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A prominent entrepreneur before entering Congress, Benito Legarda served as one of the first Resident Commissioners from the Philippines. Elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1907, Legarda used his vast business experience to influence tariff legislation in an effort to reshape the Philippines’ economy. He was close friends with President William H. Taft—the two first met when Taft served as civil governor of the Philippines at the turn of the century—and Legarda worked closely with officials from the Bureau of Insular Affairs on a host of trade issues. While many Filipinos called for independence, Legarda took a more measured approach and believed the island government should first establish consistent sources of revenue before it sought independence. “He was a man of the highest repute,” Democratic Senator William Stone of Missouri said about Legarda, “clear-headed, intelligent, patriotic, representative, and worthy in every way of the greatest confidence.”1

Benito Legarda was born on September 27, 1853, in Binondo, Manila Province, Philippines, to Benito Legarda Sr., a Spaniard, and Cirila Tuason. Legarda attended the Ateneo de Manila University and matriculated to the University of Santo Tomas, also in Manila, where he graduated with a law degree in 1874. His family, according to one account, had been “distinguished for decades in the business and political life of the Spanish regime,” and Legarda was himself an adept businessman, founding the Germinal cigar factory and making a fortune in the tobacco and alcohol industries. Legarda married twice, the second time to Teresa de la Paz, and together they had three children.2

In the midst of his lucrative business career, which made him one of the wealthiest men in the Philippines, Legarda won election to the municipal council of Manila and served as lieutenant mayor of the Quiapo District in 1891.3 Legarda belonged to a class of well-educated Filipinos commonly called the ilustrados (the enlightened ones), men who had often grown wealthy and successful under Spanish rule but who had also challenged the Spanish colonial structure from within. Their status as cultural elites may have given the ilustrados more conservative tendencies, but their history as internal reformers enabled men like Legarda to identify with the movement for political control that took shape in the 1890s. “They emphatically desired reform,” wrote Peter W. Stanley in his history of Philippine independence, “particularly guaranteed civil liberties, decentralization of government, separation of church and state, and recognition of their position as leaders in Filipino life.”4

As a result, when the Philippines went to war with Spain in 1896, Legarda backed the independence forces and served as an adviser to General Emilio Aguinaldo. Legarda was by no means a revolutionary, but he represented the Jolo Province in the revolutionary Malolos congress—named after the town about 30 miles north of Manila where the rebel government gathered—and nominally served as its vice president. Legarda only attended session twice, however, later telling American authorities, “I did not like it, and I did not swear to support the constitution.” He also served as director of the new government’s treasury department.5

With the American occupation of the islands in February 1898, Legarda drifted away from the objectives Legarda drifted away from the objectives of his more radical counterparts in the revolutionary congress. War was bad for business, and he had a lot to lose if he backed the wrong side. Legarda resigned from the Malolos congress, and returned to Manila where he found allies in United States General and military governor of the Philippines Elwell S. Otis and William H. Taft, the islands’ civil governor and future President of the United States.

By siding with the Americans, Legarda risked becoming a target of the nationalist guerrilla fighters, but he nevertheless remained in Manila, where he kept a large, “palatially furnished home.”6 Legarda ended up testifying before a panel of American investigators studying how best to install a new government. Called the first Philippines commission, the panel heard statements on a range of topics, including the archipelago’s economic potential. Legarda, who touted his credentials as a captain of industry, complained to the commission that the Philippines lacked a stable currency and protections against foreign competition. “There is no security in business,” he said.7

Legarda quickly became a key figure in newly formed Partido Federal (Federal Party), which controlled patronage and worked closely with the Americans to create a new civil government. After Taft assumed the office of civil governor, he appointed Legarda to the second Philippine commission on September 1, 1901. Taft formed a close personal and professional friendship with Legarda and once described him as “a public-spirited citizen of high character” in a letter to President Theodore Roosevelt.8

Since its creation at the turn of the century, the Philippine commission, which Legarda likened to the American Senate, functioned as an advisory board with legislative powers for the new Manila government. It was staffed by both U.S. officials and Filipino Federalistas sympathetic to America’s goals in the Pacific. Within a short while, Legarda had won the reputation as one of “the prestigious figures at the center of the party,” working to strengthen the relationship between the Philippines and the United States.9 In fact, according to one historian of U.S.–Philippine relations, Legarda was one of a handful of ilustrados who questioned the Philippines’ ability for “self-government” and “even advocated the indefinite continuation of American rule.”10 Legarda served on the commission for six years.

