In the end, both Britain and France saw the advantage of making Siam a buffer, or neutral zone, between them. In the early 1900s, they guaranteed its independence. But to prevent other imperialist powers from pushing into Siam, each set up its own sphere of influence there.

Characteristics of Colonial Southeast Asia

By the 1890s, Europeans controlled most of Southeast Asia. They introduced modern technology and expanded commerce and industry. Europeans directed the mining of tin, the harvesting of rubber, and the building of harbors and railroads. But these changes benefited the European colonizers far more than they did the Southeast Asians.

Illustration shows large U S war ships with white and dark smoke rising from their stacks. Other ships are seen in the distance, close to shore, with dark smoke rising from their hulls.

During the Spanish-American War, the U.S. Navy destroyed Spanish ships in the Battle of Manila Bay in the Philippines.

Military Might and the Philippines

In the 1500s, Spain had seized the Philippines and extended its rule over the islands. Catholic missionaries spread Christianity among the Filipinos and the Catholic Church gained enormous power and wealth. Many Filipinos accused the Church of abusing its position. By the late 1800s, their anger fueled strong resistance to Spanish rule.

Leaders like José Rizal, a doctor who had studied abroad, called on Filipinos to use nonviolent means to win reforms. Although captured and executed by the Spanish, Rizal continued to inspire Filipinos eager to free their country from foreign rule.

Battles in the Philippines

The United States became involved in the Philippines almost by accident. In 1898, war broke out between Spain and the United States over Cuba's effort to win independence from Spain. During the Spanish-American War, American battleships destroyed the Spanish fleet, which was stationed in the Philippines.

Seizing the moment, Filipino leaders declared independence from Spain. Rebel soldiers threw their support into the fight against Spanish troops. In return for their help, the Filipino rebels expected the United States to recognize their independence. Instead, the peace settlement with Spain placed the Philippines under American control.

Bitterly disappointed, Filipino nationalists renewed their struggle. From 1899 to 1901, Filipinos led by Emilio Aguinaldo (ah gee NAHL doh) battled American forces. Thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Filipinos died. In the end, the Americans crushed the rebellion. The United States set out to modernize the Philippines, promising Filipinos self-rule some time in the future.

Strategic Holdings in the Pacific Islands

In the 1800s, the industrialized powers began to take an interest in the islands of the Pacific. The thousands of islands splashed across the Pacific include the three regions of Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia.

At first, American, French, and British whaling and sealing ships looked for bases to take on supplies while they were operating in the Pacific. Missionaries, too, moved into the region and opened the way for political involvement.


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Table of Contents

World History Topic 1 Origins of Civilization (Prehistory–300 B.C.) Topic 2 The Ancient Middle East and Egypt (3200 B.C.–500 B.C.) Topic 3 Ancient India and China (2600 B.C.–A.D. 550) Topic 4 The Americas (Prehistory–A.D. 1570) Topic 5 Ancient Greece (1750 B.C.–133 B.C.) Topic 6 Ancient Rome and the Origins of Christianity (509 B.C.-A.D. 476) Topic 7 Medieval Christian Europe (330–1450) Topic 8 The Muslim World and Africa (730 B.C.-A.D. 1500) Topic 9 Civilizations of Asia (500–1650) Topic 10 The Renaissance and Reformation (1300–1650) Topic 11 New Global Connections (1415–1796) Topic 12 Absolutism and Revolution Topic 13 The Industrial Revolution Topic 14 Nationalism and the Spread of Democracy (1790–1914) Topic 15 The Age of Imperialism (1800–1914) Topic 16 World War I and the Russian Revolution (1914–1924) Topic 17 The World Between the Wars (1910–1939) Topic 18 World War II (1930–1945) Topic 19 The Cold War Era (1945–1991) Topic 20 New Nations Emerge (1945–Present) Topic 21 The World Today (1980-Present) United States Constitution Primary Sources 21st Century Skills Atlas Glossary Index Acknowledgments