America and the Philippines

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America and the Philippines

America and the Philippines

Manila Philippines Map 1
Manila Philippines Map
Manila Philippines seal
Manila Philippines seal
Manila Philippines Coat of Arms
Manila Philippines Coat of Arms
Manila Philippines Flag
Manila Philippines Flag

America and the Philippines

Beginning of a New Era.—With the passing of the Spanish sovereignty to the Americans, a new era began in the Philippines. Already the old Spanish rule seems so far removed that we can begin to think of it without feeling and study it without prejudice.

Development of the United States of America.—The American nation is the type of the New World. Beginning in a group of colonies, planted half a century later than the settlement of the Philippines, it has had a development unparalleled in the history of states. Although peopled by emigrants from Europe, who rigidly preserved both their purity of race and pride of ancestry, the American colonists, at the end of a century, were far separated in spirit and institutions from the Old World.

Struggle with the wilderness and with the savage produced among them a society more democratic and more independent than Europe had ever known; while their profound religious convictions saved the colonists from barbarism and intellectual decline. It can truthfully be held, that in 1775, at the outbreak of the American Revolution, the colonists had abler men and greater political ability than the mother-country of England. It was these men who, at the close of the Revolution, framed the American Constitution, the greatest achievement in the history of public law. This nation, endowed at its commencement with so precious an inheritance of political genius, felt its civil superiority to the illiberal or ineffective governments of Europe, and this feeling has produced in Americans a supreme and traditional confidence in their own forms of government and democratic standards of life. Certainly their history contains much to justify the choice of their institutions.

 

Mindanao, Visayas, and Paragua

A hundred and twenty-five years ago, these colonies were a small nation of 2,500,000 people, occupying no more than the Atlantic coast of the continent. Great mountain chains divided them from the interior, which was overrun by the fiercest and most warlike type of man that the races have produced—the American Indian. With an energy which has shown no diminishing from generation to generation, the American broke through these mountain chains, subdued the wilderness, conquered the Indian tribes, and in the space of three generations was master of the continent of North America.

Even while engaged in the War for Independence, the American frontiersman crossed the Appalachians and secured Kentucky and the Northwest Territory, and with them the richest and most productive regions of the Temperate Zone,—the Mississippi Valley. In 1803, the great empire of Louisiana, falling from the hand of France, was added to the American nation. In 1818, Florida was ceded by Spain, and in 1857, as a result of war with Mexico, came the Greater West and the Pacific seaboard. This vast dominion, nearly three thousand miles in width from east to west, has been peopled by natural increase and by immigration from Europe, until, at the end of the nineteenth century, the American nation numbered seventy-four million souls.

This development has taken place without fundamental change in the constitution or form of government, without loss of individual liberty, and constantly increasing national prosperity. Moreover, the States have survived the Civil War, the most bloody and persistently fought war of all modern centuries—a war in which a million soldiers fell, and to sustain which three and a half billion dollars in gold were expended out of the national treasury. This war accomplished the abolition of negro slavery, the greatest economic revolution ever effected by a single blow.

Such in brief is the history of the American nation, so gifted with political intelligence, so driven by sleepless energy, so proud of its achievements, and inwardly so contemptuous of the more polished but less liberal life of the Old World. Europe has never understood this nation, and not until a few years ago did Europeans dream of its progress and its power.

Relation of the United States to South American Republics.—Toward the republics of Spanish America the United States has always stood in a peculiar relation. These countries achieved their independence of Spain under the inspiration of the success of the United States. Their governments were framed in imitation of the American, and in spite of the turbulence and disorder of their political life, the United States has always felt and manifested a strong sympathy for these states as fellow-republics. She has moreover pledged herself to the maintenance of their integrity against the attacks of European powers. This position of the United States in threatening with resistance the attempt of any European power to seize American territory is known as the Monroe Doctrine, because it was first declared by President Monroe in 1823.

Sympathy of American People for the Oppressed Cubans.—The fact that the American nation attained its own independence by revolution has made the American people give ready sympathy to the cause of the revolutionist. The people of Cuba, who made repeated ineffective struggles against Spanish sovereignty, always had the good wishes of the American people. By international usage, however, one nation may not recognize or assist revolutionists against a friendly power until their independence is practically effected.

Thus, when rebellion broke out afresh in Cuba in 1894, the United States government actively suppressed the lending of assistance to the Cubans, as was its duty, although the American people themselves heartily wished Cuba free. The war in Cuba dragged along for years and became more and more merciless. The passions of Cubans and Spaniards were so inflamed that quarter was seldom given, and prisoners were not spared. Spain poured her troops into the island until there were 120,000 on Cuban soil, but the rebellion continued.

