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BATES TREATY: An American Encounter With The Sulu Sultanate

By Amando Respicio Boncales

Introduction This paper seeks to discuss the American encounter to the Sulu Sultanate. Hopefully this will shed light to the reader the socio-political encounter of America to the Sulu Sultanate. At present America lead the fight against terrorism, thus there is a need to connect with, and understand its relationship with the Sulu Sultanate to be in a vantage position to deal with the present and the future in Southern Philippines in particular and Modern Islamic Southeast Asia in General. This research covered the events that occurred during the years 1898 to 1899.The paper is an attempt to put together on the intricacies of the Bates Treaty as a politico-socio-cultural encounter of America towards the Moros. The Sources are almost all American account; hence American perception is presented in the narrative reconstruction of the writing. The primary document used in this research are mostly hundred years old, like Senate Documents, government publication, Chicago Daily Tribune and New York Times. Out of the available data gathered form these sources, the researcher extracted only the American experiences and account as the result of the American encounter to the Sulu Sultanate, and was used for the reconstruction of this paper. These sources were written immediately after the event, hence a good source of data, but need careful examination to verify the veracity of the accounts, neither the less it contributed a lot to this work.

Thesis Statement

The researcher will argues that the American securement of the Bates Treaty to the Sulu Sultanate was not plainly political, but also socio-cultural encounter of the West meeting the East, and that these encounters affected primarily the formulation of the treaty as agreed by both parties.


“When the American peace commissioner, in the course of their negotiation at Paris, insisted on the cession of the Sulu Archipelago to this country the United States, acquire a picturesque and possibly unruly vassal in the person of his highness the Sultan of Sulu, together with the his harem of all Sultanas and something more than 100,000 Muslim subjects.” -Chicago Daily Tribune In their attempt to understand pertaining to their dealings with the Muslim of the south of the archipelago, the American colonial officials to investigate of the records in the Manila archives utilized the Spanish records. This was regarding the meaning and extent of certain stipulations in the agreements made from time to time by and between the Spanish the authorities and the Sultan of Sulu. They found out that the meaning and extent of certain stipulations in the agreements made from time to time was to establish the conditions of the trade in the archipelago only. Further, it was also found out that these conditions and status were constantly varying, and one thing that striking to them was that Spain ever neither announced nor conceived the unguarded permanent policy of control over the archipelago. Under the agreement between Spain and Sultan and his datus of the Treaty of 1878, the latter acknowledge Spanish sovereignty and the entire archipelago Jolo agreed to become loyal Spanish subjects. The sovereignty of Spain, was established and acknowledged, and later was transferred to the United States by the Paris Treaty. The United States has succeeded to all the rights that Spain held of Sulu archipelago, an assumption that held in mind by the American insular officials.

I. The Political Encounter Bates Instruction

In the letter of instruction coming from the office of General Elwell S. Otis , the U.S. Military Governor in Manila, informing John C. Bates that he was appointed and was constituted as agent of the United States military authorities in the Philippines to discuss, enter into negotiations, and if possible, to secure written agreement with the sultan that would prescribe and control the future relations, social and political, activities between United States government and the inhabitants of the archipelago. Further more another memoranda coming from the same office that mentioned specific instruction that in this discussion with the sultan and the datus the question of sovereignty should be forced to the front. This is because based on the report received by General Otis “the Moros seemed to believe that the resent Spanish authorities evacuation, which they were in the relationship, have transferred full sovereignty of the islands to them”. Otis continued that “if the Moros seriously entertaining such an illusion, it requires tack and adroitness to dispel it”. In the last memorandum received by Bates, it was clearly stated the “discussion of the United States and its benevolent intention should be in front, and its (United States) wish to establish friendly relations with them (Moros) in order to carry out those intentions.”

Benevolent Intention

Among the important instruction was the benevolent intention “that it is greatly desired by the United States, for the sake of the individual improvement and social advancements of the Moros”; the development of commerce, trade and agriculture of the island that would enhancement the welfare of both United States and the Moros; and the friendly and well defined the relations (diplomacy) be established. According to their findings in the Manila archives, the sultan and datus had extracted tribute from Cagayan de Jolo and Balabac and in southern Palawan and also from other island under that of Spain owned absolutely for more than 300 years. However, of the “the taking of tribute is not a proof of legal rights” for General Otis argued, “geographically, Palawan and Balabac were not considered to be the portion of the archipelago.” Bates was advised in the letter of instruction that “though it may not be the policy to attempt to determine with the sultan, at present, “any question of ownership which may arise in the discussion it would be well to avoid presenting this matter to the sultan, or his representatives, in this direct preliminary negotiation.” “If the Sultan can be made to give credit ( the agreement), and fully understand the intention of the United States, the United States will accept the obligation of Spain under the agreement of 1878 in the matter of money pension. And in proof of sincerity Bates would offer a presents to the sultan and datus for $10,000.00(Mexican).