In 1904, when U.S. officials unveiled sweeping changes to the Philippines’ tax system, Legarda flexed his own political muscle and fought the proposal. At one point, as the debate dragged on, he and one of his Filipino colleagues even threatened to resign from the commission in protest.11

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the debate over taxes in the Philippines revealed a rift in relations with America. Legarda challenged the notion that Filipinos would simply accept the recommendations from their American counterparts on the commission. At the time, both his party, which had changed its name to the Progresistas, and everyday Filipinos were thinking broadly about their home’s political future.Although Legarda and many other business and cultural leaders remained wary of independence, it was not long before a younger generation of Filipinos built a nationalist movement. By the time Philippine voters elected their first assembly under U.S. control in 1907, independence had become a potent force.12

With the formation of the new Philippine government, Legarda suddenly found himself with a new job. As part of the new arrangement, the legislation authorized the Philippines to send two Resident Commissioners to Washington to represent it before Congress. In an attempt to balance the interests of both the Philippine commission, which had a notable American influence, and the assembly, which had a large nationalist contingent, the two legislative bodies agreed to elect a candidate of their own choosing who would then be quickly ratified by the opposite chamber.13 The commission, as many expected, chose Legarda on November 22, 1907; the assembly selected Pablo Ocampo, who had played a prominent part in the rebellion.14 Both seemed well regarded. “The presence of these commissioners should prove of value to the members of the House,” wrote the Washington Post, “as it brings there men who are well posted on Philippine matters and who can, presumably, speak with authority on affairs in the archipelago.”15

Legarda and Ocampo, both of whom were reportedly reluctant to accept the job, were somewhat different selections for the office of Resident Commissioner, and their appointments underscored the tension between the Philippine commission and the assembly. Whereas Legarda had risen to power by working with American officials, Ocampo made his name by routinely speaking out against foreign influence.16

The commission and the assembly wanted Legarda and Ocampo to leave for the United States as soon as possible in order to join the upcoming debate over U.S. tariffs on Philippine goods. Travel from Manila to the United States in the early 1900s required long boat rides, including a stop in Hong Kong in order to catch a steamer to San Francisco. Legarda became seasick easily, and the trip across the Pacific on a smaller vessel made him nervous.17 By the time they left in late December, some Filipino businessmen feared that the Resident Commissioners would arrive in Washington too late to help craft tariff legislation, but Taft had reassured Legarda there would be plenty of time to address his concerns.18

Legarda was something of a media darling when he landed in America. Newspapers across the country covered his arrival, many of which applauded his long association with U.S. rule in the Philippines, a point Legarda was happy to reaffirm when he docked in San Francisco.19 “The people are indefinitely better off under present conditions than they would be under other political management,” he said.20 Still, he quickly reminded American readers that U.S. occupation came at a steep price for the islands.21

Filipino political leaders saw the treaty to end the War of 1898 as a bad deal for their economy, and the government gave Legarda a long list of issues to address on the Hill, including the right for the Philippines to open independent trade agreements with countries that already consumed its goods, to open new trade partnerships without American oversight, to repeal tariffs that restricted a host of Philippine goods in the American market, and to repeal a trade bill giving U.S. ships sole discretion to move people and goods to and from the Philippines.22 “Our particular object,” Legarda said shortly before arriving in Washington, “will be to show Congress the great need of lowering the duty upon Philippine sugar and tobacco.”23

For Legarda, political independence for the Philippines was a worthy, but long-term, goal—a discussion for another time. His main ambition was to industrialize and diversify the islands’ economy so that, when independence arrived, the nation could stand on its own.24 “We do not expect to have much weight when political questions are being discussed,” he said in 1907, shortly after his election, “but when economic matters pertaining to the Philippine Islands arise in either house of congress we expect to fully inform the homeland legislators.”25 This was also a personal concern for Legarda, who admitted that he wanted independence, but just was not sure how to get it. “That’s the question,” he said. “I do not want to stand the risk of possible civil war or anarchy, for I have property to lose.”26

Like any lawmaker, Legarda’s chances for success rested on his ability to influence the legislative process, which, in 1908, seemed tenuous. At least one Manila-based Washington Post correspondent wondered openly what kind of “powers and prerogatives” Legarda and Ocampo would have in the House. “The law designates them as ‘resident commissioners,’ which may mean anything or nothing,” he wrote, speculating that the two would be marginalized so Congress could avoid defining the “status of the islands.”27 Well aware of the limitations placed on him as Resident Commissioner, Legarda offered an honest assessment a few days before he took office: “As we are the first delegates to represent our people officially in the United States,” he said, “much more is expected of us than we will possibly accomplish.”28

Legarda took his seat in Congress in early February 1908.29 House leaders assigned him and Ocampo to desks on the Democratic side of the chamber, and while the new Resident Commissioners had access to both the House and Senate floors, had office space in the new House Office Building (now the Cannon building), and could participate in debate, they lacked the ability to vote and were prohibited from sitting on committees.30

Despite his limitations, Legarda focused on trade issues and tariff rates, guided by his desire to have the Philippines accorded the same treatment as America’s other territories, Hawaii and Puerto Rico.31 Legarda noted that the Treaty of Paris had severely circumscribed the Philippines’ sugar and tobacco markets, two of its biggest exports. Without protected access to U.S. consumers, the archipelago’s entire agricultural sector would suffer. A close partnership, he said, would ensure that “our political interests could never be severed.”32