The Spanish have always been merciless in dealing with revolutionists. Americans, on the other hand, have always conceded the moral right of a people to resist oppressive government, and in the entire history of the United States there has scarcely been a single punishment for political crime. Although probably the fiercest war in history was the American Civil War from 1861 to 1865, there was not a single execution for treason. Thus the stories of the constant executions of political prisoners, on an island in sight of its own shores, greatly exasperated America, as did the policy of Governor-general Weyler, which was excessive in its severity.

War with Spain.—Destruction of the “Maine.”—As the contest proceeded without sign of termination, the patience of the American people grew less. Then, February 15, 1898, occurred one of the most deplorable events of recent times. The American battleship “Maine,” lying in the harbor of Havana, was, in the night, blown to destruction by mine or torpedo, killing 266 American officers and sailors. It is impossible to believe that so dastardly an act was done with the knowledge of the higher Spanish officials; but the American people rightly demanded that a government such as Spain maintained in Cuba, unable to prevent such an outrage upon the vessel of a friendly power, and that could neither suppress its rebellion nor wage war humanely, should cease.

Declaration of War.—On April 19th the American Congress demanded that Spain withdraw from the island and recognize the independence of Cuba. This was practically a declaration of war. Spain indignantly refused, and resolved upon resistance. Unfortunately, the ignorant European press claimed for Spain military and naval superiority.

The war was brief, and was an overwhelming disaster to Spain. Every vessel of her proud navy that came under the fire of American guns was destroyed.

For a few months battle raged along the coasts of Cuba, and then Spain sued for peace.

Dewey’s Victory in Manila Bay.—But meanwhile the war, begun without the slightest reference to the Philippine Islands, had brought about surprising consequences here.

At the opening of the war, both Spain and the United States had squadrons in Asiatic waters. The Spanish fleet lay at Cavite, the American ships gathered at Hongkong. Immediately on the declaration of war, the American naval commander, Dewey, was ordered to destroy the Spanish fleet, which was feared on the Pacific coast of America. Dewey entered the Bay of Manila in darkness on the morning of May 1st, and made direct for the Spanish vessels at Cavite. His fleet was the more powerful and immeasurably the more efficient. In a few hours the Spanish navy was utterly destroyed and Manila lay at the mercy of his guns.

A New Insurrection, under Aguinaldo.—At this signal catastrophe to Spain, the smoldering insurrection in the Islands broke out afresh. The Spanish troops not in Manila were driven in upon their posts, and placed in a position of siege. The friars, so hated by the revolutionists, were captured in large numbers and were in some cases killed. With the permission and assistance of the American authorities, Aguinaldo returned from Singapore, and landed at Cavite. Here he immediately headed anew the Philippine insurrection.

Capture of Manila.—Troops were dispatched from San Francisco for the capture of Manila. By the end of July, 8,500 men lay in the transports off Cavite. They were landed at the little estuary of Parañaque, and advanced northwards upon Fort San Antonio and the defenses of Malate. The Spaniards behind the city’s defenses, although outnumbering the Americans, were sick and dispirited. One attempt was made to drive back the invading army, but on the following day the Americans swept through the defenses and line of blockhouses, and Manila capitulated (August 13, 1898).

The Filipinos had scarcely participated in the attack on the city, and they were excluded from occupying it after its surrender. This act was justified, because the Filipino forces had been very recently raised, the soldiers were undisciplined, and had they entered the city, with passions as they were inflamed, it was feared by the Americans that their officers might not be able to keep them from looting and crime.

Misunderstanding between Americans and Filipinos.—Up to this point, the relations between the American and Filipino armies had been friendly. But here began that misunderstanding and distrust which for so many months were to alienate these two peoples and imbitter their intercourse.

Provisional Government of the Filipinos.—In the interval between the destruction of the Spanish fleet and the capture of Manila, the Filipinos in Cavite had organized a provisional government and proclaimed the independence of the archipelago.

American Ideas in Regard to the Philippines.—The idea of returning these islands to the Spanish power was exceedingly repugnant to American sentiment. Spain’s attitude toward revolutionists was well understood in America, and the Filipinos had acted as America’s friends and allies. On the other hand, the American government was unwilling to turn over to the newly organized Filipino republic the government of the archipelago. It was felt in America, and with reason, that this Filipino government was not truly representative of all the people in the Philippines, that the Filipino leaders were untried men, and that the people themselves had not had political training and experience. The United States, having overthrown the Spanish government here, was under obligation to see that the government established in its place would represent all and do injustice to none. The Filipinos were very slightly known to Americans, but their educated class was believed to be small and their political ability unproven. Thus, no assurances were given to the Filipino leaders that their government would be recognized, or that their wishes would be consulted in the future of the Islands. In fact, these matters could be settled only by action of the American Congress, which was late in assembling and slow to act.

