Notes from Theodore Roosevelt
and the Rise of America to World Power

For The U.S. War Against Asia
by William P. Meyers

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History notes

All [page numbers] reference Theodore Roosevelt and the Rise of America to World Power by Howard K. Beale, Collier Books, New York, NY, 1962 paperback edition. Copyright 1956 by The Johns Hopkins Press.

For The United States War Against Asia by William P. Meyers. Does not include non-Asian issues.

Background: The Chapter “Cementing the Anglo-American Entente” [p. 85-158] shows how Roosevelt and his circle came to see the global political situation. Problems with Great Britain arose over the boundaries of Venezuela and Canada, but while Roosevelt saw the British as a rival, he also thought they would be the best long-term ally of the U.S. He generally supported Britain’s Asia policies, including the “Open Door” free market policy for China.

Roosevelt was interested in Asia long before he became President. Probably the U.S. would not have captured the Philippines if Roosevelt had not micromanaged the U.S. Pacific Fleet from his position of Assistant Secretary of the Navy. [p. 69-71]

Bryan’s 1900 campaign for President was firmly anti-imperialism. Anti-imperialist sentiment had the support of many Americans, even including former President Harrison, a Republican. Bryan lost the election because of other issues. [33] Reasoning of the anti-imperialists is covered in pages 33-35.

Henry Cabot Lodge became friends in the 1884 presidential campaign. Henry Adams had been a friend at Harvard. They all lived in Washington DC in the 1880’s, where Henry’s brother Brooks became part of the circle and married Nannie Lodge. [36-38]

General reasoning of the imperialists is covered in pages 38-40.

“Roosevelt blieved only in “just wars,” but any war America fought would be “just.” The war with Spain he prounounced the “most absolutely righteous foreign war” of the nineteenth century.” [40]

Roosevelt believed the Anglo-Saxon race to be the best in the world, but did not believe in hatred of other races [41-42]. In a review he wrote in 1894 he agreed with an author on the inferiority of the Chinese race. [42]

“In 1897 he told James Bryce that we out to take Hawaii “in the interests of the White race.”” [42-43]

“Yet he was unlike many racists in that he laid these differences of race to qcquied characteristics and to the effect of geographic environment.” Thus he was able to justify his contempt for Filipinos and Chinese along with his admiration for the Japanese. [43]

Roosevelt’s racism was also tempered with individualism. He was willing to recognize a superior member of what he believed was an inferior race, and vice versa. In fact at times, speaking to certain audiences, he spoke out strongly against racial, ethnic, and religious legal discrimination. [44-45]

Roosevelt liked war. He gloried in it. He even wrote a volume of Hero Stories for Young Americans with Lodge. [48-49]

Roosevelt was appointed Assistant Secretary of the Navy by President McKinley in 1897, under Secretary of the Navy John Long. He used his office to promote building a larger navy. [65-66]

Lodge, Roosevelt, and Mahan worked to get McKinley to seize Hawaii. Secretary of State John Sherman opposed annexation. Apparently we had a treaty with Japan saying we would not annex Hawaii, and Japan protested The annexation treaty with Hawaii was signed June 16, 1897.  Opposition in Congress delayed treaty ratification until 1898, after the Spanish-American war began. At the time there were more Asians living in Hawaii than whites and native Hawaiians combined. [65-66]

Roosevelt promoted war with Spain over Cuba at least as early as 1897. After the Maine sinking “he was distressed when he found the country was not sufficiently aroused to go to war over it.”

Roosevelt, unable to persuade McKinley to go to war, used his position as Assistant Secretary of the Navy to prepare for war anyway. On February 25, 1898, Secretary John Long took a day off and “Roosevelt became Acting Secretary for three or four hours.” He quickly executed a number of pre-planned measures. He sent instructions to George Dewey and bought coal in the Far East. He ordered ammunition, moved vessels around, and even asked Congress for legislation. John Long “never left Roosevelt in charge again even for part of a day. Yet apparently he did not withdraw the orders to Dewey. Roosevelt had the support of Senator Lodge and others. [68-69]

