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pines the relations with the insurgents were definitely fixed. Final instructions to demand the cession of the entire Archipelago were sent to the commissioners at Paris on November 11, 1898. Before that Aguinaldo had proclaimed his Republic and established his capital at Malolos. During the period of uncertainty which extended from May 1 to November 11, neither Aguinaldo, Dewey, Anderson, nor the people of the United States had any information on the subject. By a process of reasoning or instinct, Pratt reached the conclusion that the Filipinos would be supported in their demand for independence. Williams assumed that the islands would be annexed and governed by the United States. Wildman evidently believed that a protectorate would be established. Dewey first favored retaining Luzon. Washington instructed the consuls and officers not to talk politics and in the meantime maintained absolute silence. Aguinaldo and his associates were naturally very desirous of ascertaining the policy of the United States. Like most Americans at that time, they inferred from the history of America that it would not care to assume the burden of governing a distant territory. Before leaving Hong Kong for Cavite Aguinaldo and the junta satisfied themselves that the constitution of the United States conferred no power to hold colonies. The conclusion, as recorded in the minutes of the junta on May 4, was that if the American government "proposed to carry out the fundamental principles of its constitution, there was no doubt that it would not attempt to colonize the Philippines or even to annex them. It was probable then that it would give them independence and guarantee it.”
This was a reasonable deduction from the facts known to the Filipinos and they knew about as much as any one did at that time. The United States had gone to war to free the Cubans and the Filipinos with their limited knowledge of history might well ignore the facts which distinguished the Cuban from the Philippine situation. The important thing to note is that the Filipino leaders did not then pretend to have received any information with reference to the American policy. They reached their conclusions by reasoning from the conditions known to them.
The meeting of the junta, the minutes of which have been quoted, was held three days after the destruction of the Spanish fleet. It required no great prescience to infer that Dewey, being without troops, would be willing to encourage the insurgents to attack the common enemy, and might aid them with the arms they “required for the struggle for their legitimate aspirations." The arms, at least, would be so much clear gain. If later the Americans should have other views as to what aspirations were “legitimate” the arms could be turned against them. It seemed a perfectly good policy because under it both parties secured the immediate thing desired and the future was left to take care of itself. The Filipinos had everything to win and nothing to lose by reviving the insurrection under such conditions.
There was, however, one dread contingency,—the United States might decide to withdraw from the Philippines and leave the Filipinos to fight it out with Spain. That must be avoided at all hazard. “To be again in the hands of Spain," wrote Agoncillo to Mabini a few days after the fall of Manila, "will mean a long and bloody war and it is doubtful whether the end will be favorable to us. A treaty of peace sanctioned by the other powers will assure the dominion of Spain. Spain free from Cuba and her other colonies will employ all her energies to crush us and will send here the one hundred and fifty thousand men she has in Cuba."61
Until the American policy should be defined the Filipino policy must necessarily be tentative. Aguinaldo and his following had already determined to secure absolute independence if possible, but many influential Filipinos had other views and it was necessary to act with tact and discretion. Many of the wealthy upper class favored annexation, but they were skilfully maneuvered out of position. Before leaving Hong Kong two proclamations were prepared for circulation in the Philippines, one, a copy of which was sent to Washington by Pratt, bore the heading, “Amer
61 Phil. Insurg. Recs., 453, 3.
ica's Allies," and contained the words, "Divine Providence places us in a position to secure our independence. ... Where you see the American flag flying, bear in mind that they are our redeemers." The other contained the following:
“This is the best opportunity which we have ever had for contriving that our country, all the Philippine Archipelago, may be counted as another star in the great republic of the United States.... Now is the time to offer ourselves to that nation. ... With America we shall be rich, civilized and happy.''62
Aguinaldo is understood to have carried these proclamations to the Philippines, but neither was circulated. Manifestly he was not ready to announce a policy. After the insurgent army was organized the native people were informed that the Americans would aid them in securing independence, but Aguinaldo at all times realized that it might be necessary to accept something less.
