Monday, November 21, 2011

Collier's Illustrated Weekly May 10, 1902/Philippine-American War

A political cartoon regarding the Philippines from the ever-brilliant Winsor McCay.

Alright, I've done my 60 minutes of cardio at the Y and eaten a delicious dinner my wife prepared with soba noodles, chicken, endamame beans, shredded carrots and some sort of orange and lemongrass vinaigrette and feel refreshed, so I'll hop back on the keyboard here and finish my train of thought.

While most of the attention and recollection of the war goes to our exploits in Cuba, the protracted struggle and the real lesson in empire was in the Philippines. While the American media focused on Cuba, American leaders were ready to fight in the Pacific when the war broke out, and I'm fairly sure that this was a large, underlying motivation in forcing Spain's hand. While there was the Teller Amendment for Cuba, no such promises were made for the Spanish holdings in the Pacific. America saw the European powers scrambling for land and influence in the East and could be left out without a port closer to the action than Hawaii.

The Filipinos were very close to having run the Spanish out by the time America arrived on the scene. The revolution began in 1896 when revolutionaries including the popular Emilio Aguinaldo began to fight the Spanish, scoring early victories. By August of 1897, the fighting looked to be going nowhere and armistice negotiations were opened between the governor-general and Aguinaldo. By December of that year, an agreement was struck where Aguinaldo was paid to leave the country, retreating to Hong Kong and asking his countrymen to lay down their arms. In April of the next year, just four months later - and the details are murky on this - Admiral Dewey communicated with Aguinaldo via American Consuls in Hong Kong that if he would take up arms once again that the U.S. would recognize Philippine independence with Spain overthrown. The U.S. consuls and Dewey would later repudiate that this was the case. On May 1st, Dewey defeated the Spanish fleet at Manila Bay in a matter of hours, similar to how the fleet in Cuba went down quickly. Dewey arranged for the transport of Aguinaldo back to the Philippines, and, by June, rebel forces had captured the entire territory with the exception of the walled fortress in Intramuros within Manila and turned over 15,000 Spanish prisoners to the United States. On June 12, Aguinaldo proclaimed Philippine independence. The friendship between the Filipinos and America was greatly injured, though, when the Spanish made a deal (not knowing that the day previous on the other side of the world Spain and America had agreed to cease hostilities) to allow the Americans to take Manila in a mock battle and saving face from being defeated by islanders by specifically disallowing the guerrillas from entering the vanquished city. Wiki sez:

On August 13, with American commanders unaware that a peace protocol had been signed between Spain and the United States on the previous day, American forces captured the city of Manila from the Spanish. Governor-General Fermin Jaudenes had made a secret agreement with Dewey and General Wesley Merritt. Jaudenes specifically requested to surrender only to the Americans, not to the Filipino rebels. To save face, he proposed a mock battle with the Americans preceding the Spanish surrender; the Filipinos would not be allowed to enter the city. Dewey and Merritt agreed to this, and no one else in either camp knew about the agreement. On the eve of the mock battle, General Thomas M. Anderson telegraphed Aguinaldo, “Do not let your troops enter Manila without the permission of the American commander. On this side of the Pasig River you will be under fire”.

At the beginning of the war between Spain and America, Americans and Filipinos had been allies against Spain in all but name; now Spanish and Americans were in a partnership that excluded the Filipino insurgents. Fighting between American and Filipino troops almost broke out as the former moved in to dislodge the latter from strategic positions around Manila on the eve of the attack. Aguinaldo had been told bluntly by the Americans that his army could not participate and would be fired upon if it crossed into the city. The insurgents were infuriated at being denied triumphant entry into their own capital, but Aguinaldo bided his time. Relations continued to deteriorate, however, as it became clear to Filipinos that the Americans were in the islands to stay.

