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Filipino leader Emilio Aguinaldo led his country to achieve independence after fighting off both the Spanish and the Americans.
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While the United States and Spain had been fighting the Spanish-American War, the Philippines had been ceded by Spain to the United States in the Treaty of Paris in December 1898.
Just two weeks after Aguinaldo's inauguration, an American sentry killed a Philippine soldier stationed at the San Juan Bridge, in a gesture of resistance against the newfound Philippine independence. On February 4, 1899,
the Philippine-American War exploded into action. Aguinaldo's revolutionaries quickly resorted to guerilla tactics, resulting in one of the bloodiest wars in American history, but in little direct progress for Aguinaldo and his cause. Concerning the apparent futility of his efforts in war, Aguinaldo said, "I saw my own soldiers die without affecting future events."
After three years at war, Aguinaldo was captured by American General Frederick Funston on March 23, 1901. After swearing an oath of allegiance to the United States, on April 19, 1901, Aguinaldo officially declared peace with the United States. By this time, the United States was ready support Philippine independence. Friendly relations, along with an American civil government, were established. Aguinaldo retreated to a private life as a farmer but never forgot the men who fought alongside him. In their honor, he would later establish the Veterans of the Revolution, an organization that arranged their pensions, as well as affordable payment plans for land purchases.
Aguinaldo took another stab at politics when he ran for presidency in 1935 against Manuel Quezon but lost. In 1950 he became a presidential advisor on the Council of State.
Emilio Aguinaldo died of a heart attack at Veterans Memorial Hospital in Quezon City, Philippines, on February 6, 1964. His private land and mansion, which he had donated the prior year, continue to serve as a shrine to both the revolution for Philippine independence and the revolutionary himself.
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