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The Spanish-American War presented the United States with an opportunity to expand its political control over territories outside of North America. Manifest Destiny had been the principle which had guided the determinaton of Americans to control as much of the North American mainland as possible, but there was a great disagreement beyond that point.

William Jennings Bryan, speaking at the Democratic National Convention in Kansas City in 1900, opposed American involvement in the Philippines. He stated:

Those who would have this nation enter upon a career of empire must consider not only the effect of imperialism on the Filipinos but they must also calculate its effects upon our own nation. We cannot repudiate the principle of self-government in the Philippines without weakening that principle here.
Others who voiced their concern included Andrew Carnegie, Jane Addams, Mark Twain, and Samuel Gompers.