The treaty of peace between the United States and Spain was signed at Paris by the respective commissioners on the 10th day of December, 1898, and ratified by their’ governments a few months later. Spain agreed to cede to the United States the Philippine Archipelago in consideration of receiving $20,000,000. Article 8 of the Treaty declares that “the abandonment and cession stipulated shall in no way affect the property and rights accorded by custom or law to the peaceful holders of goods of any sort in the provinces, cities, public or private establishments, civil or ecclesiastical corporations, or any other collectively which has any legal right to acquire goods, or rights in the ceded or abandoned territories, and the same applies to the rights and properties of individuals of every nationality whatsoever.”
Article 9 recites that “Spanish subjects born in the Peninsula and resident in the territories, the sovereignty of which Spain abandons, or cedes, may remain in, or go away from, those territories and still hold, in either case, their property rights as well as the right to sell, or dispose of, the real estate, or its produce. They shall also have the right to follow their trades, or professions, subject to the laws affecting all other foreigners.”
It is easy to comprehend the grief and anger with which the Filipinos learned the terms of the Treaty of Paris. Apparently the friars were as firmly entrenched as ever. The Americans had given them a title to the lands which the natives protested had been stolen from their rightful owners. Their archenemy with whom tlhey had struggled for many years appeared to have the support of the powerful Government of the United States, for no intimation of the ultimate action of the American authorities in the disposition of the friars’ lands had as yet been given.
The insurgent leaders were thoroughly disgusted with the turn of events, and it must be confessed that they had no little ground for their discontent. The money which they had received from the Spanish Government ($400,000) as a condition of surrender in 1897, had been carefully husbanded for the future struggle that they anticipated and had been expended in their operations supporting the American invasion. There is no doubt that someone, who they had reason to suppose was authorized to speak for the American Government, had assured the Junta Patriotica in Hongkong that they miglht look for the independence of the Philippines to follow American success in wresting the islands from Spain. The expectations of the Filipinos were strengthened by Admiral Dewey’s action in bringing Aguinaldo and his lieutenants to Manila in an American war vessel; in supplying them with arms; and in employing them in the ensuing carnpaign. The services rendered by the insurgents during the three months that the American fleet lay in Manila Bay, quite unable for lack of troops to take advantage of the naval victory, should not be lightly estimated. Even after the arrival of reinforcements from America, the revolutionary forces afforded valuable assistance in the reduction of the city and afterwards in holding the island and maintaining order.
To have granted independence to the Philippines at that time would have been to visit the people with a greater misfortune than a continuance of the rule of the friars, and it is weIl that the American Government did not entertain either idea. But it can hardly be questioned that both policy and justice demanded prompt and substantial recognition of the services of the leaders in the Filipino rebellion. Had this been done it is probable that Aguinaldo and his companions could have been induced to lay down their arms and to submit to the authority of the American Government. That they continued the contest for the possession of their country – a contest in which they had already sacrificed fifty thousand lives – is not to their discredit. Senator Hoar, addressing Congress on the subject, said: “Mr. President, there is one mode by which the people of the Philippine Islands could establish the truth of the charges as to their degradation and incapacity for self-government which have been made by the advocates of Imperalism in this debate, and that mode is by submitting tamely and without resistance to the United States.”
There had been serious friction, bordering at times upon open rupture, between the American and insurgent troops from the time of the arrival of the former, but it was not until February, 1899, that the ill-advised and hopeless armed opposition of the Filipinos to the United States Government began. It is impossible to determine the responsibility for the immediate outbreak. Each side accused the other of undue precipitancy and aggravation, hut the question is of little consequence.
The subjugation of the insurrectos was accomplished under extreme difficulties. The native troops rnaintained a guerilla war for years, retreating to the mountains, or the jungle, when pressed, and only attacking in overwhelming numbers. The capture of Aguinaldo broke the back of the resistance, and although a few armed bodies remained at large in different parts of the Archipelago, the Philippine Commission was able to certify on September the 11th, 1902, that ,”The recently existing insurrection of the Philippine Islands has ceased and a condition of general and complete peace has been established therein.” At this poin it may be well to sketch in outline the system of administration under the Spaniards. We shall thereby gain some idea of the task which was presented to the American Government upon taking over the islands, the extent of its achievement up to the present, and the difficulties yet to be overcome.