The Terms of Peace.—Spain and America were now negotiating terms of peace. These negotiations were conducted at Paris, and dragged on during many critical weeks. The Filipinos were naturally very much concerned over the outcome.

Finally, the American government demanded of Spain that she cede the Islands to the United States and accept the sum of $20,000,000 gold, for public works and improvements which she had made.

 

General Luna.

Suspicions of the Filipino Leaders.—These terms became known in December, 1898. They served to awaken the worst suspicions of the Filipino leaders. Many believed that they were about to exchange the oppressive domination of Spain for the selfish and equally oppressive domination of America. There is reason to believe that some leaders counseled patience, and during the succeeding months made a constant effort to maintain the peace, but the radical party among the Filipinos was led by a man of real gifts and fiery disposition, Antonio Luna. He had received an education in Europe, had had some instruction in military affairs, and when in September the Filipino government was transferred to Malolos, Luna became the general in chief of the military forces. He was also editor of the most radical Filipino newspaper, “La Independencia.”

 

Apolinario Mabini.

New Filipino Government.—On January 4, 1899, President McKinley issued a special message to General Otis, commanding the armies of the United States in the Philippines, declaring that American sovereignty must be recognized without conditions. It was thought in the United States that a firm declaration of this kind would be accepted by the Filipinos and that they would not dare to make resistance. The intentions of the American president and nation, as subsequent events have proven, were to deal with the Filipinos with great liberality; but the president’s professions were not trusted by the Filipinos, and the result of Mr. McKinley’s message was to move them at once to frame an independent government and to decide on war.

This new government was framed at Malolos, Bulacan, by a congress with representatives from most of the provinces of central Luzon. The “Malolos Constitution” was proclaimed January 23, 1899, and Don Emilio Aguinaldo was elected president. The cabinet, or ministry, included Don Apolinario Mabini, secretary of state; Don Teodoro Sandico, secretary of interior; General Baldomero Aguinaldo, secretary of war; General Mariano Trias, secretary of treasury; Don Engracio Gonzaga, secretary of public instruction and agriculture.

War with the Americans.—Battle of Manila.—The Filipino forces were impatient for fighting, and attack on the American lines surrounding Manila began on the night of February 4th. It is certain that battle had been decided upon and in preparation for some time, and that fighting would have been begun in any case, before the arrival of reënforcements from America; but the attack was precipitated a little early by the killing at San Juan Bridge of a Filipino officer who refused to halt when challenged by an American sentry. On that memorable and dreadful night, the battle raged with great fury along the entire circle of defenses surrounding the city, from Tondo on the north to Fort San Antonio de Abad, south of the suburb of Malate. Along three main avenues from the north, east, and south the Filipinos attempted to storm and enter the capital, but although they charged with reckless bravery, and for hours sustained a bloody combat, they had fatally underestimated the fighting qualities of the American soldier.

The volunteer regiments of the American army came almost entirely from the western United States, where young men are naturally trained to the use of arms, and are imbued by inheritance with the powerful and aggressive qualities of the American frontier. When morning broke, the Filipino line of attack had, at every point, been shattered and thrown back, and the Americans had advanced their positions on the north to Caloocan, on the east to the Water Works and the Mariquina Valley, and on the south to Pasay.

Declaration of War.—Unfortunately, during the night attack and before the disaster to Filipino arms was apparent, Aguinaldo had launched against the United States a declaration of war. This declaration prevented the Americans from trusting the Filipino overtures which followed this battle, and peace was not made.

The Malolos Campaign.—On March 25th began the American advance upon the Filipino capital of Malolos. This Malolos campaign, as it is usually called, occupied six days, and ended in the driving of the Filipino army and government from their capital. Hard fighting took place in the first days of this advance, and two extremely worthy American officers were killed, Colonels Egbert and Stotsenberg.

The Filipino army was pursued in its retreat as far as Calumpit, where on the southern bank of the Rio Grande de Pampanga the American line rested during the height of the rainy season. During this interval the volunteer regiments, whose terms of service had long expired, were returned to the States, and their places taken by regiments of the regular army.

The American Army.—The American army at that time, besides the artillery, consisted of twenty-five regiments of infantry and ten of cavalry. Congress now authorized the organization of twenty-four new regiments of infantry, to be known as the 26th to the 49th Regiments of U. S. Volunteers, and one volunteer regiment of cavalry, the 11th, for a service of two years. These regiments were largely officered by men from civil life, familiar with a great variety of callings and professions,—men for the most part of fine character, whose services in the months that followed were very great not only in the field, but in gaining the friendship of the Filipino people and in representing the character and intentions of the American government.

