Philippine-American War

I found this in Thomas R. Flagel’s The History Buff’s Guide to the Presidents. Nashville: Cumberland House. 2007. 251-252.

“William McKinley Philippine-American War (1899-1901)

Quick victory against the Spanish Empire brought the United States rather large prizes of war—Cuba, Guam, and Puerto Rico. Foremost was the Philippines—seven thousand islands, seven million inhabitants, with a lad area roughly equivalent to Italy. Acquisition of the thousand-mile-long archipelago would mark the initiation of the United States into the order of empires. It would also test the American commitment to the principle of self-determination.

Rather than immediately grant the islands independence, McKinley felt compelled to stay and stabilize the region. His goals were to implant Western forms of democracy and capitalism so that the ‘backward’ and long-repressed Filipinos could rule themselves. Fr good measure, he also expressed the intent to convert everyone to Christianity (although missionaries had been spreading Catholicism in the region for hundreds of years).

While Cuba achieved quasi independence, the Filipinos were rather upset to find the United States bringing an occupation force in 1898. Open rebellion to the American presence began in 1899, and the fighting soon descended into mutual barbarity. Guerrillas conducted hit-and-run operations. The United States established ‘reconcentration camps’ for security purposes (much like the strategic hamlet system in Vietnam seventy years later. Both sides used torture. A common interrogation tactic for the Americans was the “water cure” (similar to CIA ‘water boarding’ during the War on Terror).

While McKinley was able to defeat the Spanish in less than four months, it took him more than two years to end the Filipino uprisings, and the conflict consumed forty-five hundred American dead. The number of Filipinos killed is unknown, but estimates range from two hundred thousand to six hundred thousand, mostly from starvation and disease.

Among the many Americans adamantly opposed to the annexation of the Philippines were the industrialist Andrew Carnegie, the presidents of Stanford and Harvard, and author Mark Twain.”


Admiral Dewey leaving Manila.

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