• Like the governing system of the Philippines, US officials in Hawaii similarly worked with native Hawaiians to establish a colonial order. Walter Murray Gibson, pictured here on the left, began his career as a Mormon missionary and became the islands' Minister of Foreign Affairs by the 1880s. Courtesy of Utah Historical Society via Mountain West Digital Library.

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    Walter Murray Gibson; 12342
    • Date
    • 1886
    • Description
    • Walter Murray Gibson, a former Mormon, was the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Premier of Hawaii in the 1880's. He is shown here with a group of Catholic Sisters and the leper children of Hawaii.
    • Rights
    • Digital Image (c) 2004 Utah State Historical Society. All Rights Reserved.
    • Partner
    • Mountain West Digital Library
    • Contributing Institution
    • Utah State Historical Society

  • The US appointed the governor of Puerto Rico until 1900. That year President McKinley approved the Foraker Act establishing a limited civilian government with a governor and executive council. This photo depicts the Governor's Mansion in the capital of San Juan. Courtesy of National Anthropological Archives via Smithsonian Institution.

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    Governor's Mansion in San Juan, Puerto Rico 1901
    • Date
    • 1901
    • Creator
    • Beckwith, Paul E.
    • Description
    • Photo Lot 97 DOE So Amer: Puerto Rico: General: Beckwith Colln 04356800, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution.
    • Partner
    • Smithsonian Institution
    • Contributing Institution
    • National Anthropological Archives

  • Taft's "policy of attraction" relied on collaborations between American and Filipino civil servants. This official roster aimed to document the diversity of Philippine Island employees by listing the position, salary, and place of birth of each member of the staff. Courtesy of Harvard University via HathiTrust.

     

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    Official roster of officers and employees in the Civil Service of the Philippine Islands /
    • Date
    • 1904-
    • Description
    • Compiled by the Civil service board, 1902-1905; by the Bureau of civil service, 1906-. Vols. for 1904-1905 compiled by the Bureau under a variant form of its name: Civil Service Board.
    • Rights
    • Public domain. Learn more at http://www.hathitrust.org/access_use
    • Partner
    • HathiTrust
    • Contributing Institution
    • Harvard University.

The US relied on the obedience, cooperation, and expertise of the people of their new territories to establish order across the Pacific and Caribbean. When the US invaded Puerto Rico, they turned to local scouts to help with the military campaign against the Spanish. Once Spain surrendered, the US rewarded its collaborators, not with independence, but with employment in the territorial government. These appointees were familiar with Puerto Rican traditions and loyal to American interests and facilitated the transfer of power from Spain to the US.

President McKinley appointed a number of American officials to top positions in the colonial government. Before assuming the presidency or presiding as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, William Howard Taft served as the first US governor of the Philippines. In this role he defined a "policy of attraction" in the Philippines. Most Americans governed alongside native Filipinos, as Taft had imported the concept of American bureaucracy which created thousands of empty jobs to be filled. It is important to note that the Filipinos who staffed the colonial bureaucracy did not represent the whole population. Most were members of an elite, wealthy, and educated class who largely benefited from American rule.

Civil service provided individuals across the empire a chance for self-determination, even as the status of citizen or independence was denied to them.