Roosevelt’s instructions to Dewey amounted to orders to seize the Philippines, even though the Philippines were not an issue between Spain and the U.S. Roosevelt is on record of wanting to seize the Philippines at least as early as 1897. He hand-picked Dewey to head the Asiatic squadron, over opposition. Roosevelt “cut through red tape and navy routines and had coal sent him.” On his famous February 25, 1898 he ordered the entire squadron except the Monocacy to Hong Kong, and ordered Dewey to go on the offensive in the Philippines if war on Spain was declared. Long failed to recall these instructions. “The Assistant Secretary [of the Navy] had seized the opportunity … to insure our [the U.S.} grabbing the Philippines without a decision to do so by either Congress or the President, or least of all the people.” [70] [This does not square with Jonathan Fast’s evidence that the Philippines were seized as part of the Sugar Trust operation. Did Roosevelt know the Sugar Trust people or their bankers? Roosevelt had Elihu Root as his campaign manager 1886 (for Mayor of New York), and Root was one of Havemeyer’s attorneys. See Conspiracy page 56. The same Feb. 25 info is in Fast page 145, with the source footnoted.]

During his 1900 campaign for Vice-President (he was then Governor of New York State] in one campaign speech to Quakers he told them peace-loving people must support the U.S. occupation of the Philippines, as to do otherwise would “turn them over to bloody chaos and anarchy.” [73]

Also in the 1900 campaign he spoke of “The Chinese Boxer, his hands red with blood of the slaughtered women and children.” The Filipino nationalists were characterized as “The Manila bandit has had cause to fear the [U.S.] flag as he lurked in ambush to shoot our men.” But Roosevelt hated to be called an imperialist. [74]

Roosevelt said Bryan’s charges that “our gallant little army … in the Philippines is an army of murderers and ravishers,” were just slander. And “The bullets that slay our men in Luzon are inspired by the denouncers of America here.” [76]

“During the [1900] campaign he repeatedly took Bryan and the Democrats to tak for insincerity in demanding self-government for “Malay bandits” while they were conniving at the “denial of the right of self-government to our fellow-Americans of dusky color in North Carolina.” [77]

Roosevelt’s racist characterizations of the Filipinos included Tagal bandits, Malay bandits, and Chinese halfbreeds; he compared them to Native American Indian tribes. [77]

But Beale believes Roosevelt did desire to give the Philippines a good government [78].

He failed to understand that the Filipinos might have their own national aspirations [79]

In 1900 Roosevelt read Brooks Adams’s America’s Economic Supremacy and ? Mahan’s Problem of Asia. [163]

“The American China Development Compnay, whose stock-holders were some of America’s greatest men and financiers, had been organized in 1895 and had persistenly put pressure on public men.” [163] This company got permission from the Chinese government to build a railroad between Hankow and Canton, then failed to build much of it. Nevertheless, as President Roosevelt spent considerable energy bullying the Chinese government when, under the contract, the rights to build reverted. [181-190]

Adams’ America’s Economic Supremacy premises described [164-165].

“Roosevelt knew a good deal about China, its government and what was going on internally. His interest was great, and close friends had long kept him informed … For China Roosevelt felt contempt.” [166]

Roosevelt became President on September 14, 1901, shortly after The Boxer Rebellion ended. The Boxers “aimed at the Westerners’ claim of special privileges for themselves and their assigning f the Chinese to inferior status.” In June 1900 they surrounded the foreign compounds in Peking. [On September 7, 1901 the Boxer Protocol ended the rebellion per Wikipedia]. Roosevelt, in speeches, made a political linkage between the Boxers and the Filipino rebels. [167-168]

At the time it was well known [due to an article published in Scribner’s Magazine]that the Great Power troops sent to fight the Chinese army and Boxers engaged in widespread looting, killing civilians, raping women, and arson. American soldiers participated in these acts. Roosevelt, at least publicly, went into denial at first, but later verified and admitted the stories were truthful [171-173].

