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March 23, 1901, General Aguinaldo was captured by the Americans

On March 23, 1901, General Emilio Aguinaldo was captured by the American forces led by General Frederick Funston with the help of Macabebe Scouts, in Palanan, Isabela.

The capture of General Emilio Aguinaldo (Photo credit: The American Occupation of the Philippines 1898-1912 by James Blunt). (

Gen. Funston plotted the capture of Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo. On the night of March 6, 1901, He boarded the American warship Vicksburg and docked at Casiguran Bay on March 14. From Palanan Funston group reached Aguinaldo’s headquarters in Palanan on March 23, 1901. The Macabebe Scouts pretended to have been sent by Lacuna, with the American officials as their prisoners. Thus Aguinaldo have no idea of his impending capture until Tal Placido of the Macabebe Scouts embraced him. The Americans then declared the arrest of Aguinaldo and his men in the name of the United States government. Aguinaldo was brought to Manila and presented to then military Governor-General Arthur MacArthur Jr. (father of Gen. Douglas MacArthur) at Malacanang Palace.

On the morning of March 25, Aguinaldo and three of his men were marched to the seashore at Palanan Bay, arriving there at noon. The Americans made two signal fires and hoisted a white flag. A little later, a steamer rose on the horizon. Within two hours the Vicksburg was anchored near the beach.

During the trip, Aguinaldo admitted to Funston that he had been completely fooled by the phony dispatches. He later confided that he could “hardly believe myself to be a prisoner” and that he was gripped by a “feeling of disgust and despair for I had failed my people and my motherland”.

In due course the Vicksburg arrived Manila Bay without the knowledge of a single soul in greater Manila. Aguinaldo was presented to General Arthur C. MacArthur, Jr. as a prisoner of war but was most graciously treated by the General as distinguished soldier’s “guest” at the Malacañang palace from March 28th until April 20th.

In his annual report for 1901, General MacArthur described the capture of Aguinaldo as:

“the most momentous single event of the year. Aguinaldo was the incarnation of the insurrection”.

The General thought so much of him that he considered him worth many hundred times his weight in gold, and had him watched night and day by a commissioned officer.

Aguinaldo complimented his captors:

“At all times since our capture, as well in Palanan as on board the Vicksburg, we have been treated with the highest consideration by our captors, as well as by all the other American officers with whom we have come in contact.”

Everything that had been done by the Americans since November, 1899, was explained to Aguinaldo, and he was made to see that the American purposes with regard to his people were not only benevolent but also inflexible, that there was no altering the American determination to make his people happy whether they were willing or not. Seeing this, Aguinaldo bowed to the inevitable.

On April 1, 1901 he finally pledged allegiance to the United States.


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