Faneuil Hall has actually played a main role together a forum and meeting location for political motions throughout Boston’s history. These motions covered a broad variety of issues, such as labor, women’s suffrage and also slavery. Throughout the so late 19th and also early 20th centuries, the Anti-Imperialist league used Faneuil hall to protest America’s farming imperialism. The organization argued against militarization and also the development of an overseas American Empire and also asserted the the ethics the unified States had actually been founded upon necessary to prolong to foreign policy as well.

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At the turn of the 20th century, the joined States faced a decision. After year of fighting between Spain and Cuba, the Cuban battle for freedom had lastly reached the prevalent attention the the American people. Pertained to for the security of American interests, the federal government moved the battleship U.S.S. Maine into Havana harbor. Here, the battleship exploded. Many Americans believed Spain had actually caused the ship’s destruction and also the deaths the the seafarers onboard. This tragedy resulted in a surging of public assistance for Cuba, leading Congress to declare war on Spain. In his 1898 State that the Union address, President wilhelm McKinley noted the causes for war:

First, in the reason of humanity and also to placed an end to the barbarities, bloodshed, starvation, and horrible miseries currently existing there...

Second, we owe it to our citizens in Cuba to afford them the protection and indemnity for life and also property i m sorry no federal government there can or will afford, and also to that end to terminate the conditions that deprive castle of legitimate protection.

Third, the appropriate to intervene might be justified by the an extremely serious injury come the commerce, trade, and business of our people, and by the wanton destruction of property and devastation that the island.

Fourth, and which is the the utmost importance, the present problem of work in Cuba is a consistent menace come our peace, and also entails upon this federal government an enormous expense.<1>

William McKinley, 25th chairman of the unified States.

Library of Congress

Although McKinley made lofty claims about fighting on the instead of of democracy, the opening battles that the war alluded to a different agenda. The very first American victory of the war occurred in Manila Bay, in the Philippines. Favor Cuba, the Philippines had actually been waging a battle for independence against Spain. When American troops come in the archipelago, they lugged the Philippine’s exiled leader, Emilio Aguinaldo, v them. Aguinaldo rallied the revolutionaries and also assisted the American forces in laying siege to Manila.

Some americans quickly came to be concerned about the true function of the Spanish-American War. When most maintained that the United states aimed to secure Cuban independence, others believed this treatment to it is in the very first step in the formation of an overseas American empire. Imperialism had experienced a worldwide revival in the late 1800’s, with the emigration of Africa and also the production of spheres of influence in China. The idea of president McKinley using the Spanish-American war as one excuse to obtain territory outside of north America worried countless Americans, motivating some to act.

On June 2, 1898, Gamaliel Bradford, a retirement banker and the kid of one abolitionist, published a letter in the Boston night Transcript, arranging a meeting to protest the unified States’ imperialist policies. This conference took location in Faneuil hall on June 15, 1898.<2> in ~ this meeting, Bradford spelled out his concerns:

We are here to firmly insist that a war begun in the cause of mankind shall not be turned into war because that empire, that an effort to success for Cubans the best to govern us shall no be make an pardon for prolonging our persuade over alien peoples without their consent.

The fundamental principles that our government are at stake.<3>

George S. Boutwell, very first President the the American Anti-Imperialist League.

Library of Congress

Boston papers covered the conference extensively, despite the remainder of the country seemingly took small notice. ~ above the exact same day of the Faneuil room meeting, conference voted to annex the island country of Hawaii.<4> because that the first time, the united States’ boundaries had left the American continent. A sovereign nation had to be subverted and subsumed through American interests. If the United claims took that action with Hawaii, doubters thought, what would prevent it native doing the same with Cuba or the Philippines?

The Anti-Imperialist league officially created in Boston on November 19, 1898, through the choice of George S. Boutwell together the Anti-Imperialist League’s an initial president.<5> A founding member the the Republican Party, Boutwell had actually previously offered as the governor of Massachusetts. He had led the impeachment the Andrew Johnson during Reconstruction and also had offered as the Secretary that the Treasury under chairman Grant. Boutwell left the Republican Party in protest of McKinley’s imperialist policies in 1898.<6>

Other essential figures of the moment joined the Anti-Imperials, consisting of the industrialist Andrew Carnegie and the writer Mark Twain. Branches the the league spread across the joined States, v Leagues forming in Chicago, Philadelphia, and also Washington DC. Regardless of the farming anti-imperial movement, however, chairman McKinley and Congress purchased the Philippines indigenous Spain during the 1898 contract of Paris, finishing the Spanish-American War.

