Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Philippine Revolution of 1896 - 1898

The Philippine Revolution (1896 - 1898) was an armed military conflict between the people of the Philippines and the Spanish colonial authorities which resulted in the secession of the Philippine Islands from the Spanish Empire.

The Philippine Revolution began in August 1896 upon the discovery of the anti-colonial secret organization Katipunan by the Spanish authorities. The Katipunan, led by Andrés Bonifacio, was a secessionist movement and shadow government spread throughout much of the islands whose goal was independence from Spain through armed revolt. In a mass gathering in Caloocan, the Katipunan leaders organized themselves into a revolutionary government and openly declared a nationwide armed revolution. Bonifacio called for a simultaneous coordinated attack on the capital Manila. This attack failed, but the surrounding provinces also rose up in revolt. In particular, rebels in Cavite led by Emilio Aguinaldo won early victories. A power struggle among the revolutionaries led to Bonifacio's execution in 1897, with command shifting to Aguinaldo who led his own revolutionary government. That year, a truce was officially reached with the Pact of Biak-na-Bato and Aguinaldo was exiled to Hong Kong, though hostilities between rebels and the Spanish government never actually ceased.

In 1898, with the outbreak of the Spanish-American War, Aguinaldo unofficially allied with the United States, returned to the Philippines and resumed hostilities against the Spaniards. By June, the rebels had conquered nearly all Spanish-held ground within the Philippines with the exception of Manila. Aguinaldo thus declared independence from Spain and the First Philippine Republic was established. However, neither Spain nor the United States recognized Philippine independence. Spanish rule in the islands only officially ended with the 1898 Treaty of Paris, wherein Spain ceded the Philippines and other territories to the United States. The Philippine-American War broke out shortly afterward.

Background
When the revolution began in 1896, Spain had ruled the Philippines for 331 years. During the Spanish conquest in the 16th century; European missionaries and immigrants steadily flowed to the colony. The inhabitants of the islands were converted to Christianity, and integrated into colonial society. The foundation was rather a period of slow economic growth and the colony spent its early years in constant warfare, not only quelling native rebellions, but also invasions by other nations including the Dutch, British, Portuguese, and Chinese. The longest native rebellion was that of Dagahoy which lasted more than a hundred years. In the late 1700s, Governor-General Basco introduced economic reforms and opened the islands to world trade. Almost overnight, criollos, and mestizos in the islands amassed tremendous wealth and the Philippines became one of the most affluent societies in the East Indies. This new breed of business and intellectual leaders became the colony's middle class society.

Rise of Filipino nationalism
In 1789, the French Revolution began changing the political landscape of Europe as it ended absolute monarchy in France. The power passed from king to people through representation in the parliament. People in other European countries began asking for the same representation in parliament. In the Philippines, this ideal spread in the colony through the writings of criollo writers as Luis Varela Rodríguez who called himself "Conde Filipino" (Earl of the Philippines). This was the first instance that a colonist called himself a Filipino rather than a Spanish subject. With the rising economic and political stability in the Philippines, the Middle Class began demanding that the churches in the Philippines be nationalized through a process known as Secularization. In this process, the control of Philippine parishes were to be passed from the religious orders to the secular priests, particularly Philippine-born priests. The religious orders, or friars, reacted and a political struggle between the friars and secular priests commenced.
The 1800s was also a new era for Europe. Church power was at a decline and friars began pouring more to the Philippines, ending hopes for the friars ever relinquishing their posts. With the opening of the Suez Canal, the voyage between Spain and the Philippines was cut short. More peninsulares (Spaniards born in the Spain) began pouring into the colony and began occupying the various government positions traditionally held by the criollo (Spaniards born in the Philippines). In the 300 years of colonial rule, the criollos have been accustomed to being semi-autonomous with the governor-general being the only Spaniard (peninsulares) in the islands. The criollos demanded representation in the Spanish Cortes where they could express their agrievances. This together with the secularization issue gave rise to the Criollo Insurgencies.

