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Fighting for American Manhood

Fighting for American Manhood: How Gender Politics Provoked the Spanish-American and Philippine-American Wars

Copyright Date: 1998
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 320
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    Fighting for American Manhood
    Book Description:

    This groundbreaking book blends international relations and gender history to provide a new understanding of the Spanish-American and Philippine-American wars. Kristin L. Hoganson shows how gendered ideas about citizenship and political leadership influenced jingoist political leaders` desire to wage these conflicts, and she traces how they manipulated ideas about gender to embroil the nation in war.She argues that racial beliefs were only part of the cultural framework that undergirded U.S. martial policies at the turn of the century. Gender beliefs, also affected the rise and fall of the nation`s imperialist impulse.

    Drawing on an extensive range of sources, including congressional debates, campaign speeches, political tracts, newspapers, magazines, political cartoons, and the papers of politicians, soldiers, suffragists, and other political activists, Hoganson discusses how concerns about manhood affected debates over war and empire. She demonstrates that jingoist political leaders, distressed by the passing of the Civil War generation and by women`s incursions into electoral politics, embraced war as an opportunity to promote a political vision in which soldiers were venerated as model citizens and women remained on the fringes of political life. These gender concerns not only played an important role in the Spanish-American and Philippine-American wars, they have echoes in later time periods, says the author, and recognizing their significance has powerful ramifications for the way we view international relations.

    Yale Historical Publications

    eISBN: 978-0-300-14787-2
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)

    Newspapers published in the United States on February 25, 1895, gave no indication that the previous day had been an exceptional one, a day that would be enshrined in history books as a starting point, a significant moment, a date. They briefly mentioned a revolt of the “natives” in the distant Philippine island of Jolo against a Spanish garrison and another in Guinea against the British. In Boston, there had been a memorial service for the abolitionist Frederick Douglass, who had died a few days earlier, and in Baltimore, Mrs. Katherine Stevenson, corresponding secretary of the national Woman’s Christian Temperance...

  6. 1 The Manly Ideal of Politics and the Jingoist Desire for War
    (pp. 15-42)

    Toward the close of the nineteenth century, many Americans believed that a new era of peace was dawning. The nation had not fought a major war since the Civil War, a generation earlier. Increased commerce appeared to presage an era of greater international cooperation. Perhaps the greatest harbinger of peace was the arbitration treaty signed by U.S. Secretary of State Richard Olney and British Ambassador Sir Julian Pauncefote on January 11, 1897. The treaty committed the United States and Great Britain to arbitrate all their disputes for the next five years. Supporters of the treaty heralded the protocol as the...

  7. 2 Cuba and the Restoration of American Chivalry
    (pp. 43-67)

    After launching their war for independence from Spain in 1895, Cuban revolutionaries won widespread support in the United States. Men and women from across the country wished the Cubans well. Sympathizers contributed funds, prayed for Cuban liberty, and took to the streets in pro-Cuban demonstrations. A meeting of two thousand supporters in New York City shows the passion the Cuban cause elicited: while the men stood on their seats cheering the patriots, the women, clad in evening dresses, jumped up and down waving their handkerchiefs and fans. Realizing the popularity of the Cuban cause, Republicans and Democrats included planks supporting...

  8. 3 “Honor Comes First”: The Congressional Debate over War
    (pp. 68-87)

    On the night of February 15, 1898, the U.S. battleshipMaine,which had been sent to Havana to protect American citizens after an outbreak of riots, exploded and sank in Havana harbor. Two hundred and sixty-six men died in the disaster. President McKinley responded to the crisis by appointing a court of naval inquiry. The court’s report, submitted on March 25, attributed the explosion to an external source. Although the commission admitted that it could not determine who was responsible, suspicion came to rest on Spain. Not only did Spain have a reputation for perfidy, but, to many Americans, it...

  9. 4 McKinley’s Backbone: The Coercive Power of Gender in Political Debate
    (pp. 88-106)

    In assessing President McKinley’s role during the months between the sinking of theMaineon February 15, 1898, and the U.S. declaration of war against Spain on April 25, 1898, historians have debated whether McKinley was courageous or spineless, strong or weak, a “chocolate éclair” or a “clever statesman.” This debate echoes the rhetoric of the late nineteenth century, when McKinley’s refusal to clamor for war led his contemporaries to both question and defend his backbone. Historians who have evaluated McKinley in the terms used by his contemporaries without stopping to question these terms have judged his character without fully...

  10. 5 The Spanish-American War and the Martial Ideal of Citizenship
    (pp. 107-132)

    The Spanish-American War was a popular war. The military had no trouble raising troops for what was generally seen as a righteous war to liberate the Cubans and redeem American honor. After President McKinley called for 125,000 volunteers, men flocked to enlist. According to Secretary of War Russell A. Alger, “Within twenty-four hours the nation was aflame. Tenders of service came by the hundreds of thousands. It is safe to say that a million men offered themselves.” A second call, for 75,000 more volunteers, led eager men to again overwhelm the administration with offers to enlist. “It was the apotheosis...

  11. 6 The Problem of Male Degeneracy and the Allure of the Philippines
    (pp. 133-155)

    Begun as a chivalrous crusade to redeem American honor and liberate the Cubans from Spanish oppression, the Spanish-American War ended as a self-aggrandizing war, a war that resulted not only in the temporary occupation of Cuba but also in the annexation of Puerto Rico and Guam. Most ironic of all, it ended in a bloody colonial war in the Philippines that involved over 126,000 American soldiers, more than 4,000 of whom lost their lives.¹ For years, historians have grappled with the question, Why did the United States finish one war, waged in the name of liberty, only to start another,...

  12. 7 The National Manhood Metaphor and the Fight over the Fathers in the Philippine Debate
    (pp. 156-179)

    Imperialists who wanted to take and hold the Philippines to build American manhood faced a major problem: persuading their fellow citizens to go along with what promised to be an expensive and bloody scheme. To their consternation, their bellicose policies sparked considerable opposition. In November 1898, opponents of expansion organized an Anti-Imperialist League in Boston, the first of a number of leagues that mobilized public sentiment and lobbied against imperial policies. The grassroots anti-imperialist movement attracted a heterogeneous group of adherents, including a number of African Americans, Catholics, labor activists, and women, but it was dominated by a more politically...

  13. 8 Imperial Degeneracy: The Dissolution of the Imperialist Impulse
    (pp. 180-199)

    Given the imperialists’ compelling argument that their policies would strengthen American democracy by building masterful male citizens, the U.S. conquest of the Philippines is not as surprising as what followed: the United States retreated from its venture into overseas territorial annexation. After the militarist surge of the late nineteenth century, the United States did not embark on a concerted course of conquest in the early twentieth century. This was not from a lack of power to annex more territory or from an absence of opportunity (as later interventions in the Caribbean attest). Neither was it from a significant change in...

  14. Conclusion: Engendering War
    (pp. 200-208)

    Having reconsidered the Spanish-American and Philippine-American wars with gender in mind, it is worth returning to our starting question: How does adding gender to the picture affect our understanding of these conflicts? The preceding chapters argue that domestic concerns traditionally not considered relevant to international relations—namely, concerns about gender roles—significantly affected militant U.S. policies at the turn of the century. This is not to say that gender issues can fully explain the Spanish-American and Philippine-American wars. Just as it would be myopic to attribute these conflicts strictly to economic, strategic, or partisan motives, it would be foolishly reductive...

  15. Notes
    (pp. 209-264)
  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 265-296)
  17. Index
    (pp. 297-305)