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Philippines 1898

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War in the Philippines

The outcome of the Spanish-American War left the US with a new-found degree of global power and influence. It also presented a dilemma of sorts for President William McKinley. The 1898 Treaty of Paris awarded the US annexation of the former Spanish colonies of Puerto Rico, Guam, Cuba, and the Philippines. Initially, American forces were greeted as liberators by Filipinos glad to be rid of Spanish occupation. Soon however, it became clear that many in the US did not see the Filipinos as being fit for self-rule. The comments of Indiana Senator Albert Beveridge reflected an opinion held by some in the US who believed that God "has made us the master organizers of the world...that we may administer...among savages and senile peoples." Despite the vocal objections of those who deplored such imperialistic notions as running counter to the tenets of American democracy, President McKinley ended up siding with those who felt the Philippines were too strategically important to the US to be governed by the Filipino people. McKinley declared his intention to "educate the Filipinos, and uplift and civilize and Christianize them," and mobilized 20,000 US troops to get the job done. What was predicted to be a quick and relatively bloodless pacification of a backward people quickly escalated into a prolonged war. Filipinos, led by Emiliano Aguinaldo, having declared themselves a sovereign republic in 1898, employed the tactics of guerrilla warfare that confounded the American forces. The US was finally able to defeat the Filipino forces in 1902. But it had required the efforts of 70,000 troops, over 5,000 of whom were killed. More than 8,000 Filipinos died in the conflict.

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