The Anti-Imperialist Movement
Not all Americans were excited by the expansion of the nation's empire. Anti-imperialists protested the nation's growing interest in foreign territories. William Jennings Bryan became one of the movement's most prominent leaders and ran for president on an anti-imperialist platform in 1900. Bryan lost the election, but the anti-imperialist movement carried on. It was a broad coalition uniting citizens across race, class, gender, and political party lines. While these groups worked to a common goal—an end to aggressive American expansion—their motivations often varied.
Some anti-imperialists supported segregation in addition to self-determination. They argued that the US should remain within its borders to avoid the mixing of white and nonwhite peoples. Others perceived empire as a direct contradiction to the nation's democratic commitments. Writing on the Philippine Islands, one man commented: "If the Declaration of Independence be true…[Filipinos] are to decide for themselves...otherwise there is no freedom." African American anti-imperialists like W. E. B. Du Bois found disturbing similarities between the racist Jim Crow policies of the American South and colonial oppressions dictating the lives of native Hawaiians, Filipinos, and Puerto Ricans. The anti-imperialist movement was but another front for Black activists to combat racism.