Anti-War Agitators in America.—Through the summer of 1899 the war was not pressed by the American general, nor were the negotiations with the Filipino leaders conducted with success. The Filipinos were by no means dismayed. In spite of their reverses, they believed the conquest of the Islands impossible to foreign troops. Furthermore, the war had met with tremendous opposition in America. Many Americans believed that the war was against the fundamental rights of the Filipino people. They attacked the administration with unspeakable bitterness. They openly expressed sympathy for the Filipino revolutionary cause, and for the space of two years their encouragement was an important factor in sustaining the rebellion.

Spread of the Insurrection.—In these same summer months the revolutionary leaders spread their cause among the surrounding provinces and islands. The spirit of resistance was prominent at first only among the Tagálog, but gradually nearly all the Christianized population was united in resistance to the American occupation.

Occupation of Negros.—The Americans had meanwhile occupied Iloilo and the Bisayas, and shortly afterwards the presidios in Mindanao surrendered by the Spaniards. In Negros, also, exceptional circumstances had transpired. The people in this island invited American sovereignty; and Gen. James Smith, sent to the island in March as governor, assisted the people in forming a liberal government, through which insurrection and disorder in that island were largely avoided.

Death of General Luna.—With the cessation of heavy rains, the fighting was begun again in northern Luzon. The Filipino army had its headquarters in Tarlac, and its lines occupied the towns of the provinces of Pangasinan and Nueva Ecija, stretching in a long line of posts from the Zambales Mountains almost to the upper waters of the Rio Pampanga. It was still well armed, provisioned, and resolute; but the brilliant, though wayward, organizer of this army was dead. The Nationalist junta, which had directed the Philippine government and army, had not been able to reconcile its differences. It is reported that Luna aspired to a dictatorship. He was killed by soldiers of Aguinaldo at Cabanatuan.

 

American Campaigns in Northern Luzón

The Campaign in Northern Luzon.—The American generals now determined upon a strategic campaign. General MacArthur was to command an advance up the railroad from Calumpit upon Tarlac; General Lawton, with a flying column of swift infantry and cavalry, was to make a flanking movement eastward through Nueva Ecija and hem the Filipino forces in upon the east. Meanwhile, General Wheaton was to convey a force by transport to the Gulf of Lingayen, to throw a cordon across the Ilocano coast that should cut off the retreat of the Filipino army northward. As a strategic movement, this campaign was only partially successful. MacArthur swept northward, crushing the Filipino line on his front, his advance being led by the active regiment of General J. Franklin Bell. Lawton’s column scoured the country eastward, marching with great rapidity and tremendous exertions. Swollen rivers were crossed with great loss of life, and the column, cutting loose from its supplies, was frequently in need of food. It was in this column that the Filipino first saw with amazement the great American cavalry horse, so large beside the small pony of the Philippines. Lawton’s descent was so swift that the Philippine government and staff narrowly escaped capture.

On the night of November 11th, the Filipino generals held their last council of war at Bayambang on the Rio Agno, and resolved upon dispersal. Meanwhile, Wheaton had landed at San Fabian, upon the southern Ilocano coast, but his force was insufficient to establish an effective cordon, and on the night of November 15th Aguinaldo, with a small party of ministers and officers, closely pursued by the cavalry of Lawton under the command of General Young, slipped past, through the mountains of Pozorubio and Rosario, and escaped up the Ilocano coast.

Then began one of the most exciting pursuits in recent wars. The chase never slackened, except in those repeated instances when for the moment the trail of the Filipino general was lost. From Candon, Aguinaldo turned eastward through the comandancias of Lepanto and Bontoc, into the wild Igorrote country of the Cordillera Central. The trail into Lepanto leads over the lofty mountains through the precipitous Tila Pass. On the summit, in what was regarded as an impregnable position, Gregorio del Pilar, little more than a boy, but a brigadier-general, with a small force of soldiers, the remnant of his command, attempted to cover the retreat of his president. But a battalion of the 33d Infantry, under Major March, carried the pass, with the total destruction of Pilar’s command, he himself falling amid the slain.

 

General Pilar.

Capture of Aguinaldo.—Major March then pursued Aguinaldo into Bontoc and thence southward into the wild and mountainous territory of Quiangan. On Christmas night, 1899, the American soldiers camped on the crest of the Cordillera, within a few miles of the Igorrote village where the Filipino force was sleeping. Both parties were broken down and in dire distress through the fierceness of the flight and pursuit, but for several weeks longer Aguinaldo’s party was able to remain in these mountains and elude its pursuers. A month later, his trail was finally lost in the valley of the Cagayan. He and his small party had passed over the exceedingly difficult trail through the Sierra Madre Mountains, to the little Tagálog town of Palanan near the Pacific coast. Here, almost entirely cut off from active participation in the insurrection, Aguinaldo remained until June of 1901, when he was captured by the party of General Funston.

