CHAPTER XIII. A Peace Which Meant War

In a large way, ever since the Spanish War, the United States has been adjusting its policy to the world conditions of which that struggle first made the people aware. The period between 1898 and 1917 will doubtless be regarded by the historian a hundred years from now as a time of transition similar to that between 1815 and 1829. In that earlier period John Marshall and John Quincy Adams did much by their wisdom and judgment to preserve what was of value in the old regime for use in the new. In the later period John Hay performed, though far less completely, a somewhat similar function.

John Hay had an acquaintance with the best traditions of American statesmanship which falls to the lot of few men. He was private secretary to Lincoln during the Civil War, he had as his most intimate friend in later life Henry Adams, the historian, who lived immersed in the memories and traditions of a family which has taken a distinguished part in the Government of the United States from its beginning. Possessed of an ample fortune, Hay had lived much abroad and in the society of the men who governed Europe. He was experienced in newspaper work and in diplomacy, and he came to be Secretary of State fresh from a residence in England where as Ambassador he had enjoyed wide popularity. With a lively wit and an engaging charm of manner, he combined a knowledge of international law and of history which few of our Secretaries have possessed. Moreover he knew men and how to handle them. Until the death of McKinley in 1901 he was left almost free in the administration of his office. He once said that the President spoke to him of his office scarcely once a month. In the years from 1901 to 1905 he worked under very different conditions, for President Roosevelt discussed affairs of state with him daily and took some matters entirely into his own hands.

Hay found somewhat better instruments to work with than most Americans were inclined to believe probable. It is true that the American diplomatic service abroad has not always reflected credit upon the country. It has contained extremely able and distinguished men but also many who have been stupid, ignorant, and ill-mannered. The State Department in Washington, however, has almost escaped the vicissitudes of politics and has been graced by the long and disinterested service of competent officials. From 1897 to 1913, moreover, the service abroad was built up on the basis of continuity and promotion.

One sign of a new epoch was the changed attitude of the American public toward annexation. While the war was in progress the United States yielded to the desires of Hawaii, and annexed the islands as a part of the United States, with the hope of their eventual statehood. In 1899 the United States consented to change the cumbrous and unsuccessful arrangement by which, in partnership with Great Britain and Germany, it had supervised the native government of Samoa. No longer unwilling to acquire distant territories, the United States took in full possession the island of Tutuila, with its harbor of Pago Pago, and consented to Germany's taking the remainder of the islands, while Great Britain received compensation elsewhere. In 1900 the Government paid over to Spain $100,000 for Sibutu and Cagayan Sulu, two islands really belonging to the Philippines but overlooked in the treaty. Proud of the navy and with a new recognition of its necessities, the United States sought naval stations in those areas where the fleet might have to operate. In the Pacific the Government obtained Midway and Wake islands in 1900. In the West Indies, the harbor of Guantanamo was secured from Cuba, and in 1903 a treaty was made with Denmark for the purchase of her islands - which, however, finally became American possessions only in 1917.

By her policy toward Cuba, the United States gave the world a striking example of observing the plighted word even when contrary to the national interest. For a century the United States had expected to acquire the "Pearl of the Antilles." Spain in the treaty of peace refused to recognize the Cuban Government and relinquished the island into the hands of the United States. The withdrawal of the Spanish troops left the Cuban Government utterly unable to govern, and the United States was forced to occupy the island. Nevertheless the Government had begun the war with a recognition of Cuban independence and to that declaration it adhered. The country gave the best of its talent to make the islands self-governing as quickly as possible. Harvard University invited Cuban teachers to be its guests at a summer session. American medical men labored with a martyr's devotion to stamp out disease. General Wood, as military governor, established order and justice and presided over the evolution of a convention assembled to draft a constitution for the people of Cuba and to determine the relations of the United States and Cuba. These relations, indeed, were already under consideration at Washington and were subsequently embodied in the Platt Amendment.* This measure directed the President to leave the control of Cuba to the people of the island as soon as they should agree to its terms. It also required that the Government of Cuba should never allow a foreign power to impair its independence; that it would contract no debt for which it could not provide a sinking fund from the ordinary revenue; that it would grant to the United States "lands necessary for coaling or naval stations"; that it would provide for the sanitation of its cities; and that the United States should have the right to intervene, "for the preservation of Cuban independence, the maintenance of a government adequate for the protection of life, property, and individual liberty, and for discharging" certain obligations with respect to Spanish subjects which the United States had assumed in the treaty signed at Paris. After some hesitation the convention added these provisions to the new constitution of Cuba. On May 20, 1902, the American troops withdrew, leaving Cuba in better condition than she had ever been before. Subsequently the United States was forced to intervene to preserve order, but, though the temptation was strong to remain, the American troops again withdrew after they had done their constructive work. The voluntary entrance of Cuba into the Great War in cooperation with the United States was a tribute to the generosity and honesty of the American people.

