When, therefore, it is proposed to grant independence to the Philippine Islands, let it be recollected that this grant is to be made not to a single homogeneous people, of one speech, of one religion, of one state of civilization, of one degree of social and political development, but to an aggregation of peoples, of different speech, of different religions, of widely varying states of social and political development, of little or no communication with one another—to an aggregation, in short, whose elements, before 1898, had had but one bond, the involuntary bond of inherited subjection to Spanish authority, and all of which to-day are distinguished by the characteristic trait of the Oriental, absence of the quality of sympathy.
Since, at international law, our title to the Islands is unclouded, it follows that our responsibility in the premises is complete. If, therefore, in the administration of our responsibility, our wards should make a request for independence, it is our duty to examine this request, to inquire into its origin, and then to investigate its reasonableness with the purpose of determining whether, in the circumstances, our wards are able, prepared, or ready to undertake the responsibilities which they pray us to discharge upon them.
That the request for independence is made, and frequently made, there can be no doubt. It has been made in the past and it will continue to be made in the future. One hears it in speeches, and the native press echoes it. Regularly the Assembly closes, or used to close, its sessions by a resolution calling upon the United States to grant immediate independence to the Philippine Islands. Apparently the request has some volume; in any case, it is more or less loudly made. Now, if the demand is widespread, if it conies from all ranks of society, from the humblest peasant in the rice-paddies to the richest merchant of Manila, from the tobacco-planter of the Cagayan Valley to the hemp-stripper of Davao, if it is made in full recognition of the responsibilities involved, then, whether we are disposed to grant it or not. it is a serious matter. It becomes serious, objectively, because so many people arc asking for it. Even if the demand come but from a few, the matter is nevertheless, subjectively, one of concern, because we are responsible, and no factor or element should be overlooked in making up our minds.