For some weeks following the disintegration of the Filipino army, the country appeared to be pacified and the insurrection over. The new regiments arriving from the United States, an expedition was formed under General Schwan, which in December and January marched southward through Cavite and Laguna provinces and occupied Batangas, Tayabas, and the Camarines. Other regiments were sent to the Bisayas and to northern Luzon, until every portion of the archipelago, except the islands of Mindoro and Palawan, contained large forces of American troops.

Reorganization of the Filipino Army.—The Filipinos had, by no means, however, abandoned the contest, and this period of quiet was simply a calm while the insurgent forces were perfecting their organization and preparing for a renewal of the conflict under a different form. It being found impossible for a Filipino army to keep the field, there was effected a secret organization for the purpose of maintaining irregular warfare through every portion of the archipelago. The Islands were partitioned into a great number of districts or “zones.” At the head of each was a zone commander, usually with the rank of general. The operations of these men were, to a certain extent, guided by the counsel or directions of the secret revolutionary juntas in Manila or Hongkong, but, in fact, they were practically absolute and independent, and they exercised extraordinary powers. They recruited their own forces and commissioned subordinate commanders. They levied “contributions” upon towns, owners of haciendas, and individuals of every class, and there was a secret civil or municipal organization for collecting these revenues. The zone commanders, moreover, exercised the terrible power of execution by administrative order.

Assassination of Filipinos.—Many of the Filipino leaders were necessarily not well instructed in those rules for the conduct of warfare which civilized peoples have agreed upon as being humane and honorable. Many of them tried, especially in the latter months of the war, when understanding was more widely diffused, to make their conduct conform to international usage; but the revolutionary junta had committed the great crime of ordering the punishment by assassination of all Filipinos who failed to support the insurgent cause. No possible justification, in the light of modern morality, can be found for such a step as this. The very worst passions were let loose in carrying out this policy. Scores of unfortunate men were assassinated, many of them as the results of private enmity. Endless blackmail was extorted and communities were terrorized from one end of the archipelago to the other.

Irregular Warfare of the Filipinos.—Through the surrender of Spanish forces, the capture of the arsenals of Cavite and Olongapo, and by purchase through Hongkong, the revolutionary government possessed between thirty thousand and forty thousand rifles. These arms were distributed to the different military zones, and the secret organization which existed in each municipality received its proportion. These guns were secreted by the different members of the command, except when occasion arose for effecting a surprise or making an attack. There were no general engagements, but in some towns there was almost nightly shooting. Pickets and small detachments were cut off, and roads became so unsafe throughout most of the archipelago that there was no travel by Americans except under heavy escort. For a long time, also, the orders of the commanding general were so lenient that it was impossible to punish properly this conduct when it was discovered.

Death of General Lawton.—The American army, in its attempt to garrison every important town in the Islands, was cut up into as many as 550 small detachments of post garrisons. Thus, while there were eventually sixty thousand American soldiers in the Islands, it was rare for as many as five hundred to take the field, and most of the engagements of the year 1900 were by small detachments of fifty to one hundred men.

It was in one of these small expeditions that the American army suffered the greatest single loss of the war. A few miles east of Manila is the beautiful Mariquina Valley, from which is derived the city’s supply of water, and the headwaters of this pretty stream lie in the wild and picturesque fastness of San Mateo and Montalban. Although scarce a dozen miles from the capital and the headquarters of a Filipino brigade, San Mateo was not permanently occupied by the Americans until after the 18th of December, 1899, when a force under General Lawton was led around through the hills to surprise the town.

Early in the morning the American force came pouring down over the hills that lie across the river from the village. They were met by a brisk fire from the insurgent command scattered along the banks of the river and in a sugar hacienda close to the stream. Here Lawton, conspicuous in white uniform and helmet, accompanying, as was his custom, the front line of skirmishers, was struck by a bullet and instantly killed.

Filipino Leaders Sent to Guam.—In November, 1900, after the reëlection in the United States of President McKinley, a much more vigorous policy of war was inaugurated. In this month General MacArthur, commanding the division, issued a notable general order, defining and explaining the laws of war which were being violated, and threatening punishment by imprisonment of those guilty of such conduct. Some thousands of Filipinos under this order were arrested and imprisoned. Thirty-nine leaders, among them the high-minded but irreconcilable Mabini, were in December, 1900, sent to a military prison on the island of Guam.

Campaigning was much more vigorously prosecuted in all military districts. By this time all the American officers had become familiar with the insurgent leaders, and these were now obliged to leave the towns and establish cuartels in remote barrios and in the mountains.

These measures, pursued through the winter of 1900–01, broke the power of the revolution.

