Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Philippine Government during the American Colonial Period and the American Governors-General

President William McKinley
Spain ceded the Philippines in 1898 after the Spanish-American War. President William McKinley appointed a Philippine Commission on January 20, 1899 to exercise legislative and limited executive powers over islands whose people were still recovering from the ravages of armed revolution and wars. At that time an American military governor appointed by the US president was the head of the commission who held executive authority. A second Philippine Commission in 1901 paved the way for the setting up of judicial system, a supreme court, and an elected government in the municipal and provincial levels. Executive powers were exercise by an American civil governor who had executive departments.   The title of the governor was later changed to governor-general pursuant to an act of US congress.                                                                                                  

The Philippine Organic Act of July 1, 1902 which was approved by the US congress called for the creation of Philippine Assembly whose members were popularly elected by the Filipinos. In the new government set up the colonial government had a bicameral legislature. The Philippine Assembly was the lower house while the US president appointed Philippine Commission served as the upper house. The Philippine Commission also acted as an executive body with the US president appointed governor-general as its head. Other features of the Philippine Organic Act included the disestablishment of the Catholic Church and the appointment of two Filipinos as resident commissioners of the Philippines to the US to act as non-voting representatives of the Philippines to the US congress. During that time, in the US, matters concerning the 
Philippines were dealt by the Bureau of Insular affairs which oversaw unincorporated American territories.

President Manuel L. Quezon
The Jones Law or the Philippine Autonomy Act which was enacted in the US congress on August 29, 1916, provided for an elected upper house and lower house in the Philippine bicameral legislative body. In effect it created the Philippine senate which replaced the Philippine Commission. On March 24, 1934, the US congress passed Tydings-McDuffie Act which granted self government and independence to the Filipinos after a ten-year transition period. Under that act the Philippines became a commonwealth and the executive authority of the American governor-general was passed on to a Filipino president. Relative to the new law, the title of governor-general was changed to High Commissioner to the Philippines until 1946 when the Philippines gained independence from the United States pursuant to Tydings-McDuffie Act. However, the function of the commissioner was only ceremonial and advisory since executive power was vested to the Filipino president. Manuel L. Quezon was the first president of the Philippine Commonwealth.

During the American colonial period there were 4 military governors, two civil governors and 11 governors- general.  Three were holding the position in acting capacity. The most distinguished governor-general was William Howard Taft who became the 27th president of the United States. He was also the first civil governor of the Philippines during the American colonial period.  The first military governor was Wesley Merritt who briefly served from August 14-29 1898. The longest serving American governor- general was Francis Burton Harrison who held the office for more than 7 years. Also of note were Lt. Gen Arthur MacArthur, the father of legendary American general Douglas MacArthur and Theodore Roosevelt Jr., the eldest son of US President Theodore Roosevelt.

William Howard Taft
Theodore Roosevelt Jr.
Arthur MacArthur Jr.
Francis Burton Harrison
List of American governors-general in the Philippines during the American colonial period*
Name
From
Until
Military Governors
Wesley Merritt
August 14, 1898
August 29, 1898
Elwell Otis
August 30, 1898
May 5, 1900
Arthur MacArthur Jr.
May 5, 1900
July 14, 1901
Adna Chaffee
July 4, 1901
July 4, 1902
Governors
William Howard Taft
July 4, 1901
February 1, 1904
Luke Edward Wright
February 1, 1904
November 3, 1905
Governors-General
Henry Clay Ide
November 3, 1905
September 19, 1906
James Francis Smith
September 20, 1906
November 11, 1909
William Cameron Forbes
November 11, 1909
September 1, 1913
Newton W. Gilbert (acting)
September 1, 1913
October 6, 1913
Francis Burton Harrison
October 6, 1913
March 5, 1921
Charles Yeater (acting)
March 5, 1921
October 14, 1921
Leonard Wood
October 14, 1921
August 7, 1927
Eugene Allen Gilmore (acting)
August 7, 1927
December 27, 1927
Henry L. Stimson
December 27, 1927
February 23, 1929
Eugene Allen Gilmore (acting)
February 23, 1929
July 8, 1929
Dwight F. Davis
July 8, 1929
January 9, 1932
George C. Butte (acting)
January 9, 1932
February 29, 1932
Theodore Roosevelt Jr.
February 29, 1932
July 15, 1933
Frank Murphy
July 15, 1933
November 15, 1935

*Cahoon, Ben (2000), “Philippines”
Photos (public domain) via Wikipedia