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- The Path of Empire, - 20/32 -


Wesley Merritt was assigned to command the expedition. Dewey reported that he could at any time command the surrender of Manila, but that it would be useless unless he had troops to occupy the city.

On the 19th of May, General Merritt received the following orders: "The destruction of the Spanish fleet at Manila, followed by the taking of the naval station at Cavite, the paroling of the garrisons, and the acquisition of the control of the bay, have rendered it necessary, in the further prosecution of the measures adopted by this Government for the purpose of bringing about an honorable and durable peace with Spain, to send an army of occupation to the Philippines for the twofold purpose of completing the reduction of the Spanish power in that quarter and giving order and security to the islands while in the possession of the United States."

On the 30th of June the first military expedition, after a bloodless capture of the island of Guam, arrived in Manila Bay. A second contingent arrived on the 17th of July, and on the 25th, General Merritt himself with a third force, which brought the number of Americans up to somewhat more than 10,000. The Spaniards had about 13,000 men guarding the rather antiquated fortifications of old Manila and a semicircle of blockhouses and trenches thrown about the city, which contained about 350,000 inhabitants.

It would have been easy to compel surrender or evacuation by the guns of the fleet, had it not been for an additional element in the situation. Manila was already besieged, or rather blockaded, on the land side, by an army of nearly ten thousand Philippine insurgents under their shrewd leader, Emilio Aguinaldo. It does not necessarily follow that those who are fighting the same enemy are fighting together, and in this case the relations between the Americans and the insurgents were far from intimate, though Dewey had kept the situation admirably in hand until the arrival of the American troops.

General Merritt decided to hold no direct communication with Aguinaldo until the Americans were in possession of the city, but landed his army to the south of Manila beyond the trenches of the Filipinos. On the 30th of July, General F. V. Greene made an informal arrangement with the Filipino general for the removal of the insurgents from the trenches directly in front of the American forces, and immediately advanced beyond their original position. The situation of Manila was indeed desperate and clearly demanded a surrender to the American forces, who might be relied upon to preserve order and protect property. The Belgian Consul, M. Eduard Andre, urged this course upon the Spanish commander. The Governor-General, Fermin Jaudenes, exhibited the same spirit which the Spanish commanders revealed throughout the war: though constitutionally indisposed to take any bold action, he nevertheless considered it a point of honor not to recognize the inevitable. He allowed it to be understood that he could not surrender except to an assault, although well knowing that such a melee might cause the city to be ravaged by the Filipinos. M. Andre, however, succeeded by the 11th of August in arranging a verbal understanding that the fleet should fire upon the city and that the troops should attack, but that the Spaniards should make no real resistance and should surrender as soon as they considered that their honor was saved.

The chief contestants being thus amicably agreed to a spectacular but bloodless battle, the main interest lay in the future action of the interested and powerful spectators in the harbor. Admiral Dewey, though relieved by the arrival of the monitor Monterey on the 4th of August, was by no means certain that the German squadron would stand by without interference and see the city bombarded. On the 9th of August he gave notice of the impending action and ordered foreign vessels out of the range of fire. On the 13th of August Dewey steamed into position before the city. As the American vessels steamed past the British Immortalite, her guard paraded and her band played Admiral Dewey's favorite march. Immediately afterwards the British commander, Captain Chichester, moved his vessels toward the city and took a position between our fleet and the German squadron. The foreign vessels made no interference, but the Filipinos were more restless. Eagerly watching the American assault, they rushed forward when they saw it successful, and began firing on the Spaniards just as the latter hoisted the white flag. They were quieted, though with difficulty, and by nightfall the city was under the Stars and Stripes, with American troops occupying the outworks facing the forces of Aguinaldo, who were neither friends nor foes.

While the dispatch of Commodore Watson's fleet to Spain was still being threatened and delayed, while General Miles was rapidly approaching the capital of Porto Rico, and on the same day that Admiral Dewey and General Merritt captured Manila, Spain yielded. On the 18th of July Spain had taken the first step toward peace by asking for the good offices of the French Government. On the 26th of July, M. Cambon, the French Ambassador at Washington, opened negotiations with the United States. On the 12th of August, a protocol was signed, but, owing to the difference in time on the opposite side of the globe, to say nothing of the absence of cable communication, not in time to prevent Dewey's capture of Manila. This protocol provided for the meeting of peace commissioners at Paris not later than the 1st of October. Spain agreed immediately to evacuate and relinquish all claim to Cuba; to cede to the United States ultimately all other islands in the West Indies, and one in the Ladrones; and to permit the United States to "occupy and hold the city, bay, and harbor of Manila pending the conclusion of a treaty of peace which shall determine the control, disposition, and government of the Philippines."

