Saturday, January 30, 2021

Returning to the Philippines

One of the gratifying things about doing this here blog is that every so often, I see spikes in views of an entry I made years ago of R.C. Bowman's cartoons in 1900 for the Minneapolis Tribune about the American occupation of the Philippines. I imagine that there is a history teacher somewhere who references that post in his/her class materials about the Spanish-American War.

So today, let's catch up with the American occupation of the Philippines in 1921.

"It Ought Not to Take Long to Decide" by J.N. "Ding" Darling in Des Moines Register, ca. Jan., 1921
More than two decades after booting the Spanish from the archipelago halfway around the world, the U.S. was still in charge over there. Certain isolationist Republicans and Bryanist Democrats were still uncomfortable with the U.S. having become a colonial power, and with a new isolationist administration about to begin, there was a push to consider letting go of the Philippines. 

Labor interests feared that competition with Filipino labor would depress wages; business interests weren't happy competing with cheaper Philippine sugar and tobacco. The idea of counting all those non-white people as American citizens didn't sit well with a lot of residents of the 48 states, either.

"Uncle, Can't I Go Out and Hunt Wolves?" by Albert Reid for National Republican, ca. Jan., 1921

The argument against it rested on concern over Japanese military build-up. The U.S. and Japan were both beefing up their naval forces, resuming a pre-war rivalry in the Pacific Ocean.

"Each Thinks He Is Being Pursued" by Carey Orr in Chicago Tribune, Jan. 3, 1921

We'll return to that topic next week. Suffice it to say that although there was plenty of war-weariness in this country, there was also plenty of suspicion that our erstwhile ally had designs of Pacific hegemony.

"The New Aesop" by Gale in Los Angeles Times, ca. Jan., 1921

As President, Warren Harding sent a commission to the Philippines to report on whether the Philippines were ready for independence. The commission ultimately decided against letting the Philippines go, citing all the benefits they saw the U.S. as having brought them, from Manila's sewer system and improved mail delivery, to religious liberty and a free press.

"The Philippinos in Danger," unsigned, in Manila Independent, by Jan., 1921

For an example of that free press, we have here a Filipino editorial cartoon that Cartoons Magazine included with the others in today's post. The title may well have been added by the American magazine, since it seems a poor fit with the dialogue. Binibini Philippines quite reasonably asks Uncle Sam to unchain her if he and Japan are going to fight — although it's hard to tell whether Japan-San is playing with his battleships or grabbing at the lady while she isn't looking.

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