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Excerpts of the President's News Conference

March 28, 1924

I have some information about Philippine independence. I gave out quite a lengthy statement not very long ago, expressing my views about Philippine independence. Our country is committed to the policy of ultimate independence, so that the practical question which remains is the method by which it is to be put into effect and the time. I think the pending proposal is that it should go into effect in 1935, if the Filipino people about that time will vote for that proposal. They have an election every three years. They will have an election in 1934, when that question would be submitted for referendum. I think that under present arrangements they have an advantage in relation to their sugar crop of $12,000,000 to $15,000,000, and in relation to their tobacco crop about $5,000,000, which will undoubtedly be lost to them under the proposal of independence. That is a practical question that they will want to consider, when they decide on what action they ought to take. Of course they have outstanding in this country the Filipino bonds, providing for independence. They would necessarily have to take those into consideration and make due provision for their payment and retirement. There is a general feeling that if the Filipino people want independence that it is no material advantage to us or commercially to us to hold them under present arrangements. The people give voice to those two proposals and say therefore, "Why hold them?" To my mind that doesn't quite fulfill the requirements of our duties toward the Filipino people, or toward the world in general. I don't suppose the United States was willing to take on the obligations of Philippine Government or become respon-sible for the welfare of the Filipino people at the time it was taken over, but it seemed necessary that it should be done. Otherwise they would have been cast adrift and become the support I was going to say—anyway there would have been an invitation to occupation or aggression by other countries, so that we felt we had something of a duty to perform towards them. That duty is not all performed at the present time. The United States practically recognizes that that is the case, so that the practical question is to find the time when they may be ready to take up their duties and obligations of self-government. Some think that can be done as early as 1935.

I don't know as I can give you any information that would be helpful or pertinent about the bill relative to Porto Rico. The delegation from Porto Rico came in to visit me, perhaps you recall, some time ago. I made some comments then to them, which I later put on paper and transmitted, and I think gave to the press. I am not certain about that. The fundamental question there is a question of administration, and it is the difficulty of having an elective legislature and a Governor that serves by reason of appointment from here. I think it is recognized by students of government that an arrangement of that kind, even when all parties proceed with the greatest possible tact, has in it necessarily elements that are quite likely to lead to some kind of conflict between the Governor on the one hand and the local legislature on the other. At the present time they are getting on remarkably well, but if some means could be provided by which the Governor could be elected by the people of Porto Rico, it would eliminate that difficulty. Now, I don't know just what this Porto Rico measure of self-government does provide for, but if anything is to be done, something of a fundamental nature in that direction I think would be more helpful than anything else.

Source: "The Talkative President: The Off-the-Record Press Conferences of Calvin Coolidge". eds. Howard H. Quint & Robert H. Ferrell. The University Massachusetts Press. 1964.

Calvin Coolidge, Excerpts of the President's News Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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