A military necessity which must be pressed : The u.s. Army and Forced Road Labor in the Early American Colonial Philippines

A military necessity which must be pressed : The u.s. Army and Forced Road Labor in the Early American Colonial Philippines
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  © 󰁫󰁯󰁮󰁩󰁮󰁫󰁬󰁩󰁪󰁫󰁥 󰁢󰁲󰁩󰁬󰁬 󰁮󰁶, 󰁬󰁥󰁩󰁤󰁥󰁮, 􏿽󿿽�󰀶 | 󰁤󰁯󰁩 �󰀰.��󰀶󰀳/󰀹󰀷󰀸󰀹󰀰󰀰󰀴󰀳�󰀶󰀳󰀸󰀶_󰀰󰀰󰀸 * The author thanks Marcel van der Linden, Magaly Rodríguez, and Jenni Beckwith for edit-ing this paper, and Ira Katznelson, Paul Kramer, Augustine Sedgwick, David Singerman, and  Andy Urban for reviewing earlier drafts and providing suggestions for revisions; any errors are my own. 󰁣󰁨󰁡󰁰󰁴󰁥󰁲 󰀷 “A military necessity which must be pressed”: The 󰁵.󰁳. Army and Forced Road Labor in the Early American Colonial Philippines  Justin F. Jackson*  In late April 1901, General James Franklin Bell, commander of the 󰁵.󰁳. military government’s First District of the Department of Northern Luzon in the Phil-ippines, 􀁦󰁩elded a terse reprimand from General Arthur MacArthur, military governor in Manila. MacArthur had received in a “highly irregular manner”–that is, outside the formal chain of command through which o󰁦􀁦󰁩cers normally communicated – allegations that Bell had recently forced civilians in La Union province to work for 󰁵.󰁳. army engineers building a new road in Benguet, an adjacent province. Bell’s disingenuous response obscured more than clari􀁦󰁩ed the nature of the events in question. He denied having resorted to the  polo , the customary Spanish corvée for roads and other public works, to get around the regional labor scarcity which the engineers had cited as cause of their lack of progress. In a sophistry of explicit denial and tacit admission that re󐁦󰁬ected a confusion rampant among 󰁵.󰁳. army o󰁦􀁦󰁩cers regarding the legality of their conscription of Philippine labor, Bell claimed that “forcible seizure to compel men to work out poll-tax has not been practiced, as they have done it with-out the necessity of adopting such measures.” (Here Bell betrayed a linguistic misunderstanding common among Americans who frequently con󐁦󰁬ated the “polo” with a simple per capita head tax, a related but separate levy in Spanish colonial civil code, confusing it phonetically with “poll” taxes enforced dur-ing Reconstruction and Jim Crow in most southern 󰁵.󰁳. states). Bell strained to reassure MacArthur of his good intentions, remonstrating that he was not “advocating the ‘polo’ system, which was always an abuse.” On the contrary, the absence of Filipino protests against compulsory road work proved that his or-ders had honored the free-labor norms of a predominantly laissez-faire United States in the nineteenth century’s last decades. Bell asserted that this failure itself re󐁦󰁬ected Filipinos’ relative but essential inferiority as political subjects   󰁊󰁁󰁃󰁋󰁓󰁏󰁎 􀀱󰀲󰀸compared to Americans whom he implied were more willing to uphold repub-lican and liberal imperatives to defy unjust political authority and tyranny. The Filipinos’ “retarded state of civilization,” in his words, explained why they had not resisted the 󰁵.󰁳. army as it forced them to toil on the Benguet Road. “There are many things preferred by these people,” he explained, “which would be decidedly objectionable to American citizens.”󰀱By denying that the 󰁵.󰁳. colonial state had used coerced “native” labor,  while also suggesting coyly that compulsion of some sort would be necessary to elicit labor from an uncivilized people, General Bell evoked tensions at the heart of the United States’ imperial project in the archipelago. Cohering in the gap between Americans’ discursive claims that their nation’s rule in the Phil-ippines established a progressive, enlightened and benevolent political order compared to the colonial regime that preceded it, and the reality that many Spanish institutions persisted under 󰁵.󰁳. governance, these tensions endure in historical literature on the early American presence in the islands. Indeed, for several historians, the Benguet Road, later named after the 󰁵.