On December 18th, 1899, Spain agreed to the Treaty of Paris wherein Spain surrendered Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, and would be paid $20 Million for the Philippines. Many considered taking only a single port in the Philippines but McKinley feared that allowing the Spanish to retain control was unwise, even if they did not keep it, they might sell it to other European powers. On December 21st, McKinley issued to the Filipinos a Proclamation of Benevolent Assimilation (what nation could resist such a thing? LOL) that would be published in January in which America assured our "little brown brothers" that we had only their best interests at heart. Needless to say, having just cast of the yoke of one imperial power, the Filipinos were not eager to take on another. Aguinaldo rapidly issued a counter-proclamation, "My government cannot remain indifferent in view of such a violent and aggressive seizure of a portion of its territory by a nation which arrogated to itself the title of champion of oppressed nations. Thus it is that my government is disposed to open hostilities if the American troops attempt to take forcible possession of the Visayan islands. I denounce these acts before the world, in order that the conscience of mankind may pronounce its infallible verdict as to who are true oppressors of nations and the tormentors of mankind." Tensions rose.

It must be fairly noted here that ratification of the Treaty of Paris by the Senate was hotly contested. The newly-formed Anti-Imperialist league with champions like Mark Twain and Henry James bitterly opposed annexation. Senator George Frisbie Hoar said, "This Treaty will make us a vulgar, commonplace empire, controlling subject races and vassal states, in which one class must forever rule and other classes must forever obey." Andrew Carnegie was prepared to write the U.S. Treasury a check for $20 Million dollars to forget about the whole thing. Indeed, on February 4th, 1899, the treaty was two votes shy of the two-thirds majority needed to pass. But, that evening, the pot boiled over. American sentries encountered rogue rebel forces, and shots were fired. Though Aguinaldo looked for a cease-fire and to explain that the rebels had acted against orders, The Battle of Manila ensued on February 5th. On February 6th, the Treaty of Paris passed the Senate by only one vote. Two Senators had changed their vote in order to "support the troops" because fighting had begun.

- - - Erp..I'm going to have to pick this back up in the morning - It's time to watch The Walking Dead with the mrs. on my DVR. Brainssssss. I'm completely addicted to that show. Sigh, I never get as far with the typing as I hope to, c'est la vie, but I'll get back to it after I get the kids to school in the morning. - - -

----Well, rather, it's Monday evening, and here I go again. The best laid plans of me and mine or summat.---

So, fighting begins in earnest with the Battle of Manila. The Americans sweep through the town along a 16 mile front shocking the rebels in their fervor. The Filipinos suffered ten times the casualties as the U.S. , and, after some continued skirmishing on the outskirts, the rebels would leave Manila in disappointment that there was no popular uprising and surprised that the Americans did not retreat at night like the Spanish had. The attitude of the commanding officer for the U.S., General Elwell Stephen Otis was that, "Fighting having begun, must go on to the bitter end." A First Philippine Commission led by Jacob Schurman had been appointed to survey the Philippines and determine how to best handle our new acquisition in January, before the fighting erupted, but by the time the members arrived on the islands in March, military leadership viewed them as a hindrance to the war effort (Otis was on the commission and also Military Governor and boycotted meetings of the commission as annoyances). The New York Times wrote of this "insane attack of these people upon their liberators. It is not likely that Aguinaldo himself will exhibit much staying power, after one or two collisions the insurgent army will break up." Otis himself, even in the face of escalating conflict, quickly declared that the insurgency had been broken and that further attacks were being conducted by "isolated bands of outlaws." If all this doesn't sound awfully familiar to the present American public, you haven't been paying attention, because this is freakishly similar to what happened and is happening in Iraq to me with the American public's indignation that the Iraqis might not want us there or with Rumsfeld's statements on the staying power of the insurgency. But I interject. The First Philippine Commission recommended the establishment of a duly elected civilian bicameral legislature, free schools, improvement of infrastructure and other modernization of the islands. The U.S. found itself dealing with different groups from different parts of the islands with varying attitudes towards the Americans, a fractured populace. McKinley wanted peace through "kindness and conciliation" but in the first two months of the war America suffered 500 casualties, and by August of 1899 Otis asked McKinley to quadruple the number of troops on the ground. In this madness, the First Philippine Commission concluded that "the United States cannot withdraw. ... We are there and duty binds us to remain. The Filipinos are wholly unprepared for independence ... there being no Philippine nation, but only a collection of different peoples." The official report states:

Should our power by any fatality be withdrawn, the commission believe that the government of the Philippines would speedily lapse into anarchy, which would excuse, if it did not necessitate, the intervention of other powers and the eventual division of the islands among them. Only through American occupation, therefore, is the idea of a free, self-governing, and united Philippine commonwealth at all conceivable. And the indispensable need from the Filipino point of view of maintaining American sovereignty over the archipelago is recognized by all intelligent Filipinos and even by those insurgents who desire an American protectorate. The latter, it is true, would take the revenues and leave us the responsibilities. Nevertheless, they recognize the indubitable fact that the Filipinos cannot stand alone. Thus the welfare of the Filipinos coincides with the dictates of national honour in forbidding our abandonment of the archipelago. We cannot from any point of view escape the responsibilities of government which our sovereignty entails; and the commission is strongly persuaded that the performance of our national duty will prove the greatest blessing to the peoples of the Philippine Islands.

The conquered are incapable of practicing democracy on their own and must be helped. Our little brown brothers would only fall prey to other world and regional powers if we allowed them self-determination. We are duty-bound to correct the situation that we find ourselves in. Ugh. And if all of this echoes what's happened in Iraq, what follows is certain to echo the American experience in Vietnam.

In order to inflict losses on the Americans in the hopes that McKinley would lose the 1900 election (which he did not lose - the economy was doing very well, and he won in a comfortable victory against anti-imperialist William Jennings Bryan), Aguinaldo moved further away from conventional warfare and to guerrilla tactics. The 80-100,000 rebels remained in the field, wore civilian clothes, and could strike quickly and then blend into civilian populations. At first, it seemed that the hit and run raids and long-term outlook of the rebels might lead to a stalemate and force withdrawal. America responded to these tactics with a "total-war" doctrine. Civilians were put into "reconcentrados," concentration camps surrounded by dead zones (the exact same tactic used by the Spanish in Cuba that so incensed the American public!@), and any food outside of these camps would be destroyed to deny succor to the rebels. American soldiers took to calling the Filipinos "Indians," and many came to scoff at the idea that these people were their "brothers." And to be fair, war is war, and atrocities were certainly committed on both sides. There were cases where captured Americans were crucified upside down and their stomachs neatly cut so their entrails would hang in their faces. The errant U.S. soldier might be buried up to his neck near an anthill and his mouth stuffed with sugar. In the Samar province, a sneak attack caught 50 Americans at rest who were all mutilated and cut to pieces by machete. In response, General Jacob Hurd Smith ordered his men to kill everyone over ten years old. The burning out of entire villages was commonplace. A New York soldier wrote, "The town of Titatia [was surrendered to us a few days ago, and two companies occupy the same. Last night one of our boys was found shot and his stomach cut open. Immediately orders were received from General Wheaton to burn the town and kill every native in sight; which was done to a finish. About 1,000 men, women and children were reported killed. I am probably growing hard-hearted, for I am in my glory when I can sight my gun on some dark skin and pull the trigger." Letters that went to the press such as this were countered by Otis going to commanding officers and forcing soldiers to retract statements. Freedom of the press was yet another victim of these battles. Total casualties on the islands are politicized and hard gauge (as in Iraq), but estimates of population loss goes from 200,000 to well above 1,000,000 during the span of the war.

