Sitting in Darkness:  New South Fiction, Education,

And the Rise of Jim Crow Colonialism, 1865-1920

by Peter Schmidt

Complete Notes and Discussion for Chapter Eight

(Twain and Tolentino)

Supplementing the print edition of this book


1.  Quoted from an Anti-Imperialist League archival website,, accessed October 26, 2006.

2.  David Healy rightly chooses Carl Schurz as a figure who well embodies the contradictions of the Anti-Imperialist League.  A German immigrant, he was shaped by abolitionism and after the Civil War allied with Senator Charles Sumner (one of the architects of Reconstruction) to defeat President Grant’s attempts to annex Santo Domingo in 1869-70; he was an influential leader in anti-annexation causes in the 1890s as well.  Schurz’s arguments were driven by his attempt to make the U.S. the heir to great Teutonic civilizations of the past, and his belief that neither whites nor republican institutions could thrive in the tropics, where all cultures degenerated (Healy 213-18; see also Love, especially 182-83).  Though not allied with the Anti-Imperialist League centered in Boston and New York, a good many New South governors and senators used similar racial arguments in opposing expansionism abroad, and they usually invoked Reconstruction much more directly than Northerners did as a cautionary tale.  For an important early critique of anti-imperialist racism, see Lasch.  Other figures in the League included E. L. Godkin, editor of The Nation; Andrew Carnegie; Charles Francis Adams, Jr.; Mark Twain; and William James.  For a superb rethinking of James’ anti-imperialism in the context of his philosophy of pragmatism, see Bramen 29-66, who stresses James’ and the League’s emphasis on political autonomy within a “cultural conversion” narrative that would “civilize” the colonies (61). 

3.  Also particularly relevant to the issue of contradictions in both pro- and anti-imperialist arguments are two other articles in the Cultures of United States Imperialism anthology (edited by Kaplan and Pease) by Walter Benn Michaels and Kenneth M. Warren.  Pease’s and Kaplan’s collection provides a much-needed start for comparative and transnational perspectives on U.S. imperial discourse, but too often writers from the Caribbean, Latin America, and the South Pacific are left out of the debates.

4.  This request for more comparative and transnational work does not assume that U.S. writers should always be central, but rather that bringing such perspectives to U.S. studies is an important phase of the larger postcolonial studies project.  For more on Rizal, see Campomanes, “1898 and the Nature of the New Empire”; Rafael, “Nationalism, Imagery, and the Filipino Intelligentsia”; and Dizon.  The 1900 and 1919 statements by Du Bois on colonialism are discussed in David Levering Lewis’ biography; see especially Volume One, 248-51 and 574-78.  Du Bois’ 1919 text was designed to refute fellow conference participant Blaise Diagne’s “paean to French colonialism and to the privileges subject peoples slowly evolving under its tutelage were said to enjoy” (Lewis 574).  Lewis admirably places these two Du Bois texts within the gossip and politics of the times, but any reading of both should emphasize Du Bois’ crucial shift from pleading in 1900 to the 1919 list of demands that follows his analysis of colonialism’s evils.  Du Bois’ concluded the 1919 text with a prayer:  “Out of the depths we have cried into the deaf and dumb masters of the world.  Out of the depths we cry to our wounded souls.”   See Sundquist, Du Bois Reader, 625-27, 640-44). 

                  Many other texts of Du Bois are being re-read as foundational postcolonial interventions, including the powerful analysis linking imperialism in Africa to the cataclysm of World War I in Darkwater (1920).  We should also begin to construe The Souls of Black Folk (1903) as an early response to contemporary racist historians’ reinterpretation of Reconstruction, a process that culminated in Du Bois’ Black Reconstruction (1935).  (Souls and Black Reconstruction need to be read contrapuntally as well with texts such as John Roy Lynch’s The Facts of Reconstruction [1913], for Du Bois admired Lynch [Lewis 519].)  Ida B. Wells-Barnett has been well placed within histories of anti-lynching crusades and general American reform movements (see, for instance, Schechter), but little work has yet been done exploring her writings from the perspective of postcolonial theory and history.  Sarah Sarita See has a fine essay arguing that white Southerners’ claims of being unjustly colonized during Reconstruction must be understood in the context of legal arguments excluding Filipinos in the U.S. from making analogous claims about the post-1898 period:  see her “Southern Postcoloniality and the Improbability of Filipino American Postcoloniality.”  I also would like to note here that I had the benefit of reading a portion of David Luis-Brown’s book manuscript on these subjects, Waves of Decolonization: Transamerican Discourses of Race and Hemispheric Citizenship, which promises to be an important addition to scholarship on these topics.

5.  I read Ferrer in the context of other contemporary historians such as Amy Kaplan, Donald Pease, John Carlos Rowe, Amritjit Singh, Louis Pérez, Oscar Campomanes, E. San Juan, Jr., and Angel V. Shaw and Luis H. Francia, among many, via books and essay anthologies such as TheCultures of United States Imperialism, National Identities and Post-Americanist Narratives, Postcolonial Theories and the U.S., and Vestiges of War: The Philippine-American War and the Aftermath of an Imperial Dream, 1899-1999.  For book-length studies of the paradoxes of the Cuban independence movement, see Pérez and Helg.  I have also immensely benefited from George Handley’s fine analyses of the ideological inheritance of plantation colonial discourse as it affects both U.S. and Cuban post-slavery writing, including Martí’s (Chapters 1-3); Martí cannot simply be heroicized as a colonial resister.  For another complex postcolonial reading of Martí, see Irwin.