Details of the Plan

The United States would promise, in the turn for the concessions not to interfere with but to protect the Moros in the free exercise of their religion and costumes, social and domestic and would respect the rights and dignities of the sultan and his advisers. United States promises not to interfere in the affair of internal economy and political administration. Further, that to respond to the request for assistance, or to render action through advise and instruction in those special features of administration connected with the development of trade and agriculture of resources, and the methods of conducting and employing the same for the improvement and efficiency of the government. In return for this promised and assurances, the sultan and his datus should acknowledge the sovereign of the United States, and should permit the United States to occupy and control points in the island when necessary, either military or naval operation against a foreign aggression, or to disperse the piratical excursions. They should agree to accept and fly all occasion, continuously, the American flag, as the emblem of proof of United States sovereignty. They should promise to give a loyal support to the United States to maintain the integrity and peace of the archipelago, not to permit acts of piracy by their people on its waters, and to assist the United States government to suppress and abolish piracy. “They should agree to deliver to the United States’ authorities for trial and punishment all persons, other than those of their own people, whom they arrest on the charge of committing crimes.” General Otis received this report that, “it is said that the sultan’s income is notoriously deficient and his desire for American protection is to attract planters to the land, and sell lands, an increase in turn out trade and imports. The presence of a few American white planters might be desirable, but any wholesale alienation of lands would not be beneficial to the people.” The Sultan hold the land as trustee for the people and free subject can enclose any unoccupied patch, and as long as he cultivates it, he can claim as he’s own.

Importance of the Sulu Port

“The power that rules the pacific is the power that rules the world. And with the Philippines, that power is and will forever be the American Republic.” -Senator Albert Beveridge, 9 January 1900; Congressional Record pp. 385, 387-8. General Otis emphasized in his report in the Senate that “It is important that the United States should occupy the principal distributing center of trade, to build up and develop revenue, and to supervise that development. This necessity should be kept in the negotiation.” In declaring “all trade of the sultan and his people with any portion of the Philippine islands, conducted under the American flag, should be free, unlimited, and undutiable,” “care must be taken to guard against the possibility of the introduction of foreign commerce into the archipelago and into other Philippine port without paying the prescribed duties.” “Negotiations should look into the establishment of a financial and commercial system based upon modern methods, which, not destructively antagonistic to present conditions, can be developed upon lines consistent with modern practices.” Bates was remanded by General Otis that “in conferring with the sultan it will be well to speak of the Treaty made in 1842 by the Sultan Mohamed and commander Wilkes of the United States Navy, which permitted Americans to trade in the archipelago, thus referring to the friendly relations which have so long existed between the sultan’s people and the people of the United States.” General Otis farther said “under the protection and assistance that the United States would give to them, they might permit representatives of the United States government to assist them to build up for revenue and harbor regulations that would tend greatly to increase their trade with the entire world. “By rights and judicious conduct on the part of the United States government it might be possible to build up these islands into a flourishing and self supporting communities, beneficial to the United States and beneficial to the inhabitants of the archipelago.” “In so doing the religions and customs of the inhabitants must not be interfered with. A treaty formulated on these lines would undoubtedly maintain peace,” said General Otis.

The Jolo Occupation

On May 19, 1899, the two battalions of the 23rd Infantry, Captain E. B. Pratt, commanding, consisting of 19 officers, two assistant surgeon, and 733 enlisted men, arrive at Jolo and relieved a Spanish garrison 800 strong all arrived in Jolo. Captain Pratt report’s the village of Jolo as adequate only for a good-sized garrison. The population estimated at 400, mostly Chinese. There are small buildings for a commissary, also a post office, a school, and the hospital with about 100 beds, and a market. Outside of the walls the Sultan rules and Spain pay him $200.00 per month. Captain Pratt did not find records, for nature, or other material. The revenues he reports at $ 184 Mexican dollar per month, collected from opium, $20.00 for cockfighting, and a small sum from the market. The town of Sulu is protected by a loophole wall, which encloses three small forts. Outside there are two large ones, the gates, of which there are three on the land side, are open at 6 AM and close at 6 PM.

Moment of Spanish Withdrawal

Flag Raising at Sulu: Americans now in control. -New York Times. July1899. “On May 20, I witnessed the final scene of our war with Spain, at the town of Sulu, Sulu Island, Sulu archipelago; the hauling down of Spanish flag, in that far off corner of our new territory, and the hoisting of the United States flag; the marching out of the Spanish garrison, and the marching in of ours” “The town itself is a gem”, said the American officer who wrote this account, “its street is broad and convert with clean white sand; trees line the sidewalks; flowers of brilliant color grow everywhere: and enough space is taken from the limited area to make two pretty flowers squares; on many trees are the most luxuriant orchids growing.” The ceremony of transferring would take place at 1:00 pm. The sum total of the territory to be surrendered was about one-eighth the size of the naval academy grounds proper at Annapolis, just about the size of the parade ground. The main inhabitants were Spanish troops, and (now American troops) the rest were Chinese. The ceremony of the transfer was deferred until 5:0 pm in the evening; at 4:00 pm in the evening the visiting American officials from Manila went ashore from the ship to see the function. At 5:00 pm the United States troops marched toward the Spanish headquarter and form along the street, making a continuation from that of the Spanish line. As the United States band played the Spanish national anthem, the Spanish troops saluted, with the Spanish flag at the masthead. In the same manner the United States troops saluted while the” The Star Spangled Banner” played. The Helena firing twenty-one-gun salute, as soon as this was done, the Spaniards march the length of the United States troops, while American presented arms, and then both bodies marched to their quarters again. Along the crowd watching the function were some Moros – several datus (not identified), and a number of his retainers. The account of these unidentified American military officials, part of the party from Manila will give us the very detail of the picture: “Queer chaps they all were, in their thin, skintight trousers, gayly colored turbans, and shirtless bodies, covered with thin Eton jackets, embroidered or plain. Each one carried a sharp native stuck through his sash in a wooden scabbard, and some of them carried old Remington rifles.”

