The question of the Philippines



President Schurman, of the first Philippine Commission, writing in Munsey's Magazine after his return, expressed his personal view as follows:

"We are not to make the Philippines a dumping-ground for politicians. It must be realized that there is no harder work and none nobler, after that of the President of the United States, than the administration of the Philippine Islands. Think of the Filipino as a negro or as an Indian, and you will never rule him. The men who rule in the Orient must have a genuine regard for humanity, behind whatever features or beneath whatever skin it may look out upon you.

"I believe the only hope of an eventually free, self-governed and united Filipino people is under the flag of the United States. I suppose that three years ago we would not have taken the Philippine Islands if they had been offered to us; but they have come into our hands, and we must do our duty. Nothing worse could happen to the Filipino than our withdrawal, for if we do, one of two things is bound to happen, either of which would be fatal to the aspirations of the Filipinos themselves. They will either fall a prey to domestic dissensions, so great and bitter are the tribal rivalries, or else aliens who have property in Manila and Subig and Iloilo and other places will find their lives and property insecure and ask protection from their own governments, and when once the great European powers begin to protect their citizens in the Philippine Islands the archipelago will be divided among them.

"I fully believe that when the scheme of government is put in execution by the commission which is now in the islands, headed by Judge Taft, the educated Filipinos will be satisfied and the United States will appear to them for the first time in a correct light -- no longer merely as an irresistible power, but as champions of justice, of freedom, and as dispensers of blessings through the entire archipelago."

A well known authority on the Philippines, Mr. John Foreman, an Englishman who has lived there a long time, wrote in an English review upon the future of the islands. He speaks well of Aguinaldo but predicts that an experiment of a native government would surely end in disaster. It would not last one year.

"If the native republic did succeed, it would not be strong enough to protect itself against foreign aggression. The islands are a splendid group, well worth picking a quarrel and spending a few millions sterling to annex them. I entertain the firm conviction that an unprotected united republic would last only until the novelty of the situation had worn off. Then, I think, every principal island would, in turn, declare its independence. Finally there would be complete chaos, and before that took root America or some European nation would probably have interfered; therefore it is better to start with protection. I cannot doubt that General Aguinaldo is quite alive to these facts; nevertheless I admire his astuteness in entering on any plan which, by hook or by crook, will expel the friars. If the republic failed, at least monastic power would never return. A protectorate under a strong nation is just as necessary to insure good administration in the islands as to protect them against foreign attack. Either Great Britain or America would be equally welcome to the islanders if they had not the vanity to think they could govern themselves. Unless America decided to start on a brand-new policy it would hardly suit her, I conjecture, to accept the mission of a protectorate so distant from her chief interests. England, having ample resources so near at hand, would probably find it a less irk-some task. For the reasons given above the control would have to be a very direct one. I would go so far as to suggest that the government should be styled `The Philippine Protectorate.' There might be a Chamber of Deputies, with a native President. The protector and his six advisers should be American or English. The functions of ministers should be vested in the advisers, and those of President (of a republic) in the protector. In any case, the finances could not be confided to a native. The inducement to finance himself would be too great. All races should be represented in the Chamber."

Under such rule as this, he says, capital would flow into the islands and civilization would rapidly grow. The legal aspects of the general question have been long under discussion by the ablest authorities, statesmen and scholars. In an elaborate paper in the Review of Reviews, Professor Judson of the University of Chicago, examines the precedents for the acquisitions of territory and the leading decisions of the Supreme Court. This is his summary:

"In brief, then, these seem to be the essential facts so far as the constitutional implications of a colonial policy are concerned. The power to acquire territory is no longer seriously questioned. The purposes of annexation are not limited by the Constitution, but are at the discretion of the political branch of the Government. It is not necessary, therefore, that annexed territory should be destined for statehood. It may be held permanently as a colony, for purposes of national defense or from economic considerations. It may be held in trust for the inhabitants, with the expectation of ultimately turning it over to them should they so desire and should they prove themselves capable of orderly government. Meanwhile the government of such territory is subject to the control of Congress.

"The inhabitants of annexed territory do not by virtue of annexation necessarily all become citizens of the United States -- it is not beyond question that any of them do so become. The fourteenth amendment is not of necessity so to be construed as to make birth in annexed territory result in American citizenship. The fourteenth amendment relates to the `United States.' That is a term which has two meanings: in the larger sense it includes all that is within the national boundaries -- `the whole American empire,' as Chief Justice Marshall calls it; in the more restricted sense it includes only the States, but excludes all federal territory. It is in the second -- the restricted -- sense that the term is used in the Constitution as denoting the sovereign power whose governmental agencies are therein provided -- a sovereign power in which the Territories have no share: `We, the people of the United States, . . . do ordain and establish this Constitution.' It is by no means proved that the term occurs anywhere in the Constitution in any other sense. Territories are not `States' within the meaning of the Constitution, and the `United States' in its restricted governmental sense is merely the `States' federally united. From these considerations it follows that some constitutional inconveniences apprehended from annexation of lands over sea and inhabited by inferior races are not likely to occur. Congress may lay a direct tax on such Territories, subject only to the constitutional limitation of proportion to population.

"The limitation of uniformity placed by the Constitution on the power to lay indirect taxes is confined to `the United States,' which may well mean the States. Thus there would be no such limitation so far as Territories are concerned, and hence Congress would be quite free to maintain therein such system of duties and excises as circumstances may warrant, irrespective of the policy controlling the `States.' The navigation laws are constitutionally limited also with reference only to the `States.' Thus Congress may, if it seems expedient so to do, establish the `open door' in over-sea Territories without let or hindrance from the Constitution. Such personal rights as the Constitution guarantees within the whole jurisdiction of the national government -- both in States and in Territories -- are on the whole such as would not materially impede adequate control of federal territory, and at the same time such as we would wish to extend to all people under the American flag.

"The acquisition of tropical territories may or may not be in accordance with sound policy. The control of such territories presents few serious constitutional difficulties."





Return to The Great Republic by the Master Historians (Vol 4)