Americanization During the War 

Topics of Americanization 

Chronology of Americanization 
Date  Event
Non-Military Military-Related
March 4, 1899    Arrival in Manila of the First Philippine Commission, known as the "Schurman Commission," headed by Jacob Gold Schurman. 
April 4, 1899    Issuance of a Proclamation by the First Philippine Commission. 
May 29, 1899    Re-establishment of the Philippine court system appointing Cayetano Arellano as the Chief Justice; revived all Spanish systems not conflicting with U.S. sovereignty; Spanish was made the official language of the courts. 
July 3, 1899    Opening of public schools with a combination of American, Spanish, and Filipino teachers. 
July 19, 1899    Substitution of the Spanish system by the American system of legal practice before the courts. 
June 3, 1900    Arrival in Manila of the Second Philippine Commission, known as the Taft Commission, headed by William Howard Taft. 
Sept. 1, 1900    The Taft Commission became a colonial legislative body with authority to raise taxes, appropriate funds, fix tariffs and set up law courts. 
Dec.  23, 1900   Formation of the Partido Federal ledd by Trinidad Herminegildo Pardo de Tavera, Benito Legarda, and Jose Luzuriaga, with full blessing by the Taft Commission.
Feb. 22, 1901    Formal inauguration of Partido Federal , the first Philippine political party headed by Trinidad H. Pardo de Tavera as its president, the party adopting a platform of Philippine statehood under American sovereignty.
  1901 Drafting of the Army Reorganization Act of 1901 by U.S. Congress authorizing the enlistment of up to 12,000 Filipinos in special "scout" units, and within a year 5,000 Filipinos were to serve in the Philippine Scouts. 
July 4, 1901    Formal assumption of William Howard Taft as first Civil-Governor of the Philippines.
  July 18, 1901 Passing of Philippine Commission Act No. 175 providing for an "armed, equipped and disciplined force" of 150 men per province under supervision by American officers.
Aug. 21, 1901    Arrival of USS Thomas carrying the first wave of American teachers in the Philippines known as Thomasites
July 1, 1902    U.S. Congress passed the Philippine Organic Act for colonial administration of the Philippines. 
  July 4, 1902  Peace Proclamation and Amnesty Grant issued by President Theodore Roosevelt officially closing the Philippine "Insurrection."
  Nov. 1902 Passing of the bandolerismo stature making a crime to be part of a gang which had been formed to steal carabaos or commit highway robbery with deadly weapons, making it unnecessary to prove that an individual had committed a specific crime.
1903    Start of Pensionado Program of sending Filipino government scholars to study in the U.S. (100 scholars sent in the first year of program). 
1906    Passing of Philippine Commission Act No. 1123 making English as the official language of the land. 
Oct. 16, 1907    Inaugural Session of the Philippine Assembly attended by William Howard Taft, then Secretary of War under the administration of President Theodore Roosevelt. 
1908    Establishment of University of the Philippines.

Voting Restrictions Carried Out by the Taft Commission

  • Males who were at least 23 years old. 
  • Literate in either English or Spanish. 
  • Owner of real property valued at least $250, or paid an annual tax of $15. 
"In fixing these qualifications, we followed the recommendations of the Filipinos whom we consulted, except that there were many of them who advocated higher qualifications." 

from a report by the Taft Commission 

Philippine Court System 
(Appointed on May 29, 1899) 
Court Position  Name  Origin  Former Affiliation 
Chief Justice  Cayetano Arellano  Filipino  Aguinaldo's legal adviser 
Associate Justices, Civil Branch  Manuel Araulla  Filipino   
Colonel Crowder  American   
Gregorio Araneta  Filipino  Former Aguinaldo's first cabinet 
Associate Justices, Criminal Branch  Raymundo Molliza  Filipino  Former officer of the Federal Government of the Visayas 
Ambrosio Rianzares  Filipino   
Julio Lorento  Filipino   
Major Young  American   
Captain Birkhimer  American   
Attorney-General  Florentino Torres  Filipino  Aguinaldo's conciliator during early days of war 