The Presence of the Sultan

The presence of the Sultan there at that time makes the occasion more significant, then the unidentified American official give a comment “we went down to see just where he and his kind are to stand in the new administration, and his future course depends upon the assurance he received. As far as I can understand it – and the Spanish general does not seem very clear on this subject” because since the time immemorial the solo archipelago has been ruled by the Sultan independently of any foreign power – has been independent. “In fact, each year the Spanish government has paid a fixed sum of the Sultanate and the subjects of Great Britain and Germany has been doing the same. Practicality these three powers have been paying for privileges allowed them.”

A political Entity

Spain under the Paris treaty has ceded the Jolo islands to the United States. As far as the Philippine islands proper are concerned Spain has held them absolutely for three centuries and can cede also sovereign rights, but as regards to the Jolo archipelago the case is different. Under the capitulation of 1877, coupled with the purely nominal occupation of the part of Spain, the Spanish rights there were rather suzerainty (nominal) than sovereign, apart from nominal control of Spain; she recognized other European governments in the control of the Sulu port. “Hence the Sultan’s request for protection and not annexation is reasonable. The condition makes the case delicate to handle. The sultan and his chief are influence to their self-interest, and if in bodied with confidence in the good intention of the United States might be easily manage. However, this people are not very careful in keeping treaty stipulations.” The Spaniards have no real authority, and never interfere with the natives except when Europeans or Chinese were involved concerned in any crimes . The Spaniards have failed to compel them to pay taxes. None of the larger islands were really under the domain of Spaniards, whose rule extends title further than the range of their canons. The privilege the Spaniards was that of living at Sulu; they never had collected a cent of taxes or tribute. “The rights which the Spaniards seeded to us (United States) in the Sulu group were not rights at all, as they had none to cede; and unless the Sultanate agrees to give a certain privileges, such as he may wish, we (American government) can claim nothing without interfering with the independence of the people who have been independent for centuries, under a government they have establish and held intact the whole time.” Formerly the sultan and his datus receive one-forth of the plunder taken by piracy, but when the profits of piracy ceased they lost their main source of income and tax the people in order to keep up their establishments. But this has not lost the loyalty of his people, although there is no real security among them from property and consequently no sustained industry.

Arrival of General Bates A treaty has to be made with “this small potentate” because his domains never were governed by Spain. “That nation (Spain) simply exercises a protectorate over the archipelago; the rights of Spain have passed to the United States, and it is to do henceforth what protecting has to be done.” In return American protection and non-interference with the religious customs of the inhabitants were promised. The transport Churruca, took General Bates to the Sulu Island on this diplomatic mission. As per instruction they would arrange a friendly understanding with the Sultan of Sulu, “who claims to be friendly to the Americans.” Accompanied by Captain S. E. Smiley, Fifteen Infantry, First Lieutenant H.M. Reeve, Third Infantry, Aid-de-Camp, both of Bates staff, and doctor Bourns. The commissioned general sailed from Manila on July 12 on transport Churruca, and arrived at Jolo July 16, and sent a verbal message to the sultan at Maimbon, 12 miles distant, that Bates was at Jolo and wished to see him. As a response of the sultan’s party, on July 19 Datu Rajah Muda (heir apparent and the sultans elder brother) Hadji Butu (Sultan’s secretary), Habib Mura (Sultan’s adviser), informed General Bates that the Sultan sent his greetings and begged to be excused, because “his religious festivities were just beginning and would keep him in Maimbon for several days, but that he would come as soon as the festivities were over”. General Bates informed that the sultan’s party “he (I) represented the Governor-General of the Philippine Islands, and had come to make definite arrangements with the sultan and wish to see him as soon as possible.” On July 24 and in 25, five days later, conferences were held, “the sultan send his greetings and stated that he had boils on his neck and arms”. The representative said ‘he could not put on this coat”, and therefore could not come to see you General Bates; that he had had a conference at Maimbon with the datus of the island, who agreed to abide any arrangement he might make with the Americans. Instead the sultan sent his brother with full power to act for him; that the would recognize the protection of the United States and hoist the American flag, but requested as a favor that he might hoist his own flag alongside of the American flag.” On the second day this request was raised. “General Bates: The American flag must be higher-must be supreme. There is no objection to having his own flag (a lower flag), but the American flag is to be the flag of the nation. Secretary: referring again to the flag, they say that they recognize the United States flag, and the sultan and the entire chief would recognize the protection of the United States, but at the same time asked again the favor that the flags be hoisted side by side. General Bates: no, they are not equal at all. The flag of the United States is the sovereign of the islands; but we do not want to detract anything from the authority of the Sultan or his advisers. We do not want to change their form of government. We want to respect their custom, but we have to deal with other foreign nations. If any nation interferes with the Moros we must look after them and protect them…” The sultan seemed unwilling to come to Jolo, and had given his brother the authority to act upon him. “As I understood would that Hadji Butu and the Sultan’s adviser are the real power in the sultan’s government, I continued negotiation with these representatives of the Sultan, said General Bates.”

