On January 20, 1899, United States President William McKinley created the first Philippine Commission, known as the Schurman Commission.
This commission recommended establishment of a civil government, bicameral legislature and a public school system in the Philippines. Its report also became the basis for the second Philippine Commission’s creation on July 4, 1901.
The first Philippine Commission had Jacob Schurman as chairperson and George Dewey, Elwell Otis, Dean Worcester and Charles Denby as members.
In the proclamation of this Special Commission, President McKinley sent following statement of “regulative principles” to the commissioners.
- The supremacy of the United States must and will be enforced throughout every part of the Archipelago, and those who resist it can accomplish no end other than their own ruin.
- To the Philippine people will be granted liberty and self-government reconcilable with maintenance of a wise, just, stable, effective, and economical administration of public affairs, and compatible with the sovereign and international rights and obligations of the United States.
- The civil rights of the Philippine people will be guaranteed and protected to the fullest extent; religious freedom will be assured, and all persons shall be equal and have equal standing in the eyes of the law.
- Honor, justice, and friendship forbid the use of the Philippine people or the Islands they inhabit as an object or means of exploitation. The purpose of the American government is the welfare and advancement of the Philippine people.
- There shall be guaranteed to the Philippine people an honest and effective civil service, in which, to the fullest extent to which it is practicable, natives shall be employed.
- The collection and application of all taxes and other revenues will be placed upon a sound, economical basis, and the public funds, raised justly and collected honestly, will be applied only to defray the regular and proper expenses incurred by the establishment and maintenance of the Philippine government and such general improvements as the public interests may demand. Local funds collected will be used for local purposes, and not devoted to other ends. With such prudent and honest fiscal administration it is believed that the needs of the government will, in a short time, become compatible with a considerable reduction in taxation.
- A pure, speedy, and effective administration of justice will be established, whereby may be eradicated the evils arising from delay, corruption and exploitation.
- The construction of roads, railroads, and similar means of communication and transportation, and of other public works, manifestly to the advantage of the Philippine people, will be promoted.
- Domestic and foreign trade and commerce, agriculture, and other industrial pursuits tending toward the general development of the country in the interests of the inhabitants, shall be the objects of constant solicitude and fostering care.
- Effective provision will be made for the establishment of elementary schools, in which the children of the people may be educated, and appropriate facilities will be provided for a higher education.
- Reforms in all departments of the government, all branches of the public service and all corporations closely touching the common life of the people, will be undertaken without delay and effected conformably with right and justice in a way to satisfy the well-founded demands and the highest sentiments and aspirations of the people. Such is the spirit in which the United States comes to the people of the Islands, and the President has instructed the Commission to make this publicly known.
In obeying his behest, the Commissioners desire to join the President in expressing their good will toward the Philippine people, and to extend to the leading representative men an invitation to meet them for the purpose of personal acquaintance and the exchange of views and opinions.
JACOB GOULD SCHURMAN, U. S. Commissioner.
GEORGE DEWEY, U. S. Navy
ELWELL S. OTIS, Major-General U. S. Army
CHARLES DENBY, U. S. Commissioner.
DEAN C. WORCESTER, U. S. Commissioner.