Legarda also had an ace up his sleeve. He planned to lean on his old friend, William H. Taft, who had since risen to the job of Secretary of War, even telling an Ohio newspaper that the Philippines would “depend on Governor Taft” to protect its interests in Washington.33 Luckily for Legarda, the Insular Bureau, which oversaw America’s colonial possessions, fell under Taft’s War Department. When it came to tackling the Philippines’ tariff concerns, Legarda quickly began working alongside the Insular Bureau’s chief, Clarence Edwards. Barely a month into his term, Legarda appeared publicly with Edwards at a banquet in Ohio, speaking about the Philippines’ economy and the need to remove U.S. import duties on Philippine goods.34

Legarda had additional support among the press. The New York Tribune, writing shortly after Legarda’s speech, argued that, since Hawaii and Puerto Rico both had preferable trade deals with the United States, the Philippines should, too. “This is an unfair discrimination,” it observed, noting that trade in sugar and tobacco from the Philippines might be tripled if duties were lowered. “Logic and good faith call for their reduction.”35

Crafting tariff legislation, however, meant dealing with many moving parts, not the least of which was the Philippines’ tenuous position in America’s economic orbit. In effect, the archipelago was two things at once: a significant part of America’s insular roster and a unique political entity that many on both sides of the Pacific saw as a separate country entirely. Nevertheless, the United States was in the driver’s seat. “Practically speaking,” a U.S. journalist wrote, “Congress holds the prosperity of these islands in the hollow of its hand.”36

Congress, however, could not agree on how best to categorize the islands. For a decade it had gone back and forth, unable to decide if the Philippines was a domestic or international trading partner. Republicans built trade policy around the Philippines’ ambiguous status. Meanwhile, Democrats called its insular position “anomalous and preposterous” and wanted Congress to decide whether the Philippines was “altogether American or altogether foreign.”37

Because the Philippines collected much of its revenue from fees on imported goods from the United States, trade dictated much of the islands’ annual budget. By the early 1900s, the Philippines depended on America to such an extent that, if free trade went into effect and tariffs were removed, one journalist estimated, the islands would lose three-quarters of its customs revenue, one of the main sources of money for the Philippines’ treasury.38

During Legarda’s first few months in the House, the trade relationship between the United States and the Philippines became something of a prelude to a much larger debate about America’s export-import business.39 But in the spring of 1908, the Philippine tariff moved briefly to the fore when the Ways and Means Committee considered H.R. 21449, amending sections of the Tariff Revision Law of 1905 that dealt specifically with goods imported to the islands.40 Prior to the committee markup, Legarda and the Insular Bureau designed amendments to adjust a handful of rates, including those on imported buttons (to protect Manila’s mother-of-pearl fisheries), and to eliminate entry fees for agricultural machinery and shipbuilding tools.41

At ten o’clock in the morning on May 5, 1908, the Ways and Means Committee began hearings on H.R. 21449. Three witnesses sat across from the committee: Legarda; the Insular Bureau chief, Clarence Edwards; and Edwards’s assistant, Major Frank McIntyre. McIntyre had written the bulk of the amendments and did most of the talking. Legarda contributed every now and then, but for the most part, he sat quietly while the committee questioned the Insular Bureau officials.42 The committee agreed with the proposed amendments and favorably reported the bill.43

After word reached the Philippines, businesses back home clamored to know the details. Despite Legarda’s reserved role during the hearing, the island press made him the leading voice on the bill. Some headlines even listed him as coauthor: “Enthusiastic on Tariff”; “Legarda-Payne Tariff Bill Up”; “Contents of Legarda Bill”; “How Legarda Has Amended the Payne Bill”; “El bill Legarda-Payne.”44

When the measure went to the floor on May 27, the resulting debate distilled the larger tariff question. Democrats criticized it and the GOP majority for ignoring the immediate trade concerns at home and for applying different standards to the Philippines. “It is an emergency hodgepodge tariff bill—a sort of cross between the good and the bad—a miserable compromise,” grumbled Democrat William Sulzer of New York.45 Ways and Means Chairman Sereno Payne of New York, ever paternalistic, countered that he believed the bill would teach the Philippines a lesson in economics. Legarda, for his part, did not speak up during debate. The bill passed that day and went to the Senate, where it was referred to the Committee on the Philippines, but it never came up for a vote.46

About a year later, in the 61st Congress (1909–1911), the Ways and Means Committee took up the issue again, only this time in the form of two separate bills. Despite the earlier struggle for reform, a lot had changed over the preceding months. Legarda’s old friend, Governor Taft, had won election as President and was calling for an overhaul of U.S. tariffs. It promised to be a huge undertaking. At the time, the United States had no income tax, meaning the federal Treasury generated vast sums of revenue from fees placed on imported goods.47

Payne introduced an omnibus tariff bill in mid-March, and at the end of the month, Legarda’s former colleagues on the Philippine commission came out publicly in support of much of it, including the provision to open free trade with the Philippines. They asked that the United States help the islands adjust over the next three years.48