* An amendment to the Army Appropriation Bill of March 2, 1901.

Porto Rico presented a problem different from that which the United States had to solve in Cuba. There existed no native organization which could supply even the basis for the formation of a government. The people seemed, indeed, to have no desire for independence, and public sentiment in the United States generally favored the permanent possession of the island. After a period of rule entirely at the discretion of the President, Congress established in 1900 a form of government based on that of the American territories. Porto Rico remained, however, unincorporated into the Union, and it was long doubtful whether it would remain a dependency or would ultimately attain statehood. In 1917, however, the degree of self-government was increased, and the inhabitants were made American citizens. It now seems probable that the island will ultimately become a State of the Union.

Meanwhile on the other side of the world the United States had a more unpleasant task. The revolted Filipinos, unlike the Cubans, had not declared themselves for independence but for redress of grievances. The United States had assisted Aguinaldo, at the moment in exile, to return to the islands after the Battle of Manila Bay but had not officially recognized him as having authority. When he saw Spanish power disappearing under American blows, he declared himself in favor of the abolition of all foreign rule. This declaration, of course, in no way bound the United States, to whom the treaty with Spain, the only recognized sovereign, ceded the island absolutely. There was no flaw in the title of the United States, and there were no obligations, save those of humanity, to bind the Americans in their treatment of the natives. Nevertheless, the great majority of Americans would doubtless have gladly favored a policy similar to that pursued in the case of Cuba, had it seemed in any way practicable. Unfortunately, however, the Filipinos did not constitute a nation but only a congeries of peoples and tribes of differing race and origin, whom nearly four centuries of Spanish rule had not been able to make live at peace with one another. Some were Christians, some Mohammedans, some heathen savages; some wore European clothes, some none at all. The particular tribe which formed the chief support of Aguinaldo, the Tagalogs, comprised less than one half of the population of the island of Luzon. The United States had taken the islands largely because it did not see any one else to whom it could properly shift the burden. The shoulders of the Tagalogs did not seem broad enough for the responsibility.

The United States prepared, therefore, to carry on the task which it had assumed, while Aguinaldo, with his army circling Manila, prepared to dispute its title. On February 4, 1899, actual hostilities broke out. By this time Aguinaldo had a capital at Malolos, thirty miles north of Manila, a government, thirty or forty thousand troops, and an influence which he was extending throughout the islands by means of secret organizations and superstitious appeals. This seemed a puny strength to put forth against the United States but various circumstances combined to make the contest less unequal than it seemed, and the outcome was probably more in doubt than that in the war with Spain.

The United States had at the moment but fourteen thousand men in the islands, under the command of General Otis. Some of these were volunteers who had been organized to fight Spain and who could not be held after the ratification of peace. Congress had, indeed, provided for an increase in the regular army, but not sufficient to provide the "40,000 effectives for the field," whom Otis had requested in August, 1899. There were, of course, plenty of men available in America for service in the Philippines, and finally twelve regiments of volunteers were raised, two of which were composed of negroes. Aguinaldo's strength lay in the configuration of the country, in its climate, which for four centuries had prevented a complete conquest by the Spaniards, and in the uncertainty which he knew existed as to how far the American people would support a war waged apparently for conquest, against the wishes of the Filipinos. On the other hand, the chief advantages of the American forces lay in Aguinaldo's lack of arms and in the power of the American Navy, which confined the fighting for the most part to Luzon.

In March, General MacArthur began to move to the north, and on the last day of that month he entered Malolos. On the 23d of April he pushed farther northward toward Calumpit, where the Filipino generalissimo, Luna, had prepared a position which he declared to be impregnable. This brief campaign added a new favorite to the American roll of honor, for it was here that Colonel Funston, at the head of his gallant Kansans, crossed the rivers Bag-bag and Rio Grande, under circumstances that gave the individual American soldier a prestige in the eyes of the Filipinos and a reputation which often ran far ahead of the army.

General Luna had torn up the ties and rails of the steel railroad bridge over the Bag-bag, and had let down the span next the far bank. Thus cut off from attack by a deep river two hundred feet wide, the Filipino commander had entrenched his forces on the farther side. Shielded by fields of young corn and bamboo thickets, the Americans approached the bank of the river. A naval gun on an armored train bombarded the Filipinos but could not silence their trenches. It was therefore necessary to cross an the bridge, and under fire. General Wheaton ordered Colonel Funston to seize the bridge. With about ten men Funston rushed the nearer end which stood in the open. Working themselves along the girders, the men finally reached the broken span. Beyond that, swimming was the only method of reaching the goal. Leaving their guns behind them, Colonel Funston and three others swung themselves off the bridge and into the stream. Quite unarmed, the four landed and rushed the nearest trenches. Fortunately these had been abandoned under American fire, and rifles and cartridges had been left behind. Thus this aquatic charge by unarmed men secured the bridge and enabled the American troops to cross.