The Ritual of Sovereignty: Negotiation

“The American general with a task of negotiating the treaty with the Sultan was on the eve of having an agreement. The only point that the Sultan was disinclined to concede is the requirement that he shall fly the American flag when away from home. As he is not in the habit of making extensive trips abroad, there is no reason why he should, take exception to this demand”, said the Chicago Daily Tribune. Below were sensitive parts of the transcription excerpted from the two-day conference: Adviser: Bates as if it will be right to tell the sultan from you that the main point of everything was sovereignty of the United States over the Sulu archipelago? General Bates: that must be acknowledged first. Adviser: in one way the sultan agrees with you, and that is to look for the best interest of the country. Dr Bourns: The best interest can only be obtained by both working together, and if they do not post. That can only be seen in the future. Adviser: if, under the protection of United States, would the sultan have to fly the flag of the United States? General Bates: They would have to fly the flag of the United States, but I see no objection to the sultan having his own flag under the American flag. The flag is to show his trial as the sole time is no objection, but when it comes to show nationality, it is the United States flag. We do not want to take anything away from his position, but as a sultan we recognize his high birth and position. If a boat coming to port he would have to hoist the American flag, but could fly his own flag underneath. Interpreter: When any vessel is sailing from here, or that sort of thing, is he got to fly the American flag? Dr. Bourns: Yes. Interpreter: They want to know the thing thoroughly, as it is a great meeting tonight, and they want to put the question to all there. Dr. Bourns: They have the privilege of flying the American flag over these islands to show our sovereign here, and they must not do things to disregard our laws, but keep within the lines of the laws of recognized nations. Secretary: We will recognize the protection of the United States and hoist the American flag, and as of the sultan’s own flag only ask that when he may go to foreign portss, such as Singapore, or other foreign ports, that he may be allowed to fly his flag, and when the sultan hoist his flag at Maimbong he will hoist it under the American flag. General Bates: That will be all right. If the sultan does not flying our flag he cannot claim our protection as an American citizen. Secretary: The sultan does not care to hoist his own flag in the Jolo archipelago, but on voyages, etc. It is a flag to show that he is a sultan. Interpreter: General, they cannot get over flying the American flag above the sultan’s flag. General Bates. The flying of the American flag is to show that he is an American citizen; otherwise, no one would know who he was. We keep ships at sea to protect our citizens… General Bates: I have no objection, but here is a case: Admiral Dewey flies the American flag and his own distinctive flag (the admiral’s flag), and he is saluted all over the world. With the sultan it would be similar.We do not want to take away anything from the dignity of the Sultan.

Diplomatic Visitations

General Bates not having seen in person the sultan went to Maimbon. He and his party, all unarmed, “went shore and, is courted by hundred of armed Moros, went to the Sultan’s palace and held along audiences with the him.” The palace was surrounded by a wall ten feet high and several feet thick, made of rocks. At the gateway to sultan’s bodyguard of five Arabian soldiers stood at “present arms”, the party entered the house, and was escorted up the stairway almost as steep as a ladder to a darkened room. In a moment the sultan entered. “He is short and fat, with as much lighter complexion than the ordinary Moro. He has a big, innocent, boyish countenance, with eyes that like saucers whenever he is astonished.” “The sultan, after the usual exchange of compliments, invited his visitors to the dining room, where a luncheon had been prepared. In the table were small cakes and cups of chocolates. Some bottles of wine also were waiting to be open. The centerpiece was a large pewter cupid, holding up red and green glass vases.”

Building Trust and Confidence

“Outside of the Palace some of the Americans, entirely unarmed, wandered around in the crowd of the Moros, shaking hands with them and showing them, cameras and watches and others things new and strange. The Moros were all armed. Even the children had some kind of weapons ready for immediate use.” “General Bates was anxious for the Moros to noticed that Americans trusted the Moros so much as to appear among them unarmed, and, more than that, brought American women with them, and that the woman felt as safe among the Moros as they did among their own people, for they regarded the Moros as brave men and “brave men said the general, never attack those who trust in them”. The Sultan said he hoped that the mutual trust between Moros and the American never should be broken.” The next day the sultans visited the cruiser Charleston, on which vessel he and his people were entertained by phonograph, the electric light, and the speaking tube, and all other wonders of the ship. On board the American official made an observation to the meeting and wrote:’ the present Sultan is 30 years of age. He maintains a harem and the lives in the state. He holds nominal sway over Moros of Sulu group and over North Borneo, 260,000 subjects supposedly recognizing his power. But his tenure is insecure, by reason of the ambitions of the chiefs, or datus, as they are called.” The Sultan, in his conversation to the captain of the ship said, “I hoped the Americans would be friendly to my people”, and “he expressed his gratitude to them for having driven out the Spaniards”. He hoped the United States would not claim to sovereignty over them. In reply to that captain, avoiding political questions, said the “United States would certainly befriend the Sulus (people), but that he could not say what the intention of his government were as taking the islands.” And when the Sultan left he was given a salute of seventeen guns….