At around the same time, the commission sent Legarda and Ocampo “very specific instructions” on the tariffs affecting the Philippines in the Payne bill. Like the tariff legislation the year before, the new Payne measure dealt with a number of contingencies both in the United States and in the Pacific. For the last 10 years, the Philippines had assumed that the United States would open free trade, removing tariffs and costing the islands vast sums of revenue. To prepare for such a sudden loss of funding, the insular government levied direct taxes on its citizens. Even though the taxes went into effect, free trade never did, leaving the Philippines with a surplus. To put that money back into circulation, the insular government funded infrastructure projects to help industrialize the economy. With taxes fueling construction, tariffs helped run the government. To suddenly remove the tariffs on goods imported to the Philippines would devastate the islands’ budget and threaten its public works initiatives.49

On April 3, 1909, Legarda used the debate over what would become the Payne–Aldrich bill to make his first address on the House Floor. Ocampo had spoken the day before, protesting adamantly against the inequitable free trade proposal.50 Legarda, as was his style, took a far more moderate approach. A major sticking point for the insular legislature and, thus, the Resident Commissioners was how the Payne bill treated Philippine sugar and tobacco imported to the mainland. If maintaining fees on goods imported to the Philippines promised to help the insular treasury, removing tariffs from Philippine goods imported to the mainland would have far-reaching benefits for Filipino farmers. Legarda told the House that his government had grown frustrated by Congress’s inability to agree on how to regulate the entry of raw material from Manila. He faulted the Senate for the recent “nonaction” on the tariff and laid additional blame on U.S. sugar and tobacco industries. As they had in the past, Big Sugar and Big Tobacco saw Philippine producers as a threat to their market share at home and vigorously sought to maintain the fees on Philippine imports. Legarda, however, pointed out that production in the Philippines had slowed in recent years and that, even if Filipino farmers increased production, they “could never catch up with America’s increased consumption.”51

Legarda concluded his lengthy remarks by turning back to the situation at home. Free exports to the United States were one thing, but allowing the Philippines to continue to tax U.S. goods or at least finding some balance was vital to the islands’ financial health. Legarda had no problem with U.S.-based businesses enjoying “a proper measure of protection,” he said. But businesses in the Philippines which had operated under almost exactly the same conditions needed similar protection.52

“The Filipino people believe that, coming before this Congress with a just cause, they will receive the same measure of equity as that which the American people, through their Representatives in this Congress, have always in the past conceded under similar circumstances,” Legarda said. The House erupted in applause after he finished.53 After the bill passed the House, President Taft convinced the Senate Committee on Finance to raise the quota on imported Philippine sugar. The Associated Press called it a “signal victory,” but Taft and the War Department feared it was not enough.54

The War Department, like Legarda, worried that free trade would disrupt key industries on the islands and cause a devastating loss of revenue. In response, on April 15, 1909, Taft called for a separate tariff bill entirely for the Philippines. Drafted by a team of “tariff experts” who had consulted with businesses in Manila, the new bill, Taft told Congress, “revises the present Philippine tariff, simplifies it and makes it to [sic] conform as nearly as possible to the regulations of the customs laws of the United States.”55 Taft intended the measure to spur revenue in the Philippines, maximizing customs fees to fund the government while protecting the islands’ burgeoning industrial sector.56 Chairman Payne agreed to the request.57

Five days later the Ways and Means Committee sat to hear testimony on the stand-alone Philippine bill. After hearing from its authors in the Insular Bureau who said the bill was designed “to create real competition,” the committee turned to Legarda, who agreed that the bill would cover some of the projected deficit in the Philippines once free trade took effect.58 A tense moment followed when the committee pushed Legarda on whether the bill included “fair and equitable” rates for the Philippines. At that point, Edwards of the Insular Bureau stepped in to remind the committee that “Commissioner Legarda is about as actively interested in every trade and pursuit and everything else in the Philippine Islands as anybody I know.”59 Using his experience in the tobacco industry, Legarda quickly broke down tariff problems in the Philippines before the three-hour hearing adjourned.60

The Ways and Means Committee favorably reported the Philippine tariff measure (H.R. 9135) on May 10, 1909, complete with a few amendments.61 Despite appearing to have the support of both parties, the tariff divided the Philippines’ own Resident Commissioners. Whereas Legarda appeared to want to help shape the terms of the tariff bill, Ocampo opposed the idea of free trade outright. Not only did he not testify before the Ways and Means Committee, Ocampo also lent his support to Filipinos living on the mainland who petitioned Congress to kill the legislation.62

Throughout the tariff debate, the issue of Philippine independence percolated just below the surface. Ocampo and the Philippine assembly saw the tariff as an inherently political issue which would dictate the Philippines’ relationship with Capitol Hill for the foreseeable future.63 If Legarda seemed reluctant to address the politics of the tariff outright, however, it is likely because he and the Philippine commission realized they would be wasting their breath. Congress and Chairman Payne himself were not likely to budge on the issue.64

When the Philippine tariff bill went to the floor for the first time on May 13, there was a long discussion, a few partisan swipes, but only token opposition. In general, the criticisms dealt less with the bill’s specifics and more with America’s colonial policy.65 On the bill itself, Democrats called it “experimental” and weak.66 Over the next two weeks, the House failed to achieve a quorum, delaying final passage.67 Finally, on May 24, the House approved the amendments to H.R. 9135.68 Despite his earlier testimony before the Ways and Means Committee, Legarda appears not to have participated in the debate on the House Floor. After a number of revisions in the Senate which sat on the measure until Payne’s larger tariff bill became law, the new rates effecting U.S.–Philippine trade cleared Congress on August 2.69

