BENEVOLENT ASSIMILATION PROCLAMATION IN ILOILO
Otis sends Benevolent Assimilation Proclamation to Miller in Iloilo.
HDQRS. DEPT. PACIFIC AND EIGHTH ARMY CORPS,
Manila, P. I., December 29, 1898.
Brig. Gen. MARCUS P. MILLER, U. S. V.,
Commanding First Separate Brigade, Eighth Army Corps, Iloilo, Panay.
Sir: this will be delivered to you by Captain Montgomery, of the British Navy, who leaves for Iloilo in the morning. I inclose copy of our translation of a cablegram received to-day in cipher, from which you will understand the position and policy of our government toward these islands.
Do not be in haste with your negotiations for the surrender of the city. Should there be strong and very decided opposition to your entry, backed by considerable force, do not be in haste. It will not do to bombard the city, nor will it do to let the natives loot and burn it. Foreigners have large possessions there and a great deal of money in the banks. You can remain in the harbor with your force. If you meet with decided or strong opposition, await there further instructions, and if necessary i can direct a portion of your force to other ports in the southern islands, where you will not meet much, if any, opposition. I trust in your discretion.
Very truly, yours,
E. S. Otis,
Major-General, U. S, V., Commanding.
Miller sends Benevolent Assimilation Proclamation to Roque Lopez, President of the Estado Federal de Bisayas.
HEADQUARTERS FIRST SEPARATE BRIGADE, EIGHTH ARMY CORPS,
ON BOARD TRANSPORT NEWPORT,
Iloilo Harbor, January 1, 1899.
Mr. Roque Lopez,
The within cablegram from the President of the United States to the
United States Military Governor in the Philippines, transmitted by the latter to me yesterday, is enclosed herewith for the information of your committee and of the people of Iloilo and Panay island. Its more important statements are:
I. that the destruction of the Spanish fleet in Manila Bay and the surrender of the Spanish army of occupation to forces of the United States, followed by the signing of the Treaty of Peace at Paris on the 10th instant, operate to give the future control, disposition and government of the Philippine Islands to the United States.
II. It authorizes and directs the Military Commander in the Philippines to extend, with all possible dispatch, the military government heretofore maintained in the City, Harbor and Bay of Manila, to the whole of the Philippine group.
III. It directs that the military government to be established among you shall be exerted for the security of persons and property of the people of the Island and for the conformation of their private rights and relations. It announces to you that the army does not come among you as invaders and conquerors, but as friends to establish and maintain a government which will accord to the people what is the heritage of all free peoples—the full measure of individual rights and liberty.
The forces here under my command have been sent to this point for the purpose of executing the above orders. Although fully conscious of my power to occupy the city at any moment, i have, nevertheless, waited, that you might have ample time to fully deliberate upon the questions presented. As indicated in the President's cablegram, under existing conditions, the people of Panay Island owe obedience to tin; political authority ot the united states, and grave responsibilities will be incurred if, after deliberation, it is decided to resist that authority. In obedience to my instructions, and in the belief that the highest interests of the people will be served by immediate occupation by the tioops under my command and the establishment of the authority of the United States, I again express the desire that the native troops be withdrawn, thus assuring the entry of the forces under my command without unusual incident or menace to life and property interests in Iloilo.
I am, very respectfully,
(Signed) M. P. MILLER,
Brigadier General, U. S. Volunteers,
Miller informs Otis that he had already sent a letter, enclosing the original version of the proclamation to Roque Lopez of the Estado Federal de Bisayas. He also had published the proclamation.
HEADQUARTERS FIRST SEPARATE BRIGADE, EIGHTH
ON BOARD TRANSPORT NEWPORT,
Iloilo Harbor, P. I., January 6, 1899.
The Adjutant General,
Department of the Pacific
and Eighth Army Corps.
I have the honor to report the arrival here this morning of Colonel Potter with the instructions of the President on a small slip of paper which he brought, and oral instructions from the Commanding General to me.
I have been careful not to do anything to bring on conflict, for three days i have had no interview with the insurgents. Three days ago, I sent to the Governing Committee, R. Lopez, President, a copy of the letter of instructions of the President, and asked that they permit the entry of my troops. No answer has been received, and I expect none. I had copies of the President's instructions translated into Spanish, distributed to the people in different ways and am informed that the people laughed at it. The insurgents call us cowards and are fortifying the old fort at point of peninsula, and are mounting old smooth bore guns left by the spaniards; two of them are said to be eight-inch guns. They are entrenching everywhere. They are bent upon having one fight and are confident of victory. As I informed you in my letter yesterday, I believe now we can capture the city with our forces now present and with the assistance of the Navy, without the loss of much life and without much destruction of property, and should we destroy it all, I believe it would be of advantage to the city, as a newer city would be built up soon. The character of the natives, having been under the subjugation of Spain so long, is such that once well punished they will submit to fate. The people are superstitious, believing in fate, and now believe that fate will give them victory.