The Signing of the Treaty

“Uncle Sam gets a Sultan: Thus for the first time is the Mohammedan religion brought under the protection of the stars and stripes.” -Chicago Daily Tribune, January 8, 1899. On the following Sunday the Sultan went to Jolo. He was to be given a ceremony due to his position; there was much a diversity of opinion. Some said that the prospect of turning out soldiers of the present arms and keeping their colors to a little fat despot that chewed betel nuts and probably eat rice with his fingers was distressing. “…There were many scoffers in Manila who volunteered the opinion that General Bates was going to a wild goes hunt. “The idea of taking money down for those niggers, said these wise ones. Better to sent down some eight inches guns and blow a few thousands of them off the earth. That is the way to treat with them.” But other of the officers believes that perhaps the policy of keeping the native rulers in power over their own people would prove in the end much more satisfactory. So they entered heartedly into General Bates plan and prepared to give the Sultan a reception that would convinced him that he did lost nothing of his dignity by hoisting down his flag and hoisting the stars and stripes. At noon of the day set for the Sultan’s coming a soldier arrived in great haste from one of the outer blockhouses to say that the Sultan’s retinue had been seen moving into Bus-Bus, the native town about half miles from Jolo. The Sultan and his followers invariably carry their state apparel in bundles were they change their clothes before making their entry into Jolo. Lieutenant Horace Reeve of General Bates staff hurried away to Bus-Bus to escort the Sultan to the city gate. Major Pratt had the assembly call hastily sounded, and the battalion formed near the gate and waited until a soldier was seen running towards the city from the direction of Bus-Bus. The man was recognized as the orderly who had accompanied Lieutenant Reeve, to be sent back to announce the appearance of the Sultan. The battalion with the band at its head marched out of the city and formed in the road. Over the hill toward the left poured a motley squad of men dressed in all colors of the rainbow and carrying long spears and all rifles. It was the Sultan’s native escort. As the Sultan with his retainers reaching the road the 23rd battalion wheeled in columns of four and the band, striking up a lively air, led the way into the city. Just behind the battalion came the sultan’s men-at-arms, who carried their spears and rifles with butts resting on their soldiers and the weapons extended straight up. Behind the men-at-arms rode the sultan on a pony, with Lieutenant Reeve talking at his side. The Sultan did not look exactly a royal figure. He smokes a fat black cigar that he held firmly in his teeth and pointed upward at an angle of some forty-five degrees. He carried a huge sun umbrella to protect his royal person from the heat. “Thus these Native American prince-the mountain-finally came to the representatives of the American government, his new Mohammed, to sign away the sovereignty of the Sulu Islands”. When it came to the signing of the treaty papers all eyes were on the Sultan as he sat with a pen in his hand. The men-at-arms stood like statues, leaning on their guns. The Sultan’s brother, his Secretary of State sat with his head on his hands. While the sound of call for worship started, the Sultan put his pen down on the paper and wrote his name Jamal-ul Kiram with eagerness and a smile on his face, put his name of the paper that vested all the lands of the Sulu Sultanate in the United States forever…. While the Sultan was signing his name, an officer behind him muttered under their breath “Esau selling his birthright for a mess of pottage”….