Taft signed the Philippine tariff bill into law on August 5, 1909, immediately after signing the larger Payne–Aldrich Tariff Act. For Taft, the changes to tariff rates governing trade with the Philippines were 10 years in the making. “It gratifies me exceedingly by my signature to give it the effect of law,” he said. “I am sure it will greatly increase the trade between the two countries and it will do much to build up the Philippines to a healthful prosperity.”70 According to one journalist, Taft flashed “a broad smile of satisfaction” when he signed the new measures into law.71

Taken together, the separate tariff bill and the Payne–Aldrich bill overhauled trade between the Philippines and the United States. It required a number of deals with sugar, rice, and tobacco producers, but with the stand-alone Philippine bill, Congress and Insular Bureau officials had attempted to provide the islands’ government with a means to raise revenue. With Payne–Aldrich, on the other hand,Congress worked to implement free trade between the archipelago and the mainland.72

In mid-May 1909, just as the House was working its way through the Philippine tariff bill, the Philippine commission unanimously elected Legarda to another term as Resident Commissioner. Ocampo, however, lost reelection to Manuel L. Quezon in the assembly.73 Ambitious and powerful, Quezon had served as governor in the provinces before winning election as floor leader in the Philippine assembly. After presenting their credentials to Taft in late December 1909, Legarda and Quezon began efforts to reform the Philippines’ tax code, to expand American citizenship on the islands, and to change the date on which service dates began in the Philippine assembly.74

If Legarda had taken the lead on legislation when he served alongside Ocampo, he seemed to pass along that responsibility to Quezon, now that the tariff issue was over. In early January 1911, when the two sat before the House Committee on Insular Affairs to discuss the four-year election cycle planned for the Philippines, for instance, Legarda deferred to Quezon’s testimony, telling the chairman directly, “I have nothing to add to what Mr. Quezon said.”75 When the committee heard testimony on the islands’ civil government that same day, Legarda again said little.76

Much of Legarda’s activity from 1910 to 1912 took place away from Capitol Hill. He addressed crowds in a number of eastern cities, but his trip to Paris, France, was perhaps his most important. For a number of years, the Philippine government struggled to provide loans to farmers who needed help. In 1907 Congress passed a bill creating an agricultural bank in the Philippines, but few investors were willing to contribute seed money. Free trade, as required by the Payne–Aldrich law, may have helped bolster the Philippines’ economy, but loans in the archipelago still carried exorbitant interest rates.77 In July 1911, however, Wall Street was surprised when the New York Times reported that French financiers had offered $10 million to help fund the languishing agricultural bank in the Philippines. That the deal had even been mentioned was thanks in large part to Legarda’s business acumen. One American banker told the Times that, because the Philippines had a virtual monopoly over essential oils used to create perfume popular in Paris, Legarda was looking to corner the market in France. In order to meet supply in Europe, however, Philippine farmers needed capital to improve their operations, which is where an active agricultural bank would make the difference.78

In November 1910, the Philippine commission named Legarda to another term in the House, but the assembly shocked everyone by refusing to confirm his nomination. Over the next three months into early 1911, the commission and the assembly tried to work out a compromise. In the meantime, however, Congress passed H.R. 32004, which created four-year terms for the Philippines’ Resident Commissioners and extended Legarda’s existing tenure until he or his successor was elected. Importantly, the bill also provided funds for the Resident Commissioners to hire staff and gave them franking privileges.79

Legarda had few friends in the assembly during the nomination fight back home, and, according to one unnamed delegate, the lower house was willing to “accept almost any other man but Mr. Legarda.”80 On November 21, 1912, the logjam broke and the commission agreed to appoint Manuel Earnshaw in place of Legarda.81 For his part, Legarda was done with politics anyway, confiding to friends that he planned to retire when his old friend, Taft, left the White House after losing re-election himself that fall.82

Following his congressional service, Legarda spent the rest of his life away from the Philippines, working alongside Europe’s moneyed interests to bolster the islands’ agricultural bank, which he called “my life work.” On August 27, 1915, while in the town of Évian-les-Bains along Lake Geneva in western France, Legarda died suddenly. “It was as a brilliant scholar, charming gentleman and a financier of rare genius that Benito Legarda was known in many parts of the world,” the Manila Times eulogized. “It was Benito Legarda’s efforts which are said to have done more than any other thing to bring about peace between Americans and Filipinos in the days of the Empire and it was due in good part to his efforts that the American government was established here on such a firm foundation.”83 Legarda’s remains were buried in his native Manila.


1Congressional Record, Senate, 61st Cong., 1st sess. (14 June 1909): 3208.

