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The Philippine Islands were acquired in 1898, and Civil Government, through the Philippines Commission of which President Taft was the first head, was inaugurated in 1901. For an entire decade Congress, through its civil representatives, has exercised absolute control over the affairs of the archipelagoand it is not indulging in hyperbole to say that the achievement marking these ten years of rule have been little short of marvelous. The internal improvements that have been effected and the improvement that has taken place in the condition of the country and the people seem well nigh incredible when comparison is made with the state of affairs that existed ten years ago.
The building of roads and bridges in all sections of the islands and of railroads on some of the principal ones has facilitated the marketing of products and stimulated a general interchange of commerce and communication among the people, thus tending to weld the many diversified tribes into a more homogeneous whole.
Facilities for inter-island transportation have been provided where before none existed and the system that already existed has been immeasurably improved, while coast and water- ways have been charted and the whole safeguarded by a chain of lights that mark the rocks and shoals and guide the mariners safely through storms and the vigils of the night. for the battle of life by exercising
Harbors have been dredged and protected and docks built at the principal ports for the benefit and security of commerce by sea.
Public buildings of a permanent character have been erected in nearly every provincial center and in many other of the important municipalities as well.
Labor has been assisted and protected and a system of virtual peonage that had existed from time immemorial has been eradicated with the result that the laborer now is better paid and is free to seek and accept employment wherever he will. He is at liberty to sell his product in the best market that offers and there is a more general and more equitable division of the country's wealth among those who produce it. The Filipino to-day enjoys a measure of practical self-government far beyond anything he even aspired to under the dominion of Spain.
A comprehensive system of education has been instituted and carried out and is continually being extended, that is affording to a large proportion of the people full opportunity to equip themselves for the battle of life by exercising their abilities and developing their capacities, while upon the rising generation it has conferred the great boon of a common language. and the theoretical is supplemented by a thorough course of manual training that is inculcating in the mind of the youth an understanding of the value and necessity of honest labor, and respect for the dignity that attaches to it.
Provision has been made for occupation of the rich public lands by offering to every citizen a homestead without cost, and the people are invited and urged to take advantage of this opportunity to provide themselves with a competence thus put within their reach, that will make them as individuals economically independent.
A strong and permanent fiscal system based on the gold standard has been inaugurated and maintained to the great benefit of the islands and their commerce supplanting, as it did, the unstable and flactuating silver currency of former times and contributing in no small degree to a marked increase of confidence in the future of industry and commerce in the country.
Insular finances have been put on a solid, substantial basis; taxes are quite moderate being but one and one-half per cent on the assessed value of real estate in Manila and seven-eighths of one per cent in all provinces outside the capital while there is no tax on personal property. Expenditures have been kept within receipts; the credit of the islands is first class and they cost the Washington Government not one penny beyond the increased expense of maintaining United States troops stationed here above what their maintainance would cost at home and the cost of fortifications that are to serve as a means of permanent defense.
An efficient body of insular military police, known as the Philippine Constabulary, officered in part by officers of the United States regular army, performs its functions in an admirable manner, affording security to person and property and proving wholly effective in maintaining law and order throughout the provinces.
The judiciary of the islands has been organized on a splendid working basis and includes in its personnel a considerable contingent of Americans as well as some of the best legal and judicial minds to be found among the Filipinos. It commands the unqualified respect and confidence of all classes and is the bulwark of the local government. This branch of the government is impressing on the minds of the peoplea wholesome regard for the law and for the rights of property and the individual.
Splended work has been done towards improving sanitary conditions throughout the islands, with the result that the dread scourges, small pox, bubonic plaque and cholera have been practically eliminated or brought under safe control and the people are gradually learning the value of hygiene to the preservation of life and to the correction of social evils.
The past year has witnessed the completion in Manila of one of the finest hospitals in the world; of an elaborate, modern sewerage system and the making over the water system which has been greatly extended and enlarged, the source of supply now being in the mountains in a watershed more than thirty miles distant from the city. Manila to-day ranks among the healthiest cities in the world.
This is, in part, what has been accomplished under American Government in the Philippines and it constitutes a record of achievement that challenges the admiration of the world. The people of the United States may justly be proud of it all for it is no small thing to have effected in ten short years the regeneration, with but a limited measure of cooperation on their part, of eight millions of an alien race to whose customs and language we came entire strangers.
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