Paul V. McNutt, his role in the birth of Philippine independence

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Mamot, Patricio R.
Caldemeyer, Richard H. (Richard Hugo), 1913-
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Thesis (Ph. D.)
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The purpose of this study was to make a portrayal of the role played by Paul V. McNutt, a Hoosier politician and diplomat, in the birth of Philippine independence on July 4, 1946.The research involved an in-depth study of the life and work of McNutt as the United States diplomat who was assigned to the Philippines upon three occasions: President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed him as the United States High Commissioner to the island archipelago (1937-1939); President Harry S. Truman reappointed him to the same position (1945-1946); and after the Philippines received its independence on July 4, 1946, McNutt was appointed as the first United States Ambassador to the Republic of the Philippines.This study has attempted to discuss the following points: (1) some pertinent biographical information of the Hoosier statesman, which included his family background, early education, and his early legal and teaching career. Such information has helped in studying the profile of the would-be Hoosier diplomat, (2) the conceptual and political aspects of the American rule of the Philippines, which underscored the significance of the avowed "Manifest Destiny" in American involvement in the Philippines, initially through armed confrontations and later through "benevolent assimilation" of the Filipinos, (3) Philippine economy prior to Commonwealth government, which became an important factor in considering the feasibility and desirability of giving Filipinos full independence, (4) McNutt's first term as United States High Commissioner to the Islands. At first this assignment was viewed as a forced exile for the Hoosier political upstart, who in 1940 sought the presidency of the United States, (5) the launching of the McNutt-for-President campaigns in late 1939, after he resigned his Philippine position. I t was believed that McNutt's political popularity was enhanced by his good performance in the Philippines, and (6) the return of McNutt as the United States High Commissioner after World War II, a war that devastated the Philippines. This raised the important issue of rehabilitation and reconstruction of the Philippines shortly before declaration of Philippine sovereignty on July 4, 1946. This gave birth to a new Oriental republic out of a country which had been under the control of the United States during the previous five decades. The American policy in the Philippines served as a precedent for other possessions in the Pacific held by European powers.The Hoosier diplomat occupied a unique place in the history of Philippine-American relations. His assignments came at the time when Filipino nationalists and American leaders were in need of greater understanding in 3 the performance of their respective roles. In early 1937,McNutt arrived to see the flowering of the Philippine Commonwealth. The move to give Commonwealth status to a dependent territory by the United States in 1935 served as a structural and definitive evidence of America's desire to give the Filipinos their independence following a ten-year transition period. This significant decade, which began in 1936 and ended in 1946, gave both the Filipinos and the Americans a breathing period. McNutt's significant service in the Philippines was rendered during this crucial period.The search for acceptable preparatory arrangements toward full independence was long and difficult. Many attempts were made to shear off glaring inequities and other extraneous provisions in the bilateral agreement toward eventual Filipino independence. McNutt was instrumental in bringing about acts by the United States Congress, which would insure that Filipinos would not merely enjoy political independence but also would obtain economic freedom.McNutt had taken pains to caution all parties concerned that the road to independence would not be altogether smooth and easy. He pointed out that unless the United States was willing to help, the prospects for stability of the Philippine Republic would remain blurred due to economic difficulties. According to McNutt, the economic dependence of a free and independent Philippines on the United States would render its political sovereignty devoid of its real significance. To him a politically liberated nation without any sound fiscal foundation andof political as well as economic collapse. He believed that Philippine natural resources and wealth must be tapped and committed to the full development of an independent nation. McNutt shared the feeling that development of unhampered capability of the Filipino people to govern themselves in a most effective manner must remain the prime concern of the mother country, the United States.