󰁳. army o󰁦􀁦󰁩cer who 􀁦󰁩nally 􀁦󰁩nished its construction as chief engineer, Major Lyman  W.V. Kennon, symbolizes vividly Americans’ e󰁦forts to rationalize and modern-ize the economy, social structure, and geography of the Philippines according to their Progressive-era embrace of open markets of free waged employment and the scienti􀁦󰁩c management of labor and landscapes. Road work had begun 􀁦󰁩tfully in 1901 at the behest of civil governor William H. Taft as a highway to Baguio, a small pueblo in Benguet’s remote mountains that had been selected by 󰁵.󰁳. o󰁦􀁦󰁩cials as the future site for a salubrious colonial “hill station.” Mod-eled on Simla in British India and other nineteenth-century European imperial sanitariums in Asia, Baguio was envisioned as a summer capital and pleasure retreat for Manila’s Americans. Yet the troubled construction of the thirty-􀁦󰁩ve mile-long road ultimately and infamously cost the 󰁵.󰁳. government more than two million dollars before its completion in 1905, at a cost thirty-one times greater than srcinally estimated.􀀲 󐀱 Letter Received [hereafter 􀁬󰁲] 7879, Thomas Barry to J.F. Bell, April 8, 1901, Box 30, Entry 2133; Letter Sent [􀁬󰁳] 746, Bell to Military Secretary, Military Government, April 20, 1901, Box 2, Entry 2167; both Record Group [󰁲󰁧] 395, National Archives and Records Administration [󰁮󰁡󰁲󰁡], Washington, 󰁤.󰁣. On poll taxes in the Reconstruction and post-Reconstruction era  American South, see Foner,  Reconstruction , pp. 205–207, 590–91.󐀲 Reed, City of Pines , pp. vii–xv, 64–65; Corpuz, Colonial Iron Horse , pp. 131–41, 135; Banko󰁦f, “Poblete’s Obreros ”; Adas,  Dominance by Design , pp. 129–84; Vicuña Gonzalez, Securing Para-dise , pp. 50–67;  Annual Reports of the War Department for the Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 1905   (Washington: 󰁧.󰁰.󰁯., 1905) [ 󰁷󰁤󰁡󰁲 ], vol. 7,  Report of the Philippine Commission  [  󰁲󰁰󰁣 ], pt. 3, p. 360.  􀀱󰀲󰀹 󰁔󰁈󰁅 󰁕.󰁓. 󰁁󰁒󰁍󰁙 󰀦 󰁆󰁏󰁒󰁃󰁅󰁄 󰁒󰁏󰁁󰁄 󰁌󰁁󰁂󰁏󰁒 󰁉󰁎 󰁔󰁈󰁅 󰁃󰁏󰁌󰁏󰁎󰁉󰁁󰁌 󰁐󰁈󰁉󰁌󰁉󰁐󰁐󰁉󰁎󰁅󰁓  ViganBaguioSan Fernando de La UnionDagupan Manila MalolosCaviteBatangasCandon 0 6030Miles BaguioSan Fernandode La UnionDagupanPozorrubioBinalonanBauangNaguilianLa Trinidad    B  e  n g   u  e  t    R   o  a  d N    a    g   u   i    l    i    a   n    T    r   a   i    l     C            a         m         i            n        o          R           e        a         l              B E N G U E TP R O V I N C EB E N G U E TP R O V I N C EP A N G A S I N A NP A N G A S I N A N 0 84Miles L A U N I O NL A U N I O N 󰁍󰁡󰁰 󰀷.􀀱.  Ilocos Sur, Benguet, and Pangasinan Provinces, ca. 1901, Phillipines  󰁈􀁩󰁭󰁡󰁮󰁳󰁨󰁵 󰁍􀁩󰁳󰁴󰁲󰁹, 󰁎󰁙󰁕 󰁄󰁡󰁴󰁡 󰁓󰁥󰁲󰁶􀁩󰁣󰁥󰁳. 󰁏󰁲󰁩󰁧󰁩󰁮󰁡󰁬 󰁓󰁯󰁵󰁲󰁣󰁥: 󰁕.󰁓. 󰁔󰁲󰁥󰁡󰁳󰁵󰁲󰁹  󰁄󰁥󰁰󰁴., 󰁕.󰁓. 󰁃󰁯󰁡󰁳󰁴 󰁡󰁮󰁤 󰁇󰁥󰁯󰁤󰁥󰁴󰁩󰁣 󰁓󰁵󰁲󰁶󰁥󰁹, 󰁁󰁴󰁬󰁡󰁳 󰁯󰁦 󰁴󰁨󰁥 󰁐󰁨󰁩󰁬󰁩󰁰󰁰󰁩󰁮󰁥 󰁉󰁳󰁬󰁡󰁮󰁤󰁳 (󰁗󰁡󰁳󰁨󰁩󰁮󰁧󰁴󰁯󰁮, 󰁄󰁃: 󰁇󰁐󰁏, 󰀱󰀹󰀰󰀰).   󰁊󰁁󰁃󰁋󰁓󰁏󰁎 􀀱󰀳󰀰Signifying more than just an American imperialism uniquely commit-ted to foreign rule through technological advantage, the much-pro􀁦󰁩led Ben-guet Road has been interpreted by some historians as both a catalyst for an  American form of capitalism that ruptured Philippine social history, and that disruption’s most representative event. In these narratives, a Spanish colonial rural society and agricultural economy marketized in its relationship to world trade, but characterized internally by “pre-capitalist” forms of labor based in debt peonage and mutual kinship and communal obligations, experienced a great transformation after 1898, as American employers promoted a liberaliz-ing regime of free and open markets of wage labor. Under 󰁵.󰁳. colonial rule, ac-cording to this argument, social relations throughout the islands became fully commodi􀁦󰁩ed and subordinated to the logic of capital as Americans advanced internal and international labor markets and labor migration, wage work, and scienti􀁦󰁩c management, all of which supplanted brute force with softer indirect incentives and inducements as means to elicit and discipline labor. More and more, Filipinos sought to improve their economic and political position not as peasants but as workers negotiating a capitalist economy increasingly market-oriented in every sphere. Contrary to Bell’s colonial-racial gaze, they behaved  just like upstanding white industrial workers in the United States, bargaining for better advantages as wage earners. This included e󰁦forts to organize the Philippines’ 􀁦󰁩rst trade unions and collective actions like a strike on the Ben-guet Road in July 1903, launched by contract laborers from Manila protesting lower-than-promised wages, dangerous conditions, and abusive treatment.