Not far beyond was the Rio Grande, four hundred feet broad and crossed by another railroad bridge that must be taken. Here again the task was entrusted to Colonel Funston and the Twentieth Kansas. This time they found an old raft. Two privates stripped and swam across with a rope. Landing unarmed on the enemy's side of the river, they fastened their rope to a part of the very trench works of the Filipinos. With this connection established, Colonel Funston improvised a ferry and was soon on the enemy's side with supports. A stiff, unequal fight remained, as the ferry carried but six men on each trip. The bank was soon won, however, and the safe crossing of the army was assured. Such acts gave the natives a respect for Americans as fighting men, which caused it to be more and more difficult for the Filipino commanders to bring their forces to battle in the open.

General Lawton in the meantime was conducting a brilliant movement to the eastward. After breaking the enemy forces, he returned to Manila and then marched southward into the Tagalog country, where on the 13th of June, at Zapoti Bridge, he won the most stoutly contested battle of the insurrection. The successful conclusion of these operations brought the most civilized part of the island under American control.

The fighting now became scattered and assumed gradually a guerrilla character. The abler commanders of the American forces found their way to the top, and the troops, with their natural adaptability, constantly devised new methods of meeting new situations. A war of strangely combined mountain and sea fighting, involving cavalry and infantry and artillery, spread over the islands in widening circles and met with lessening resistance. An indication of the new character of the war was given by the change of the military organization, in April, 1900, from one of divisions and brigades, to a geographical basis. Each commander was now given charge of a certain area and used his men to reduce this district to order.

The insurgents fought in small groups and generally under local chieftains. Their advantage lay in their thorough knowledge of the country and in the sympathy of a part of the population and the fear of another part, for outlaws living in concealment and moving in the dark can often inspire a terror which regular troops under discipline fail to engender. The Americans could not trust the natives, as it was impossible to tell the truthful from the treacherous. Nevertheless it was a kind of fighting which gave unusual scope for that American individualism, so strongly represented in the army, to which the romance of precisely this sort of thing had drawn just the class of men best fitted for the work. Scouting, counter scouting, surprise attacks, and ambuscades formed the daily news transmitted from the front - affairs not of regiments and companies but of squads and individuals. When face to face, however, the Filipinos seldom stood their ground, and the American ingenuity and eager willingness to attempt any new thing gradually got the better of the local knowledge and unscrupulousness as to the laws of war which had at first, given the natives an advantage. Funston, now Brigadier General, and his "suicide squad" continued to play an active part, but a similar spirit of daring and ingenuity pervaded the whole army.

Broken as were the Filipino field forces and widening as was the area of peace, the result of the island campaign was still uncertain. It rested upon two unknown quantities. The first was the nature of the Filipinos. Would they remain irreconcilable, ever ready to take advantage of a moment of weakness? If such were to be the case, we could look for no real conquest, but only a forcible occupation, which the people of the United States would never consent to maintain. The second unknown quantity was the American people themselves. Would they sustain the occupation sufficiently long to give a reasonable test of the possibilities of success?

Two events brought these uncertainties to an end. In the first place, William Jennings Bryan was defeated for the presidency in November, 1900, and President McKinley was given four more years in which to complete the experiment. In the second place, on March 23, 1901, Aguinaldo, who had been long in concealment, was captured. Though there had long been no possibility of really commanding the insurgent forces as a whole, Aguinaldo had remained the center of revolt and occasionally showed his hand, as in the attempt to negotiate a peace on the basis of independence. In February an intercepted letter had given a clue to his hiding place. Funston, in spite of his new rank, determined personally to undertake the capture. The signature of Lacuna, one of the insurgent leaders, was forged and letters were sent to Aguinaldo informing him of the capture of five Americans, who were being sent to headquarters. Among the five was Funston himself. The "insurgent" guard, clad in captured uniforms, consisted for the most part of Macabebes, hereditary enemies of the Tagalogs - for the Americans had now learned the Roman trick of using one people against another. The ruse succeeded perfectly. The guard and its supposed prisoners were joyfully received by Aguinaldo, but the tables were quickly turned and Aguinaldo's capture was promptly effected.