6.  For much more detailed discussion of the paradox that in a colonial context the transition toward native “autonomy” can serve the interests of both U.S. and Filipino elites, see The American Colonial State in the Philippines: Global Perspectives, Julian Go and Anne L. Foster, eds. (2003).  This was articulated as early as 1899 by President McKinley’s Secretary of War, Elihu Root, in his “Principles of Colonial Policy.”

7.  These teachers were known as Thomasites, after the ship; eventually over 1,000 teachers journeyed from the U.S. to the Philippines in 1901-02.  Source:, accessed October 26, 2006.

8.  One representative justification of U.S. violence against the insurgents:  “[T]he Filipino, as such, was little better than a dog, a noisome reptile in some instances, whose best disposition was the rubbish heap.  Our soldiers have pumped salt water into men to ‘make them talk,’ have taken prisoners people who . . . peacefully surrendered, and an hour later, without an atom of evidence to show that they were even insurrectos, stood them on a bridge and shot them down one by one, to . . . float down, as examples to those who found their bullet-loaded corpses.  It is not civilized warfare; but we are not dealing with a civilized people.  The only thing they know and fear is force, violence, and brutality, and we give it to them.”  Correspondent for the Philadelphia Public Ledger; quoted in S. Doc. 166, 57th Congress, 1st Sess., 2.  Cited by Slotkin, 859.

9.  I quote from Twain’s “To the Person Sitting in Darkness” as reproduced in the anthology Vestiges of War: The Philippine-American War and the Aftermath of an Imperial Dream, edited by Angel Shaw and Luis Francia in 1999, in order to underline the continuing presence Twain’s satire has in contemporary postcolonial activism and cultural studies.  For basic analysis of Twain’s anti-imperialistic work, see Zwick.

10.  All quotations from Tolentino’s play are from Riggs’ Filipino Drama, reissued in 1981.  Riggs was a military medical officer attached to the occupying forces; he later had a flourishing career as a journalist and travel writer, among other adventures.

Many of the standard historical studies of the U.S.’s colonization of the Philippines are infected with Orientalism.  As antidotes, I especially recommend Vicente L. Rafael’s articles and book; Oscar Campomanes, “1898 and the Nature of the New Empire” and “The New Empire’s Forgetful and Forgotten Citizens”; Ambeth R. Ocampo, “Bones of Contention,” part of a special issue of Amerasia Journal on the U.S. and the Philippines (1998); Kimberly Alidio, “‘When I Get Home, I Want to Forget’”; Sarita See, “An Open Wound:  Colonial Melancholia and Contemporary Filipino/American Texts”; Epifanio San Juan, Jr., After Postcolonialism; and Sharon Delmendo’s The Star-Entangled Banner.  Rafael has a excellent brief reading of Tolentino’s censored play, Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow, along with the colonial compilation The Filipino Drama by Arthur Stanley Riggs (1905), which features plays both in Tagalog and translated into English, citations from the Supreme Court sedition ruling, and Riggs’ comments on the threats to U.S. rule that the plays posed (Rafael, “White Love” 208-09 and 217-18n6).  For contemporary works treating Tolentino’s play in its historical context, see Fernandez; and Dizon, especially “False Vision.”

11.  For the Hawaiian documents, see the address maintained by Hamilton Collection, University of Hawaii at Manoa (accessed Nov. 3, 2006).  Included are Senate debates (especially …/annexation/organic/oa093.html); the drafts and final versions of the Organic Act (…/annexation/organic/oa108.html); and the full text of the Citizen’s Protest letter of 1897 (…annexation/protest/liliu9.html).  In the U.S. Congressional Record, the Organic Act and Congressional debates are recorded in Volume 33, Parts 1-8, covering Dec. 4, 1899 to June 7, 1900.  For an analysis of the petitions, their background, and the reasons for the failed Senate ratification, see Noenoe K. Silva, “The 1897 Petitions Protesting Annexation,” on the same website []. 

12.  For basic information on the Palmer raids, I have used Wikipedia:, accessed October 30, 2006.  See also Howard Zinn’s A People’s History, “War is the Health of the State.”

13.  Twain quoted from a letter (Zwick, “Mark Twain’s Anti-Imperialist Writings” 40).  The Amy Kaplan quotation about imperialist melancholy is from her Anarchy of Empire 57; see also 51-91.  For the foundational discussion defining what he calls “imperialist nostalgia,” see Renato Rosaldo 68-87.  For further work on race, loss, and melancholia, see David Eng and Sarita See, who make the important distinction between imperial and colonial melancholy—the former involves regrets by those who benefit from the colonial enterprise; the latter, a sense of bereavement and dismemberment suffered by colonialism’s victims.