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The Philippine-American War Documents

Office of the Military Governor
of the Philippine Islands
Manila, P.I.


January 4, 1899

To the People of the Philippine Islands:

Instructions of his Excellency, the President of the United States, relative to the administration of the affairs in the Philippine Islands, have been transmitted to me by direction of the Honorable, the Secretary of War, under date of December, 1898. They direct me to publish and proclaim, in the most public manner to the inhabitants of these islands, that in the war against Spain the United States forces came here to destroy the power of that nation, and to give the blessings of peace and individual freedom to the Philippine people, that we are here as friends of the Filipinos, to protect them in their homes, their employments, their individual and religious liberty; that all persons, who either by active aid or honest endeavor cooperate with the government of the United States to give effect to these beneficent purposes, will receive the reward of its support and protection.

The President of the United States has assumed that the municipal laws of the country, in respect to private rights, and property, and the repression of crime, are to be considered as continuing in force, in so far as they may be applicable to a free people, and should be administered by the ordinary tribunals of justice, presided over by the representatives of the people and those in thorough sympathy with them in their desire for good government; that the functions and duties connected with civil and municipal administration are to be performed by such officers as wish to accept the assistance of the United States, chosen, in so far as it may be practicable, from the inhabitants of the islands; and while the management of public property and revenue, and the use of all public means of transportation, are to be concluded under the military authorities until such authorities can be replaced by civilian administration, all private property, whether of individuals or corporations, must be respected and protected. If private property be taken for military uses, it shall be paid for a fair valuation in cash, as is practicable at the time; receipts, therefore, will be given, to be taken up and liquidated as soon as cash becomes available. The ports of the Philippine Islands shall be open to the commerce of all foreign nations, and goods and merchandise, not prohibited for military reasons by the military authorities, shall be admitted upon payment of such duties and charges as shall be in force at the time of importation.

The President concludes his instructions in the following language:

Finally...[Text of last paragraph of President McKinley's Benevolent Assimilation Proclamation, December 21, 1898 to continue here.]

Elwell S. Otis
Major-General of the United States Volunteers,
Military Governor

Note: The above proclamation is the altered or bolderized version of the Presidential Proclamation by General Otis

Source of Treaty Texts: The Statutes At Large of the United States of America from March 1897 to March 1899 and Recent Treaties, Conventions, Executive Proclamations, and The Concurrent Resolutions of the Two Houses of Congress, Volume XXX, published by the U.S. Government Printing Office, 1899. Copy courtesy of the U.S. Library of Congress, Asian Division.

Document copy researched by Madge Kho of Somerville, MA 

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