- A group of islands in the Western Pacific, colonized by Spain by way of Mexico between 1565 and 1571 and ceded to the United States at the end of the Spanish-American War. Practically none of the imperialists of 1898 had imagined the annexation of the Philippines as a colony, either before or during the con-flict. Commodore George Dewey ’ s victory at Manila Bay, on May 1, 1898, was to open new expansionist vistas in the Pacific. After the Spanish rout in Cuba three months later, Washington hesitated between several solutions: a return of the islands to Spain, independence, or partial or complete control under conditions to be defined.The dispatch of an expeditionary corps, early in the summer of 1898, that was larger than the one sent to Cuba was in itself an avowal of intentions, a war measure that very much suggested a preemptive bid. If annexing the archipelago was not quite on the cards yet, relinquishing it was already unthinkable. Similarly, it was out of the question to recognize, let alone tolerate, the native nationalist sentiment and to cooperate or compromise with the Filipino patriots. At no time would the latter be regarded as valid negotiators. On September 16, President William McKinley decided in favor of the acquisition of the main island, Luzon; on Octo ber 28, he demanded from Madrid the cession of the whole archipelago. Even before the peace treaty of December 10 was ratified, at a time when juridically the Philippines were still Spanish, the president, by an executive order of December 21, 1898, proclaimed U.S. sovereignty over all of the islands.From June 1898 to January 1899, the Filipino patriots repeatedly gave proof of their political maturity, which the American authorities took pains to ignore. The independence of the archipelago was proclaimed on June 12, 1898, and a provisional revolutionary government set up on June 23. An elected constituent assembly undertook to draft a constitution that was approved in mid-January 1899 and promulgated on January 21. Two days later the Philippine Republic was offi-cially inaugurated with Emilio Aguinaldo as president. When it eventually dawned on the Filipinos that they had driven out their Spanish overlords only to fall under the American yoke, they rebelled again.On February 4, 1899, the United States embarked on its first colonial war. It matters little whether American or Filipino troops were responsible for the outbreak of hostilities two days before the Senate’s ratification of the Treaty of Paris. In a sense the Upper Chamber’s approval was a foregone conclusion, for, in Richard E. Welch’s terse formulation, it “was faced not with a decision to acquire the islands but with a decision of whether or not to repeal their annexation.” The Philippine-American War lasted over three years. The percentage of casualties for the U.S. Army was one of the highest in American history. Aguinaldo was captured by ruse on March 23, 1901. On April 1, he took the oath of allegiance and on April 19, he called upon his countrymen to accept American rule. The military governorship was ended on July 4, 1901.In many respects the acquisition of the Philippines became a bone of contention in American politics at the turn of the nineteenth century, simply because the Republican Party obstinately tried to turn into a colony a territory located thousands of miles from Washington. In fact, the imperialist rationale, although not its mode of implementation, received unanimous support at a time when the United States was moving on to a new stage in its irresistible growth. The great debate of 1898–1900 between imperialists and anti-imperialists witnessed a confrontation between two categories of expansionists - extremists and moderates. Theodore Roosevelt achieved an acceptable, hence workable and durable, synthesis when he drew closer to the latter following his accession to the presidency. The Philippine Government Act of July 1, 1902, created an elective assembly and provided measures for the betterment of social and economic conditions on the islands. Roosevelt next proclaimed a general amnesty, which was enough to still public criticism almost completely; and on July 4, 1902, declared the insurrection to be officially over, although sporadic fighting continued for a few more years.See also <
>; < >; < >; < >.FURTHER READING:Alfonso, Oscar M. Theodore Roosevelt and the Philippines, 1897–1909. Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press, 1970;Linn, Brian M. The U.S. Army and Counterinsurgency in the Philippine War, 1899–1902. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1989;Miller, Stuart C. “ Benevolent Assimilation ” : The American Conquest of the Philippines, 1899–1903. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1982;Rystad, Göran. Ambiguous Imperialism: American Foreign Policy and Domestic Politics at the Turn of the Century. Lund, Sweden: Esselte Studium, 1975;Welch, Richard E., Jr. Response to Imperialism: The United States and the Philippine-American War, 1899–1902. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1987.SERGE RICARD
Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.