The Bates Treaty of 1899

Agreement between Brig.-General John C. Bates, Representing the United States, and the Sultan of Jolo (Sulu) August 20, 1899 Between Brigadier-General John C. Bates, representing the United States, of the one part; and his Highness, the Sultan of Jolo, the Dato Rajah Muda, the Dato Attik, The Dato Calbi, and the Dato Joakanain, of the other part: it being understood that this agreement will be in full force only when approved by the Governor-General of the Philippine Islands and confirmed by the President of the United States, and will be subject to future modifications by the mutual consent of the parties in interest. Article I. The sovereignty of the United States over the whole Archipelago of Jolo, and its dependencies, is declared and acknowledged. Article II. The United States flag will be used in the Archipelago of Jolo, and its dependencies, on land and sea. Article III. The rights and dignities of His Highness the Sultan, and his Datos, shall be fully respected; the Moros are not to be interfered with on account of their religion; all religious customs are to be respected, and no one is to be persecuted on account of his religion. Article IV. While the United States government may occupy and control such points in the Archipelago of Jolo as the public interests demand, encroachment will not be made upon the lands immediately about the residence of His Highness the Sultan, unless military necessity requires such occupation in case of war with a foreign power; and, where the property of individuals is taken, due compensation will be made in each case. Any person can purchase land in the Archipelago of Jolo and hold the same by obtaining the consent of the Sultan and coming to satisfactory agreement with the owner of the land, and such purchase shall immediately be registered in the proper office of the United States Government. Article V. All trade in domestic products of the Arrchipelago of Jolo, when carried on by the Sultan and his people with any part of the Philippine Islands, and when conducted under the American flag, shall be free, unlimited, and undutiable. Article VI. The Sultan of Jolo shall be allowed to communicate direct with the Governor-General of the Philippine Islands in making complaint against the Commanding Officer of Jolo or against any Naval Commander. Article VII. The introduction of firearms and war material is forbidden, except under specific authority of the Governor-General of the Philippine Islands. Article VIII. Piracy must be suppressed and the Sultan and his Datos agree to heartily cooperate with the United States authorities to that end, and to make every possible effort to arrest and bring to justice all persons engaged in piracy. Article IX. Where crimes and offenses are committed by Moros against Moros, the government of the Sultan will bring to trial and punishment the criminals and offenders, who will be delivered to the government of the Sultan by the United States authorities if in their possession. In all other cases persons charged with crimes or offenses will be delivered to the United States authorities for trial and punishment. Article X. Any slave in the Archipelago of Jolo shall have the right to purchase freedom by paying to the master the usual market value. Article XI. In case of any trouble with subjects of the Sultan, the American authorities in the islands will be instructed to make careful investigation before resorting to harsh measures, as in most cases serious trouble can thus be avoided. Article XII. At present, American or foreigners wishing to go into the country should state their wishes to the Moro authorities and ask for an escort, but it is hoped that this will become unnecessary as we know each other better. Article XIII. The United States will give full protection to the Sultan and his subjects in case any foreign nation should attempt to impose upon them. Article XIV. The United States will not sell the island of Jolo or any other island of the Jolo Archipelago to any foreign nation without the consent of the Sultan of Jolo. Article XV. The United States government will pay the following monthly salaries: To the Sultan $250.00 (Mexican dollars) To Dato Rajah Muda $ 75.00 To Dato Attik $ 60.00 To Dato Calbi $ 75.00 To Dato Joakanain $ 75.00 To Dato Amin Hussin $ 60.00 To Dato Puyo $ 60.00 To Hadji Butu $ 50.00 To Hadji Mura $ 10.00 To Serif Saguin $ 15.00 Signed in triplicate, in English and Sulu, at Jolo, this 20th day of August, A.D. 1899 (13 Arabmil Ahil 1317). (Signed) John C. Bates, Brigadier General, United States Volunteers (Signed) Hadji Mohammed Jamalol Kiram Sultan of Jolo (Signed) Datu Rajah Muda Datu Attik Datu Kalbi Datu Joakanain

“What America gain is the goodwill of the natives? It would have taken a large army, for the Moros were fierce fighters, spurred on the religious fanaticism, which has no higher ambition than to die in the bottle against Christians’, said one American official present in the signing. With the present condition prevailing in Luzon, it is hard to see any army to fight the Moros. The money given by General Bates by the way was not “presents but a back pay from the time the Spaniards left the island to the time the Americans occupancy. This was about 10,000 Mexican dollars. The total payroll of the Sultan and his datus is about 9000 Mexican dollars a year, altogether about 4500 dollars in gold. The agony was over. The cavalcade tramped across the meadow towards the hell and took the road that led towards Bus-Bus. On top of the hill the Sultan paused and gravely waves his hand back and forth. Then he disappeared over the crest of the hill. The First state reception of one of the Americas native prince was ended. However, other argues that the sultan will not keep his fate with the United States, that the United States are bound to fight the Moros sooner or later. In Manila, August 24 General Bates has returned from Sulu Island, having successfully accomplished his mission there. After five weeks of negotiation, which much tack, an agreement was signed, in substance, were as follow: American sovereignty over the Moros shall be recognized and there shall be no persecution against religion; the United States shall occupy and control such parts of the archipelago as public interest demands; any person may purchase land with the sultans consent; the introduction of firearms shall be prohibited; piracy shall be suppressed; the American courts shall have jurisdiction, except between the Moros; Americans shall protect the Moros against the foreign imposition, and the Sultan’s subsidy from Spain’s should be continued. With the signing of the treaty with the Sultan of Sulu Archipelago, the United States again holds sovereignty over slave territory. This is presumably not in violation of the thirteen amendments to the constitution as long as Congress does not assume control of the islands.

II. The Socio-Cultural Encounter Sultan’s Image

The present Sultan of Jolo is short, flat, sleeping looking man, about 30 years of age. He came to the throne in 1891. A datu describe him as being “a combination of conning, greed, and obstinacy, although he seemed to me to be discreet enough and willing to do what was right, so long as it will not conflict too much with his own ambition.” He came to the throne when he was a boy, but refused to go to Manila upon invitation of the Spaniards, who declared they wished to crown him in proper state. In 1750 Sultan Mahamad Alimudin was kidnapped and kept imprisoned in Manila after a visit to the Spaniards, and the boys Sultan had no wish to go through the same experience. So the present sultan stayed away, and the Spaniards, saying he had no right to the throne, pick up his cousin, Haroun Narassid, from the island of Palawan, and taking him to Manila, proclaimed him Sultan send him back to Jolo in the state. He then finally abdicated and returned to Palawan where he died a month latter.

