The whole reason that the US ended up being dragged into WWII was that Japan wanted their colonies in the Pacific, including the Phillipines. And yet in 1946 the Treaty of Manila was signed, granting independence to the island nation. It's not like this made people happy, either - hundreds of thousands of Filipino servicemen lost the benefits they would have been entitled to as US nationals.

So why did the US do this, and not keep the Philipines as a territory or integrate them as a state, as they did to Hawaii in 1959?


The United States had promised the Philippines independence in 1934, on a timetable to end in 1946, and kept that promise. Beginning in 1935, the Philippines had Commonwealth status as a stopgap.

The Philippines had fallen "accidentally" to the United States in the Spanish American war, because it was a possession of Spain. In this regard, it was unlike Cuba (subsequently set free), that provided the "causus belli" ("remember the Maine,") or even nearby Puerto Rico.

Few Americans wanted the country to get directly involved in Asia. The preferred posture in that part of the world (e.g. China) was the "Open Door Policy.")

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The US were dragged into WWII for many reasons - and I'm not so sure that the Japanese planned on invading US territories until after the US had already joined in. Pearl Harbour was more of an attempt (which spectacularly failed) to dissuade the US from interfering in the Japanese invasion of British, French and Dutch territory. There's also a good chance the US would have entered the war in 1942 anyway.

The Treaty of Manila was the final phase in a process begun well before the war broke out.

The Philippines were also a founding member Of The UN - before the Treaty of Manila.

And, don't forget - empires were incredibly unpopular following the war, with the European powers divesting their territories over the next 50 years.

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    I'd think another factor would have been the difference in language and culture. Which is likely why Puerto Rico remains a "Commonwealth" instead of either becoming a state or an independent country. – jamesqf Mar 11 '17 at 18:35
  • @jamesqf - might be - Puerto Rico is also closer to the US, a much smaller population, and may not have asked for independence. – user13123 Mar 11 '17 at 22:09
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    The Invasion of the Philippines started only 5 hours after Pearl Harbor. For all intents and purposes, they were simultaneous. – T.E.D. Jun 8 '17 at 13:40
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    Statehood for Puerto Rico still comes up from time to time. It is an interesting question as to whether Hawai'i would have become a state without Pearl Harbor. From what I understand, it's statehood had far more to do with that then demographics. Also, note that California became a state almost immediately after being acquired from Mexico. It's not a good model at all for this question. – Gort the Robot Jun 8 '17 at 17:22
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    @Steven Burnap: California wasn't acquired from Mexico. The American settlers in California declared independence from Mexico, declared themselves a republic, then (not much) later decided to join the US. And if Hawai'ian statehood was the result of Pearl Harbor (except perhaps by increasing the American population), why the 18 year delay? – jamesqf Jun 11 '17 at 3:47

The Philippines had already been scheduled to become fully independent on July 4th, 1945. But this was interrupted by WW2. As a result of which, independence was delayed by one year (July 4th, 1946). Details:

  • The Philippine Independence Act (1934) provided that the Philippines would gain independence on the 4th day of July, "ten years from the date of the inauguration of the new government under the constitution provided for in this Act".

  • The 1935 Constitution was ratified on May 14, 1935. And so independence day for the Philippines was scheduled for July 4, 1945. But this was interrupted by WW2.

  • The Philippines was granted full independence* on July 4, 1946, through the Treaty of Manila (1946).

*Actually, not quite "full" independence, because the US retained military bases and other privileges.

(As for why the Philippines had, even before WW2, already been scheduled to become fully independent, that is probably a separate question. I'm also not so sure about the premise that "the US ended up being dragged into WWII [because] Japan wanted their colonies in the Pacific".)

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