William McKinley: “Benevolent Assimilation” Proclamation

(1898)

William McKinley was president of the United States during the period of overseas expansion that grew out of the war with Spain in 1898. A popular speaker as a campaigner, McKinley wrote presidential messages and delivered addresses that proved significant in persuading Americans to adopt this expanded world role at the end of the nineteenth century. At a time when radio did not yet exist, the president had to make his case through the prose that his constituents read in their newspapers or in pamphlet form. McKinley proved quite adept at framing arguments that would convince citizens of the wisdom of the course he was proposing. In his “Benevolent Assimilation” Proclamation, the president underscores the friendly purpose of the United States in its sovereignty and military control of the Philippines and the U.S. goal of “protecting” the inhabitants.

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William McKinley (Library of Congress)

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