Emilio Aguinaldo, 1st President that the Philippine Republic

"War In The Philippines,"1899.

Signed top top December 10, 1898 and ratified through the United states Congress on February 6, 1899, the treaty of Paris completely ignored the human being of the Philippines, who established the Philippine Republic top top January 22, 1899. Emilio Aguinaldo, who had asserted Philippine independence and led the war effort before the United claims arrived, ended up being the republic’s very first President. In an plot of tumultuous hypocrisy, the United says refused to identify the fledgling government. U.S. Troops did no withdraw native Manila. Fighting began nearly as shortly as the Spanish-American war ended.

The American-Philippine war galvanized the Anti-Imperialists. In a decided at the first annual conference of the Anti-Imperialist league in Boston, Boutwell argued:

…the chairman of the United claims has gone into upon a plan of invasion, the conquest—a plan of huge navies and also mighty armies—a plan which will furnish an excuse, and also to plenty of a justifying factor for the creation and maintenance of large navies and also mighty armies, v the lifetime of the nation, whether dubbed a republic or empire. Despotism—absolutism in government—is the necessity of the army and also the navy, and in together schools and also from such training deserve to we suppose to produce or even to keep ideas and practices that are continuous with republican institutions?<7>

The league held continual meetings throughout Boston, including multiple meetings in ~ Faneuil Hall. Just like many causes of the day, Faneuil Hall offered as a symbol because that those conference within it. The Anti-Imperialists capitalized top top the hall’s link to the American Revolution, saying that the occupation the the Philippines directly contradicted the declaration of Independence. George Guylas Miller, the chairman of the Philadelphia Anti-Imperialist organization questioned:

This eighteenth century political viewpoint that Jefferson embodied in the declaration of self-reliance – is that true? …Is it still perfect for twentieth-century America, freedom and an ext prosperous than in the work of her youth? Or has actually plutocracy bred tyrants, and also we must offer up our old faith?<8>

As the league protested American imperialism, the American-Philippine battle continued, with US troops recording Aguinaldo in 1901 v the help of aboriginal scouts. Almost immediately after ~ the news the this operation reached Boston, the organization held another meeting in ~ Faneuil Hall, whereby George fearbut warned the the growing power the imperialism:

The chairman that this meeting has actually alluded to the apathy the the American civilization on this an excellent question. To mine mind this is our best danger…Imperialism is making progress among us, just as that did in ancient Rome, by progressive stages, and without any clear conception on the component of the human being of the tendency of affairs.<9>

“Last was standing of the Anti-Imperialist” by Udo J. Keppler

Library of Congress

The capture of Aguinaldo crippled the Philippine resistance. The war officially ended the following year, through the Philippines steady under United says rule. The League eventually failed in its goal to avoid the United states from acting as an empire. If the League ongoing to exist till 1920, the elevation of its popularity had passed with the finish of the American-Philippine War. Anti-imperialist protests against these plans remain unanswered. However, the organization left behind a valuable lesson: there is no public support, also the many idealistic of activities will fail.

Contributed by: Aaron Zack, Park Ranger


<1> "WILLIAM McKINLEY:War Message, 1898," accessed October 1, 2020. Https://

<2> Stephen Kinzer, ""White peaceful Wings": Debating U.S. Imperialism in 1898." Historic newspaper of Massachusetts 48, no. 1 (Winter 2020): 25–45,, 26.

<3> Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA. "Image 4 of conserve the Republic. Anti-Imperialist Leaflet No. 11 <-21> ," digital text, accessed September 16, 2020,

<4> Kinzer, ""White peaceful Wings,"" 26.

<5> E. Berkeley Tompkins, Anti-Imperialism in the joined States: The an excellent Debate, 1890-1920 (University the Pennsylvania Press, 1970),, 126.

<6> "George S. Boutwell (1869–1873) | miller Center," accessed October 4, 2016,

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<8> Free America, cost-free Cuba, totally free Philippines: Addresses in ~ a meeting in Faneuil Hall, Saturday, march 30, 1901 (Boston : brand-new England Anti-Imperialist League, 1901),, 32.