The Passing of Spanish Dominian

Forbes-Lindsay, C. H.: The Philippines under Spanish and American Rules. Philadelphia, 1906: pp. 161-200

War with the United States

War was declared between Spain and the United States on the 23d of April, 1898. In Manila preparations were made in feverish haste to withstand the American fleet which was known to be at Hongkong. The defenses of the city were in a lamentably deficient state. The land batteries were short of their complement of guns and such as were mounted were out-of-date and encrusted with rust. Material for constructing mines was lacking and the torpedoes on hand proved to be defective and useless. Augusti, who bad succeeded Rivera as Governor-General, issued a bombastic proclamation in which he characterized the Americans as a composition of "allthe social excrescences," and declared their squadron to be "manned by foreigners possessing neither instruction nor discipline." He sought to lull the apprehensions of the citizens with this assuring declaration: ,"The aggressors shall not profane the tombs of your fathers, they shall not gratify their lustful passions at the cost of your wives' and daughters' honor, or appropriate the property that your industry has accumulated as a provision for your old age. No! they shall not perpetrate any of the crimes inspired by their wickedness and covetousness because your valor and patriotism will suffice to punish and abase the people who exterminated the natives of North America instead of bringing to them the life of civilization and progress."

The American fleet entered Manila Bay at three o' clock on the morning of May the first, and found the Spanish squadron ranged round the point of the peninsula of Cavite. The Spaniards, under Admiral Montojo, displayed the utmost bravery, but they were completely outmatched, and by eleven o'clock every one of their vessels was either destroyed or disabled. Admiral Dewey's demand for the surrender of Manila met with a refusal, but Cavite was evacuated and the Americans took possession of the arsenal and forts. There is no doubt that the Spaniards might easily have been shelled out of Manila, but in that case they would most assuredly have been rnassacred by the insurgents, large bodies of whom hemmed the city in on all sides, for Admiral Dewey had neither troops to hold the capital nor to overpower the rebels in case of a conflict with them. Throughout the succeeding operations not the least difficult task of the American commanders lay in preventing the Spaniards from falling into the hands of their enemies.

Believing that Aguinaldo might be usefully employed in controlling the insurgents, Admiral Dewey had brought him from Hongkong and he, with other leaders, was now landed and supplied with arms and ammunition. With thirty thousand rebel troops Aguinaldo laid siege to Manila, whilst the American squadron blockaded the port. For three months, and until the arrival of the American generals with reinforcements, Aguinaldo's force contrived to repel all sorties from Manila and to cut the city off from outside communication. In the provinces the Spaniards were almost everywhere defeated and large numbers were taken prisoner. By the middle of June two-thirds of Luzon was in the possession of the rebels, and on the 18th of that month Aguinaldo summoned deputies to a congress and formed what was called the Revolutionary Government. This body administered a large portion of the island, maintained order, and collected taxes. Upon the 12th of August, 1898, the Protocol providing for the appointment of comissioners to conclude a treaty of peace was signed in Washington. Upon the night of the same date the Spaniards made an attack in force upon the American lines without the city and some hours of fierce fighting ensued. On the following day the combined land and sea forecs of the Americans, with the co-operation of the insurgent army, made a vigorous attack upon the city. About mid-day Manila surrendered and terms of capitulation were negotiated between Genral Greene and General Jaudenes, the rhetorical Augusti having fled aboard a German cruiser before the cessation of fighting. The articles of capitulation included the surrender of the Philippine Archipelago.

Previous to the attack upon the capital the American commander instructed Aguinaldo that his troops would not be permitted to enter the city, and the prohibition was continued in force after Manila fell. A few days later a provisional agreement was entered into, by the terms of which the Americans retained jurisdiction over Manila and the surrounding districts whilst the rest of the island remained under the control of tlhe Revolutionary Government.

Aguinaldo selected Malolos for the temporary capital of the insurgent government, and a Congress covened there on the 15th of September. Pedro A. Paterno was elected President and Deputies Legardo and Ocampo were elected Vice-President and Secretary respectively. One of the first decrees of this Congress imposed compulsory military service upon every able-bodied FiIipino over the age of eighteen. Aguinaldo was retained in the position of Generalissimo with a salary of $25,000 and an allowance of $50,000 for expenses. The proceedings of this Congress indicate that its members confidently expected that the independence of the Philippines would be a provision of the pending treaty of peace, or follow their cession to the United States.

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created: November 20, 1997
updated: November 23, 1997
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