American Exceptionalism & Identity:The Philippine War, 1899-1902
The Philippine Revolution The Philippines had been a Spanish colony since 1521.1 There were some sporadic anti-colonial revolutions in the Philippines in the mid-1800s.2 The working and middle classes rebelled against the Spanish rule in August 1896.3 Emilio Aguinaldo became a prominent leader in the revolution in March 1897 and was in war with the Spanish troop.4 On December 15, 1897, Aguinaldo and his company were granted amnesty by the Spaniard and voluntarily exiled to Hong Kong.5
The Spanish-American War Tensions had been built up between the United States and the Spanish colony of Cuba since the mid 1800s.6 In January 1898, a riot in Cuba prompted President William McKinley to send battleship USS Maine to protect Americans in Cuba. On February 15, 1898 , the USS Maine exploded.7 Although the actual cause of the explosion was not clear, Spain was blamed for the disaster.8 According to the U.S. Navy, the destruction of USS Maine was a catalyst, not the immediate cause.9 While Aguinaldo was in Hong Kong, he met with USS Petrel Commander Edward P. Wood, who, according to Aguinaldo, promised that “once the Spanish were defeated, the United States would not stand in the way of the Philippine independence movement.”10 Upon his return to the Philippines on May 19, 1898, Aguinaldo confirmed the promise with U.S. Navy Commodore George Dewey.11 Aguinaldo and the American forces shared the same goal of defeating Spain. American troops arrived on June 1, 1898 in Cavite, Philippines.12 Spain was driven out of the Philippines on August 12, 1898.13 The Philippines was annexed to the United States for $20 million under the Treaty of Paris on December 15, 1898.14
The Philippine War Meanwhile, Aguinaldo realized that his promise with Dewey was clearly not fulfilled now that the Philippines was annexed.15 Despite President William McKinley’s “Benevolent Assimilation Proclamation” on Dec 21, 1898, Aguinaldo became the first President of the Philippines Republic on January 1, 1899, without the recognition of the United States.16 The Philippine War started on February 4 after three Filipino soldiers were killed by two American patrol.17 The better-equipped American troops drove Aguinaldo’s forces out of Manlia in a month and they hid in the mountains by October 1899.18 A guerrilla warfare began in 1900.19 Although American troops were not readily adjusted to a guerrilla warfare, Aguinaldo was captured on March 21, 1901 and an oath of allegiance to the United States was signed.20 President Theodore Roosevelt declared the end of the Philippine War on July 4, 1902.21
American Exceptionalism The missionary strand of exceptionalism gained popularity in the United States during the Philippine War. The McKinley administration thought it was time to extend the uniqueness of our country to the Philippines since they needed help to build a stable nation after three centuries of colonial rule.22 Not long after President McKinley announced his plan of annexing the Philippines on June 15, 1899, Andrew Carnegie, Mark Twain, William James and Samuel Gompers lobbied against it.23 Carnegie noted that "The Philippines will be to the United States precisely what India is to England--a nation of incipient rebels."24 In August 1898, General Francis. V. Greene claimed that if the Unites States left the Philippines, there might be an outbreak of anarchy and civil war, and the Japanese or German might occupy the archipelago for its geopolitical significance.25
American Exceptionalism In his Benevolence Assimilation Proclamation, President McKinley said, "We come not as invaders or conquerors, but as friends, to protect the natives in their homes, in their employment and in their personal and religious rights". 26 The American government assumed sovereignty of the Philippines under the Treaty of Paris.27 Was it in the best interest of the Filipinos? America kept her promise to establish schools, hospitals, and “a self-governing structure” in the Philippines, even after the assassination of President McKinley on September 6, 1901.28
American Identity: Expansionism The McKinley administration felt the need of securing the Philippines at the turn of 20th century.29 He claimed that America was strong in economy and a new market like the Philippines would be essential to American business.30 Surplus products manufactured in America were shipped to the Philippines.31 It also provided cheap raw material like sugar and hemp as well as labor to America.32 Philippines’ geographic location was strategically appealing to the United States to build an empire across the Pacific Ocean. D.B. Schirmer, an American historian, noted that the Philippines served as “the staging area” for America to suppress the Boxer Rebellion in China in 1900.33
American Identity: Imperialism In an editorial published in The New York Time on February 15, 1899, Filipinos were called “babes in the jungle” and “a people who had [not] passed the stage of guileless infancy. They show the weakness and the vices of the resourceless and unmoral human infant.” 34 Aguinaldo was called "a vain popinjay, a wicked liar and a perfectly incapable leader."35 After his visit to the Philippines, U.S. Senator Albert Beveridge addressed the Senate on January 9, 1900 that the Filipinos were unable to govern themselves because they were “dull and stupid” and “incurably indolent”.36
Conclusion The Philippine War was triggered by the Philippine Revolution and the Spanish-American War. Some Americans believed the U.S. was so unique that our country had the mission to change the Philippines to be as good as ours. Thus, the annexation of the Philippines was therefore justified. Imperialists supported it because they could expand their global market and empire. Others thought Americans were racially superior to the Filipinos and they should be conquered. The U.S. was surely exceptional at the turn of 1900, but a war on race was unacceptable.