On July 28, 1898, Señor Regidor, a Filipino residing in London, telegraphed Agoncillo that President McKinley should be requested not to abandon the islands. “Pledge him our unconditional adhesion, especially of well-to-do people. To return to Spain, in whatever form, would mean annihilation, perpetual anarchy. ... Influence Aguinaldo to accept American flag, flying it everywhere, thus obliging them to remain."63 Agoncillo replied that Aguinaldo's government aspired to independence. Regidor then wrote to J. M. Basa, urging that a protectorate was the only feasible policy.64 Upon receiving this communication Basa called together his friends in Hong Kong and they adopted a resolution directing that a congratulatory message be sent to President McKinley. Agoncillo informed Aguinaldo of what had been done by a letter, in which he described Basa and his friends as "boastful patriots."
"If the American troops leave us alone there,” he wrote, “the questions which will arise are these: Have we sufficient arms to
62 Phil. Insurg. Recs., 1204–10. J. M. Basa enclosed the proclamation in a letter of May 16, 1898, to José Basa at Manila, recommending that it be given the widest possible circulation.
63 Phil. Insurg. Recs., 471, 4. 64 Phil. Insurg. Recs., 450, 2.
maintain the war against Spain in order to secure our independence? . . . If you think that we have not sufficient strength to fight against them, should we accept independence under an American protectorate; and if so, what conditions or advantages should be given to the United States? You should carefully consider the preceding questions ... and your decision be notified to our representatives abroad in order that they may know what they must do in their negotiations.”85
On August 7, 1898, Aguinaldo wrote to Agoncillo definitely announcing the policy he then had in mind:
“Still do not accept any contracts or give any promises respecting protection or annexation, because we will see first if we can obtain independence. This is what we shall endeavor to secure; meanwhile if it should be possible to do so, still give them to understand in a way that you are unable to bind yourself, but that once we are independent we will be able to make arrangements with them."66
On August 10, 1898, Aguinaldo wrote to Sandico: “The policy of the government is as follows:
“1. To struggle for the independence of the Philippines as far as our strength and our means will permit. Protection or annexation will be acceptable only when it can be clearly seen that the recognition of our independence, either by force of arms or diplomacy, is impossible.”67
And two weeks later he wrote Agoncillo:
“You must bear in mind that the policy of the government is to obtain absolute independence, and if perchance we should know by the course of events that such can not be the case, we will then think of annexation or protection."68
After the arrival of the troops Admiral Dewey ceased to have any relations with Aguinaldo. General Anderson dealt with him as the commander of a military force engaged in fighting the common enemy. That condition necessitated friendly relations to the point where their vital interests conflicted. There never was any real cooperation.69 The Americans merely permitted the insurgents to carry on military operations so long as they did not conflict with their own plans. On July 22 General Anderson informed Aguinaldo that he could not without orders from Washington, recognize his civil authority. The burden of Aguinaldo's complaints was the refusal to recognize him as an ally or to recognize his government, but he never in any of his correspondence with Dewey, Anderson, Merritt or Otis claimed that he had been promised American support in his attempt to establish an independent republic in the Philippines. He complained only of the unfairness and injustice of the refusal to permit his army to enter the city of Manila, which it had assisted in capturing. He refused to attend the Fourth of July ceremonies because not invited as president. His military operations were carried on for his own purposes. He attempted unsuccessfully to capture Manila without the assistance of the Americans. He ignored requests for assistance in obtaining transportation and complied only when threatened with force.
65 Phil. Insurg. Recs., 471, 4. On July 21, 1898, Agoncillo wrote to Mabini that the idea that the purpose of the American government was to grant independence without conditions was too philosophical to be true and that Don Emilio knew what he thought and "I shall think the same; that is to say that we are the ones who must secure the independence of our country by means of unheard-of sacrifices and thus work out its happiness."
66 Phil. Insurg. Recs., Book C, 1.
The right to use deceit against an enemy is recognized by the laws of war. The original plan for obtaining arms from the Americans which could be used against them if the "legitimate aspirations” of the Filipinos were not recognized should not be too severely criticized. At least there is nothing in the modern history of European nations to justify them in throwing stones at Aguinaldo and his associates. But conveying information to the Spaniards while professing friendship, and asserting the existence of an alliance with the Americans, can not be justified even by the law of necessity. On at least two occasions such information was conveyed to the Spaniards. On July 30 Gen
89 Aguinaldo, writing to Consul Williams on August 1, 1898, said that his people were claiming that the “American forces have shown not an active, only a passive cooperation.” Sen. Doc. 62, p. 398.
To Sen. Doc. 62, p. 393.