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reasonably certain that a day was designated for an uprising, when the city was to be fired and all Americans put to the sword.
Early in January, 1899, Admiral Dewey suggested to the president that a commission should be sent from the United States to study the general situation in the Philippines and recommend a policy to be pursued. After consultation with General Otis, President McKinley appointed Jacob C. Schurman, President of Cornell University; Charles Denby, formerly United States Minister to China; Dean C. Worcester; Rear-Admiral George Dewey; and Major-General E. S. Otis, as the members of what became known as the Schurman Commission. At the time of the appointment of this commission no definite policy for the government of the islands had been adopted or even seriously considered by President McKinley. The United States in dealing with the Filipinos was still free to grant them independence, to establish a protectorate over them, to confer upon them a colonial form of government, or to admit them to the dignity of a territory or even a state in the Union. Nothing had been settled except that Spain should cede to the United States the sovereignty, which for three hundred years she had exercised over the islands.24
With conditions as they were in Manila it was inevitable that there would soon be a collision between the troops and the insurgents. The Americans were doing everything possible to prevent hostilities, at least until the arrival of the regular regiments that were on the way. The Filipinos had determined to declare war and attack the Americans. Their
the Philippines was forced upon us and was unavoidable. No nation but the United States would have permitted an unfriendly force of large numerical strength to throw up intrenchments and erect fortifications in the immediate proximity of its troops, as did the insurgents during several weeks preceding their attack on Manila, without considering it an act of war and adopting measures to arrest it. By all law and approved precedent the United States would have been justified in arresting these insurgent demonstrations by demand, to be followed with the application of force if demand was insufficient; and had that course been adopted no wrong could have been imputed to the United States." House Doc. 2, 56th Cong., 2nd Sess., Part 2, p. 199; Otis Rept., 1899–1900, p. 3.
24 Schurman, Filipino Affairs, A Retrospect and Outlook (1902), p. 4.
troops were constantly pressing upon the American lines and apparently inviting trouble, with the officers encouraging instead of restraining them.
The spirit in which the leaders were acting appears in correspondence between General Aguinaldo and one of his best officers, Colonel Cailles. On January 10, 1899, the latter, who had taken up a position beyond the line which had been agreed upon, wrote that the Americans had requested him to withdraw his forces fifty paces, but he wrote, “I shall not draw back a step and in place of withdrawing I shall advance a little farther. He ... brings a letter from his American General in which he speaks as a friend. I said that from the day I knew that Macquinley opposed our independence I do not want to have dealings with any Americans. War, war is what we want. The American after this speech went off pale.” Replying to this Aguinaldo said: “I approve and applaud what you have done with the Americans and zeal and valor always, also my beloved officers and soldiers here. I believe that they are playing us until the arrival of their reinforcements, but I shall send an ultimatum and shall be always on the alert."25
Three days later Cailles desired to know the result of the ultimatum and also what rewards the government contemplated "for the forces that will be able first to enter Manila.” The reply, in the handwriting of Aguinaldo, informed the gallant colonel that, “Those who will be the heroes will have as their rewards a large quantity of money, extraordinary rewards, promotions, crosses of Biak-na-bató, Marquis of Malate, Ermite, Count of Manila, etc., besides the congratulations of our idolizing country on account of their being patriotic, and more, if they capture the regiments with their generals, and if possible the chief of them all who represents our future enemies in Manila."26
Aguinaldo had for the moment evidently forgotten that his constitution prohibited the granting of titles of nobility. Probably he never took Mabini's paper government very seriously or even was aware of the contents of the elaborate documents that he signed at Mabini's dictation. It is certain that he never permitted such matters seriously to interfere with his projects, and had Cailles succeeded in capturing “the regiments with their generals” he would probably have secured his title of nobility.27
25 Telegraphic Correspondence of Aguinaldo, p. 39. Edited by Captain J. R. Taylor, pamphlet (1903).
28 Tei. Cor. of Aguinaldo, p. 40.
On February 2 a company of Filipinos deliberately came within the American lines and took possession of a small village, but on the demand of General MacArthur they were withdrawn. Notice was served on the commander that such violations of the agreement would not be thereafter endured. About 8:30 on the night of February 4 four Filipinos approached within five yards of an American outpost near the San Juan bridge and ignoring the command to halt were fired upon by the sentry. A Filipino detachment near by returned the fire, and the firing soon became general along the entire line. In the early morning the naval ships began sending shells into the Filipino lines. During the day of the fifth, which was Sunday, there was severe fighting. The Americans advanced steadily, and by evening the Filipinos had been driven from their lines and were badly demoralized. The American loss was fifty killed and one hundred eighty
27 In this connection an entry in the interesting diary kept by Simeon Villa, one of Aguinaldo's companions in his fight toward the mountains, throws a flood of light upon the character of Aguinaldo. "On a moonlight night," records the diarist, "the honorable President (and others) were discussing the matter; and once the independence of the country is declared, we shall take a trip to Europe with an allowance of a million dollars to pay our expenses." On another occasion, "After supper the honorable President in conversation with B. and V. and Lieutenant Carrasco, told them that as soon as the independence of the country was declared, he would give each one of them an amount of land, equal to what he himself will take for the future of his own family; that is, he will give each one of the three men 13,500 acres of land as a recompense for their work. ... In all probability they will be located in the San José Valley, Province of Nueva Ecija, and the principal products will be coffee, cacao, sugar, rice, and cattle.”
This diary was published by the government in 1902 under the title of Flight and Wanderings of Emilio Aguinaldo. See Senate Doc. 331, 57th Cong., 1st Sess., Part 3, pp. 1980–2060.
four wounded. General Otis estimated the enemy's casualties at three thousand, but no exact figures were available.
The fact that the outbreak occurred just before the date set for the vote in the Senate on the ratification of the treaty with Spain was probably a mere coincidence, but to the suspiciously inclined it suggested design. The Anti-Imperialists and their friends in the Senate, ever ready to think the worst of their countrymen, charged that the conflict had been deliberately brought on by the Americans in order to influence the vote on the treaty.28 There is no credible evidence to show that the Filipinos timed the attack with reference to the vote on the treaty. Their representatives abroad certainly had advised an attack before the arrival of the American forces, and Agoncillo hurriedly left Washington for Canada on the night of Feburary 4, under circumstances which suggested flight. But there is nothing to show that he had any information other than what he could have acquired from a New York newspaper which published an account of the outbreak about midnight of February 4.29 Having learned of the attack, Agoncillo probably thought it advisable to be in Montreal instead of Washington. The circumstances of the firing at San Juan bridge were inconsistent with the theory of a prearranged incident advised by Agoncillo to intimidate the Senate by knowledge that the Filipinos intended to go to war. The Filipinos at that particular hour were unprepared for attack or defense. The expected battle came when they were off their guard, most of the higher officers being absent at Malolos or enjoying themselves at various entertainments in the vicinity. However, Aguinaldo had the draft of a declaration of war ready, and "at the first tick of the telegraph reporting the trouble in front of Manila, it was reeled off the old press at Malolos.”30
28 See the speeches of Sen. Rawlins, April 23, 1902. Con. Rec., XXXV, Part 5, p. 4573, and Sen. Patterson, Ibid., p. 5915. The attempt to manipulate the records to the discredit of the American authorities was a failure. See the record contained in a speech by Sen. Spooner, Cong. Rec., XXXV, Part 6 pp. 6107-6108.
29 Manila is 13 hours west of Washington. Otis' message, filed at Manila at 8:32 a. M., February 6, was received at Washington at 10:52 P. M. on February 5. The New York Herald contained the first news before midnight of February 4, which was February 5 in Manila.