President William McKinley (Republican)

In an interview with a visiting church delegation published in 1903, President William McKinley defends his decision to support the annexation of the Philippines in the wake of the U.S. war in that country.

When I next realized that the Philippines had dropped into our laps I confess I did not know what to do with them. . . And one night late it came to me this way. . .1) That we could not give them back to Spain- that would be cowardly and dishonorable; 2) that we could not turn them over to France and Germany-our commercial rivals in the Orient-that would be bad business and discreditable; 3) that we not leave them to themselves-they are unfit for self-government-and they would soon have anarchy and misrule over there worse than Spain's wars; and 4) that there was nothing left for us to do but to take them all, and to educate the Filipinos, and uplift and civilize and Christianize them, and by God's grace do the very best we could by them, as our fellow-men for whom Christ also died.


Source: General James Rusling, “Interview with President William McKinley,” The Christian Advocate 22 January 1903..