Classic History Books


The Path of Empire. A Chronicle of the United States as a World Power
by Carl Russell Fish

another part, for outlaws living in concealment and moving in the dark can often inspire a terror which
regular troops under discipline fail to engender. The Americans could not trust the natives, as it was

impossible to tell the truthful from the treacherous. Nevertheless it was a kind of fighting which gave

unusual scope for that American individualism, so strongly represented in the army, to which the

romance of precisely this sort of thing had drawn just the class of men best fitted for the work. Scouting,

counter scouting, surprise attacks, and ambuscades formed the daily news transmitted from the front -

affairs not of regiments and companies but of squads and individuals. When face to face, however, the

Filipinos seldom stood their ground, and the American ingenuity and eager willingness to attempt any

new thing gradually got the better of the local knowledge and unscrupulousness as to the laws of war

which had at first, given the natives an advantage. Funston, now Brigadier General, and his "suicide

squad" continued to play an active part, but a similar spirit of daring and ingenuity pervaded the whole

army.

Broken as were the Filipino field forces and widening as was the area of peace, the result of the island
campaign was still uncertain. It rested upon two unknown quantities. The first was the nature of the

Filipinos. Would they remain irreconcilable, ever ready to take advantage of a moment of weakness? If

such were to be the case, we could look for no real conquest, but only a forcible occupation, which the

people of the United States would never consent to maintain. The second unknown quantity was the

American people themselves. Would they sustain the occupation sufficiently long to give a reasonable

test of the possibilities of success?

Two events brought these uncertainties to an end. In the first place, William Jennings Bryan was defeated
for the presidency in November, 1900, and President McKinley was given four more years in which to

complete the experiment. In the second place, on March 23, 1901, Aguinaldo, who had been long in

concealment, was captured. Though there had long been no possibility of really commanding the

insurgent forces as a whole, Aguinaldo had remained the center of revolt and occasionally showed his

hand, as in the attempt to negotiate a peace on the basis of independence. In February an intercepted

letter had given a clue to his hiding place. Funston, in spite of his new rank, determined personally to

undertake the capture. The signature of Lacuna, one of the insurgent leaders, was forged and letters were

sent to Aguinaldo informing him of the capture of five Americans, who were being sent to headquarters.

Among the five was Funston himself. The "insurgent" guard, clad in captured uniforms, consisted for the

most part of Macabebes, hereditary enemies of the Tagalogs - for the Americans had now learned the

Roman trick of using one people against another. The ruse succeeded perfectly. The guard and its

supposed prisoners were joyfully received by Aguinaldo, but the tables were quickly turned and

Aguinaldo's capture was promptly effected.

On the 19th of April, Aguinaldo wrote: "After mature deliberation, I resolutely proclaim to the world that
I cannot refuse to heed the voice of a people longing for peace, nor the lamentations of thousands of

families yearning to see their dear ones enjoying the liberty and promised generosity of the great

American nation. By acknowledging and accepting the sovereignty of the United States throughout the

Philippine Archipelago, as I now do, and without any reservation whatsoever, I believe that I am serving

thee, my beloved country."

On the 19th of May, General Wheaton, Chief of Staff in the Philippines, sent the following dispatch to
Washington: "Lacuna having surrendered with all his officers and men today, I report that all

insurrectionary leaders in this department have been captured or have surrendered. This is the

termination of the state of war in this department so far as armed resistance to the authority of the United

 

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