The Philippine-American War
a war between the armed forces of the United States of America and the
Philippines from 1899 through 1913. Historically the term "the Philippine
Insurrection" was long prefered by the United States, but Filipinos and
an increasing number of American historians refer to these hostilities
as the Philippine-American War, and in 1999 the U.S. Library of Congress
reclassified its references to use this term.
Origins of the War
In 1898, the Americans purchased the Philippines from Spain at the Treaty
of Paris for the sum of US$20 Million, after the Americans defeated Spain
in the Spanish-American War. The American government made plans to make
the Philippines an American colony. However, the Filipinos, fighting for
its independence from Spain since 1896, declared their independence on
June 12, 1898. On August 14, 1898, 11,000 ground troops were sent to occupy
the Philippines. Emilio Aguinaldo, on January 1, 1899, was declared the
first President. He later organized a Congress at Malolos, Bulacan to draft
The start of the War
Tensions between the Filipinos and the American soldiers on the islands
existed and hostilities started on February 4, 1899 when an American soldier
shot a Filipino soldier who was crossing a bridge into American-occupied
territory in San Juan del Monte. Historians recognize this incident to
be the start of the war. President McKinley later told reporters, "that
the insurgents had attacked Manila" to justify a U.S. war on the Filipinos.
The Americans declared war on the Filipinos and Emilio Aguinaldo did
the same against the US. The administration of US President William McKinley
subsequently declared Aguinaldo to be an "outlaw bandit".
A large American military force (126,000 soldiers) was needed to occupy
the country, and would be regularly engaged in war, against Filipino rebels,
for another decade. Also, Macabebe Filipinos were recruited by the American
In March 1901, Aguinaldo was captured by the Macabebe Scouts, under
the command of Brigadier General Frederick Funston in Palanan, Isabela.
On July 4, 1902 the President Theodore Roosevelt declared the war was over.
The Americans gradually succeeded in taking control of urban and costal
areas by the end of 1903. In 1907, Macario Sacay, one of the last remaining
Filipino generals fighting against the Americans, was captured and hung.
While some measures to allow partial Philippine self government were
implemented earlier, the Guerrilla war did not subside until 1913 when
USA President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed a change in policy that would after
a transitional period grant the Philippines full independence. In the south,
Muslim Philippines resisted until 1916 - the so-called Moro rebellion.
Opposition to the War
Some Americans, notably Mark Twain, strongly objected to the annexation
of the Philippines. Other Americans mistakenly thought that the Philippines
wanted to become part of the United States.
During the war, 4,234 American soldiers were killed and 2,818 were wounded.
Philippine military deaths are estimated at 20,000 while civilian deaths
numbered in 250,000 to 1,000,000 Filipinos. U.S. attacks into the countryside
often included scorched earth campaigns where entire villages were burned
and destroyed, torture (water cure
) and the concentration of civilians
into "protected zones". Many of these civilian casualties resulted from
disease and famine. Reports of the execution of U.S. soldiers taken prisoner
by the Filipinos led to disproportionate reprisals by American forces.
Many American officers and soldiers called the war a "nigger killing business".
During the USA occupation, English was declared the official language,
although the languages of the Philippine people were Spanish, Visayan,
Tagalog and other native languages. 600 American teachers aboard the U.S.S.
Thomas were imported. Also, the Catholic Church was disestablished, and
a considerable amount of church land was purchased and redistributed.
In 1914, Dean C. Worcester, U.S. Secretary of the Interior for the Philippines
(1901-1913) described "the regime of civilization and improvement which
started with American occupation and resulted in developing naked savages
into cultivated and educated men."