2Quotation and family history from “Benito Legarda Called By Death in Paris,” 30 August 1915, Manila Times: 1; “El Hon. Benito Legarda, Fallecido en Paris,” 30 August 1915, La Democracia (Manila, PI): 1 ; Carlos Quirino, ed., Who’s Who in Philippine History (Manila, PI : Tahanan Books, 1995): 124–125 ; Benito Legarda Passport Application, No. 578, U.S. Passport Applications, Puerto Rico and Philippines, 1913–1925, vol. 2, Box 4233, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC, (accessed 24 February 2016).

3G. H. Blakeslee, “The Gentlemen from Manila,” 18 January 1908, Harper’s Weekly: 14; Celestina P. Boncan, “The Philippine Commission, 1900–1916,” in Philippine Legislature: 100 Years, ed. Cesar P. Pobre (Quezon City, PI: Philippines Historical Association, 2000): 41.

4Frank H. Golay, Face of Empire: United States–Philippine Relations, 1898–1946 (Manila, PI: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 1997): 32; Peter W. Stanley, A Nation in the Making: The Philippines and the United States, 1899–1921 (Cambridge, MA : Harvard University Press, 1974): 44, quotation on p. 52. For a general discussion on the ilustrados, see Michael Cullinane, Ilustrado Politics: Filipino Elites Respond to American Rule, 1898–1908 (Manila, PI: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 2003): 26–35.

5Report of the Philippine Commission, vol. 2, Testimony and Exhibits, 56th Cong., 1st sess., S. Doc. 138: 387–388.

6Thomas F. Millard, “The Men Who Have Come to Washington to Represent the Filipinos,” 2 February 1908, Washington Post Magazine: 4; Stanley, A Nation in the Making: 64–65, 67; Cullinane, Ilustrado Politics: 29, 54, 57–58, 62; Boncan, “The Philippine Commission, 1900–1916”: 44 ; “Philippine Delegates to Congress Arrive,” 19 January 1908, San Francisco Chronicle: 17.

7Blakeslee, “The Gentlemen from Manila”; Report of the Philippine Commission, Vol. 2, Testimony and Exhibits: 176–182. See also Stanley, A Nation in the Making: 93.

8Stanley, A Nation in the Making: 72–73, 79; Boncan, “The Philippine Commission, 1900–1916”: 40–41; Cullinane, Ilustrado Politics: 69–70; “Dual Role in the Philippines,” 5 July 1901, New York Times: 1. For Taft’s remarks on Legarda, see “Special Report of the Secretary of War,” 23 January 1908, Annual Report of the War Department, 1907, vol. IX, 60th Cong., 1st sess., H. Doc. 2 (1908): 277.

9Stanley, A Nation in the Making: 116; Cullinane, Ilustrado Politics: 66; “Free Trade for the Philippines,” 20 January 1908, San Francisco Chronicle: 4. For more information on the Philippine Commission and its individual installments, see Boncan, “The Philippine Commission, 1900–1916”: 27–62.

10Golay, Face of Empire: 103.

11Stanley, A Nation in the Making: 119–123, quotation on p. 123. See also Cullinane, Ilustrado Politics: 105–106; Golay, Face of Empire: 114–115.

12Stanley, A Nation in the Making: 124, 127–128, 132–133. On the development of opposition parties and the fall of the Federal Party in the Philippines, see Cullinane, Ilustrado Politics: 73–143. For the rise of the Nationalist Party, see Cullinane, Ilustrado Politics: chapter 10. And for the new Progressive party, see Cullinane, Ilustrado Politics: 294–304.

13Golay, Face of Empire: 139; “Two Filipino Delegates,” 23 November 1907, Washington Post: 3; Millard, “The Men Who Have Come to Washington to Represent the Filipinos.”

14“Legarda One of The Delegates,” 7 November 1907, Manila Times: 1; “Legarda is Chosen to Go to Washington,” 16 November 1907, Philippines Free Press: 1.

15“Our Cosmopolitan Congress,” 26 November 1907, Washington Post: 6.

16“Filipino Delegates on Way,” 22 December 1907, Washington Post: 12. Quotation from “Free Trade for the Philippines.” See also Millard, “The Men Who Have Come to Washington to Represent the Filipinos.”

17Journal of the Philippine Commission, Inaugural Session, vol. 1 (Manila Bureau of Printing, 1908): 115, 120, 358–370, (accessed 18 February 2016).

18“Delayed Departure,” 26 November 1907, Manila Times: 1; “Resident Delegates,” 13 December 1907, Manila Times: 1.

19“Philippine Delegates to Congress Arrive,” 19 January 1908, San Francisco Chronicle: 17; “Filipino Delegates Here,” 28 January 1908, Baltimore Sun: 2; Millard, “The Men Who Have Come To Washington To Represent the Filipinos.”

20“Free Trade for the Philippines.”

21“Legarda’s Straight Talk,” 28 February 1908, Cablenews-American (Manila, PI) : 2.

22“Legarda’s Straight Talk”; “Commissioners Leave Tonight,” 20 December 1907, Manila Times: 1. The trade bill was Public Law 58-114, 33 Stat. 181 (1904).

23Blakeslee, “The Gentlemen from Manila.”

