John R. M. Taylor

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John Roger Meigs Taylor was a captain of the US 14th Infantry. He was placed in charge of what became known as the Philippine Insurgent Records, that is the collection of documents seized from Philippine revolutionaries during the Philippine-American war.

He was a West Point graduate of 1889 and served in the Boxer Rebellion in China in 1899. Subsequently he was transferred to the Philippine front in the same year. General Elwell Otis, Military Governor of the Philippines, instructed him to collate original documents captured from "insurgents' and to translate them for the US War Department and the US Senate.

The "Insurgent Papers"

In 1901 he returned to the US and was detailed to the Bureau of Insular Affairs where he supervised the filing, selection and translation of a representation of some of the 200,000 documents. For 5 years Taylor supervised the transcription and translation (from Spanish or Tagalog) of these pre-selected documents in order to present what he claimed would be a "truthful version" of the Philippine revolution and the subsequent war between the Philippine revolutionaries and the American colonialists.

Taylor ordered the General Printing Office to typeset galley proofs, with two volumes dedicated to his analytical history of US-Philippine relations and three other volumes containing 1,340 supporting papers of original documents. Then Secretary of War William Howard Taft decided to defer its publication for fear of antagonizing both Americans and Filipinos. In 1909 a second attempt was made to publish the volumes when President Taft's former secretary Jame LeRoy wrote a scathing critique objecting to its publication. The Bureau of Insular Affairs then abandoned the project. It was subsequently published in the Philipine in 1968 by the Eugenio Lopez Foundation.

John R. M. Taylor was not shy in stating his opinions. "The mass of the people of the Philippines--the men who work and have no desire to live from contributions levied upon their neighbors--welcomed the crushing of the Katipunan." Also more damaging: "The government which Aguinaldo established did not represent the aspirations of the men who were bet entitled to be consulted. He played upon his people as an instrument... he deceived the Spaniards, the Americans, and the Filipinos in Hong Kong alive; fraud and murder were the instruments upon which he relied to cut out the path for his ambition."

In the 1968 foreword to the publication of John Taylor's magnum opus, historian Renato Constantino wrote that notwithstanding the openly anti-Filipino bias, the collection of original documents itself would "make available to Philippine scholars a part of the voluminous file of original documents of the Philippine Revolution."


In 2002 American historian John M. Gates (University of Wooster, Ohio) wrote: "Capt. Taylor paid a severe penalty for his attempt to write the history of a highly controversial event. A victim of political censorship, he died never knowing how important his work would become to a future generation of scholars."

In June 2007, the digital library of the Philippines, launched a website called Virtual Philippine Revolutionary Records which is making its own selection from the more than 200,000 original documents, and supplementing and enlarging the scope of its contents from outside the 1,340 records that Taylor had pre-selected. The publisher's objective is to reveal the true story of the Philippine Revolution with the actual untranslated original documents of the Gobierno Revolucionario Filipino.

External Links

  • American historian John M. Gates on John R.M. Taylor [book]
  •'s "The Virtual Philippine Revolutionary Papers" [website]



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