History Spanish-American War Part 1 Traditional View

About the traditional view of the Spanish-American War between the United States and the Philippines.


The Spanish-American War As Seen by the Filipinos

The Traditional Version: The standard historical interpretation of the Spanish-American War holds that an outraged American public forced President William McKinley to declare war on Spain on Apr. 21, 1898, U.S. citizens had become inflamed by newspaper reports of the atrocities perpetrated by Spanish troops upon the Cuban people, who were fighting to gain their independence from Spain.

When the war began, this sympathy for a people still under the yoke of Spanish imperialism was extended to the Filipinos, who had also lived under Spanish colonialism for centuries. On May 1, 1898, Adm. George Dewey led a U.S. naval squadron into Manila Bay and destroyed the Spanish fleet stationed there. American troops then arrived in the Philippines, and with the aid of native rebel forces led by Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, they defeated Spanish land forces and captured Manila in August, 1898.

With the liberation of the Philippines, a dilemma arose as to its future. President McKinley realized that, left to themselves, these Filipinos who had had no experience in self-rule would probably plunge their country into civil war and anarchy. Also, he believed that some aggressive imperialist power such as Germany or Japan would invade if American forces did not remain to protect the fledgling nation. Therefore, McKinley decided the U.S. had a moral responsibility to stay in the Philippines while introducing modern institutions and preparing and educating the Filipinos for self-government.

Fanatic Filipino patriots, led by General Aguinaldo and others, objected to this policy and waged guerrilla warfare for several years. However, by 1902, with the assistance of the responsible elements in Filipino society and the passive support of the Filipino masses, U.S. troops had put down the minor insurgency, which degenerated into mere bandit raids.

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