William Howard Taft and the Philippine Exposition at the St. Louis World's Fair

Dublin Core

Title

William Howard Taft and the Philippine Exposition at the St. Louis World's Fair

Description

By Daniel Moriel 
William Taft, Governor of the Philippines, viewed the 1904 World’s Fair as an opportunity to gain support for the American occupation of the Philippines[1]. Taft targeted anti-imperialists who objected the US occupation. These individuals did not approve of the involvement of the Philippines because they believed this would establish the US as an empire. Taft saw this exhibit as an opportunity to justify the American involvement to this skeptical audience. Representation of Filipinos as uncivilized subjects in need of U.S assistance helped make this argument. Taft influenced the organizers of the exhibit to convince these skeptics that American aid in the Philippines was righteous.

The organizers had the exhibit set up to display the combat training and material culture of the Filipinos[2]. One segment of the Exhibit featured the Filipinos training with their weapons for fairgoers. Knowing that the spectators of the fair were not accustomed to hand to hand combat, the organizers of the fair used this to their advantage knowing that the spectators would view the Filipinos as savages. Now being accustomed to a new way of war, the viewers of the fair would suppose that the Philippines was an area of non-advancement.  One item that was on display was the Filipino traditional battle shield[3]. This shield was made out of simple wood with carvings in the face of the shield[4]. This item was used to show that the Philippine civilization was poor and unable to protect themselves in a modernized war setting. Organizers of the fair hoped that items similar to the shield would gain support for the American aid in the Philippines. Despite these efforts, according to one scholar, the fair fails in the effort to convince anti-imperialist of the validity of Taft’s views. [5]


[1] Oscar M Alfonso “Tafts Views on ‘The Philippines For the Filipinos”

[2] William Taft “ Circular Letter Of Governor Taft Urging General Cooperating with the Philippine Exposition Board in The Making the Philippine Exhibit at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition a Success pg26

[3] Marlon Fuentes “Bontoc Eulogy Film”

[4] University of Iowa Philippine Collection.

[5] Paul Kramer “Making Concession: Race and Empire Revisited at the Philippine Exposition, St Louis, 1901-1905”

Creator

Left Image: C.L. Wasson, ©1905.
Right Image: Unknown Photographer, William Howard Taft Papers Library of Congress.

Publisher

Both images published through Library of Congress Online Photograph and Print Catalog

Rights

No known rights restriction

Files

Citation

Left Image: C.L. Wasson, ©1905. Right Image: Unknown Photographer, William Howard Taft Papers Library of Congress. , “William Howard Taft and the Philippine Exposition at the St. Louis World's Fair ,” History Corps, accessed June 18, 2018, http://dsph-dev.provost.uiowa.edu/historycorps_sandbox/items/show/249.