Our Foreign Dependencies

Performed by William H. Taft
Recorded August 5, 1908

The Republican party has pursued consistently the policy originally adopted with respect to the dependencies which came to us as the result of the Spanish War. The material prosperity of Puerto Rico and the progress of its inhabitants toward better conditions in respect to comfort of living and education should make every American proud that this nation has been an efficient instrument in bringing happiness to a million people. In Cuba, the provisional government established in order to prevent a bloody revolution, has so administered affairs and initiated the necessary laws, as to make it possible to turn back the island to the lawfully elected officers of the Republic in February next. In the Philippines, the experiment of a national assembly has justified itself both as an assistant in the government of the island and as an education in the practice of self-government to the people of the island. We have established a government with effective and honest executive department and a clean and fearless administration of justice. We have created and are maintaining a comprehensive school system which is educating the youth of the islands in English and in industrial branches. We have constructed great government public works, roads and harbor. We have induced the private construction of 800 miles of railroad; we have policed the island so that their condition as to law and order is better now than it ever has been in their history. It is quite unlikely that the people, because of the dense ignorance of 90 percent, will be ready for complete self-government and independence before two generations have passed. But the policy of increasing partial self-government step by step, as the people shall show themselves fit for it, should be continued. The proposition of the Democratic platform is to turn over the island as soon as a stable government is established. This has been established. The proposal then is in effect to turn them over at once. Such action would lead to ultimate chaos in the islands and the progress among the ignorant masses in education and better living will stop. We are engaged in the Philippines in a great missionary work that does our nation honor and is certain to promote in a most effective way the influence of Christian civilization. It is cowardly to lay down the burden until our purpose is achieved.