The Philippines Are Really Just a Quasi U.S. Colony

The mostly painful history of the U.S. and its struggling ex-colony.

MIT history professor Capozzola writes that events in Cuba provoked America’s declaration of war on Spain in 1898. Few paid attention to its Asian colonies until the U.S. Asiatic Squadron, led by George Dewey, annihilated the Spanish fleet off its Philippines colony. American officials believed that an imperial power such as Britain or Germany would certainly take over if America didn’t. There followed a nasty war in which American forces (and locally recruited units) suppressed the Filipino independence movement. Capozzola notes that the American promise of eventual independence was sincere, and the colonial administration set up a local political infrastructure. This was done on the cheap, however, so Filipinos who benefited most serviced Americans or came to the U.S. Racist immigration laws in the U.S. banned Asians, but the Philippines, as a colony, was an exception.

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