The Philippine Civil Commission.—Another very influential factor in producing peace resulted from the presence and labors of the Civil Philippine Commission. These gentlemen, Judge William H. Taft, Judge Luke E. Wright, Judge Henry C. Ide, Professor Dean C. Worcester, and Professor Bernard Moses, were appointed by the president in the spring of 1900 to legislate for the Islands and to prepare the way for the establishment of civil government. President McKinley’s letter of instructions to this commission will probably be ranked as one of the ablest and most notable public papers in American history.

The commission reached the Islands in June and began their legislative work on September 1st. This body of men, remarkable for their high character, was able at last to bring about an understanding with the Filipino leaders and to assure them of the unselfish and honorable purposes of the American government. Thus, by the early winter of 1900–01 many Filipino gentlemen became convinced that the best interests of the Islands lay in accepting American sovereignty, and that they could honorably advocate the surrender of the insurgent forces. These men represented the highest attainments and most influential positions in the Islands. In December they formed an association known as the Federal Party, for the purpose of inducing the surrender of military leaders, obedience to the American government, and the acceptance of peace.

End of the Insurrection.—Under these influences, the insurrection, in the spring of 1901, went rapidly to pieces. Leader after leader surrendered his forces and arms, and took the oath of allegiance and quietly returned home. By the end of June there were but two zone commanders who had not surrendered,—General Malvar in Batangas, and General Lukban in Samar.

 

Governor Taft.

The First Civil Governor.—Peaceful conditions and security almost immediately followed these surrenders and determined the president to establish at once civil government. On July 4, 1901, this important step was taken, Judge Taft, the president of the Philippine Commission, taking office on that date as the first American civil governor of the Philippines. On September 1st, the Philippine Commission was increased by the appointment of three Filipino members,—the Hon. T. H. Pardo de Tavera, M. D., the Hon. Benito Legarda, and the Hon. José Luzuriaga of Negros.

The Philippine Commission has achieved a remarkable amount of legislation of a very high order. From September, 1900, to the end of December, 1902, the commission passed no less than 571 acts of legislation. Some of these were of very great importance and involved long preparation and labor. Few administrative bodies have ever worked harder and with greater results than the Philippine Commission during the first two years of its activity. The frame of government in all its branches had to be organized and set in motion, the civil and criminal law liberalized, revenue provided, and public instruction remodeled on a very extensive scale.

The New Government.—The government is a very liberal one, and one which gives an increasing opportunity for participation to the Filipinos. It includes what is called local self-government. There are in the Islands about 1,132 municipalities. In these the residents practically manage their own affairs. There are thirty-eight organized provinces in the archipelago, in which the administration rests with the Provincial Board composed of the governor, treasurer, and supervisor or engineer. The governor is elected for the term of one year by the councilors of all the towns united in assembly. The treasurer and supervisor are appointed by the governor of the Philippine archipelago under the rules of the Civil Service Board. The civil service is a subject which has commanded the special consideration of the Commission. It gives equal opportunity to the Filipino and to the American to enter the public service and to gain public promotion; and the Filipino is by law even given the preference where possessed of the requisite ability.

 

The Palace, Manila. Headquarters of the Government.

The Insular Government.—For the purposes of administration, the insular, or central government of the Islands is divided into four branches, called departments, each directed by a secretary who is also a member of the Philippine Commission. These departments are, interior, Secretary Worcester; finance and justice, Secretary Ide; commerce and police, Secretary Wright; and public instruction, Secretary Moses, until January 1, 1903, and since that date Secretary Smith. Under each of these departments are a large number of bureaus, by which the many important activities of the government are performed.

We have only to examine a list of these bureaus to see how many-sided is the work which the government is performing. It is a veritable commonwealth, complete in all the branches which demand the attention of modern governments. Thus, under the Department of the Interior, there is the Bureau of Public Health, with its extremely important duties of combating epidemic diseases and improving public sanitation, with its public hospitals, sanitariums, and charities; the Bureau of Government Laboratories for making bacteriological and chemical investigations; a Bureau of Forestry; a Bureau of Mining; the Philippine Weather Bureau; a Bureau of Agriculture; a Bureau of Non-Christian Tribes for conducting the government work in ethnology and for framing legislation for pagan and Mohammedan tribes; and a Bureau of Public Lands.

Under the department of Commerce and Police are the Bureau of Posts; Signal Service; the Philippines Constabulary, really an insular army, with its force of some sixty-five hundred officers and men; Prisons; the Coast Guard and Transportation Service, with a fleet of about twenty beautiful little steamers, nearly all of them newly built for this service and named for islands of the archipelago; the Coast and Geodetic Survey, doing the much-needed work of charting the dangerous coasts and treacherous waters of the archipelago; and the Bureau of Engineering, which has under its charge great public works, many of which are already under way.

