The Story of the Philippines

by Murat Halstead
1898

  • Introduction
  • 19th Century Views of the Philippines
  • Admiral Dewey on his Flagship
  • Life in Manila
  • From Long Island to Luzon
  • Interview with General Aguinaldo
  • The Philippine Mission
  • The Proclamations of General Aguinaldo
  • Interview with the Archbishop of Manila
  • Why we hold the Philippines
  • The Philippine Islands as They are
  • Official History of the Conquest of Manila
  • The Administration of General Merritt
  • The American Army in Manila
  • The White Uniform of Our Heroes in the Tropics
  • A Martyr to the Liberty of Speech
  • Events of the Spanish-American War
  • The Peace Jubilee
  • Early History of the Philippines
  • The Southern Philippines
  • Specifications of Grievances of the Filipinos
  • Hawaii as Annexed
  • Early History of the Sandwich Islands
  • The Start of the Land of Corn Stalks
  • Kodak Snapped at Japan
  • Our Picture Gallery
  • Cuba and Porto Rico
  • The Ladrones
  • The Official Title to Our New Possesion in the Indies
  • Battles with the Filipinos before Manila
  • The Aguinaldo War of Skirmishes
Author's Preface

(Pages 11-12)

The purpose of the writer of the pages herewith presented has been to offer, in popular form, the truth touching the Philippine Islands. I made the journey from New York to Manila, to have the benefit of personal observations in preparing a history for the people. Detention at Honolulu shortened my stay in Manila, but there was much in studies at the former place that was a help at the latter. The original programme was for me to accompany General Merritt, Commander-in-Chief of the Philippine Expedition, but illness prevented its full realization, and when I arrived in Manila Bay the city had already been "occupied and possessed" hy the American army; and the declaration of peace between the United States and Spain was made, the terms fully agreed upon with the exception of the settlement of the affairs of the Philippines. While thus prevented from witnessing stirring military movements other than those attending the transfer of our troops across the Pacific Ocean, an event in itself of the profoundest significance, the reference of the determination of the fate of the Philippine Islands to the Paris Conference, and thereby to the public opinion of our country, in extraordinary measure increased the general sensibility as to the situation of the southern Oriental seas affecting ourselves, and enhanced the value of the testimony taken on the spot of observers of experience, with the training of journalism in distinguishing the relative pertinence and potency of facts noted. Work for more than forty years, in the discussion from day to day of current history, has qualified me for the efficient exercise of my faculties in the labor undertaken. It has been my undertaking to state that which appeared to me, so that the reader may find pictures of the scenes that tell the Story that concerns the country, that the public may with enlightenment solve the naval, military, political, commercial and religious problems we are called upon by the peremptory pressure of the conditions local, and international, to solve immediately. This we have to do, facing the highest obligations of citizenship in the great American Republic, and conscious of the incomparably influential character of the principles that shall prevail through the far-reachin sweep of the policies that will be evolved.

I have had such advantage in the assurance of the authenticity of the information set forth in the chapters following, that I may be permitted to name those it was my good fortune to consult with instructive results; and in making the acknowledgments due. I may be privileged to support the claim of diligence and success in the investigations made, and that I am warranted in the issue of this Story of the Philippines by the assiduous improvement of an uncommon opportunity to fit myself to serve the country.

Indebtedness for kind consideration in this work is gratefully acknowledged to Major-General Merritt, commanding the Philippine Expedition; Major-General Otis, who succeeds to the duties of military and civil administration in the conquered capital of the islands; Admiral George Dewey, who improved, with statesmanship, his unparalleled victory in the first week of the war with Spain, and raised the immense questions before us; General F. V. Greene, the historian of the Russo-Turkish war, called by the President to Washington, and for whose contributions to the public intelligence he receives the hearty approval and confidence of the people; Major Bell, the vigilant and efficient head of the Bureau of Information at the headquarters of the American occupation in the Philippines; General Aguinaldo, the leader of the insurgents of his race in Luzon, and His Grace the Archbishop of Manila, who gave me a message for the United States, expressing his appreciation of the excellence of the behavior of the American army in the enforcement of order, giving peace of mind to the residents in the distracted city of all persuasions and conditions, and of the service that was done civilization in the prevention by our arms, of threatened barbarities that had caused sore apprehension; and, I may add, the Commissioner of the Organized People of the Philippines, dispatched to Washington accompanying General Greene; and of the citizens of Manila af high character, and conductors of business enterprises with plants in the community whose destiny is in the hands of strangers.

These gentlemen I may not name, for there are uncertainties that demand of them and command me to respect the prudence of their inconspicuity. This volume seems to me to be justified, and I have no further claim to offer that it is meritorious than that it is faithful to facts and true to the country in advocacy of the continued expansion of the republic, whose field is the world.

Steamship China, Pacific Ocean, September 20, 1898.


The Origin of this Story of the Philippines. (Pages 13-15)

The letter following is the full expression hy the author of this volume of his purposes and principles in making the journey to the East Indies.

Going to the Philippines

Washington City, D. C., July 18.

