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Excerpts from: The Filipino Americans (From 1763 to the Present)

The Philippine American War (1899-1914)

The Filipino Americans

On July 1, 1898, American forces engaged in a fierce battle with the Spaniards at El Caney and San Juan Hill in Cuba. After the skirmishes, they occupied the high ground overlooking Santiago. On July 3, Admiral Pascual Cervera y Topete ordered his squadron to leave the harbor. The Spaniards attempted to escape toward the west along the coast. Then a running battle took place. All the Spanish ships either burned or sank. From there, American troops invaded and captured Puerto Rico, another Spanish possession.

As a result of these defeats, Spain sued for peace. On August 12, 1898, the day before the fall of Manila, Spain and the United States signed a peace agreement. Spain agreed to evacuate all her troops from and give up control over Cuba, cede Guam and Puerto Rico to the United States, which was also allowed to occupy Manila. The last condition was temporary while what was to be done with the Philippines was being determined.

In October 1898, representatives of Spain and the United States met in Paris to draft a peace treaty. One of the vital issues to be discussed was the status of the Philippines. Spain wanted the United States to return the Philippines to Spain because Manila had been occupied by the Americans only after the armistice had been signed on August 12, 1898, but to no avail. The United States insisted on obtaining the Philippines.

Treaty of Paris.

On December 10, 1898, the Treaty of Paris, was signed in Paris, France, by both Spain and the United States. It formally ended the war between them. Under this treaty, Spain recognized the independence of Cuba; ceded Guam, Puerto Rico and the Philippines to the United States; and received a $20 million payment from the United States for giving up the Philippines.

The treaty had to be ratified by the U.S. Senate before it could take effect. It, however, met opposition, mainly against the annexation of the Philippines. An Anti-Imperialist League was formed to rally American public opinion against the annexation. Some prominent Americans, such as former President Grover Cleveland, Andrew Carnegie, and Mark Twain, also opposed the ratification.

One of the reasons why the United States should not acquire the Philippines was that the Filipinos themselves were fighting the Americans in the Philippines. Such an act, they said, showed that the Filipinos did not want to be under American rule. They also reasoned that it was inconsistent for the United States to disclaim—through the so-called Teller Amendment—any intention of annexing Cuba and then annex the other Spanish colonies, such as the Philippines.

Annexation Fever

There were also many in the United States who saw the advantages of taking over the Philippines. Many missionaries, for instance, favored annexation. So did people who feared that Germany might get the Philippines if the United States did not. Some favored annexation to give America a “foothold” in the populous markets of Asia.

On February 6, 1899, the U.S. Senate, by a vote of 57 to 27, ratified the Treaty of Paris. The American people, in effect, also endorsed the treaty when they reelected President McKinley in the 1900 U.S. presidential elections. Thus, the Philippines formally came under the rule of the United States.

The Filipino Americans (From 1763 to the Present): Their History, Culture, & Traditions.
Veltisezar B. Bautista

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