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- Conservation Fundraiser: Aguinaldo's 1899 Declaration of Independence
About the Artifact
During the Spanish-American War (1898), Philippine revolutionary leader Emilio Aguinaldo declared the Philippines independent of Spain. When the postwar settlement made his nation a territory of the United States, Aguinaldo declared the Philippines independent from the United States on January 5, 1899. Philippine newspaper La Independencia printed copies of his declaration which were then put up across the city of Manila. The Memorial’s copy of the proclamation was torn down and saved by an American soldier who wrote at bottom of the document: “Issued on January 5 – ’99, which will no doubt be the cause of war with the Insurgents.” It was a prescient statement. About a month later, U.S. and Filipino forces met in combat, marking the start of the Philippine-American War (1899-1902).
Aguinaldo was captured in 1901 and was convinced by U.S. Army General Arthur MacArthur, Jr. to swear allegiance to the United States. Decades later, the general’s son, General Douglas MacArthur led the liberation of the Philippines from Japanese occupation, setting the stage for Philippine independence in 1946. In 1958, General Douglas MacArthur was gifted a scrapbook that contained the copy of Aguinaldo’s declaration. The document was discovered inside the scrapbook by MacArthur Memorial staff in 2018.
How can I help?
In 2023, the Memorial's copy of Aguinaldo's proclamation was named as one of the Top 10 Endangered Artifacts in Virginia by the Virginia Association of Museums (VAM). This designation raised public awareness about this incredible artifact and awarded a $250 grant to help conserve the document.
The total cost to conserve the item is $3000. You can help preserve this artifact by donating to the General Douglas MacArthur Foundation's Aguinaldo Proclamation Restoration Fund.
What will happen after conservation?
Once stabilized, the document will go on display at the MacArthur Memorial. It will help tell the story of the complicated relationship between the United States and the Philippines - and story of the long association between the MacArthurs and the Philippines. Depending on the fundraising and conservation timelines, the goal is to have the document on public display in time for the Memorial's commemoration of the 125th anniversary of the Philippine-American War (FEB 2024).