ALBERT J. BEVERIDGE, "MARCH OF THE FLAG"
(16 September 1898): TEACHING AND LEARNING MATERIALS
A. What other metaphors of continuity are used in
addition to the allegory of the march and the
flag? Examples include references to the sun, fire, and, most often, water in
motion. Within the speech, reference "the idiocy of him who changed
horses while crossing a stream," paragraph 16; "It is the tide of God's great purposes made manifest in
the instincts of our race,"
paragraph 67; "And he who throws himself before that current is
like him who, with puny arm, tries to turn the gulf stream from its course, or
stay, by idle incantations, the blessed processes of the sun," paragraph
67; "or, shall we risk it to those
who would scuttle the ship of progress and build a dam in the current of
destiny's large designs. . . .," paragraph 68; "blazing fires
of joy and the ringing bells of gladness," paragraph 78. Why might Beveridge have chosen the
"March of the Flag" above the others as the theme of the speech?
B. According to Beveridge, what is the "mission of
our race," and who or what has ordained that this is so? How was discourse involving race different in
Beveridge's day from contemporary politics?
C. How does Beveridge prove that taking control of the Philippines is crucial to the economic interests
of the United States? How does he use evidence and statistics to
make his point?
D. Although we mainly read "March of the Flag"
today with an eye on the discourse of imperialism and
race, Beveridge focused much of his speech on the party politics of his day and
the need for reelecting the McKinley administration to office. How does
Beveridge tie expansionism and currency issues with his characterizations of
the administration (e.g., "McKinley the Just," paragraph 25) and the
opposition (e.g., "infidels to the gospel of liberty," paragraph
40)? What does Beveridge gain from these
E. In what ways is "March of the Flag" a
typical campaign speech? What does the march metaphor do for Beveridge's campaign and his party's
F. Discuss the concepts of liberty, civilization,
Manifest Destiny, Social Darwinism, and expansionism both today and in their
historical context. Which of these terms might be key concepts in politics today
and which might have diminished as useful ways of understanding social values?
When and why did these changes occur over the course of last century?
Divide the discussion topics above (liberty, civilization, Manifest Destiny,
Social Darwinism, and expansionism) among students and write a short essay and
prepare a class presentation on the idea as it was expressed and experienced
during the Progressive Era. Other topics of historical research include the
events of the Spanish-American War, William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, and
William Jennings Bryan.
Read another text from the era, such as Theodore Roosevelt's "The
Strenuous Life" speech. How do the
two texts differ in persuasive techniques, themes, and language? What similarities
Read Beveridge's The Art of Public Speaking. The book contains
interesting descriptions of stump campaign speeches of the eighteenth-century
and gives a simple account of public speaking practices inherited from the
classical tradition. What characteristics from Beveridge's
handbook are still reflected today in public speaking instruction?
Visit the White House website at http://www.whitehouse.gov.
Search the president's speeches for terms such as "Liberty," "Freedom,"
"Security," and "Civilization" to see how many times they
are used in contemporary American discourse. Next, re-examine what exactly
these words mean in their particular location in the speech and in the larger
context of the rhetorical situation.
Report the findings to the class or in the form of a short essay.
Prepare a three or four minute rebuttal speech to "March of the
Flag." Instruct the students to consider ethical arguments to counter
Beveridge's argument, as well as rhetorical tropes like the march
metaphor that could be persuasive. Reflect on the difficulty of finding strong
choices of rebuttal suited for the context of an 1890s
Visit the CIA Country Factbook website and contrast
the data on the United States
and the Philippines
today. Beveridge makes special
references of the resources and culture of the country. Compare his
descriptions to contemporary information, particularly on the issues of the
economy (GDP), race and population, geographic size, religion, and natural
Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies at Wayne State
University, wrote about
the Beveridge and the “March of the Flag” speech:
evangelical mission articulated by Beveridge is also evident in the Bush
Doctrine, a doctrine premised on Bush's sense that 'Freedom is not America's gift to the world, but Providence's.' In a more
secular mode, the neo-conservatives (Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Libby, Feith,
Rice, et. al.) who formulated the policy to 'liberate' Iraq and establish a
beachhead of 'democracy' in the Middle East have much in common with those who
believed with President McKinley that the U.S. would be rescuing the savage
Filipinos from barbarism. Of course, the arrogance endemic in both efforts to
reshape a foreign culture in the image of the United States accounts for the
moral blindness, a blindness that led to massive slaughtering of Filipinos and
is on that same tragic trajectory in Iraq.
Other commonalities between U.S. policy in Iraq
and the Philippines
underscore the geopolitics of empire. In the Philippines,
the United States was
seeking coaling stations in its expansion to a two-ocean navy and as a stepping
stone to the potential markets of China. In Iraq, the U.S.
intends to set up permanent military bases for potential threats against Syria and Iran
and to protect U.S.
interests in oil and gas in the Middle East and Caspian Basin.
Unlike Iraq where the
politics of oil is central to U.S.
policy, the policy in the Philippines
was not driven by immediate economic interests." Taken
from Fran Shor, “Historical Analogies: Iraq is to Vietnam is to…,” George Mason University’s HNN History News
Network (19 Feb 2004). Internet. Available at
<http://hnn.us/articles/4652.html>. Accessed on 7 Dec 2006.
does "March of the Flag" specifically relate to Shor's
argument? Can we find connections between Beveridge's speech and the U.S. war in Iraq? How does Shor's
argument misrepresent President Bush’s policy in Iraq or the imperialist rhetoric of
the late 1890s? For example, Shor makes the claim
that policy in the Philippines
was not driven by "immediate economic interests," while the
"March of the Flag" speech relies heavily on economic arguments as
motivation for expansion. Do other
problems exist in Shor's argument in light of the Beveridge speech?