Members of the Philippine Commission 
Commission  Date  Members  Commission 
Appointed  Operational
First U.S.-Philippine 
Commission known as the "Schurman Commission" 
December 1898, 
upon advise of Commodore Dewey 
March 4, 1899  Jacob Gould Schurman  Chairman 
Dean Worcester  Commissioners 
Charles Denby 
General Elwell Otis 
Commodore George Dewey 
Second U.S.- Philippine Commission known as the
"Taft Commission" 
April 7, 1900  Sept. 1, 1900  William Howard Taft  Chairman 
Dean Worcester  American Commissioners 
Luke E. Wright 
Henry C. Ide 
Bernard Moses 
Mark Sullivan 
Trinidad H. Pardo de Tavera  Filipino Commissioners (appointed by William H. Taft immediately after his installation as Civil Governor on July 4, 1901) 
Benito Legarda 
Jose Luzuriaga 

U.S. Military Commanders and Civil Governor of the Philippines 
 Military Commanders 
Civil Governors 
Remarks/Major Event 
or Accomplishment
Occupying Forces
July 1898-August 22, 1898  General Wesley Merritt     Commanded American troops at "sham" land battle of Manila on August 13, 1898.
August 22, 1898-May 5, 1900  General Elwell S. Otis      War broke during his assignment
May 5, 1900-July 4, 1901  General Arthur MacArthur     Filipinos waged vigorous guerilla warfare against occupying forces
July 4, 1901-1904      William H. Taft  Installed local governments; appointed town Presidentes; Lonoy Massacre and Balangiga Massacre.
    General Adnan R. Chaffee    
1904-1906      Luke E. Wright   
1906      Henry C. Ide   
1906-1909      James F. Smith   
1909-1913      W. Cameron Forbes   
1913-1921      Francis Burton Harrison  Quasi-government of the Sultanate of Sulu was dismantled through the Sultan-Carpenter Agreeemnt thereby reducing the Sultan as mere religious symbol of his own people.
1921-1927      Leonard Wood   Cabinet crisis occured; Filipino cabinet members led by Manuel Quezon resigned.
1928-1929      Henry L. Stimson   
1929-1932      Dwight F. Davis   
1932-1933      Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.   
1933-1935      Frank Murphy  Tydings-McDuffie Law passed providing for the formation of the Philippine Commonwealth Govrnment and a 10-year transition to complete Philippine independence.

U.S. Philippine Commission Proclamation 
Manila, Philippine Islands 

April 4, 1899 

The Commission desires to assure the people of the Philippine islands of the cordial good will and fraternal feeling which is entertained for them by the President of the United States and by the American people. 

The aim and object of the American government, apart from the fulfillment of the solemn obligations it has assumed toward the family of nations by its acceptance of sovereignty over the Philippine islands is the well-being, prosperity, and happiness of the Philippine people and their elevation and advancement to a position among the most civilized peoples of the world. 

The President believes that this felicity and perfection of the Philippine people is to be brought about by the assurance of peace and order, by the guarantee of civil and religious liberty, by the establishment of justice, by the cultivation of letters, science and the liberal and practical arts, by the enlargement of intercourse with foreign nations, by expansion of industrial pursuits, by trade and commerce, by multiplication and improvement of the means of internal communication, by development, with the aid of modern mechanical inventions, of the great natural resources of the archipelago - and, in a word, by the uninterrupted devotion of the people to the pursuit of useful objects and the realization of those nobler ideals which constitute the higher civilization of mankind. 

Unfortunately these pure aims and purposes of the American government and people have been misinterpreted to some of the inhabitants of certain islands, and as a consequence the friendly American forces have without provocation or cause been openly attacked. And why these hostilities? What do the best Filipinos desire? Can it be more that the United States is ready to give? They are patriots and want liberty. 

In the meantime the attention of the people of the Philippines is invited to certain regulation principles by which the United States will be guided in its relations with them. These are deemed to be the points of cardinal importance. 