Criollo insurgencies
In the late 1700s, Criollo (or Insulares, "islanders," as they were locally called) writers began spreading the ideals of the French Revolution in the Philippines. At the same time, a royal decree ordered the secularization of Philippine churches and many parishes were turned over to Philippine-born priests. Halfway in the process, it was aborted with the return of the Jesuits to the Philippines and the religious orders retaking Philippine parishes. One instance that enraged the Insulares was the Franciscan take over of the richest parish in the islands which had been under the Philippine-born priests, that of Antipolo. In the early 1800s, Fathers Pedro Peláez and Mariano Gómez began organizing activities that demanded the return of control of Philippine parishes to Filipino seculars. Father Peláez, who was Archbishop of the Manila Cathedral, died in an earthquake while Father Gómez retired to private life. The next generation of Insular activists included Father José Burgos who organized the student rallies in the University of Santo Tomas. In the political front, activists like Joaquín Pardo de Tavera and Jacobo Zobel. The unrest escalated into a large insurgency when Novales declared the independence of the Philippines from Spain and crowned himself Emperor of the Philippines. In 1872, the conflict of Insular uprisings came when soldiers and workers of the Cavite Arsenal of Fort San Felipe mutinied. They were led by Sergeant La Madrid, a Spanish mestizo. The soldiers mistook the fireworks of Quiapo as the signal for a national uprising which had long been planned. The colonial government used the incident to spread a reign of terror and liquidate subversive political and church figures. Among them were Priest Mariano Gómez, José Burgos, and Jacinto Zamora who were executed through the garrote. They are remembered in Philippine history as Gomburza.

La Solidaridad and La Liga Filipina
The Terror of 1872, its deportation of Filipinos to the Mariana Islands and Europe created a colony of Filipino expatriates in Europe, particularly in Madrid. Filipinos in Europe founded the La Solidaridad, a newspaper that pressed for reforms in the Philippines through propaganda. As such, this movement is also known in history as the Propaganda Movement. La Solidaridad included the membership of leading Spanish liberals such as Morayta. Among the pioneering editors of the paper were Graciano López Jaena, Marcelo H. Del Pilar, and José Rizal. The Propaganda Movement in Europe managed to get the Spanish legislature to pass some reforms in the islands but the colonial government did not implement them. After years of publication from 1889 to 1895, La Solidaridad had begun to run out of funds without accomplishing concrete changes in the Philippines. José Rizal decided to return to the Philippines and founded La Liga Filipina, the Manila chapter of the Propaganda Movement. Merely days after its founding, Rizal was arrested by colonial authorities and deported to Dapitan. Nevertheless, the Liga was continued in his absence but it eventually dissolved due to the ideologies of its members. Conservative upper class members favoring reform, under the leadership of Apolinario Mabini, set up the Cuerpo de Compromisarios which tried to revive La Solidaridad in Europe. Other, more radical members belonging to the middle and lower classes, led by Andrés Bonifacio, had already set up the Katipunan alongside the revived Liga.

Katipunan
Andrés Bonifacio, Deodato Arellano, Ladislao Diwa, Teodoro Plata and Valentín Díaz founded the Katipunan (in full, Kataas-taasang, Kagalang-galangang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan "Supreme and Venerable Society of the Children of the Nation") in Manila on July 7, 1892. The organization, advocating independence through armed revolt against Spain, was influenced by Freemasonry through its rituals and organization; Bonifacio, Emilio Aguinaldo, and other leading members were also Freemasons.

From Manila, the Katipunan expanded into several provinces, including Batangas, Laguna, Cavite, Bulacan, Pampanga, Tarlac, Nueva Ecija, Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte, Pangasinan, Bicol and Mindanao. Most of the members, called Katipuneros, came from the lower and middle classes. The Katipunan had "its own laws, bureaucratic structure and elective leadership". For each province it involved, the Katipunan Supreme Council (Kataas-taasang Kapulungan, of which Bonifacio was a member and eventually head) coordinated provincial councils (Sangguniang Bayan) which were in charge of "public administration and military affairs on the supra-municipal or quasi-provincial level" and local councils (Panguluhang Bayan), in charge of affairs "on the district or barrio level". By 1895 Bonifacio was the supreme leader (Supremo) or supreme president (Presidente Supremo) of the Katipunan and headed its Supreme Council. Estimates of the membership of the society by 1896 vary from 30,000 to 400,000.