the philippines war
The Philippines was a Spanish colony since 1521 Aug. 1896 ◦ Working and middle classes rebelled against the Spanish rule Mar. 1897 ◦ Emilio Aguinaldo became a revolution leader Dec. 1897 ◦ Aguinaldo was granted amnesty and exiled to Hong Kong
Jan. 1898 May 19, 1898 ◦ USS Maine was sent to ◦ Aguinaldo returned to the Havana, Cuba to protect Philippines to fight against Americans from a riot Spain Feb. 15, 1898 Jun. 1, 1898 ◦ USS Maine exploded ◦ American troops arrived ◦ Spain was blamed for Cavite, Philippines the explosion ◦ A catalyst of Spanish- Aug 12, 1898 American War ◦ Spain was defeated Apr. 25, 1898 Dec. 15, 1898 ◦ Declaration of war by the ◦ Treaty of Paris U.S. against Spain ◦ U.S. annexed the Philippines USS Maine
Dec. 21, 1898 Mar. 21, 1902 ◦ President McKinley issued ◦ Aguinaldo was captured “Benevolent Assimilation ◦ Signed an oath of allegiance Proclamation” to the U.S. Jan. 1, 1899 Jul. 4, 1902 ◦ Aguinaldo became the first ◦ President Theodore Roosevelt President of the Philippines declared the end of the ◦ Not recognized by the U.S. Philippine War Feb. 4, 1899 ◦ Two American patrols killed three Filipino soldiers ◦ The Philippine War began
The missionary strand of exceptionalism gained popularity during of the Spanish-American War Andrew Carnegie: "The Philippines will be to the United States precisely what India is to England –- a nation of incipient rebels" General Francis Greene: the U.S. needed to protect the Philippines from anarchy, civil war, potential Japanese or German occupation
American assumed sovereignty of the Philippines under the Treaty of Paris President McKinley: “We come not as invaders or conquerors, but as friends, to protect the natives in their homes, in their employment and in their personal and religious rights” Was it in the best interest of the Filipinos? The U.S. established schools, hospitals, and “a self-governing structure” in the Philippines
America needed a new market for its growing business ◦ Export of surplus American products ◦ Import of cheap raw materials like sugar and hemp America needed to establish its presence in the Pacific ◦ Strategic interest ◦ A “staging area” for America to suppress Boxer Rebellion in China in 1900 hemp
New York Times editorial: ◦ Filipinos = “Babes of the jungle” ◦ Aguinlado = “A vain popinjay, a wicked liar and a perfectly incapable leader” U.S. Senator Albert Beveridge: ◦ Filipinos = “dull and stupid”, “incurably indolent”
The Philippine War was triggered by the Philippine Revolution and the Spanish-American War Some Americans believed the U.S. was unique and justified the Philippine War with exceptionalism Imperialists established their identities by expanding the U.S. global market and empire Was it a war on race? Some Americans thought they were racially superior
1. Ronald E. Dolan, Philippines: A Country Study, (Washington, D.C., 1993), 5, Hathi Trust.2. Marc Leepson, “The Philippine War”, Military History, 24, No. 8 (2007): 60, Ebsco Host (27072728).3. Ibid.4. Ibid.5. Ibid.6. Ibid.7. Ibid.8. Ibid.9. The Destruction of USS Maine, Department of the Navy, n.d., http:// www.history.navy.mil/faqs/faq71-1.htm.10. Leepson, “The Philippine War”.11. Ibid.12. Ibid.13. Ibid.14. Ibid.15. Ibid.16. Ibid.17. Dolan, Philippines: A Country Study, 26.18. Leepson, “The Philippine War”.
19. Ibid.20. Ibid.21. Ibid.22. Ibid.23. Ibid.24. Ibid.25. Ibid.26. Ibid.27. Ibid.28. Ibid.29. Ibid.30. Ibid.31. Ibid.32. E. San Juan, “US Imperialism in the Philippines,” Race Class, 22 (1980): 182, DOI: 10.1177/030639688002200206.33. Leepson, “The Philippine War”.34. Ibid.35. Ibid.36. Ibid.
Benevolence Assimilation Proclamation, of 1898, WordPress.com, n.d.,http://rightonthemark.wordpress.com/tag/william-mckinley/. Emilio Aguinaldo, University of Hawaii, n.d., http://www.hawaii.edu/cps/aguinaldo.html. Encyclopædia Britannica Online, s. v. “Andrew Carnegie", accessed Jun 17, 2012, http://www.britannica.com/Ebchecked/topic96298.Andrew-Carnegie. E. San Juan, “US Imperialism in the Philippines,” Race Class, 22 (1980): 182, DOI: 10.1177/030639688002200206. Francis Vinton Greene, Arlington National Cemetery Website, last modified March 27, 2006, http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/fvgreene.htm. Hemp, Fiber Organics, 2011, http://www.fiberorganics.com/organicfibers/hemp.html. Marc Leepson, “The Philippine War”, Military History, 24, No. 8 (2007): 60, Ebsco Host (27072728). Philippine American War, WordPress.com, n.d., http://espressostalinist.wordpress.com/genocide/philippine-american-war/. Ronald E. Dolan, Philippines: A Country Study, (Washington, D.C., 1993), Hathi Trust. The Destruction of USS Maine, Department of the Navy, n.d., http:// www.history.navy.mil/faqs/faq71-1.htm.