President McKinley appointed the Secretary of State, William R. Day, as president of the peace commission, and summoned John Hay home from England to take his place. The other commissioners were Senators Cushman K. Davis and William P. Frye, Republicans, Senator George Gray, Democrat, and Whitelaw Reid, the editor of the New York "Tribune". The secretary of the commission was the distinguished student of international law, John Bassett Moore. On most points there was general agreement as to what they were to do. Cuba, of course, must be free. It was, moreover, too obvious to need much argument that Spanish rule on the American continent must come altogether to an end. As there was no organized local movement in Porto Rico to take over the government, its cession to the United States was universally recognized as inevitable. Nevertheless when the two commissions met in Paris, there proved to be two exciting subjects of controversy, and at moments it seemed possible that the attempt to arrange a peace would prove unsuccessful. However reassured the people were by the successful termination of the war, for those in authority the period of anxiety had not yet entirely passed.

The first of these points was raised by the Spanish commissioners. They maintained that the separation of Cuba from Spain involved the rending of the Empire, and that Cuba should therefore take responsibilities as well as freedom. The specific question was that of debts contracted by Spain, for the security of which Cuban revenues had been pledged. There was a manifest lack of equity in this claim, for Cuba had not been party to the contracting of the obligations, and the money had been spent in stifling her own desire to be free rather than on the development of her resources. Nevertheless the Spanish commissioners could feel the support of a sustaining public opinion about them, for the bulk of these obligations were held in France and investors were doubtful of the ability of Spain, if bereft of her colonies, to carry her enormous financial burdens. The point, then, was stoutly urged, but the American commissioners as stoutly defended the interests of their clients, the Cubans, and held their ground. Thanks to their efforts, the Cuban republic was born free of debt.

The other point was raised by the American commissioners, and was both more important and more complicated, for when the negotiation began the United States had not fully decided what it wanted. It was necessary first to decide and then to obtain the consent of Spain with regard to the great unsettled question of the disposition of the Philippines. Dewey's victory came as an overwhelming surprise to the great majority of Americans snugly encased, as they supposed themselves to be, in a separate hemisphere. Nearly all looked upon it as a military operation only, not likely to lead to later complications. Many discerning individuals, however, both in this country and abroad, at once saw or feared that occupation would lead to annexation. Carl Schurz, as early as the 9th of May, wrote McKinley expressing the hope that "we remain true to our promise that this is a war of deliverance and not one of greedy ambition, conquest, self-aggrandizement." In August, Andrew Carnegie wrote in "The North American Review" an article on "Distant Possessions--The Parting of the Ways."

Sentiment in favor of retaining the islands, however, grew rapidly in volume and in strength. John Hay wrote to Andrew Carnegie on the 22d of August: "I am not allowed to say in my present fix (ministerial responsibility) how much I agree with you. The only question in my mind is how far it is now POSSIBLE for us to withdraw from the Philippines. I am rather thankful it is not given to me to solve that momentous question." On the 5th of September, he wrote to John Bigelow: "I fear you are right about the Philippines, and I hope the Lord will be good to us poor devils who have to take care of them. I marvel at your suggesting that we pay for them. I should have expected no less of your probity; but how many except those educated by you in the school of morals and diplomacy would agree with you? Where did I pass you on the road of life? You used to be a little my senior [twenty-one years]; now you are ages younger and stronger than I am. And yet I am going to be Secretary of State for a little while."

Not all those who advocated the retention of the Philippines did so reluctantly or under the pressure of a feeling of necessity. In the very first settlers of our country, the missionary impulse beat strong. John Winthrop was not less intent than Cromwell on the conquest of all humanity by his own ideals; only he believed the most efficacious means to be the power of example instead of force. Just now there was a renewed sense throughout the Anglo-Saxon public that it was the duty of the civilized to promote the civilization of the backward, and the Cromwellian method waxed in popularity. Kipling, at the summit of his influence, appealed to a wide and powerful public in his "White Man's Burden," which appeared in 1899.

Take up the White Man's burden-- Send forth the best ye breed-- Go bind your sons to exile To serve your captives' need; To wait in heavy harness,


The Path of Empire, - 20/32

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