William Jennings Bryan (Democratic presidential candidate in 1896 and 1900)

Initially supportive of U.S. expansion into the Philippines, Democratic presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan soon made anti-imperialism a standard plank in his stump speeches during the 1900 campaign.

Imperialism is the policy of an empire. And an empire is a nation composed of different races, living under varying forms of government. A republic cannot be an empire, for a republic rests upon the theory that the government derive their powers from the consent of the government and colonialism violates this theory. We do not want the Filipinos for citizens. They cannot, without danger to us, share in the government of our nation and moreover, we cannot afford to add another race question to the race questions which we already have. Neither can we hold the Filipinos as subjects even if we could benefit them by so doing. . . . Our experiment in colonialism has been unfortunate. Instead of profit, it has brought loss. Instead of strength, it has brought weakness. Instead of glory, it has brought humiliation.


"Speeches of William Jennings Bryan," Michigan State University Voice Library. Audio version available on the CD-ROM Who Built America?, 1876-1914, by the American Social History Project. For historical commentary and links to many of Bryan's speeches on imperialism, see http://www.boondocksnet.com/ail/bryan.html.