  • The supremacy of the United States must and will be enforced throughout every part of the archipelago, and those who resist it can accomplish no end other than their own ruin. 
  • To the Philippine people will be granted the most ample liberty and self-government reconcilable with the maintenance of a wise, just, stable, effective, and economical administration of public affairs and compatible with the foreign and international rights and the obligations of the United States. 
  • The civil rights of the Philippine people will be guaranteed and protected to the fullest extent; religious freedom will be assured, and all persons shall be equal standing in the eyes of the law. 
  • Honor, justice, and friendship forbid the use of the Philippine people or the islands they inhabit as an object or means of exploitation. The purpose of the American government is the welfare and the advancement of the Philippine people. 
  • There shall be guaranteed to the Philippine people an honest and effective civil service in which, to the fullest extent to which it is practical, natives shall be employed. 
  • The collection and application of all taxes and other revenues will be placed upon a sound, economical basis and the public funds, raised justly and collected honestly, will be applied only to defray the regular and proper expenses incurred by and for the establishment and maintenance of the Philippine government, and such general improvements as the public interests may demand. Local funds collected will be used for local purposes and not to be devoted to other ends. 
With such prudent and honest fiscal administration, it is believed that the needs of the government will, in a short time, become compatible with a considerable reduction in taxation. 
  • A pure, speedy and effective administration of justice will be established whereby may be eradicated the evils of arising from delay, corruption, and exploitation. 
  • The construction of roads, railroads, and similar means of communication and transportation and of other public works, manifestly to the advantage of the Philippine people, will be promoted. 
  • Domestic and foreign trade and commerce, agriculture, and other industrial pursuits tending toward the general development of the country, in the interests of the inhabitants, shall be objects of constant solicitude, and fostering care. 
  • Effective provision will be made for the establishment of elementary schools in which the children of the people may be educated, and appropriate facilities will be provided for a higher education 
  • Reforms in all departments of the government, all branches of the public service, and all corporations closely touching the common life of the people, will be undertaken without delay and effected conformably with right and justice in a way to satisfy the well-founded demands and the highest sentiments and aspirations of the people. 
Such is the spirit in which the United States comes to the people of the islands, and the President has instructed the commission to make this publicly known. 

In obeying his behest, the commissioners desire to join the President in expressing their good will toward the Philippine people, and to extend to the leading representative men an invitation to meet them for the purpose of personal acquaintance and the exchange of views and opinions. 
United States Commissioner 
Commodore, United States Navy 
(Signed)  ELWELL S. OTIS 
Major-General, United States Army 
United States Commissioner 
United States Commissioner 

Pres. William McKinley's 
Letter of Instructions to the Taft Commission

April 7, 1900

The commissioners will meet and act as a board, and the Hon. William H. Taft is designated as president of the 
board.... The commission will... report to the Secretary of War, and all their action will be subject to your approval and control. 

You will instruct the commission to proceed to the city of Manila, where they will make their principal office,... Without hampering them by too specific instruction they should in general be enjoined, after making themselves familiar with the conditions and needs of the country, to devote their attention in the first instance to the establishment of municipal governments, in which the natives of the islands, both in the cities and in the rural communities, shall be afforded the opportunity to manage their own local affairs to the fullest extent of which they are capable, and subject to the least degree of supervision and control which a careful study of their capacities and observation of the workings of native control show to be consistent with the maintenance of law, order, and loyalty. 

The next subject in order of importance should be the organization of government in the larger administrative divisions, corresponding to counties, departments, or provinces,... Whenever the commission is of the opinion that the condition of affairs in the islands is such that the central administration may safely be transferred from military to civil control, they will report that conclusion to you, with their recommendations as to the form of central government to be established for the purpose of taking over the control. 

Beginning with the 1st day of September, 1900, the authority to exercise, subject to my approval, through the Secretary of War, that part of the power of government in the Philippine Islands which is of a legislative nature is to be transferred from the military governor of the islands to this commission,... under such rules and regulations as you shall prescribe, until the establishment of the civil central government,... or until Congress shall otherwise provide. 

Exercise of this legislative authority will include the making of rules and orders having the effect of law, for the raising of revenue by taxes, customs, duties, and imposts; the appropriation and expenditure of public funds of the islands; the establishment of an educational system throughout the islands; the establishment of a system to secure an efficient civil service; the organization and establishment of courts; the organization and establishment of municipal and departmental governments, and all other matters of a civil nature for which the military governor is now competent to provide by rules or orders of a legislative character. 