24Millard, “The Men Who Have Come To Washington To Represent the Filipinos”; “Legarda Offends Some Assemblymen,” 28 February 1908, Cablenews-American (Manila, PI): 3; “Filipino Makes A Practical Plea for Independence,” 17 March 1912, St. Louis Post Dispatch: 10.

25‘We Will Do Our Duty,’ Says Legarda,” 20 December 1907, Manila Times: 9.

26Blakeslee, “The Gentlemen from Manila.”

27Millard, “The Men Who Have Come To Washington To Represent the Filipinos.”

28“People Met in Hotel Lobbies,” 28 January 1908, Washington Post: 6.

29“Needs Interpreter in Congress,” 6 February 1908, New York Tribune: 7.

30Congressional Record, House, 60th Cong., 1st sess. (4 February 1908): 1540; “Commissioners From Philippines to Sixtieth Congress,” 13 February 1908, Los Angeles Times: 12; “They Get Rights There,” 14 March 1908, Cablenews-American (Manila, PI): 6.

31“Filipinos Urge Trade,” 14 March 1908, Washington Post: 3.

32“Free Trade for the Philippines.”

33Gus J. Karger, “Capitol Comment,” 17 February 1908, Times-Star (Cincinnati, OH): 4; “A Great Big Man,” 30 April 1908, Manila Times: 3.

34“Filipinos Urge Trade.”

35“Trade With The Dependencies,” 16 March 1908, New York Tribune: 6.

36Thomas F. Millard, “Philippines Not a ‘Problem’ Nor a ‘Burden,’” 23 February 1908, New York Times Magazine: 2; Thomas F. Millard, “Our Interests and Our Duty in the Philippine Islands,” 23 February 1908, Washington Post Magazine: 4; Thomas F. Millard, “Congress Holds the Key,” 23 February 1908, Chicago Daily Tribune: A1.

37House Committee on Ways and Means, Duties on Philippine Products Imported into the United States, 59th Cong., 1st sess., H. Rept. 20 (20 December 1905): 1, 3.

38Pedro E. Abelarde, American Tariff Policy toward The Philippines, 1898–1946 (New York: King’s Crown Press, 1947): 41–43; Millard, “Philippines Not a ‘Problem’ Nor a ‘Burden.’”

39“To Gather Revision Facts,” 1 May 1908, New York Times: 2.

40“Enthusiastic on Tariff,” 5 May 1908, Cablenews-American (Manila, PI): 1; “Island Help Planned,” 1 May 1908, Indianapolis Star: 2; “To Gather Revision Facts,” 1 May 1908, New York Times: 2; “Legarda-Payne Tariff Bill Up,” 7 May 1908, Cablenews-American (Manila, PI): 1.

41“Legarda-Payne Tariff Bill Up”; “Contents of Legarda Bill,” 9 May 1908, Manila Times: 1; “How Legarda Has Amended the Payne Bill,” 9 May 1908, Cablenews-American (Manila, PI): 6. For more information on H.R. 21449, see Abelarde, American Tariff Policy toward The Philippines: 92–95.

42Hearings before the House Committee on Ways and Means, H.R. 21449: Philippine Island Tariff, 60th Cong., 1st sess. (5 May 1908): 225–232.

43House Committee on Ways and Means, Philippine Tariff Laws, 60th Cong., 1st sess., H. Rept. 1607 (4 May 1908).

44“Enthusiastic on Tariff”; “Legarda-Payne Tariff Bill Up”; “Contents of Legarda Bill”; “How Legarda Has Amended the Payne Bill”; “El bill Legarda-Payne,” 12 May 1908, La Democracia (Manila, PI): 1.

45Congressional Record, House, 60th Cong., 1st sess. (27 May 1908): 7094.

46Ibid., 7097 ; “Payne-Legarda Tariff Bill Passes The House,” 29 May 1908, Manila Times: 1; “Railroad Gets Extension,” 28 May 1908, Washington Post: 4.

47Lewis L. Gould, The William Howard Taft Presidency (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2009): 11.

48“For the Payne Bill,” 1 April 1909, Boston Daily Globe: 9; “House to Hasten Tariff Revision,” 1 April 1909, Chicago Daily Tribune: 2; “Tariff in the Philippines,” 1 April 1909, Los Angeles Times: 11.

49Congressional Record, House, 61st Cong., 1st sess. (3 April 1909): 929–930.

50“A Filipino Heard,” 3 April 1909, New York Tribune: 2; “Test Vote Monday,” 3 April 1909, Washington Post: 1; “House Debate Goes On,” 4 April 1909, New York Times: 2.

51Congressional Record, House, 61st Cong., 1st sess. (3 April 1909): 929–930.

52Ibid., 930. See also “House on Monday to Ballot on Hide and Lumber Tariff,” 3 April 1909, Christian Science Monitor: 1.

53Congressional Record, House, 61st Cong., 1st sess. (3 April 1909): 931.

54“President Wins Point for Philippine Sugar,” 10 April 1909, Los Angeles Times: I12; Hearings before the House Committee on Ways and Means, Philippine Tariff Bill, 61st Cong., 1st sess. (20 April 1909): 44.