The Anglo-German accord had been approved by Roosevelt, “to all extents and purposes had separated Manchuria from China.” [173]

Roosevelt’s version of the Open Door in China amounted to “In shot, Chinese sovereignty would be tolerated as a convenient fiction that would prevent the powers from dividing China and excluding each other, but it could not be permitted to mean genuine independence for China. Use of force by the powers, short of taking actual territory, seemed to Roosevelt necessary in such a land as China.” [174]

Roosevelt addressed the issue of China in his first annual message to Congress. [174]

Roosevelt left China policy to Hay until 1904, with one exception. A mixed (Powers + Chinese) court in Shanghai had sentenced some Chinese rebels. The Chinese government protested that its own rebels were within its sole jurisdiction. Roosevelt insisted on not giving into Chinese commands because that would jeopardize the independence of the U.S. controlled court. Hay and closely watched the Russians in Manchuria situation of 1902-1903. [175-176]

Roosevelt and the British feared Russia. Manchuria was also the subject of lobbying by American commercial interests. “Our trade there is assuming enourmous proportions,” Hay wrote. Hay urged Roosevelt to encourage Japan to attack Russia. [177-178]

Russia backed down and promised to open all ports to all nations except Harbin and to withdraw its troops by October 8, 1903. “How much this anti-Russian, pro-Japanese policy of the Roosevelt Administration encouraged Japan to make war on Russia is unknown.” [180-181]

In 1905 a boycott was organized against the United States due to our discrimination against Chinese immigrants and visitors. Roosevelt wanted to improve treatment of Chinese visitors to the U.S., while restricting actual immigration. Roosevelt also sent battleships to China, threatening intervention [213]. Appropriations were made to a Chinese expeditionary force [216]. In the end the boycott fizzled because of suppression by the Chinese government and merchants not wanting to absorb the economic damage. [191-223]

Roosevelt felt that Japan’s fleet might be more efficient in the 1890’s than Americas, and that threatened American expansion to Hawaii. In April 1897 he wrote Mahan that he wanted to annex Hawaii at once, rather than risk that he Japanese take it. “Then Japan sent a warship to Hawaii while our expansionists were trying to get McKinnley to annex it…” In September 1897 he said Japan’s fleet was more powerful than the U.S.’s in the Pacific. However, he did admire Japan’s “efficiency and fighting qualities.” After Japan accepted the U.S. annexation of Hawaii, he saw Japan as a strategic ally in the Far East. [233].

In June 1904, talking to Ambassador Takahira and Baron Kaneko, they agreed that Manchuria should be autonomous “under a guarantee of the great powers.” It would be returned to China only if they thought China could control it. [235]

Russo-Japanese war began on February 8, 1904. “Roosevelt and his friends did not call the attack a stab in the back. They were … jubilant in admiration of a friend who was serving our purposes in the Orient.” This was the overwhelming public sentiment in the U.S. Elihu Root, now an adviser, wrote “Was not the way the Japs began the fight bully?” [236]

Roosevelt’s stated aims in Asia: keep Russia and Japan balanced in power.  “Japan could have Korea but must guarantee protection of U.S. concessions there.” Japan would be kept out of China, the Russians could predominate in Manchuria if they followed an Open Door policy. [238]

Japanese war aims were explained to Roosevelt before the battle of Mukden. They wanted to control Port Arthur and Korea, and have the rest of Manchuria taken from the Russians and put back in Chinese control. [247]

Roosevelt worked very hard to negotiate the end to the Russo-Japanese war. The Japanese were hard pressed economically, but felt they should get the spoils of victory. The Russians did not want to admit defeat, and figured sooner or later they could come back in strength from their western strongholds. Eventually the Japanese conceded many points because they wanted to appear reasonable to world opinion. Roosevelt had secretly sided with the Japanese, and his inability to convince the Tsar to give in was a disappointment. [242-272]

While Roosevelt was President Russia and Japan struggled for control of Korea. Americans and other Great Power businessmen were also “grabbing all the resources f the country they could lay hands on.” American businesses there included Collbran and Bostwick, which also operated in China; and Leigh Hunt in mining, who was a guest at the White House. The British were also trying to squeeze the Americans out. Horace N. Allen, the American minister, did not like Japan or Roosevelt liking Japan.
In 1902 Rear Admiral Frederick Rogers visited Korea to make surveys for a naval base.” [273-275]

Realizing Roosevelt would let the Japanese have Korea, Allen tried to work with them, but felt they would not compete fairly with Americans in business. [278]

“Roosevelt had instructed Taft in July [1905] to agree to “Japanese suzereignty over Corea to the extent that Corea enter into no foreign treaties without the consent of Japan.” [sic] [279]

The 1907 global circuit by the U.S. fleet was largely to inform the Japanese of the power of the U.S. Navy [in the whole, as opposed to just the Pacific fleet]. [285]

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