for our produce.
And so, while we did not need the territory taken during the past
cen tury at the time it was acquired, we do need what we have
taken irl 18981 and we need it now. The resource' and the commerce
of the immensely rich dominions will be increased as much as American
energy is greater than Spanish sloth.
In Cuba, alone, there are 15,000,000 acres of forest unacquainted
with the ax, exhaustless mines of iron, priceless deposits of
manganese, millions 0f dollars' worth of which we must buy, today,
from the Black Sea districts There are millions of acres yet unexplored.
The resources of Porto Rico have only been trifled with. The riches
of` the Philippines have hardly been touched by the fingertips
of modern methods. And they produce what we consume, and consume
what we produce-the very predestination of reciprocity-a reciprocity
"not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." They
sell hemp, sugar, cocoanuts, fruits of the tropics, timber of
price like mahogany; they buy flour, clothing, tools, implements,
machinery and all that we can raise and make. Their trade will
be ours in time. Do you indorse that policy with your vote?
Cuba is as large as Pennsylvania, and is the richest spot on the
globe. Hawaii is as large as New Jersey; Porto Rico half as large
as Hawaii; the Philippines larger than all New England, New York,
New Jersey and Delaware combined. Together they are larger than
the British Isles, larger than France, larger than Germany, larger
If any man tells you that trade depends on cheapness and not on
government influence, ask him why England does not abandon South
Africa, Egypt, India. Why does France seize South China, Germany
the vast region whose port is Kaouchou?
Our trade with Porto Rico, Hawaii and the Philippines must be
as free as between the states of the Union, because they are American
territory, while every other nation on earth must paty our tariff
before they can compete with us. Until Cuba shall ask for annexation,
our trade with her will, at the very least, be like the preferential
trade of Canada with England. That, and the excellence of our
goods and products; that, and the convenience of traffic; that,
and the kinship of interests and destiny, will give the monopoly
of` these markets to the American people.
The commercial supremacy of the Republic means that this Nation
t is to be the sovereign factor in the peace of the world. For
the conflicts of the future are to be conflicts of trade-struggles
for markets-commercial wars for existence. And the golden rule
of peace is impregnability of position and invincibility of preparedness.
So, we see England, the greatest strategist of history, plant
her flag and her cannon on Gibraltar, at Quebec, in the Bermudas,
at Vancouver, everywhere.
So Hawaii furnishes us a naval base in the heart of the Pacific;
the Ladrones another, a voyage further on; Manila another, at
the gates of Asia - Asia, to the trade of whose hundreds of millions
American merchants, manufacturers, farmers, have as good right
as those of Germany or France or Russia or England; Asia, whose
commerce with the United Kingdom alone amounts to hundreds of
millions of dollars every year; Asia, to whom Germany looks to
take her surplus products; Asia, whose doors must not be shut
against American trade. Within five decades the bulk of Oriental
commerce will be ours.
No wonder that, in the shadows of coming events so great, free-silver
is already a memory. The current of history has swept past that
episode. Men understand, today, the greatest commerce of the world
must be conducted with the steadiest standard of` value and most
convenient medium of exchange human ingenuity can devise. Time,
that unerring reasoner, has settled the silver question. The American
people are tired of talking about money-they want to make it.
. . . .
There are so many real things to be done-canals to be dug, railways
to be laid, forests to be felled, cities to be builded, fields
to be tilled, markets to be won, ships to be launched, peoples
to be saved, civilization to be proclaimed and the Rag of liberty
Hung to the eager air of every sea. Is this an hour to waste upon
triflers with nature's laws? Is this a season to give our destiny
over to wordmongers and prosperity-wreckers? No! It is an
hour to remember our duty to our homes. It is a moment to realize
the opportunities fate has opened to us. And so is all hour for
us to stand by the Government.
Wonderfully has God guided us Yonder at Bunker Hill and Yorktown.
His providence was above us At New Orleans and on ensanguined
seas His hand sustained u Abraham Lincoln was His minister and
His was the altar of` freedom the Nation's soldiers set up on
a hundred battlefields. His power directed Dewey in the
East an delivered the Spanish fleet into our hands, as He delivered
the elder Armada into the hands of our English sires two centuries
ago [Note - actually in 1588]. The American people can
not use a dishonest medium of` exchange; it is ours to set the
world its example of` right and honor. We can not fly from our
world duties; it is ours to execute the purpose of a fate that
has driven us to be greater than our small intentions. We can
not retreat from any soil where Providence has unfurled our banner;
it is ours to save that soil for liberty and civilization.
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(c)Paul Halsall Aug 1997