The Sultana

General Bates and his party had also encounter with the sultana’s mother. And this was the details of the first meeting. “We waited sometime before the Sultana came in, Mr. Schuck, the interpreter, presented the party and then we were seated while cakes and chocolates were served and General Bates talks to the Sultana. She is even smaller than the most Moro women, but of much lighter color and with rather a pretty countenance.” In fact, the Sultana always has been considered the most beautiful woman in all Sulu. The Sultana said that he wished to present General Bates with something that might be of far intrinsic value. She would give him something she hoped that he would keep in remembrance of her. One of the maids in waiting brought a bright red pair of the skin-tight Moro breeches, which looked a little shopworn, also a small blue jacket embroidered with green and yellow flowers. “These were made by my own hands,” said the sultana, “and they are not only in my hand work, but in them is the sweat of my second husband, for whom I made them.” General Bates accepted the red trousers but he did not say he would not wear the garments. The second husband of the Sultana was one of those whose unexpected demise is connected by idle tales with the strange carelessness of the Sultana. The Sultana said she was especially glad to see the American woman, as they were the first he had ever seen and that she appreciated the confidence they reposed in Moros in trusting themselves, unarmed and accompanied by women, in the midst of a strange and fully armed people.

The Moros Physical Appearance

These descriptions of Captain Louis P. Sanders would best describe the American views of the Moros: “The Moros are altogether unlike the Filipinos, who had attained a considerable degree of civilization before the discovery of the islands by the Spaniards.” There is no striking, feature about the Filipinos that rivets one’s attention, but the Moros fascinate and interest you from the start. He is of rather diminutive of size, a sinewy, lithe fellow, broad shouldered and thin-legged, with boldness, defiance, and haughtiness in every movement of his catlike, swaggering tread. “I believe from the essential savage instincts of the Moros that they will always kill stray American adventures from mere lust for slaughter, and I will wager, from what I have seen that with the first efforts to impose upon them the restraints of our civilization they will rebel and it will be necessary to crush of them.” The Sulu island once the home of the most bloodthirsty pirates that ever sailed in China Sea, which is saying a great deal. “As for the Sulus, they appear to do no work at all; when they are not rubbing the inland natives they pass the time in laments for the bad and old days when they, the Orang Laut, ruled the seas far and near. The old piratical spirit survives. They have never been subdued, and in my opinion, they never will be by Spain.”

	“Their bodies are agile and active, and they have cultivated a high degree the art of diving and remaining underwater, an accomplishment that serves them in Perl fishing one of the chief industries. Their complexion is dark bronze; their eyes piercing, foreheads low, hair lack and worn hanging down the neck.’ 

“The Moros have different and more savage feature, and dress like the savage they are, using the most brilliant colors, without regard to their matching qualities. They are far behind the Filipinos around Manila into knowledge of the world, and approach the salvage state very closely. I could not quite believe, but I must admit that the natives here did not look nearly as savage as the Kayak in Sarawak, or the Muruts of North Borneo. It was somewhat creepy at times – looking into this snake – like eyes of some of the savages, who holds past time is running amuk and who think little of killing each other. To the people we were objects of wonder.” The retainers were all armed to the teeth with guns, pistol, spears, and seldom absent Kris. They are of quick perception, audacious, extremely sober, read it to promise everything and do nothing, vindictive, and highly suspicious of a stranger’s intentions. They are long suffering in adversity, hesitating in attack, and the bravest of the brave in defense. Hardy in constitution. Stalwart fellows they were, and not picturesque in there tight blue pants, sleeved waistcoat decked with many buttons, gay sarong on the wrong (a barge shape sash) and fez or turban. Each bore in the sarong a Kris and pistol, while the daredevil glitter in the eyes of every one of them was evidence enough that they would use those weapons on the slightest provocation. Everywhere that people seem wretchedly poor and their habitation were the worst of those I had seen in the Far East. “I will say for Sulu that it is the pleasantest place I have found into East, as far as Harbor and climate are concerned. Little islands are dotted all about, and heavy storms and seas must be a rarity, otherwise these native villages would be washed away with every wind that comes.” The temperature in the wardroom was about 85°F all day, but it did not seem hot and muggy, was more like Manila Bay in the pleasant winter months, though one would not think it could be so at 6° of latitude from the equator.

Polygamy and Slavery

These inhabitants are Mohammedan, and therefore, are addicted to polygamy when they can afford it. This toleration of polygamy even at so great a distance and under such, peculiar circumstances may shock some Americans. The slave every question is a more serious one, however. The right to hold slaves is as fully recognized in the Sulu Island as in other Muslim countries, though, how many slaves are healed is not known. The treaty has an article that gives slaves the right to by their freedom by paying their market price. It is said that this is designed to end slavery. The thirteenth amendments provide said, “Either slavery or involuntary servitude shall exist within the United States or any place subject of their jurisdiction”. If the proposed protector it does not make the Sulu Island subject to the jurisdiction of the United States then this slavery article of the treaty is invalid. If those islands are subject to the jurisdiction of the United States then slavery cannot be recognized there and the treaty article on that subject is invalid. John Bates, Brigadier General made a critical observation about the difference of slavery that exist in the New World compared to Sulu, reported it to the United States Congress and Senate, and said, “Slavery of every degree known to feudal service exist, and the freemen do not work for wages either in the agriculture or in the fisheries. The sultan at least 30 years of age, and has one wife, thirteen concubines, and many slaves.” I found that the institution of slavery exists in a very mild form in fact, that the word “retainer” expresses of this condition better than “slave.” The average price of being is about $20.00 gold. “I also found that the Moros were jealous of the interference with it; but it seemed proper that the steps should be at once taken looking to the abolition of the institution. It seemed but fears that the owners should be remunerated, and I think that the article ten of the agreement provides a speedy means of doing away with slavery.” Slavery is one of the fixed institutions of the archipelago. It exists by birth and by Conquest, prisoners of war, insolvent debtor, and unfortunates seized by piratical expeditions being held in bondage. It is gratifying when to note that the president has gone about the work of abolishing slavery in the Sulus (people) in the best possible way, by providing for its gradual extinction. General Bates encountered no trouble in getting the Sultan to agree to an article giving all slaves the rights to buy their own freedom, his only stipulation being that the price should be in the market value. This is the fear beginning, and it can be followed at some later date by a stipulation that no new slaves shall be made through debt or otherwise. “The fugitive slave law that exist in these oriental countries, in time be nullified and cruelty to slave can be prohibited. These are the steps of the British government followed in the wonderfully and successfully dealings with the same problem in the Federated Malay States. It did not make the mistake of trying to reform things by a sweeping style.…”