􀀳In many ways, American colonialism in the Philippines undoubtedly inau-gurated a new era in the islands’ history. Most important, the 󰁵.󰁳. military oc-cupation of Manila in August 1898, after its capitulation and the 󰁵.󰁳. military government and territorial annexation which followed, challenged the sover-eignty of a nascent Filipino republic that stood de􀁦󰁩antly as the culmination of a national revolution sparked two years earlier. Rival claims to power made by the 󰁵.󰁳. and Philippine armies erupted in early 1899 in a devastating war which President Theodore Roosevelt declared o󰁦􀁦󰁩cially ended only in July 1902, ex-actly a year after army generals had passed all legislative and executive civil authority to an all-civilian and all-American Philippine Commission. Led by Taft, the new governor, the commission soon incorporated three ilustrados , or members of the Filipino elite, as part of a new policy to “attract” Filipinos to 󰁵.󰁳. rule. Together these events heralded a substantively new and di󰁦ferent political order in the archipelago. Whether described as “compadre” or “tute-lary” colonialism, or as a form of imperial rule developed through a racialized 󐀳 Banko󰁦f, “Poblete’s Obreros .”  􀀱󰀳􀀱 󰁔󰁈󰁅 󰁕.󰁓. 󰁁󰁒󰁍󰁙 󰀦 󰁆󰁏󰁒󰁃󰁅󰁄 󰁒󰁏󰁁󰁄 󰁌󰁁󰁂󰁏󰁒 󰁉󰁎 󰁔󰁈󰁅 󰁃󰁏󰁌󰁏󰁎󰁉󰁁󰁌 󰁐󰁈󰁉󰁌󰁉󰁐󰁐󰁉󰁎󰁅󰁓 transnational “politics of recognition,” the secular nation-building colonialism of American o󰁦􀁦󰁩cials who over the next decade granted a limited degree of self-government to Filipinos diverged sharply from the Spanish regime. Spain had denied political representation to Filipinos at all levels of imperial gover-nance except the municipality, where only a small elite enjoyed the franchise as they ritually elected each other to local o󰁦􀁦󰁩ce. Otherwise the Spanish state had governed Filipinos through a repressive central state bureaucracy domi-nated and sta󰁦fed by a corrupt Catholic Church hierarchy. This colonial regime had committed itself to the direct extraction of human and 􀁦󰁩scal resources far more than any dynamic or diverse economic development, despite some nineteenth-century reforms that greatly expanded the production of agricul-tural commodities for foreign markets.󰀴Nevertheless, alongside a social history that emphasizes colonial disconti-nuity, several historians of the Philippines have recently emphasized the re-markable extent to which Spanish political institutions, policies, and practices survived within the formative 󰁵.󰁳. colonial state. Alfred McCoy has demon-strated how 󰁵.󰁳. army military intelligence and civil police forces including the Philippine Constabulary used innovations in information technology such as numbered card database systems, telephones, telegraphs, typewriters, and pho-tographs to create a surveillance state with a robust capacity to discipline and punish Filipinos unprecedented in the islands’ history. Yet McCoy also notes that Americans created this powerful surveillance regime in part by grafting the tools and techniques of the   􀁦􀁩n-de-siècle  information revolution to the pre-existing organizational bureaucracy and personnel of the Guardia Civil, the Spanish regime’s internal police apparatus. Similarly, Paul Kramer has shown how 󰁵.󰁳. colonial o󰁦􀁦󰁩cials appropriated Spanish-era distinctions between “civilized” Hispanized and Christianized ethnic Filipinos and “uncivilized” non-Hispanized and non-Christian indigenous Igorots and Muslim peoples.  American governors territorialized these cultural distinctions, bifurcating the  juridical spaces of colonial administration into “dual mandates” which formal-ly distinguished the two populations along lines of religious di󰁦ference con-structed largely through American and Filipino discourses about these groups’ relative racial capacities for self-rule. The early 󰁵.󰁳. colonial state upheld a belief in the Christian population’s prospective ability to exercize limited self-government within the colonial legislature, while segregating non-Christian 􀀴 Kramer,  Blood of Government  , esp. 151–54; Golay,  Face of Empire , pp. 76–77; Owen, Compadre Colonialism , p. 4; Kramer, “Power and Connection,” 1366–1373; Go,  American Empire ; Cul-linane,  Illustrado Politics ; May, “Civic Ritual and Political Reality”; Abinales and Amoroso, State and Society in the Philippines , pp. 76–77.
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