History of the Philippines - Page 08 - United States colony
United States colony
The United States defined its colonial mission as one of tutelage, preparing the Philippines for eventual independence. Civil government was established by the United States in 1901, with William Howard Taft as the first American Governor-General of the Philippines, replacing the military governor, Arthur MacArthur, Jr. The governor-general acted as head of the Philippine Commission, a body appointed by the U.S. president with legislative and limited executive powers. The commission passed laws to set up the fundamentals of the new government, including a judicial system, civil service, and local government. A Philippine Constabulary was organized to deal with the remnants of the insurgent movement and gradually assume the responsibilities of the United States Army. The elected Philippine Assembly was inaugurated in 1907, becoming a lower house of a bicameral legislature, with the appointed Philippine Commission as upper house.
United States policies towards the Philippines shifted with changing administrations. During the early years of colonial rule, the Americans were reluctant to delegate authority to the Filipinos. However, when Woodrow Wilson became U.S. President in 1913, a new policy was adopted to put into motion a process that would gradually lead to Philippine independence. The Jones Act, passed by the U.S. Congress in 1916 to serve as the new organic law in the Philippines, promised eventual independence and instituted an elected Philippine senate.
The 1920s saw alternating periods of cooperation and confrontation with American governors-general, depending on how intent the incumbent was on exercising his powers vis-à-vis the Philippine legislature. Members to the elected legislature lobbied for immediate and complete independence from the United States. Several independence missions were sent to Washington, D.C. A civil service was formed and was gradually taken over by Filipinos, who had effectively gained control by 1918.
Philippine politics during the American colonial era was dominated by the Nacionalista Party, which was founded in 1907. Although the party's platform called for "immediate independence", their policy toward the Americans was highly accommodating. Within the political establishment, the call for independence was spearheaded by Manuel L. Quezon, who served continuously as Senate president from 1916 until 1935.
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