Start of the Revolution
The existence of the Katipunan eventually became known to the authorities through a member, Teodoro Patiño, who revealed it to a Spanish priest, Father Mariano Gil. Patiño was engaged in a bitter personal dispute with fellow Katipunero Apolonio de la Cruz and exposed the Katipunan in revenge. Father Gil was led to the printing press of the newspaper Diario de Manila , where a lithographic stone used to print the secret society's receipts was uncovered. A locker was seized containing a dagger and secret documents.
As with the Terror of 1872, colonial authorities ensued several arrests which included some of the wealthiest ilustrados, including José Rizal. Despite having no involvement in the secessionist movement, many of them were executed, notably Don Francisco Roxas. Bonifacio had forged their signatures into Katipunan documents hoping that they would be forced to support the revolution.

In the last days of August, Bonifacio called Katipunan members to a mass gathering in Caloocan, where they decided to start a nationwide armed revolution against Spain. The event was marked by a mass tearing of cedulas (community tax certificates) accompanied by patriotic cries. The exact date and location are disputed, but two possibilities have been officially endorsed by the Philippine government: August 26 in Balintawak and later, August 23 in Pugad Lawin. Thus the event is called the "Cry of Balintawak" or "Cry of Pugad Lawin". However the issue is further complicated by other dates such as August 24 and 25 and other locations such as Kangkong, Bahay Toro and Pasong Tamo. Furthermore, at the time "Balintawak" referred not only to a specific place, but also a general area which included some of these proposed sites like Kangkong.

Upon the discovery of the Katipunan Bonifacio sent a circular to all Katipunan councils to a meeting in Balintawak or Kangkong to discuss their situation. This is dated by historian Teodoro Agoncillo to August 19 and by revolutionary leader Santiago Alvarez to August 22.

On August 21, Katipuneros were already congregrating in Balintawak in Caloocan. Late in the evening amidst heavy rain, the rebels moved to Kangkong in Caloocan, and arrived there past midnight. As a precaution, the rebels moved to Bahay Toro or Pugad Lawin on August 23. Agoncillo places the Cry and tearing of certificates at this point the house of Juan Ramos at Pugad Lawin. Alvarez writes that they met at the house of Melchora Aquino (known as Tandang Sora, and mother of Juan Ramos) in Bahay Toro on that date. Agoncillo places Aquino's house in Pasong Tamo and the meeting there on August 24. In any case, rebels continued to congregate and by August 24, they were over a thousand strong.

On August 24, it was decided to notify the Katipunan councils of the surrounding towns that a general attack on the capital Manila was planned for August 29. Bonifacio appointed generals to lead rebel forces to Manila. Before hostilities erupted, Bonifacio also reorganized the Katipunan into an open revolutionary government, with him as President and the Supreme Council of the Katipunan as his cabinet.

On the morning of August 25, the rebels came under attack by a Spanish civil guard unit, the rebels having greater numbers but the Spanish being better armed. The forces disengaged after a brief skirmish and casualties on both sides.

Another skirmish took place on August 26 which sent the rebels retreating toward Balara. At noon, Bonifacio and some of his men briefly rested in Diliman. In the afternoon, civil guards sent to Caloocan to investigate attacks on Chinese merchants - done by bandits who had attached themselves to the rebels - came across a group of Katipuneros and briefly engaged them. The commander of the guards, a Lieutenant Ros, reported the encounter to the authorities and this report drove Governor-General Ramón Blanco to prepare for coming hostilities.

From August 27 to 28, Bonifacio moved from Balara to Mt. Balabak in Hagdang Bato, Mandaluyong. There meetings were held in order to finalize their plans for the Manila attack the following day. Bonifacio issued the following general proclamation:
This manifesto is for all of you. It is absolutely necessary for us to stop at the earliest possible time the nameless oppositions being perpetrated on the sons of the country who are now suffering the brutal punishment and tortures in jails, and because of this please let all the brethren know that on Saturday, the 29th of the current month, the revolution shall commence according to our agreement. For this purpose, it is necessary for all towns to rise simultaneously and attack Manila at the same time. Anybody who obstructs this sacred ideal of the people will be considered a traitor and an enemy, except if he is ill; or is not physically fit, in which case he shall be tried according to the regulations we have put in force. Mount of Liberty, 28th August 1896 - ANDRES BONIFACIO

The conventional view among Filipino historians is that Bonifacio did not carry out the planned Katipunan attack on Manila on the following day and instead attacked a powder magazine at San Juan del Monte. However, more recent studies have advanced the view that the planned attack did push through; according to this view, Bonifacio's battle at San Juan del Monte (now called the "Battle of Pinaglabanan") was only a part of a bigger whole - a "battle for Manila" hitherto unrecognized as such.

