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Published Articles - William Jennings Bryan
Ultimate Independence for Filipinos

by William Jennings Bryan

The Commoner 13 (Oct. 1913).

In his opening speech at Manila, Governor-General Harrison delivered the following message from the president:
"We regard ourselves as trustees acting not for the advantage of the United States, but for the benefit of the people of the Philippine Islands. Every step we take will be taken with a view to the ultimate independence of the islands and as a preparation for that independence, and we hope to move toward that end as rapidly as the safety and the permanent interests of the islands will permit. After each step taken experience will guide us to the next. The administration will take one step at once. It will give to the native citizens of the islands a majority in the appointive commission and thus in the upper as well as in the lower house of the legislature.

"It will do this in the confident hope and expectation that immediate proof will thereby be given in the action of the commission under the new arrangement of the political capacity of those native citizens who have already come forward to represent and lead their people in affairs."
This message, it will he noticed, gives to the Filipinos the promise of ultimate independence, thus fulfilling the following platform pledge on that subject:
"We reaffirm the position thrice announced by the democracy in national convention assembled against a policy of imperialism and colonial exploitation in the Philippines or elsewhere. We condemn the experiment in imperialism as an inexcusable blunder, which has involved us in enormous expense, brought us weakness instead of strength, and laid our nation open to the charge of abandonment of the fundamental doctrine of self-government. We favor an immediate declaration of the nation's purpose to recognize the independence of the Philippine Islands as soon as a stable government can be established, such independence to be guaranteed by us until the neutralization of the islands can be secured by treaty with other powers."
The news report says that every reference to independence was cheered by the people, and Governor General Harrison wires that the unparalleled gathering of the people received with great enthusiasm the announcement of the president's policy.

The first step toward the carrying out of the promise of ultimate independence was the determination to give to the Filipinos a majority of the commission which acts with the local legislature in the making of laws.

Governor General Harrison declared himself in complete accord with the policy of the president, and appealed to the Filipinos who assist in the work upon which the government has entered.

The country will rejoice that the government has turned away from the imperialism which has been impairing our influence as a world teacher of the doctrines of self-government. In this, as in other policies, President Wilson is bringing the country back to its ancient foundations. He is calling forth the spirit of free institutions and summoning for the control of government the principles of the forefathers. Again the democracy of the nation is made glad.
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