History, The Spanish-American War
benevolent assimilation, George Dewey, secret agreement, Aguinaldo, mock battle
In April 1898 war broke out between Spain and the United States over their competing imperialist interests in Cuba, then also a Spanish colony where an independence movement was taking place. In May U.S. Commodore (later Admiral) George Dewey commanded the Asiatic Squadron into Manila Bay, where it easily destroyed the antiquated Spanish fleet at anchor there. Lacking adequate ground troops, however, Dewey sent for Aguinaldo in Hong Kong and encouraged him to reactivate his rebel forces.
Aguinaldo believed the United States would help Filipinos achieve independence. He organized a revolutionary government that issued a declaration of independence on June 12, and his forces surrounded the Spanish garrison at Manila. By that time, Manila had become the focus of the Spanish-American War. Negotiations between U.S. military commanders and the Spanish governor resulted in a secret agreement to end the conflict in a mock battle, staged in August, in which Spanish forces surrendered control of Manila. The arrangement specifically excluded the Filipino nationalists. Aguinaldo had meanwhile established a capital at the Luzon city of Malolos, and in September his government convened a constituent assembly to draft a constitution.
Peace negotiations between Spain and the United States began in late September. By the Treaty of Paris, signed in December, Spain ceded the Philippines and other territories to the United States. In return, the United States gave Spain $20 million. United States president William McKinley then issued a proclamation declaring U.S. policy to be one of “benevolent assimilation.”
The Filipinos refused to recognize the transfer of sovereignty, however, and fighting broke out on February 4, 1899. More than 125,000 American soldiers eventually went into combat in the conflict known as the Philippine-American War. Filipino troops, who used tactics of guerrilla warfare, were of indeterminate numbers. United States forces soon secured major ports, lowland areas, and urban centers. Malolos fell to the United States in March 1899. With the capture of Aguinaldo in March 1901, organized Filipino resistance collapsed and the war ended. More than 4,000 American and 16,000 Filipino soldiers died in combat, while thousands of Filipino civilians died from the effects of the war, including famine and disease.
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