Hostilities in the area started on the evening of August 29, when hundreds of rebels attacked the Civil Guard garrison in Pasig, just as hundreds of other rebels personally led by Bonifacio were massing in San Juan del Monte, which they attacked hours later on the 30th. Bonifacio planned to capture the San Juan del Monte powder magazine along with a water station supplying Manila. The defending Spaniards, outnumbered, fought a delaying battle until reinforcements arrived. Once reinforced, the Spaniards drove Bonifacio's forces back with heavy casualties. Elsewhere rebels attacked Mandaluyong, Sampaloc, Sta. Ana, Pandacan, Pateros, Marikina, and Caloocan, as well as Makati and Tagig. Balintawak in Caloocan saw intense fighting. Rebel troops tended to gravitate towards fighting in San Juan del Monte and Sampaloc. South of Manila, a thousand-strong rebel force attacked a small force of civil guards. In Pandacan Katipuneros attacked the parish church, making the parish priest run for his life.

After their defeat in San Juan del Monte, Bonifacio's troops regrouped near Marikina, San Mateo and Montalban, where they proceeded to attack these areas. They captured these areas but were driven back by Spanish counterattacks, and Bonifacio eventually ordered a retreat to Balara. On the way, Bonifacio was nearly killed shielding Emilio Jacinto from a Spanish bullet which grazed his collar. Despite his reverses, Bonifacio was not completely defeated and was still considered a threat.

North of Manila, the towns of San Francisco de Malabon, Noveleta and Kawit in Cavite rose in rebellion. In Nueva Ecija rebels in San Isidro led by Mariano Llanera attacked the Spanish garrison on September 2-4; they were repulsed.

By August 30, the revolt had spread to eight provinces. On that date, Governor-General Blanco declared a state of war in these provinces and placed them under martial law. These were Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Pampanga, Bataan, Laguna, Batangas, and Nueva Ecija. They would later be represented in the eight rays of the sun in the Filipino flag.

The rebels had few firearms; they were mostly armed with bolo knives and bamboo spears. The lack of guns has been given as a possible reason why the Manila attack allegedly never materialized. Also, the Katipunan leaders from Cavite had earlier expressed reservations about starting an uprising due to their lack of firearms and preparation. As a result, they did not send troops to Manila but attacked garrisons in their own locales. Some historians have argued that the Katipunan defeat in the Manila area was (partly) the Cavite rebels' fault due to their absence, as their presence would have proved crucial.In their memoirs, Cavite rebel leaders justified their absence in Manila by claiming Bonifacio failed to execute pre-arranged signals to begin the uprising such as setting balloons loose and extinguishing the lights at the Luneta park. However, these claims have been dismissed as "historical mythology"; as reasoned by historians, if they were really waiting for signals before marching on Manila, they would have arrived "too late for the fray". Bonifacio's command for a simultaneous attack is interpreted as evidence that such signals were never arranged. Other factors for the Katipunan defeat include the capture of his battle plans by Spanish intelligence. The Spanish concentrated their forces in the Manila area while pulling out troops in other provinces (which proved beneficial for rebels in other areas, particularly Cavite). The authorities also pre-empted a mass defection of 500 native troops by transferring their regiment to Marawi,Mindanao, which later rebelled there.

Execution of José Rizal
When the revolution broke out, Rizal was living as a political exile in Dapitan, and had just volunteered to serve as a doctor in Cuba, where a similar revolution was taking place. Instead of taking him to Barcelona from where he would be sent to Cuba, his ship, acting upon orders from Manila, took him instead to the capital where he was imprisoned in Fort Santiago. There he wrote his valedictory poem, and awaited his execution which came on December 30, 1896 after a military trial. Although Rizal opposed the Katipunan, his writings inspired the revolution. His execution escalated the anger of the Filipinos, and the revolution pushed on.

By December, the Spanish authorities in Manila recognized three major centers of rebellion: Cavite (under Emilio Aguinaldo and others), Bulacan (under Mariano Llanera) and Morong (modern-day Rizal, under Bonifacio). Bonifacio served as tactician for the rebel guerillas though his prestige suffered when he lost battles he personally led.

