The New York Times/Mr. Schurz's Position

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Mr. Schurz's Position
From The New York Times of July 26, 1900.


MR. SCHURZ'S POSITION.

“I have now given you the facts,” says Mr. Carl Schurz in his letter to The Times more specifically defining his idea of the “infamy” of President McKinley's treatment of the Filipinos. We had hoped he would give the facts, the only facts that are pertinent to the point at issue between The Times and himself, but he disappoints us. The facts we desired do not appear in his letter, but in their stead the old, and, we believe, baseless assumption of which our criticisms elicited Mr. Schurz's communication.

Mr. Schurz assumes, and it is that assumption that we criticise, that by accepting the aid of the Filipinos in overcoming the Spaniards at Manila we became morally and lawfully bound to recognize their independence. He insists, therefore, that our conduct in taking title and assuming sovereignty for ourselves was infamous. He restates his “idea of infamy” in the letter printed in The Times yesterday:

While so profiting from the co-operation of the Filipinos as our military allies against the “common enemy,” we know that the Filipinos believed that, fighting side by side with the Republic of Washington and Lincoln, they were fighting for their own independence. We had every reason for knowing that, had they not so believed, they would have acted differently. Our Government permitted them to believe that this independence would be the outcome of a common victory over the common enemy, and meanwhile it continued to accept the benefit of their co-operation, which was based upon that belief. This went on until we had troops enough on the field to make us, as we thought, masters of the situation.

Then the scene changed. President McKinley proceeded to conclude a peace treaty with the “common enemy.” The Filipinos, our allies, asked to be heard concerning the future of their country. We simply slammed the door in their faces, as if the future of their country were “none of their business” and they were impertinent intruders. And behind the back of our allies we “bought,” as ex-Secretary Day has it, from Spain, the common enemy, the sovereignty over those same allies — the same sovereignty which in the Cuba precedent we had affirmed to have been forfeited to the people of the country. Now we recognize that sovereignty as still possessed by Spain, the common enemy, although we knew that Spain had not only morally but actually lost it, and that this sovereignty was only a technical fiction. And this amazing feat we performed in order to make our late allies our subjects.

Whatever the Filipinos may have believed or supposed or imagined, they never received any assurances whatever that their independence and the Government they had set up were to be recognized by us when the Spaniards had been driven out, or at any subsequent time. Admiral Dewey has declared that he never gave Aguinaldo either any recognition as an ally of equal standing with himself, or any promise, pledge, or assurance of Filipino independence, or any encouragement to hope for it. The President of the United States said in his last annual message that no such pledge, promise, or assurance was ever received by any Filipino from any officer or person authorized to represent the United States.

Mr. Schurz's assumption that what the Filipinos did and what they believed created an obligation binding on us to recognize their independence we have characterized as preposterous. We renew and emphasize that characterization. Mr. Schurz defies us to question his facts. We beg to assure him that although he may marshal mountains of undisputed facts as to the well-known history of the Filipino co-operation with our forces, reasonable men will not attend to him so long as his whole case rests upon the rotten arch of that assumption. His facts go to establish the alliance and the aspirations of the Filipinos. They give not a particle of support to the weak spot in his argument. They do not establish the validity of his presumption that our relation to the Filipinos was of such a nature that we were in honor bound to turn the islands over to them to govern. Neither in honor nor in law nor in usage nor in any way was such an obligation created. Nothing was done, promised, or contemplated that could free us from our paramount obligation to maintain a stable Government in the Philippines, a Government capable of assuming and discharging the obligations pertaining to sovereignty. The Filipinos were quite incapable of keeping order at home or fulfilling their obligations abroad. It would have been a criminal and faithless act for us to do what Mr. Schurz insists with such eloquence that we ought to have done.

We run some risk in citing the testimony of an American officer to show what a wretched pass we should have come to in the Philippines if Mr. Schurz's policy had been adopted in place of the “infamous” course of the President. Our witness will be denounced by anti-imperialists as a satrap, a bloody-minded hireling of the despot McKinley, and in that camp his testimony will have no weight. Men who are still willing to put their minds under the guidance of truth and reason, however, will not disdain the only kind of evidence about the character and capacities of the Filipinos that is worth consideration — evidence based upon long personal observation on the spot. The letter from which we quote, dated at Laoag June 1, was written to Gov. Roosevelt by Lieut. W. E. Dame, formerly President of the Senate in the Territory of New Mexico, a prominent Gold Democrat, and candidate of the Gold Democrats for Delegate in Congress from New Mexico in 1896:

At present there is no such thing as the Filipino army; it has ceased to exist. Since the first of the year our trouble has been with guerrilla bands led by insurgent officers. My opinion, based on information received from natives and prisoners, is that the rank and file are heartily tired of fighting, and would gladly return to their homes were it not for the influence of their leaders. Were it not for the encouragement received from a certain element in the United States, they would have “thrown up the sponge” some time ago. They fully understand the difference between the American and the Spanish method of fighting; also that they will not be paid to “let go,” but are hoping for their friends in the United States to obtain control of the Government at the next election. To turn these islands over to the Filipinos would be a crime. It would result in anarchy, and every native who refused to join in the insurrection or aided the Americans in any manner would be butchered. They are not capable of self-government, and a government of Filipinos, by Filipinos, for Filipinos, would be a farce. It would be a government of Tagalos, by Tagalos, for themselves; and, if under our protection, it would require just as large a force to prevent them fighting among themselves as it would to hold the islands under American control.

Mr. Schurz says that he finds in The Times's article “several misleading statements” which he would be glad to controvert if we would grant him room. It will give The Times great pleasure at any time to accord space for polemical contributions from a writer who argues his case with so much fervor and ability.


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1923. It may be copyrighted outside the U.S. (see Help:Public domain).