Under the Department of Finance and Justice are the Insular Treasurer; the Insular Auditor; the Bureau of Customs and Immigration; the Bureau of Internal Revenue; the Insular Cold Storage and Ice Plant; and the great Bureau of Justice.

Under the Department of Public Instruction there is the Bureau of Education in charge of the system of public schools; a Bureau of Printing and Engraving, with a new and fully equipped plant; a Bureau of Architecture; a Bureau of Archives; a Bureau of Statistics; and the Philippine Museum.

Revenues and Expenditures.—The maintenance of these numerous activities calls for an expenditure of large sums of money, but the insular government and the Filipino people are fortunate in having had their finances managed with exceptional ability. The revenues of the Islands for the past fiscal year have amounted to about $10,638,000, gold. Public expenditures, including the purchase of equipment such as the coast-guard fleet and the forwarding of great public works such as the improving of the harbor of Manila, amounted during fiscal year of 1903 to about $9,150,000, gold. The government has at all times preserved a good balance in its treasury; but the past year has seen some diminution in the amount of revenues, owing to the great depreciation of silver money, the falling off of imports, the wide prevalence of cholera, and the poverty of many parts of the country as a result of war and the loss of livestock through pest. To assist the government of the Philippines, the Congress of the United States in February, 1903, with great and characteristic generosity appropriated the sum of $3,000,000, gold, as a free gift to the people and government of the Philippines.

The Judicial System.—Especially fortunate, also, have been the labors of the commission in establishing a judicial system and revising the Spanish law. The legal ability of the commission is unusually high. As at present constituted, the judicial system consists of a Supreme Court composed of seven justices, three of whom at the present time are Filipinos, which, besides trying cases over which it has original jurisdiction, hears cases brought on appeal from the Courts of First Instance, fifteen in number, which sit in different parts of the Islands. Each town, moreover, has its justices of the peace for the trial of small cases and for holding preliminary examinations in cases of crimes. By the new Code of Civil Procedure, the administration of justice has been so simplified that there are probably no courts in the world where justice can be more quickly secured than here.

System of Public Schools.—Probably no feature of the American government in the Islands has attracted more attention than the system of public schools. Popular education, while by no means wholly neglected under the Spanish government, was inadequate, and was continually opposed by the clerical and conservative Spanish forces, who feared that the liberalizing of the Filipino people would be the loosening of the control of both Spanish state and church. On the contrary, the success of the American government, as of any government in which the people participate, depends upon the intelligence and education of the people. Thus, the American government is as anxious to destroy ignorance and poverty as the Spanish government and the Spanish church were desirous of preserving these deeply unfortunate conditions.

Americans believe that if knowledge is generally spread among the Filipino people, if there can be a real understanding of the genius and purpose of our American institutions, there will come increasing content and satisfaction to dwell under American law. Thus, education was early encouraged by the American army, and it received the first attention of the commission. The widespread system of public schools which now exists in these islands was organized by the first General Superintendent of Public Instruction, Dr. Fred W. Atkinson, and by Professor Bernard Moses of the Philippine Commission.

Instruction in the English Language.—The basis of this public instruction is the English language. This was early decided upon in view of the great number of Filipino dialects, the absence of a common native language or literature, and the very moderate acquaintance with Spanish by any except the educated class.

It is fortunate for the Filipino people that English has been introduced here and that its knowledge is rapidly spreading. Knowledge of language is power, and the more widely spoken the tongue, the greater the possession of the individual who acquires it. Of all the languages of the world, English is to-day the most widely spoken and is most rapidly spreading. Moreover, English is preëminently the language of the Far East. From Yokohama to Australia, and from Manila to the Isthmus of Suez, English is the common medium of communication. It is the language alike of business and of diplomacy. The Filipino people, so eager to participate in all the busy life of eastern Asia, so ambitious to make their influence felt and their counsels regarded, will be debarred from all this unless they master this mighty English tongue.

The Filipino Assembly.—Thus, after four and a half years of American occupation, the sovereignty of the United States has been established in the archipelago, and a form of government, unique in the history of colonial administration, inaugurated. One other step in the contemplation of Congress, which will still further make the government a government of the Filipino people, remains to be taken. This is the formation of a Filipino assembly of delegates or representatives, chosen by popular vote from all the Christianized provinces of the archipelago. The recent census of the Philippines will form the basis for the apportionment of this representation. This assembly will share the legislative power on all matters pertaining to the Christian people of the Philippines and those parts of the Islands inhabited by them. When this step shall have been taken, the government of the Philippine Islands will be like the typical and peculiarly American form of government known as territorial.

Territorial Form of Government in the United States.—The American Union is composed of a number of states or commonwealths which, while differing vastly in wealth and population, are on absolutely equal footing in the Union. The inhabitants of these states form politically the American sovereignty. They elect the president and Congress, and through their state legislatures may change or amend the form of the American state itself.

