Leonard Wood and the American Empire



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During the ten years following the Spanish American War (1898 to 1908), Major General Leonard Wood served as the primary agent of American imperialism. Wood was not only a proconsul of the new American Empire; he was a symbol of the empire and the age in which he served. He had the distinction of directing civil and military government in Cuba and the Philippines where he implemented the imperial policies given to him by the administrations of William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt. In Cuba, he labored to rebuild a state and a civil society crippled by decades of revolutionary ferment and guided the administration's policy through the dangerous channels of Cuban politics in a way that satisfied ? at least to the point of avoiding another revolution ? both the Cubans and the United States. In the Philippines, Wood took control of the Moro Province and attempted to smash the tribal-religious leadership of Moro society in order to bring it under direct American rule. His personal ideology, the imperial policies he shepherded, and the guidance he provided to fellow military officers and the administrations he served in matters of colonial administration and defense shaped the American Empire and endowed it with his personal stamp.