EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON,
December 21, 1898.
The destruction of the Spanish fleet in the harbor of Manila by the United States
naval squadron commanded by Rear-Admiral Dewey, followed by the reduction of the
city and the surrender of the Spanish forces, practically effected the conquest
of the Philippine Islands and the suspension of the Spanish sovereignity therein.
With the signature of the treaty of peace between the United States and Spain by
their respective plenipotentiaries at Paris on the 10th instant, and as a result
of the victories of American arms, the future control, disposition, and
government of the Philippine Islands are ceded to the United States.
In the fulfillment of the rights of sovereignity thus acquired
and the responsible obligations of government thus assumed, the actual
occupation and administration of the entire group of the Philippine Islands
becomes immediately necessary, and the military government
heretofore maintained by the united states in the city, harbor, and bay
of Manila is to be extended with all possible despatch to the whole
of the ceded territory.
In performing this duty the military commander of the United States is
enjoined to make known to the inhabitants of the Philippine Islands
that in succeeding to the sovereignity of Spain, in severing the
former political relations, and in establishing a new political power,
the authority of the United States is to be exerted for the securing of
the persons and property of the people of the islands and for the confirmation
of all their private rights and relations. It will be the duty of the
commander of the forces of occupation to announce and proclaim in the
most public manner that we come, not as invaders or conquerors,
but as friends, to protect the natives in their homes, in their
employments, and in their personal and religious rights. All persons who,
either by active aid or by honest submission, co-operate with the
Government of the United States to give effect to these beneficent purposes
will receive the reward of its support and protection. All others
will be brought within the lawful rule we have assumed, with firmness
if need be, but without severity, so far as possible. Within the absolute
domain of military authority, which necessarily is and must
remain supreme in the ceded territory until the legislation of the
United States shall otherwise provide, the municipal laws of the territory
in respect to private rights and property and the repression of crime are
to be considered as continuing in force, and to be administered by the
ordinary tribunals, so far as practicable. The operations of civil and
municipal government are to be performed by such officers as may accept
the supremacy of the United States by taking the oath of allegiance,
or by officers chosen, as far as practicable, from the inhabitants of the
islands. While the control of all the public property and the revenues
of the state passes with the cession, and while the use and management of
all public means of transportation are necessarily reserved to the authority
of the United States, private property, whether belonging to individuals
or corporations, is to be respected except for cause duly established.
The taxes and duties heretofore payable by the inhabitants to the late
government become payable to the authorities of the United States unless
it be seen fit to substitute for them other reasonable rates or modes of
contribution to the expenses of government, whether general or local.
If private property be taken for military use, it shall be paid for when
possible in cash, at a fair valuation, and when payment in cash is not
practicable, receipts are to be given. All ports and places in the
Philippine Islands in the actual possession of the land and naval forces of
the United States will be opened to the commerce of all friendly nations.
All goods and wares not prohibited for military reasons by due announcement
of the military authority will be admitted upon payment of such duties
and other charges as shall be in force at the time of their importation.
Finally, it should be the earnest wish and paramount aim of the military
administration to win the confidence, respect, and affection of the
inhabitants of the Philippines by assuring them in every possible way
that full measure of individual rights and liberties which is the
heritage of free peoples, and by proving to them that the mission of the
United States is one of
substituting the mild sway of justice and right for arbitrary rule.
In the fulfillment of this high mission, supporting the temperate
administration of affairs for the greatest good of the governed, there
must be sedulously maintained the strong arm of authority, to repress
disturbance and to overcome all obstacles to the bestowal of the blessings
of good and stable government upon the people of the Philippine Islands under
the free flag of the United States.