Besides these states, there have always been large possessions of the nation called territories. These territories are extensive countries, too sparsely inhabited or too undeveloped politically to be admitted, in the judgment of the American Congress, to statehood in the Union. Their inhabitants do not have the right to vote for the president; neither have they representation in the American Congress. These territories are governed by Congress, through territorial governments, and over them Congress has full sovereign powers. That is, as the Supreme Court of the United States has decided and explained, while Congress when legislating for the states in the Union has only those powers of legislation which have been specifically granted by the Constitution, in legislating for the territories it has all the powers which the Constitution has not specifically denied. The only limitations on Congress are those which, under the American system of public law, guarantee the liberty of the individual,—his freedom of religious belief and worship; his right to just, open, and speedy trial; his right to the possession of his property; and other precious privileges, the result of centuries of development in the English-speaking race, which make up civil liberty. These priceless securities, which no power of the government can take away, abridge, or infringe, are as much the possession of the inhabitants of a territory as of a state.

The government of these territories has varied greatly in form and may be changed at any time by Congress, but it usually consists of a governor and supreme court, appointed by the president of the United States, and a legislature elected by the people. Since 1783 there has always been territory so held and governed by the United States, and if we may judge from the remarkable history of these regions, this form of government of dependent possessions is the most successful and most advantageous to the territory itself that has ever been devised.

At the present time, the territories of the United States are Oklahoma, the Indian Territory, New Mexico, Arizona, Alaska, the Hawaiian Islands, Porto Rico, the Philippines, and Guam.

The territorial form of government has frequently been regarded by American statesmen as a temporary condition to be followed at a comparatively early date by statehood. But after more than a century of development, territorial government, as shaped by Congress and as defined by the Supreme Court, shows itself so flexible and advantageous that there is no reason why it should not be regarded as a permanent and final form. Whether it will long prevail in the Philippines, depends very largely upon the political development and ultimate desires of the Filipino people themselves. For the present, it is the only suitable form of government and the only form which it is statesmanlike to contemplate.

Filipino Independence.—The events of the last few years seem to indicate that the American nation will not intrust the Philippines with independence until they have immeasurably gained in political experience and social self-control. The question is too great to be discussed here, but this much may be said: The rapid march of international politics in this coming century will not be favorable to the independence of the small and imperfectly developed state. Independence, while it may fascinate the popular leader, may not be most advantageous for this people. Independence, under present tendencies of international trade, means economic isolation. Independence, in the present age, compels preparedness for war; preparedness for war necessitates the maintenance of strong armies, the building of great navies, and the great economic burdens required to sustain these armaments. Especially would this be true of an archipelago so exposed to attack, so surrounded by ambitious powers, and so near the center of coming struggle, as are the Philippines. Japan, with a population of forty-two million, wonderful for their industry and economy, and passionately devoted to their emperor, is independent, but at great cost. The burden of her splendid army and her modern navy weighs heavily upon her people, consumes a large proportion of their earnings, and sometimes seems to be threatening to strain the resources of the nation almost to the point of breaking.

Advantages of American Control.—Surely, a people is economically far more privileged if, like the Philippines under the American government, or Australia under the British, they are compelled to sustain no portion of the burden of exterior defense. The navies of the United States to-day protect the integrity of the Philippine archipelago. The power of a nation so strong and so terrible, when once aroused, that no country on the globe would think for a minute of wantonly molesting its territory, shields the Filipino from all outside interference and permits him to expend all his energy in the development of those abilities to which his temperament and endowment inspire him.

American government means freedom of opportunity. There is no honorable pursuit, calling, or walk of life under heaven in which the Filipino may not now engage and in which he will not find his endeavors encouraged and his success met with generous appreciation. In politics, his progress may be slow, because progress here is not the development of the individual nor of the few, but of the whole. But in the no less noble pursuits of science, literature, and art, we may in this very generation see Filipinos achieving more than notable success and distinction, not only for themselves but for their land.

Patriotic Duty.—Patriotic duty, as regards the Philippines, means for the American a wholesome belief in the uprightness of the national purposes; a loyal appreciation of the men who have here worked wisely and without selfishness, and have borne the brunt of the toil; a loyalty to the government of the Philippines and of the United States, so long as these governments live honestly, rule justly, and increase liberty; and a frank and hearty recognition of every advance made by the Filipino people themselves. And for the Filipinos, patriotic duty means a full acceptance of government as it has now been established, as better than what has preceded, and perhaps superior to what he himself would have chosen and could have devised; a loyalty to his own people and to their interests and to the public interests, that shall, overcome the personal selfishness that has set its cruel mark on every native institution in this land; and a resolution to obey the laws, preserve the peace, and use faithfully every opportunity for the development of his own character and the betterment of the race.

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