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S. 2295, Philippines Organic Act, June 2, 1902

With the Philippines Organic Act, Congress––following the recommendations of a presidential commission––defined a temporary civil government for the islands. It created a bicameral legislature with a popularly elected lower house and a commission of presidentially appointed members that acted like a senate. It also designated the appointment of two resident commissioners as nonvoting delegates to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Records of the U.S. Senate, National Archives and Records Administration

S. 2295, Philippines Organic Act, June 2, 1902

Filipino Representation in Congress

Under the Treaty of Paris that ended the Spanish American War, the United States purchased the Philippines from Spain. In 1902 American forces suppressed a Filipino independence movement, and Congress passed the Philippines Organic Act to establish civilian control. Among other provisions, the act authorized two Filipino resident commissioners to represent the Philippine government in the U.S. Congress. The first resident commissioners began their terms in 1907. Congress replaced the Organic Act with other legislation in 1916 and 1934 to allow sovereignty for the Philippines and granted it independence in 1946.

As delegates from the Philippines, we come to this country full of faith and hope in the justice and generosity of the American people. We believe that what we ask is just, and that we have as much right to demand the same treatment as that accorded to other territories under the starry flag.

Resident Commissioner Benito Legarda, Speech in Cincinnati, March 13, 1908