Cavite
Meanwhile in Cavite, Katipuneros under Emilio Aguinaldo, mayor of Cavite El Viejo (modern Kawit) and Mariano Alvarez, Bonifacio's uncle by marriage, won early victories. Aguinaldo commissioned Edilberto Evangelista, an engineer, to plan the defense and logistics of the revolution in Cavite. His first victory was in the Battle of Imus on September 1, 1896 with the aid of José Tagle defeating the Spanish forces under General Ernesto Aguirre. The Cavite revolutionaries, particularly Aguinaldo, won prestige in defeating Spanish troops in set piece battles while other rebels like Bonifacio and Llanera were engaged in guerrilla warfare. Aguinaldo, speaking for the Magdalo ruling council, issued a manifesto proclaiming a provisional and revolutionary government after his early successes - despite the existence of Bonifacio's Katipunan government.

The Katipunan in Cavite was divided into two councils: the Magdiwang (led by Alvarez) and the Magdalo (led by Baldomero Aguinaldo, Emilio's cousin). At first these two Katipunan councils cooperated with each other in the battlefield, as in the battles of Binakayan and Dalahican. However rivalries between command and territory soon developed and they refused to cooperate and aid each other in battle.
In order to unite the Katipunan in Cavite, the Magdiwang through Artemio Ricarte and Pio Del Pilar invited Bonifacio, who was fighting in Morong (present-day Rizal) province to mediate between the factions. Perhaps due to his kinship ties with their leader, Bonifacio was seen as partial to the Magdiwang.
It was not long before the issue of leadership was debated. The Magdiwang faction recognized Bonifacio as supreme leader, being the head of the Katipunan. The Magdalo faction agitated for Emilio Aguinaldo to be the movement's head because of his personal successes in the battlefield compared to Bonifacio's record of personal defeats. Meanwhile the Spanish troops, now under the command of the new Governor-General Camilo de Polavieja, steadily gained ground.

Tejeros Convention
On December 31, an assembly was convened in Imus to settle the leadership status. The Magdalo insisted on the establishment of revolutionary government to replace the Katipunan and continue the struggle. On the other hand, the Magdiwang favored retention of the Katipunan, arguing that it was already a government in itself. The assembly dispersed without a consensus.

On March 22, 1897, another meeting was held in Tejeros. It called for the election of officers for the revolutionary government. Bonifacio chaired the election and called for the election results to be respected. When the voting ended, Bonifacio had lost and the leadership turned over to Aguinaldo, who was away fighting in Pasong Santol. Instead, he was elected to Director of the Interior but his qualifications were questioned by a Magdalo, Daniel Tirona. Bonifacio felt insulted and would have shot Tirona had not Artemio Ricarte intervened. Invoking his position of Supremo of the Katipunan, Bonifacio declared the election null and void and stomped out in anger. Aguinaldo took his oath of office as president the next day in Santa Cruz de Malabon (present-day Tanza) in Cavite, as did the rest of the officers, except for Bonifacio.

Execution of Bonifacio
In Naic, Bonifacio and his officers created the Naic Military Agreement, establishing a rival government to Aguinaldo's. It rejected the election at Tejeros and asserted Bonifacio as the leader of the revolution. When Aguinaldo learned of the document, he ordered the arrest of Bonifacio and his soldiers (without Bonifacio's knowledge). Colonel Agapito Benzon met with Bonifacio in Limbon and attacked him the next day. Bonifacio, and his brother Procopio were wounded, while their brother Ciriaco were killed. They were taken to Naic to stand trial.

The Consejo de Guerra (War Council) sentenced Andrés, and Procopio Bonifacio to death on May 10, 1897 for committing sedition and treason. Aguinaldo commuted the punishment to deportation, but withdrew his decision following pressure from Pio Del Pilar and other officers of the revolution.
On May 10, Major Lazaro Makapagal, upon orders from General Mariano Noriel, executed the Bonifacio brothers at the foothills of Mount Buntis, near Maragondon. Andrés Bonifacio, and his brother were buried in a shallow grave marked only with twigs.

Biak-na-Bato
Augmented by new recruits from Spain, government troops recaptured several towns in Cavite. As argued by Apolinario Mabini and others, the succession of defeats for the rebels could also be attributed to discontent that resulted from Bonifacio's death. Mabini wrote:
This tragedy smothered the enthusiasm for the revolutionary cause, and hastened the failure of the insurrection in Cavite, because many from Manila, Laguna and Batangas, who were fighting for the province (of Cavite), were demoralized and quit...
In other areas, some of Bonifacio's associates like Emilio Jacinto and Macario Sacay never subjected their military commands to Aguinaldo's authority.