The commission will also have power during the same period to appoint to office such officers under the judicial, educational, and civil-service systems and in the municipal and departmental governments as shall be provided for. Until the complete transfer of control the military governor nor will remain the chief executive head of the government of the islands,... In the meantime the municipal and departmental governments will continue to report to the military governor and be subject to his administrative supervision and control, under your direction. 

All legislative rules and orders, establishments of government, and appointments to office by the Commission will take effect immediately, or at such times as they shall designate, subject to your approval and action upon the coming in of the commission's reports,... 

In the distribution of powers among the governments organized by the commission the presumption is always to be in favor of the smaller subdivision, so that all the powers which can properly be exercised by the municipal government shall be vested in that government, and all the powers of a more general character which can be exercised by the departmental government shall be vested in that government, and so that in the governmental system which is the result of the process the central government of the islands, following the example of the distribution of the powers between the States and the National Government of the United States, shall have no direct administration except of matters of purely general concern and shall have only such supervision and control over local governments as may be necessary to secure and enforce faithful and efficient administration by local officers. 

The many different degrees of civilization and varieties ties of custom and capacity among the people of the different islands preclude very definite instruction as to the part which the people shall take in the selection of their own officers; but these general rules are to be observed: That in all cases the municipal officers, who administer the local affairs of the people, are to be selected by the people, and that wherever officers of more extended jurisdiction are to be selected in any way, natives of the islands are to be preferred, and if they can be found competent and willing to perform the duties, they are to receive the offices in preference to any others. 

It will be necessary to fill some offices for the present with Americans which after a time may well be filled by natives of the islands. As soon as practicable a system for ascertaining the merit and fitness of candidates for civil office should be put in force. An indispensable qualification for all offices and positions of trust and authority in the islands must be absolute and unconditional loyalty to the United States;... 

In all the forms of government and administrative provisions which they are authorized to prescribe, the commission should bear in mind that the government which they are establishing is designed, not for our satisfaction faction or for the expression of our theoretical views, but for the happiness, peace, and prosperity of the people of the Philippine Islands, and the measures adopted should be made to conform to their customs, their habits, and even their prejudices, to the fullest extent consistent with the accomplishment of the indispensable requisites of just and effective government. 

At the same time the commission should bear in mind, and the people of the islands should be made plainly to understand, that there are certain great principles of government which have been made the basis of our governmental system which we deem essential to the rule of law and the maintenance of individual freedom, and of which they have, unfortunately, been denied the experience possessed by us; that there are also certain practical rules of government which we have found to be essential to the preservation of these great principles of liberty and law, and that these principles and these rules of government must be established and maintained in their islands for the sake of their liberty and happiness, however much they may conflict with the customs or laws of procedure with which they are familiar. 

It is evident that the most enlightened thought of the Philippine Islands fully appreciates the importance of these principles and rules, and they will inevitably within a short time command universal assent. Upon every division vision and branch of the government of the Philippines, therefore, must be imposed these inviolable rules: 

That no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law; that private property shall not be taken for public use without just compensation; that in all criminal prosecutions the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation, to be confronted with the witnesses against him, to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense; that excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishment inflicted; that no person shall be put twice in jeopardy for the same offense, or be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself; that the right to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated; that neither slavery nor involuntary servitude shall exist except as a punishment for crime; that no bill of attainder or ex post facto law shall be passed; that no law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech or of the press, or the rights of the people to peaceably assemble and petition the Government for a redress of grievances; that no law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, and that the free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship ship without discrimination or preference shall forever be allowed. 

