The Philippine–American War, also known as the Philippine War of Independence or the Philippine Insurrection (1899–1902), was an armed conflict between the United States and Filipino revolutionaries. The conflict arose from the struggle of the First Philippine Republic to gain independence following annexation by the United States.
Following the ruthless pacification of the Philippines, the U.S. establishment gradually settled on a justification of colonialism: the export of democracy and the preparation of the Filipino people for responsible independence. This was not simply propaganda. This justification brought the colonial enterprise into line with U.S. political values, thus preserving its legitimacy in the eyes of the American people.
...the Filipino Nationalist Army suffered an estimated 16,000 military deaths. Filipino civilian deaths are estimated to have been between 250,000 and 1 million...A further 100,000 Filipino civilians perished in the Moro Rebellion. The U.S. military lost 4,325 soldiers during 1898-1902...1,500 of these were the result of actual combat, while the rest died of disease...American forces continued to suffer periodic casualties in the suppression of the Moro Rebellion in the Southern Philippines until 1913.
...the United States initiated a policy designed to assimilate the Moro into the Philippine nation and to curb some feudal practices such as slave trading. The result of this attempt to alter the traditional ways of the Moro was intransigence and rebellion.
Sporadic fighting took place in 1901 and was renewed in the spring of 1903. American troops were attacked near Lake Lanao in the interior of Mindanao. The best known of the American-Moro battles occurred in March 1906 at the top of Mount Dajo on the island of Jolo. Six hundred Moro who had taken refuge inside a large volcanic crater were killed by troops under Gen. Leonard Wood. Because a number of women and children were killed in the fight, Wood came under severe criticism in the U.S. Congress, but he was absolved of any wrongdoing by Pres. Theodore Roosevelt. Renewed hostilities occurred in September 1911 and June 1913. Fighting ceased thereafter...
There was also an epidemic of cholera among the Filipinos during the summer of 1901, a legacy of the American concentration of civilians. The disease killed tens of thousands of Filipinos. The war was ending, but convulsively and in agony.
News of both Samar and the cholera led to an outcry back in the United States. How could America, there to civilize the Filipinos, be responsible for such catastrophes? Senate hearings started in January 1902, and stretched into the spring. They were inconclusive, as were the courts martial of a number of soldiers involved in Samar, including Jacob Hurd Smith. With the winding down of the war, America lost interest, and Theodore Roosevelt, now president after McKinley's assassination the previous fall, was able to declare victory in July.
Although General Jacob H. Smith, the commander of the army and marine units assigned to revenge Balangiga, would later claim that his soldiers had "acted with the greatest forbearance," what followed was the most widespread killing of Filipino civilians in the entire period of the war.
General Smith ordered his troops to "kill and burn" and make of Samar "a howling wilderness."
Early in the morning of March 14, 1901, the gunboat Vicksburg landed Funston and his force at Casiguran Bay, over a hundred miles from the rebel capital of Palanan...The insurgents led the supposed Tagalos directly to Aguinaldo's house. Funston and the other Americans were not with them, for Aguinaldo, to keep his whereabouts secret, had forbidden prisoners to be brought into the town...So suddenly was the capture accomplished that Aguinaldo was already a prisoner when Funston arrived.
Aguinaldo's seizure failed to crush the rebellion, but did shorten it materially.
Finally, in February, 1901, a defecting insurgent messenger disclosed the whereabouts of the elusive rebel leader, Emilio Aguinaldo. In Aguinaldo's capture [General Frederick] Funston saw a chance to stop the wasteful and useless skirmishing which was sapping the energies of both Americans and Filipinos.
He and his officers developed a plan to masquerade as captured American enlisted men in the hands of rebel reinforcements which had been ordered to the insurgents' capital.
In December 1900, with the election safely out of the way, martial law was declared and the pretense of civil government was scrapped...As far as the American command was concerned there were no longer any neutrals. Everyone was now considered an active guerrilla or a guerrilla supporter...In January and February 1901, the entire population of Marinduque Island (pop. 51,000) was ordered into five concentration camps set up by the Americans. All those who did not comply with the order " ... would be considered as acting in sympathy with the insurgent forces and treated accordingly." This was to be the first of many instances of the application of the reconcentrado policy in the Philippines. Ironically, it was the abhorrence of just this sort of policy-when it was practiced by the Spanish General "Butcher" Weyler in Cuba-which so exercised American public opinion against Spain prior to the outbreak of the Spanish-American War.
Lack of firearms indeed continued to be perhaps the single most pressing problem for the Filipinos. By mid-1900 they had at most 20,000 rifles, meaning that only one partisan in four was actually armed. The American naval blockade made it all but impossible to o,btain arms and supplies from abroad and although efforts were made to manufacture gunpowder locally, cartridge shells had to be used over and over to the point of uselessness. The Filipinos had to adapt to their limitations as best they could. They stood up to the heavily armed Americans with spears, darts, the ubiquitous bolo, and even stones, prompting General Lawton to remark, " ... they are the bravest men I have ever seen."
An Anti-Imperialist League was formed to rally American public opinion against the annexation. Many League members felt empires were anti-democratic and a violation of the nation's heritage. Some union leaders argued that overseas empire would only feed the overwhelming power of big business.
Some prominent Americans, such as former President Grover Cleveland, the writer Mark Twain and industrialist Andrew Carnegie, also opposed the ratification. The latter even offered to buy the Philippines for US $20 million and give it to the Filipinos so that they could be free; he believed the U.S. should exercise global economic power but avoid annexing colonies.
The actual Philippine-American War commenced on February 4, 1899, and was sparked by an incident on San Juan Bridge in Manila, where American troops were guarding the boundaries of U.S. occupied Manila. A group of Filipino soldiers strayed close to the line of demarcation and were ordered to halt. When the orders were not heeded, an American army private shot and killed one of the soldiers.
However Philippine rebels had been waging guerrilla warfare against Spanish colonialism long before the U.S. became involved. Their exiled leader, Emilio Aquinaldo, quickly made contact with the attacking force already on its way to the Philippines, in the belief that the United States would help the "Insurrectos" gain independence from Spain. But expansionists in the U.S. government had other plans. After the signing of the Treaty of Paris, on December 10, 1898, which ended the war against Spain, the United States opted to give Cuba its independence but keep the Philippines, to the dismay of the Philippine nationalists.
...Filipinos were highly suspicious of American capacities to recognize them in light of circulating rumors of race. Prior to the outbreak of the war, one of the chief Filipino suspicions of Americans had been their reputation for racial oppression. “One of the stories that received universal acceptance,” reported General McReeve of the prewar interlude, “was that ever since the Americans had liberated their negro slaves they had been looking around for others and thought they had found them at last in the Philippines.”
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