Aguinaldo and his men retreated northward, from one town to the next, until they finally settled in Biak-na-Bato, in the town of San Miguel de Mayumo in Bulacan. Here they established what became known as the Republic of Biak-na-Bato, with a constitution drafted by Isabelo Artacho, and Felix Ferrer and based on the first Cuban Constitution.

With the new Spanish Governor-General Fernando Primo de Rivera declaring, "I can take Biak-na-Bato. Any army can capture it. But I cannot end the rebellion," he proffered the olive branch of peace to the revolutionaries. A lawyer named Pedro Paterno volunteered as negotiator between the two sides. For four months, he traveled between Manila and Biak-na-Bato. His hard work finally bore fruit when, on December 14 to December 15, 1897, the Pact of Biak-na-Bato was signed. Made up of three documents, it called for the following agenda:
• The surrender of Aguinaldo and the rest of the revolutionary corps.
• Amnesty for those who participated in the revolution..
• Exile to Hong Kong for the revolutionary leadership.
• Payment by the Spanish government of $400,000 (Mexican peso) to the revolutionaries in three installments: $200,000 (Mexican peso) upon leaving the country, $100,000 (Mexican peso) upon the surrender of at least 700 firearms, and another $100,000 (Mexican peso) upon the declaration of general amnesty.
In accordance with the first clause, Aguinaldo and twenty five other top officials of the revolution were banished to Hong Kong with $400,000 (Mexican peso) in their pockets. The rest of the men got $200,000 (Mexican peso) and the third installment was never received. General amnesty was never declared because sporadic skirmishes continued.

The revolution continues
Not all the revolutionary generals complied with the treaty. One, General Francisco Makabulos, established a Central Executive Committee to serve as the interim government until a more suitable one was created. Armed conflicts resumed, this time coming from almost every province in the Philippines. The colonial authorities on the other hand, continued the arrest and torture of those suspected of banditry.
The Pact of Biak-na-Bato did not signal an end to the revolution. Aguinaldo and his men were convinced that the Spaniards would never give the rest of the money as a condition of surrender. Furthermore, they believed that Spain reneged on her promise of amnesty. The Filipino patriots renewed their commitment for complete independence. They purchased more arms and ammunition to ready themselves for another siege.

Spanish–American War

The Spanish–American War was an armed military conflict between Spain and the United States that took place between April and August 1898, over the issues of the liberation of Cuba. The war began after American demands for the resolution of the Cuban fight for independence were rejected by Spain. Strong expansionist sentiment in the United States motivated the government to develop a plan for annexation of Spain's remaining overseas territories including the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Guam.

The revolution in Havana prompted the United States to send in the warship USS Maine to indicate high national interest. Tension among the American people was raised because of the explosion of the USS Maine, and the yellow journalist newspapers that accused the Spanish of oppression in their colonies, agitating American public opinion. The war ended after victories for the United States in the Philippine Islands and Cuba.

On December 10, 1898, the signing of the Treaty of Paris gave the United States control of Cuba, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Guam.

Historical background
The Monroe Doctrine of the 19th Century served as the political foundation for the support of the Cuban struggle for independence from Spain in the United States. Cubans had been fighting for self determination, on and off, since the Grito de Yara of 1868.

Cuban struggle for independence
In 1895, the Spanish colony of Cuba was the site of a small armed uprising against Spanish authority. Financial support for the "Cuba Libre" rebellion came from external organizations, some based in the United States.

In 1896, new Captain General for Cuba, General Valeriano Weyler pledged to suppress the insurgency by isolating the rebels from the rest of the population ensuring that the rebels would not receive supplies.
By the end of 1897, more than 300,000 Cubans had relocated into Spanish guarded concentration camps. These camps became cesspools of hunger and disease where more than one hundred thousand died.

A propaganda war waged in the United States by Cuban émigrés attacked Weyler's inhuman treatment of his countrymen and won the sympathy of broad groups of the U.S. population. Weyler was referred to as "The Butcher" by yellow journalists like William Randolph Hearst. The American newspapers began agitating for intervention with stories of Spanish atrocities against the Cuban population.