Though there were bursts of violence that went on for years, the war did wind down when Aquinaldo was captured in 1901 and the Second Philippine Commission established local governments. Some fighting did continue, though, even after the official end of the war in the Summer of 1902 when Roosevelt (who became President following McKinley's assassination by an unstable anarchist) pardoned all Filipinos who had fought against the U.S. Various groups would fight against the U.S. occupation until 1913. In 1916, the Jones Act passed by the U.S Congress promised eventual independence. The Tydings-McDuffie Act of 1934 made this more concrete by promising independence after 10 years. Of course, the war intervened, and many Filipinos fought bravely to expel the Japanese just as they had fought originally to expel the Americans, and many Filipinos were executed by the Japanese government for spying for American and providing comfort to our prisoners of war. From a speculation standpoint, I have to wonder if our bases in the Philippines as continuation of this imperial experiment led to the deaths and suffering of so many American soldiers. Stuck on an island so far from support, our soldiers had no chance when the Japanese took over the islands. Would what these near 80,000 soldiers faced in the Bataan Death March had been avoided if America had just ceded the islands back to their inhabitants after perhaps keeping only a port or two? At what point do foreign outposts we hold for strategic purposes become liabilities in drawing us into regional conflicts or indefensible in global war? Maybe I come off as a small-minded isolationist in these last couple of posts, but, damn, I can't help myself...

But anyways on to the magazine scan to accompany my ramblings, an issue of Collier's from May 10, 1902. I'll blog some other time on the history of the magazine, but tonight I'm just going to put up the article by William Taft, who headed the Second Philippine Commission, a commission that actually had power unlike the first and went about improving the island and incorporating former insurgents into the government to try and get the Filipinos up to speed in Democracy. I really enjoy these turn-of-the-century Collier's. They are over-sized slicks on about 32 pages, well-printed, and feature the premiere authors, illustrators, and statesmen of the day. I'll put up the Taft article first but then I'll go ahead and put some other snippets from the mag up as well partly to maybe tie into some other ideas I've mentioned about the time period but also just to show how neat-o the magazine is. The scan is over 3 and a half years old. It'd look nicer if I were to re-edit it today, but with boxes and boxes of magazines to scan, there's no way I'm going to worry about do-overs any time soon.

The Western issue!
Collier's Illustrated Weekly v29n06 (1902-05-10.Collier's)(Darwination-DPP)
Cover by Frederick Coffay Yohn

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Get the full hi-res scan here.

It is the Western issue, and Collier's calls the Philippines "Our Very Farthest West." Preceding the Taft article is a pictorial of the Moro tribes, one of the groups that would fight against the U.S. for the longest.

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I like how the article begins with a picture of a couple of rebels "not yet pacified". The language is creepier than anything. Taft would next become Secretary of War in 1904, a role in which he could continue his involvement in the Philippines, and then serve as President for a single term following the 1908 election. His time in the Philippines made him popular with the American public. Whether it readied him for the position of U.S. President is another question.

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Note also the pictures on the bottom of the page on The West - Present and Passing

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Cool photographs of San Francisco and Honolulu

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Fellow Kansan William Allen White (the Journalism school at my Alma Mater, KU, is named after him) on how far The West has come and how it will drive growth in times to come. I love all the spot illustrations in this issue, they really add a lot of character.

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De Chillun in the West by Frank L. Stanton. This is supposedly black dialect (popular in songs of the day), but it sure doesn't sound like it to me. He did the lyrics for "Mighty 'Lak a Rose" which I know from Coleman Hawkins' At Ease album, one of my favorites that I've just about worn out in my record collection.

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Among other bits from the magazine I didn't put up - an ad for stock offering in the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Co. - get in on the ground floor, more on empire - England in India and Ireland, foods effect on beauty, the latest designs in Spring hosiery and footwear, a pictorial on Idaho gold miners, the Long Island Automobile Club's One Hundred Mile Endurance Run, and fiction in "The Western Boom Town" by E. Hough and part of "Ranson's Folly" by Richard Harding Davis - Hearst's prize reporter during the Cuba Conflict, the story is illustrated by Frederic Remington who also supplies the centerfold which I'll close with (the entire story is available at Project Gutenberg here btw). Enjoy the issue! Soon - Stolen Sweets and La Vie Parisienne. Next, a quick post of three varied pocket mags.

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