On the 19th of April, Aguinaldo wrote: "After mature deliberation, I resolutely proclaim to the world that I cannot refuse to heed the voice of a people longing for peace, nor the lamentations of thousands of families yearning to see their dear ones enjoying the liberty and promised generosity of the great American nation. By acknowledging and accepting the sovereignty of the United States throughout the Philippine Archipelago, as I now do, and without any reservation whatsoever, I believe that I am serving thee, my beloved country."

On the 19th of May, General Wheaton, Chief of Staff in the Philippines, sent the following dispatch to Washington: "Lacuna having surrendered with all his officers and men today, I report that all insurrectionary leaders in this department have been captured or have surrendered. This is the termination of the state of war in this department so far as armed resistance to the authority of the United States is concerned."

There was subsequent fighting with other tribes and in other islands, particularly with the Moros of the Sulu group, but by the time Aguinaldo had accepted American rule, the uncertainty of the American people had been resolved, and the execution of the treaty with Spain had been actually accomplished. As seventy thousand troops were no longer needed in the islands, the volunteers and many of the regulars were sent home, and there began an era of peace such as the Philippines had never before known.

During the suppression of the insurrection the American Army had resorted to severe measures, though they by no means went to the extremes that were reported in the press. It was realized, however, that the establishment of a permanent peace must rest upon an appeal to the good will and self-interest of the natives. The treatment of the conquered territories, therefore, was a matter of the highest concern not only with reference to the public opinion at home but to the lasting success of the military operations which had just been concluded.

There was as yet no law in the United States relating to the government of dependencies. The entire control of the islands therefore rested, in the first instance, with the President and was vested by him, subject to instructions, in the Military Governor. The army fortunately reflected fully the democratic tendencies of the United States as a whole. In June, 1899, General Lawton encouraged and assisted the natives in setting up in their villages governing bodies of their own selection. In August, he issued a general order, based upon a law of the islands, providing for a general system of local government into which there was introduced for the first time the element of really popular election. In 1900, a new code of criminal procedure, largely the work of Enoch Herbert Crowder, at that time Military Secretary, was promulgated, which surrounded the accused with practically all the safeguards to which the Anglo-Saxon is accustomed except jury trial, for which the people were unprepared.

To advise with regard to a permanent system of government for the Philippines President McKinley appointed in January, 1899, a commission consisting of Jacob G. Schurman, President of Cornell University, Dean C. Worcester, who had long been engaged in scientific research in the Philippines, Colonel Charles Denby, for many years previously minister to China, Admiral Dewey, and General E. S. Otis. Largely upon their recommendation, the President appointed a second commission, headed by Judge William Howard Taft to carry on the work of organizing civil government which had already begun under military direction and gradually to take over the legislative power. The Military Governor was to continue to exercise executive power. In 1901, Congress at length took action, vesting all military, civil, and judicial powers in such persons as the President might appoint to govern the islands. McKinley immediately appointed Judge Taft to the new governorship thus authorized. In 1901 in the "Insular Cases" the Supreme Court also gave its sanction to what had been done. In legislation for the territories, it held that Congress was not bound by all the restrictions of the Constitution, as, for instance, that requiring jury trial; that Porto Rico and the Philippines were neither foreign countries nor completely parts of the United States, though Congress was at liberty to incorporate them into the Union.

There was, however, no disposition to incorporate the Philippines into the United States, but there has always been a widespread sentiment that the islands should ultimately be given their independence, and this sentiment has largely governed the American attitude toward them. A native Legislature was established in 1907 under Governor Taft,* and under the Wilson Administration the process toward independence has been accelerated, and dates begin to be considered. The process of preparation for independence has been threefold: the development of the physical well-being of the islands, the education of the islanders, and the gradual introduction of the latter into responsible positions of government. With little of the encouragement which might have come from appreciative interest at home, thousands of Americans have now labored in the Philippines for almost twenty years, but with little disposition to settle there permanently. Their efforts to develop the Filipinos have achieved remarkable success. It has of late been found possible to turn over such a large proportion of the governmental work to the natives that the number of Americans in the islands is steadily diminishing. The outbreak of the war with Germany found the natives loyal to American interests and even saw a son of Aguinaldo taking service under the Stars and Stripes. Such a tribute, like the services of Generals Smuts and Botha to Great Britain, compensates for the friction and noise with which democracy works and is the kind of triumph which carries reassurance of its ultimate efficiency and justice.

* By the Act of July 1, 1902, the Legislature was to consist of two houses, the Commission acting as an upper house and an elective assembly constituting a lower house. The Legislature at its first session was to elect two delegates who were to sit, without the right to vote, in the House of Representatives at Washington. An Act of August 29, 1916, substituted an elective Senate for the Philippine Commission as the upper house of the Legislature.