USS Maine
In January 1898, a riot by Cuban volunteers, most of whom were Spanish loyalists, broke out in Havana and led to the destruction of the printing presses of three local newspapers that were critical of General Weyler. These riots prompted the presence of an American Marine force in the island: although there had been no attack on Americans during the rioting, there were still fears for the lives of Americans living in Havana. Concern focused on the pro-Spanish Cubans who harbored resentment of the growing support in the United States for Cuban independence. Washington informed the Consul-General in Havana, Fitzhugh Lee, a nephew of Robert E. Lee, that the Maine would be sent to protect United States interests should tensions escalate further.

The USS Maine arrived in Havana on January 25, 1898. Her stay was uneventful until the following month. On February 15, 1898, at 9:40 p. m. the Maine sank in Havana Harbor after an explosion, resulting in the deaths of 266 men. An American inquiry reported that it was caused by a mine but recent investigations have led people to believe that the explosion was indeed caused by an internal infusion of coal combustion and not a mine. At the time the Spanish attributed the event to an internal explosion. The Spanish inquiry, conducted by Del Peral and De Salas, collected evidence from officers of naval artillery who had examined the remains of the Maine. Additional observations included that 1) had a mine been the cause of the explosion a column of water would have been observed; 2) the wind and the waters were calm on that date and hence a mine could not have been detonated by contact but using electricity, but no cables had been found; 3) no dead fish were found in the harbour as would be expected following an explosion in the water; and, 4) munition bunkers usually do not explode when mines sink ships. Del Peral and De Salas identified the spontaneous combustion of the coal bunker that was located adjacent to the munition stores in the Maine as the likely cause of the explosion. The conclusions of the report were silenced by the American press (Hugh Thomas, Memoria del 98, p. 104). In 1976, Admiral H.G. Rickover wrote a book (How the Battleship Maine was Destroyed, Naval History Division, Department of the Navy) arguing persuasively that the origin of the explosion that sank the ship was indeed internal.

A total of four USS Maine investigations were conducted into the causes of the explosion, with the investigators coming to different conclusions. The Spanish and American versions would carry on with divergences. A 1999 investigation commissioned by National Geographic Magazine and carried out by Advanced Marine Enterprises concluded that "it appears more probable than was previously concluded that a mine caused the inward bent bottom structure" and the detonation of the ship. However there is still much contention over what caused the explosion.

Path to war
Upon the destruction of the Maine, newspaper owners such as William Randolph Hearst came to the conclusion that Spanish officials in Cuba were to blame, and they widely publicized this theory as fact. They fueled American anger by publishing sensationalistic and astonishing accounts of "atrocities" committed by Spain in Cuba. A common myth states that Hearst responded to the opinion of his illustrator Frederic Remington, that conditions in Cuba were not bad enough to warrant hostilities with: "You furnish the pictures and I'll furnish the war." Lashed to fury, in part by such press, the American cry of the hour became, "Remember the Maine, To Hell with Spain!" President William McKinley, Speaker of the House Thomas Brackett Reed and the business community opposed the growing public demand for war.
Senator Redfield Proctor's speech, delivered on March 17, 1898 thoroughly analyzed the situation concluding that war was the only answer. Many in the business and religious communities, which had heretofore opposed war, switched sides, leaving President McKinley and Speaker Reed almost alone in their opposition to the war. On April 11 President McKinley asked Congress for authority to send American troops to Cuba for the purpose of ending the civil war there.

On April 19, while Congress was considering joint resolutions supporting Cuban independence, Senator Henry M. Teller of Colorado proposed the Teller amendment to ensure that the United States would not establish permanent control over Cuba following the cessation of hostilities with Spain. The amendment, disclaiming any intention to annex Cuba passed Senate 42 to 35; the House concurred the same day, 311 to 6. The amended resolution demanded Spanish withdrawal and authorized the president to use as much military force as he thought necessary to help Cuba gain independence from Spain. President McKinley signed the joint resolution on April 20, 1898, and the ultimatum was forwarded to Spain. In response, Spain broke off diplomatic relations with the United States and declared war on April 25. On that same day, Congress declared that a state of war between the United States and Spain had existed since April 20 (later changed to April 21).