We are entirely shut off from intercourse, and can make no purchases. I have seized upon a water vessel, a large scow, and a small steamer; the insurgents have not protested. My difficulty is in manning these vessels as we cannot trust natives. I am making details of enlisted men which depletes the strength of the command. Boatmen should be sent out from the united states to run steam tugs and launches, and the natives sent adrift: there is no trusting them; with their, employed the guard has to he larger than the crew.
My recommendation is to attack them here, take possession of the city; then bring down the necessary force to whip them well at Molo and Jaro, their two strongholds, both within three miles of Iloilo. With our artillery machine guns properly supported, it can be done with but a little loss of life, the insurgents have sent a party to Cebu to raise there a military organization to frighten us away from there. They believe a show of force is enough to stand the American cowards off. For the present i shall remain on the defensive but ask permission to attack this place at the earliest moment. If we are successful it will relieve Manila. The strength of the insurgents is about as given in my letter of yesterday, four thousand armed with lilies and twelve or fifteen thousand with bolos and other weapons.
(Signed) M. P. MILLER,
Brigadier General U.S. Volunteers.
Roque Lopez replies to Miller acknowledging receipt of Benevolent Assimilation Proclamation.
We have the high honor of having received your message dated January 1, of this year, enclosing letter of President Mckinley. We have deliberated about these points and as a result of our deliberation we deduce an answer to one of its clauses. We are not able to enter into discussion respecting the others because it is not in the power of this Council of State.
You say in one clause of your message: "As indicated in the President's cablegram, under these conditions the inhabitants of the island of Panay ought to obey the political authority of the United States and they will incur a grave responsibility if, after deliberating, they decide to resist said authority."
So the council of state of this region of Visayas are, at this present moment, between the authority of the United States, that you try to impose on us, and the authority of the Central Revolutionary Government at Malolos. The supposed authority of the United States began with the Treaty of Paris on the 10th of December, 1898. The authority of the Central Government of Malolos is founded in the sacred and natural bonds of blood, language, uses, customs, ideas, sacrifices, etc., etc. It is also founded principally on our political constitution which began with the insurrection and has been manifested in all its doings, so that the authority of the Government of Malolos over us began at a date long before the Treaty of Paris.
Now, after consideration, please tell us with sincerity, General, what authority we should obey, whether the authority of the United States, which began with the Treaty of Paris, on the 10th of December, 1898, of which we do not know officially, because the Revolutionary Government of Malolos has not been notified; which government is based on previous conquest, anterior to the said treaty, and the natural bonds created by politics and the Constitution established since the first moment of the rebellion, on the 11th of August, 1896.
After all has been said we insist in not giving our consent to the disembarkation of your troops, without an express order from our central Government of Malolos.
(Signed) R. LOPEZ
Jaro, January 9, 1899.
Otis writes to Miller, admonishing Miller's publication of the Benevolent Assimilation Proclamation.
Manila, P. I., January 15, 1899.
MY DEAR GENERAL:
I am somewhat exercised, fearing that your correspondence with the Iloilo people may result in bringing about grave complications.
I sent you the President's proclamation, not for publication, but for your information, simply. It came just before Colonel Potter sailed for Iloilo and I did not have time to consider its probable effect. As soon as i could do so I cabled washington that it would not be published, as the time was not opportune. After some deliberation we put out one of our own which it was believed would suit the temper of the people.
I also fear that your conversations and letters to the Iloilo insurgent authorities on the intention of the United States government will also breed trouble.
I have concluded to send Major Mallory to you; he can represent my views and give you full information as to the policy which we have pursued here. He can give you a correct report of affairs in this section and show you how necessary it is to proceed with great caution.
The revolutionary government is very anxious for peaceful relations, and knows the value of United States protection, but, unfortunately, some of their radical representatives have raised a flood of excitement which they cannot control and which they confess their inability to direct. We have had several conferences and they plead with us to make some concession which they may publish to tneir people in order that they can get out of the dilemma in which they have placed themselves. They have little idea of constitutional government and their people have none. They cry for "Independenee" and "Protection," not knowing the true meining of the terms, and grow enraged over the words "Sovereignty," "United States Control," etc., etc. For several days we have been passing through, and are still in, a rather critical condition. Had you fired a gun at Iloilo the mob and insurgent troops were ready to make demonstration against the United States authorities. This would have been most disappointing to the President of the United States, who continually urges extreme caution and no conflict. Conditions are improving, the city in very quiet, the Malolos government slowly disintegrating I think, and the philippine people of the city and surrounding provinces having a better understanding of the United States' intentions.
Major Mallory will remain with you and i desire that you consult him upon all matters affecting our relationship with the insurgent authorities. The policy to be pursued by the united states is to keep as quiet as possible, permitting the insurgent authorities to work out their own protection if possible. Please do not attempt any radical action without consulting us here.
(Signed) E. S. OTIS.
Brigadier General M. P. Miller,
Commanding 1st Separate Brigade Eight Army Corps,
Iloilo, Island of Panay