55Quotation from “Message by Taft Demands Bill for Philippine Trade,” 15 April 1909, Christian Science Monitor: 1. See also “Tariff Revision for Philippines,” 16 April 1909, Atlanta Constitution: 2; “Taft Submits Bill for Insular Tariff,” 16 April 1909, New York Times: 3; “Tariff Message from Taft Today,” 15 April 1909, New York Times: 3; “Free Trade in Philippines,” 15 April 1909, Baltimore Sun: 2.

56“New Tariff for the Philippines,” 16 April 1909, San Francisco Chronicle: 3; “Trade With the Philippines,” 17 April 1909, New York Times: 8; “Low Rates for Philippines,” 21 April 1909, New York Times: 1; “Beveridge to Lead New Subcommittee,” 27 April 1909, Indianapolis Star: 1; House Committee on Ways and Means, Philippine Tariff, 61st Cong., 1st sess., H. Rept. 7 (10 May 1909): 1.

57“New Philippine Tariff,” 16 April 1909, New York Tribune: 2.

58Congressional Record, House, 61st Cong., 1st sess. (13 May 1909): 1998; Philippine Tariff Bill: 17, 32, 47.

59Philippine Tariff Bill: 47.

60Ibid., 46–49.

61Philippine Tariff: 2; “Tariff Shadow Over Congress,” 10 May 1909, Atlanta Constitution: 2; “Duties for Filipinos,” 12 May 1909, Washington Post: 5; “New Philippine Bill,” 11 May 1909, Baltimore Sun: 2; “Philippine Bill Reported to House,” 11 May 1909, Wall Street Journal: 3.

62“Filipinos Want Freedom,” 13 May 1909, Baltimore Sun: 2; “Duties for Filipinos,” 12 May 1909, Washington Post: 5.

63“The Future of the Philippines,” 3 April 1909, Christian Science Monitor: 14; “Ocampo for Protest,” 13 May 1909, Washington Post: 4.

64Congressional Record, House, 61st Cong., 1st sess. (13 May 1909): 2000.

65“Philippine Bill Up,” 14 May 1909, New York Tribune: 2; Congressional Record, House, 61st Cong., 1st sess. (13 May 1909): 1997–2012.

66Congressional Record, House, 61st Cong., 1st sess. (13 May 1909): 2002, 2005.

67Congressional Record, House, 61st Cong., 1st sess. (17 May 1909): 2126; Congressional Record, House, 61st Cong., 1st sess. (20 May 1909): 2237.

68Congressional Record, House, 61st Cong., 1st sess. (24 May 1909): 2238.

69“House Completes the Philippine Tariff Bill,” 3 August 1909, San Francisco Chronicle: 2; “Pass Philippine Bill,” 3 August 1909, Washington Post: 1.

70“Party Pledges Fulfilled Says Taft, of Tariff Bill,” 6 August 1909, Detroit Free Press: 1.

71“Taft Signs Tariff Bill,” 6 August 1909, Detroit Free Press: 1. See also “Tariff Bill Now a Law,” 6 August 1909, Baltimore Sun: 1.

72Abelarde, American Tariff Policy toward The Philippines: 100–109.

73“Legarda and Quezon Chosen,” 15 May 1909, Manila Times: 1.

74“Filipinos Envoys Here,” 29 December 1909, Washington Post: 4; Stanley, A Nation in the Making: 181–182.

75Hearings before the House Committee on Insular Affairs, H.R. 32004, 61st Cong., 3rd sess. (26 January 1911): 6.

76Hearings before the House Committee on Insular Affairs, Administration of Civil Government in Philippine Islands, Part 2, 61st Cong., 3rd sess. (26 January 1911).

77“French to Finance Big Philippine Bank,” 20 July 1911, New York Times: 4.

78“French Bank in Philippines,” 21 July 1911, New York Times: 11.

79Congressional Record, House, 61st Cong., 3rd sess. (6 February 1911): 2022–2024; Public Law 61-376, 36 Stat. 910 (1911). For more information, see Philippine Legislature, Election of Resident Commissioners to the United States, 2nd legislature, 1st sess., Document No. 250—A. 38 (Manila : Bureau of Printing, 1911), (accessed 10 February 2016).

80“Tavera Vice Legarda Is Rumor,” 8 November 1912, Manila Times Weekly Edition: 8.

81“The Week and the Outlook,” 22 November 1912, Manila Times Weekly Edition: 1; Stanley, A Nation in the Making: 168–169.

82“Benito Legarda Called By Death in Paris.”


View Record in the Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress

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External Research Collections

Library of Congress
Manuscript Division

Washington, DC
Papers: In the William Howard Taft papers, ca. 1784-1973, 676,000 items ; 1,562 containers plus 8 oversize ; 902.5 linear feet ; 658 microfilm reels. Correspondents include Benito Legarda.
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Bibliography / Further Reading

"Benito Legarda" in Asian and Pacific Islander Americans in Congress, 1900-2017. Prepared under the direction of the Committee on House Administration by the Office of the Historian and the Office of the Clerk, U.S. House of Representatives. Washington; Government Publishing Office, 2018.

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