Theaters of operation - Philippines
The Spanish had first landed in the Philippines on March 17, 1521, though colonization did not start until 1565. Since then, the islands had been a key holding for the Spanish Empire. In the 300 years of Spanish rule, the country developed from a small overseas colony governed from the Viceroyalty of New Spain, to a modern partly-autonomous country, with infrastructures, schools, hospitals and universities. The Spanish-speaking middle classes of the 19th century were mostly educated in the liberal ideas coming from Europe. Among these Ilustrados were national hero Jose Rizal and Andres Bonifacio, who demanded larger reforms from the Spanish authorities. This movement eventually led to the Philippine Revolution which the United States later backed. The first battle between American and Spanish forces was at Manila Bay where, on May 1, 1898, Commodore George Dewey, commanding the United States Navy's Asiatic Squadron aboard the USS Olympia, in a matter of hours, defeated the Spanish squadron under Admiral Patricio Montojo y Pasarón. Dewey managed this with only nine wounded.

With the German seizure of Tsingtao in 1897, Dewey's Squadron had become the only naval force in the Far East without a local base of its own, and was beset with coal and ammunition problems. Despite these logistical problems, the Asiatic squadron had not only destroyed the Spanish fleet but had also captured the harbor of Manila.

Following Dewey's victory, Manila Bay was filled with the warships of the United Kingdom, Germany, France, and Japan; all of which outgunned Dewey's force. The German fleet of eight ships, ostensibly in Philippine waters to protect German interests (a single import firm), acted provocatively—cutting in front of American ships, refusing to salute the United States flag (according to customs of naval courtesy), taking soundings of the harbor, and landing supplies for the besieged Spanish. The Germans, with interests of their own, were eager to take advantage of whatever opportunities the conflict in the islands might afford. The Americans called the bluff of the Germans, threatening conflict if the aggressive activities continued, and the Germans backed down.

Commodore Dewey had transported Emilio Aguinaldo to the Philippines from exile in Hong Kong in order to rally Filipinos against the Spanish colonial government. U.S. land forces and the Filipinos had taken control of most of the islands by June, except for the walled city of Intramuros and, on June 12, 1898, Aguinaldo had declared the independence of the Philippines.

On August 13, with American commanders unaware that the cease fire had been signed between Spain and the United States on the previous day, American forces captured the city of Manila from the Spanish. This battle marked an end of Filipino-American collaboration, as Filipino forces were prevented from entering the captured city of Manila, an action which was deeply resented by the Filipinos and which later led to the Philippine–American War.

Aguinaldo returns to the Philippines
On May 7, 1898, the American dispatch-boat McCulloch arrived in Hong Kong from Manila, bringing reports of Dewey's May 1 victory in the battle of Manila Bay but with no orders regarding transportation of Aguinaldo. The McCulloch again arrived in Hong Kong on May 15, bearing orders to transport Aguinaldo to Manila. Aguinaldo departed Hong Kong aboard the McCulloch on May 17, arriving in off Cavite in Manila Bay on May 19.

Public jubilance marked Aguinaldo's return. Several revolutionaries, as well as Filipino soldiers employed by the Spanish army, crossed over to Aguinaldo's command. Soon after, Imus and Bacoor in Cavite, Parañaque and Las Piñas in Morong, Macabebe, and San Fernando in Pampanga, as well as Laguna, Batangas, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Bataan, Tayabas (present-day Quezon), and the Camarines provinces, were liberated by the Filipinos. They were also able to secure the port of Dalahican in Cavite. The revolution was gaining ground.

Philippine Declaration of Independence
The Philippine Declaration of Independence occurred on June 12, 1898 in Cavite el Viejo (now Kawit), Cavite, Philippines. With the public reading of the Act of the Declaration of Independence, Filipino revolutionary forces under General Emilio Aguinaldo proclaimed the sovereignty and independence of the Philippine Islands from the colonial rule of Spain, which had been recently defeated at the Battle of Manila Bay during the Spanish-American War.

The declaration, however, was not recognized by the United States or Spain. The Spanish government later ceded the Philippines to the United States in the 1898 Treaty of Paris that ended the Spanish-American War. The United States recognized Philippine independence on July 4, 1946 in the Treaty of Manila. July 4 was observed in the Philippines as Independence Day until August 4, 1964 when, upon the advice of historians and the urging of nationalists, President Diosdado Macapagal signed into law Republic Act No. 4166 designating June 12 as the country's Independence Day. June 12 had previously been observed as Flag Day.

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