The New York Times/Mabini Finds Champions

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Mabini Finds Champions

From The New York Times of December 24, 1902, p. 9.


Anti-Imperialists Demand Release

of Filipino Statesman.

Messrs. Adams, Schurz, Smith, and

Welsh Hold That His Detention

at Guam Is Illegal.

Special to The New York Times.

WASHINGTON, Dec. 23. — Demand that Apolinario Mabini, Aguinaldo's former Secretary of State, shall be released from exile and captivity, is made in a letter sent to President Roosevelt. It is signed by Charles Francis Adams, Carl Schurz, Edwin Burritt Smith, and Herbert Welsh, leaders of the anti-imperialist movement.

They hold that Mabini is now held at Guam without warrant of law. “We believe you certainly do not wish it to be recorded,” they say, “that this great Republic of ours shortened the life of an honorable political opponent by illegal captivity, as Toussaint L'Ouverture's life was cut off by his imprisonment in a French fortress under the despotic rule of the first Napoleon.”

Mabini was regarded as one of the ablest leaders the Luzon rebels had. He was not a soldier, but a lawyer, and was paralyzed and physically helpless. The trouble with Mabini always has been that he has stood stubbornly by his principles, and refused to accept amnesty.

While he was a prisoner at Manila the respect and pity which were felt for him led to many attempts to get him to take the oath which would have given him his liberty, but he always refused. Before the general amnesty was declared, and in fact before Gen. MacArthur took command, efforts were made to get him to accept his liberty and yield allegiance to the United States.

Gen. Otis on two occasions had Mabini brought from prison to his headquarters. He has told of his conversations with Mabini, and of the arguments he presented to make the Filipino statesman see the futility of resistance. Mabini, according to Gen. Otis's accounts, was mild and respectful in demeanor, but utterly immovable, and the General had no recourse but to recommit him to prison.

When Guam was chosen as a place of confinement for the irreconcilables among the Filipino leaders, at least for the more troublesome among them, Mabini was deported. Most of these exiles were insurgent Generals whom it was impossible to leave in Manila because of their talent for stirring up trouble.

When the general amnesty was declared, Mabini, immovable as ever, declined to avail himself of it. The others at Guam yielded, but he would not. Mabini has more than once had the honor of a eulogy in the United States Senate, Mr. Hoar being the eulogist. Senator Hoar in his famous speech of April 17, 1900, repeatedly spoke of Mabini as a great statesman, and quoted from his state papers, describing them as noble and masterly.

There was a significant reference to Mabini in Mr. Hoar's speech at the dinner of the New England Society of Pennsylvania last night which suggests that he may have known of the appeal which was being made to President Roosevelt. He classed Mabini as among the few worthy to celebrate Forefathers' Day with the Pilgrims in the other world and called him “the author of state papers which compare with those of our fathers — which won the admiration of Lord Chatham — and of whom I hope our Republic is not afraid, that we keep him in exile at Guam.”

It is pointed out in the letter to the President that Mabini was arrested and held has a prisoner of war only, although no formal charges were preferred against him. He was deported to Guam under an order of Gen. MacArthur to be held until “a declaration of the termination of hostilities” had been made. President Roosevelt's declaration of July 4 is cited to show that there is no further warrant for his detention.

Mabini's refusal to sign an oath of allegiance unless he was first permitted to return to Manila and learn conditions there and was informed of the intentions of the United States is included in the letter.

“The prisoner, Mabini, a man much beloved by the Philippine people,” the communications says in closing, “is recognized by all among his countrymen as a statesman and patriot, whose crime, if such it is, has been a devotion as unselfish as absolute to his country's cause. Unable to stand upon his feet — for he has been a cripple ever since his imprisonment by Spain in 1896 — of a highly sensitive organization, the privations of a prisoner's life have borne more hardly on him than they would have borne on ordinary men.

“This, and even more the exile from a country dearly loved by him, have made of Mabini an old man before his time, and threaten soon to close his career by death.”

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1926. It may be copyrighted outside the U.S. (see Help:Public domain).