It will be the duty of the commission to make a thorough investigation into the titles to the large tracts of land held or claimed by individuals or by religious orders; into the justice of the claims and complaints made against such landholders by the people of the island [sic], or any part of the people, and to seek by wise and peaceable measures a just settlement of the controversies and redress of wrongs which have caused strife and bloodshed in the past. In the performance of this duty the commission is enjoined to see that no injustice is done; to have regard for substantial rights and equity, disregarding technicalities so far as substantial right permits, and to observe the following rules: 

That the provision of the treaty of Paris pledging the United States to the protection of all rights of property in the islands, and as well the principle of our own Government which prohibits the taking of private property without due process of law, shall not be violated; that the welfare of the people of the islands, which should be a paramount consideration, shall be attained consistently with this rule of property right; that if it becomes necessary for the public interest of the people of the islands to dispose of claims to property which the commission finds to be not lawfully acquired and held, disposition shall be made thereof by due legal procedure, in which there shall be full opportunity for fair and impartial hearing and judgment; that if the same public interests require the extinguishment of property rights lawfully acquired and held, due compensation shall be made out of the public treasury therefor; that no form of religion and no minister of religion shall be forced upon any community or upon any citizen of the islands; that upon the other hand no minister of religion shall be interfered with or molested in following his calling, and that the separation between state and church shall be real, entire, and absolute. 

It will be the duty of the commission to promote and extend, and, as they find occasion, to improve, the system of education already inaugurated by the military re-authorities. In doing this they should regard as of first importance the extension of a system of primary education which shall be free to all, and which shall tend to fit the people for the duties of citizenship and for the ordinary avocations of a civilized community. This instruction should be given in the first instance in every part of the islands in the language of the people. In view of the great number of languages spoken by the different tribes, it is especially important to the prosperity of the islands that a common medium of communication may be established, and it is obviously desirable that this medium should be the English language. Especial attention should be at once given to affording full opportunity to all the people of the islands to acquire the use of the English language. 

It may be well that the main changes which should be made in the system of taxation and in the body of the laws under which the people are governed, except such changes as have already been made by the military government, should be relegated to the civil government which is to be established under the auspices of the commission. It will, however, be the duty of the commission to inquire diligently gently as to whether there are any further changes which ought not to be delayed; and if so, they are authorized to make such changes, subject to your approval. In doing so they are to bear in mind that taxes which tend to penalize or repress industry and enterprise are to be avoided; that provisions for taxation should be simple, so that they may be understood by the people; that they should affect the fewest practicable subjects of taxation which will serve for the general distribution of the burden. 

The main body of the laws which regulate the rights and obligations of the people should be maintained with as little interference as possible. Changes made should be mainly in procedure, and in the criminal laws to secure speedy and impartial trials and at the same time effective administration and respect for individual rights. 

In dealing with the uncivilized tribes of the islands the commission should adopt the same course followed by Congress in permitting the tribes of our North American Indians to maintain their tribal organization and government and under which many of those tribes are now living in peace and contentment, surrounded by a civilization to which they are unable or unwilling to conform. Such tribal governments should, however, be subjected to wise and firm regulation; and, without undue or petty interference, constant and active effort should be exercised to prevent barbarous practices and introduce civilized customs. 

Upon all officers and employees of the United States, both civil and military, should be impressed a sense of the duty to observe not merely the material but the personal and social rights of the people of the islands, and to treat them with the same courtesy and respect for their personal dignity which the people of the United States are accustomed to require from each other. 

The articles of capitulation of the city of Manila on the 13th of August, 1898, concluded with these words: 

"This city, its inhabitants, its churches and religious worship,its educational establishments, and its private property of all descriptions are placed under the special safeguard of the faith and honor of the American army." 

I believe that this pledge has been faithfully kept. As high and sacred an obligation rests upon the Government of the United States to give protection for property and life, civil and religious freedom, and wise, firm, and unselfish guidance in the paths of peace and prosperity to all the people of the Philippine Islands. I charge this commission to labor for the full performance of this obligation, which concerns the honor and conscience of their country, in the firm hope that through their labors all the inhabitants of the Philippine Islands may come to look back with gratitude to the day when God gave victory to American arms at Manila and set their land under the sovereignty and the protection of the people of the United States. 


[ Note: The full text is in Annual Reports of the War Department... 1900, Vol. I: Report of the Secretary of War, Pt. 1, Appendix B, pp. 72-76. The instructions were addressed to the Secretary of War Elihu Root, who in turn transmitted them to the Commissioner. Besides W. H. Taft, the other members of the Commission were: Dean C. Worcester, Luke E. Wright, Henry C. Ide, and Bernard Moses.] 


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Philippine-American War Centennial Initiative (PAWCI)