The Schurman Investigation

Prof. Schurman was one of the first American to visit Jolo, the seat of the Spanish government in the Sulu Archipelago, and he had an extended interview with Sultan before that rival of General Bates. The objective of the journey was to ascertain the true situation of the Sulu Archipelago and North Borneo, and the attitude of the Sultan towards the United States. Jolo being the capital of the Sultanate was reach in May 28 1899. Mr. Schurman told the Sultan that the United States had acquired the sovereignty of the Philippines from Spain, but had no wish to subjugate the population or to interfere with their customs of religion. On the contrary the great desire of the American government was to help the people of the island to develop their country. The Sultan replied that he earnestly desired peace and was anxious to continue the existing treaties. With the existing treaty between the Sultan of Sulu and the Spanish Government, Spain ever claimed anything more than external protectorate over the solo group, and the right to suppress piracy in its waters and to prevent the periodical raids in the central and northern portion of the archipelago. Prof. Schurman said today, when a question about the probable continuance of polygamy and slavery in the islands after they came under the American domination, that this was a subject which would have to be dealt with in the most careful fashion to bring an ultimate satisfactory solution. In taking over the Sulu group we have acquired no rights of any sort they’re except those bequeathed to us by Spain. She was bound by here agreement with sultan not to interfere with the religion or customs of the island, and it would be most unwise for us to attempt this by force with it can be ultimately accomplished by the slower method of civilization and education. To attempt to interfere with the religion of these people with precipitate one of the bloodiest war in which this country has never been engage. They are deferent race physically and mentally from the resident of the Visayas islands; powerful men and religious fanatics of the most pronounced type, who care nothing for death and believe that that road to heaven can be attained by killing Christians. Polygamy is part of the religion, and slavery, about which so much is being said just how, is a mild type of feudal bondage. “I believe that the sultan will take kindly to the suggestion, and the leaven of civilization introduced in this way will ultimately do the work which armed interference with immemorial religious customs never could have accomplished. We have before us in this case the example of England in her various positions, and have the Dutch in Java, where a remarkable work of civilization and progress has been accomplished.” “I have been already harshly criticized for taking this stand in regard to the Sulu island since I returned to the United States, but it is my honest belief that what I have just stated is the truth, and that any attempt to interfere by force in Sulu island at this time will bring on a bloody and wholly unnecessary war.” President Schurman is justified in his reply to those who are making the hue and cry about the immediate abolition of slavery in the Sulu islands.

Reaction at Home: Domestic Protest

In October 17 1899, in Chicago, the oppositionist of the anti-expansionist to the subjugation of the Filipinos took tangible form in the meeting of about 160 delegates from the different parts of the country to launch a crusade against the policy about the administration in the Philippines. The meeting was called to order in Central Music Hall by temporary chairman Edwin Burritt Smith of Chicago. Mr. Smith, after an argument against the administration’s policy said: “Those who have called this conference believe that every effort should now be made to arouse and organize the opposition which is known to exist in all parties to Mr. McKinley’s revolutionary policy. We hope that this conference will result in a systematic effort throughout the country to organize anti-imperialistic leagues and committees of correspondence. This should be supplemented by the holding of liberty meetings and the largest possible circulation of liberty publications.” The Democratic Party has denounced the war in the Philippines, and the Republican Party has refused to sanction the doings of the president, and it has traversed his policy by demanding peace and recognition of the right of self-government in those whom the president is seeking to subdue to his well. Among the political rhetorical and debate that manifested and prevail in the said meeting was that: …the islanders confided in us as their liberators, we represented their hope for freedom and independence…Since we have betrayed that hope and have begun to slaughter them, we represent, as a brute force bent upon subjugating them… At first agreed us with childlike trust as their beloved deliver as into the deadly enemies…. The Bates treaty did not escape from the eyes of the congregation, for them the “Sultan of Sulu and his harem and his slaves, whose support we have brought with a stipend like that which the Republic in its feeble infancy paid to the pirates of the Barbary States.” “We have made them hate us more, perhaps, than they hated even their Spanish oppressors, who were at least less foreign to them, and that the manner in which we are treating them has caused many, if not most, of the Filipinos to wish that they had patiently suffer Spanish tyranny rather than be liberated by us.”

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