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The Gospel of KindnessAnimal Welfare and the Making of Modern America$
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Janet M. Davis

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199733156

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199733156.001.0001

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An Empire of Kindness

An Empire of Kindness

American Animal Welfare Policy and Moral Expansionism Overseas

(p.116) 4 An Empire of Kindness
The Gospel of Kindness

Janet M. Davis

Oxford University Press

This chapter investigates animal advocacy and municipal animal policy in America’s overseas empire in the aftermath of the Spanish-American War. During this period, many humane leaders were anti-imperialists, openly condemning military expansionism. Yet they fully believed in the nation’s moral mission overseas. Working with Protestant missionaries, temperance activists, educators, and other social reformers, American animal advocates and their indigenous allies in the Philippines, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Hawaii promoted assimilative American values of benevolence, free moral agency, personal uplift, and sobriety through humane education initiatives, the Bands of Mercy, and SPCA activism overseas. Even policymakers with no direct ties to the humane movement made animal welfare legislation in the empire an essential feature of civilized governance. These policies, however, periodically clashed with culturally specific practices, such as the cockfight, a prized indigenous sport throughout the empire and a key expression of cultural nationalism and resistance to American colonial rule.

Keywords:   animal welfare policy, cultural nationalism, Red Star Animal Relief, Philippines, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Spanish-American War, benevolent assimilation

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