With the authorization of the Military Authorities, I shall go to the Philippine Islands with General Merritt, the Military Governor, and propose to make the American people better acquainted with that remarkable end most important and interesting country. The presence of an American army in the Philippines is an event that will change broad and mighty currents in the world's history. It has far more significance than anything transpiring in the process of the conquest of the West India possessions of Spain, for the only question there, ever since the Continental colonies of the Spanish crown won their independence, has been the extent of the sacrifices the Spaniards, in their haughty and vindictive pride, would make in fighting for a lost Empire and an impossible cause with an irresistible adversary. That the time was approaching when, with the irretrievable steps of the growth of a living Nation of free people, we would reach the point where it should be our duty to accept the responsibility of the dominant American power, and accomplish manifest Destiny by adding Cuba and Porto Rico to our dominion, has for helf a century been the familiar understanding of American citizens. Spain, by her abhorrent system, personified in Weyler, and illustrated in the murderous blowing up of the Maine with a mine, has forced this duty upon us; and though we made war unprepared, the good work is going on, and the finish of the fight will be the relegation of Spain, whose colonial governments have been, without exception, disgraceful and disastrous to herself, and curses to the colonists, to her own peninsula. This will be for her own good, as well as the redemption of mankind from her uinwbolesome foreign influences, typified as they are in the beautiful city of Havana, which hae become the center of political plagues and pestilential fevers, whose contagion has at frequent intervals reached our own shores.

In the Philippine Islands the situation is for us absolutely novel. It cannot be said to be out of the scope of reasonable American expansion and is in the right line of enlarging the area of enlightenment and stimulating the progress of civilization. The unexpected has happened, but it is not illogical. It must have been written long ago on the scroll of the boundless blue and the stars. The incident of war was the "rush" order of the President of the United States to Admiral Dewey to destroy the Spanish fleet at Manila, for the protection of our commerce. The deed was done with a flash of lightning, and lo! we hold the golden key of a splendid Asiatic archipelago of a thousand beautiful and richly endowed islands in our grip. This is the most brilliant and startling achievement in the annala of naviea. Neoer before had the sweep oi aea power, ordered through the wires that make the world's continents, oceans and islands one huge whispering gallery, such striking exemplification. There was glory and fame in it, and immensurable material for the making of history. We may paraphrase Dr. Johnson's celebrated advertisement of the widow's brewery by saying: Admiral Dewey's victory was not merely the capture of a harbor commanding a great city, one of the superb places of the earth, and the security of a base of operations to wait for reinforcements commensurate with the resources of the United States of America - the victorious hero fixed his iron hand upon a wonderful opportunity it was the privilege of our Government to secure at large, according to the rights of a victorious Nation for the people thereof - a chance for the youth of America, like that of the youth of Great Britain, to realize upon the magnificence of India; and this is as Dr. Johnson said of the vats and barrels of the Thrale estate - "the potentiality of wealth beyond the dreams of avarice." It is a new departure, but not a matter for the panic or apprehension of conservatism, that the Stars and Stripes float as the symbol of sovereignty over a group of islands in the waters of Asia, that are equal to all the West Indies. If we are strangers there now we shall not be so long. We have a front on the Pacific Ocean, of three great States - Washington, equal to England; Oregon, whose grandeur rolls in the sound of her famous name, and incomparable California, whose title will be the synonym of golden good times forever. The Philippines are southwest from our western front doors. They have been the islands of our sunsets in the winter. Now they look to us for the rosy dawn out of which will come the clear brightness of the white light of mornings and the fullness of the ripening noons, all the year around. With our bulk of the North American continent bulging into both the great oceans, it was foreordained since the beginning when God created the earth, that we, the possessors of this imperial American zone, should be a great Asiatic Power. We have it now in evidence, written in islands among the most gorgeous of those that shine in the Southern seas - islands - that are east from the Atlantic and west from the Pacific shores of the One Great Republic - that we may personify hereafter, sitting at the head of the table when the empires of the earth consult themselves as to the courses of empire. Our Course of Empire is both east and west.

The contact of Americen and Asiatic civilization in the Philippines, with the American army there, superseding the Spaniards, will be memorable as one of the matters of chief moment in the closing days of the nineteenth century, and remembered to date from for a thousand years. It is my purpose to write of this current history while it is a fresh, sparkling stream; and attempt something more than the recitation of the news of the day, as it is condensed and restrained in telegrams; to give it according to the extent of my ability and the advantages of my opportunity, the local coloring, the characteristic scenery; the pen pictures of the people and their pursuits; sketches of the men who are doers of deeds that make history; studies of the ways and means of the islanders; essays to indicate the features of the picturesque of the strange mixture of races; the revolutionary evolutions of politics; the forces that pertain to the mingling of the religions of the Occident and the Orient, in a chemistry untried through the recorded ages. It is a tremendous canvas upon which I am to labor, and I know full well how inadequate the production must be, and beg that this index may not be remembered against me. It is meant in all modesty, and I promise only that - there will be put into the task the expertness of experience and the endeavor of industry.

MURAT HALSTEAD.

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