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Manuel Luis Quezon

Quezon, Manuel Luis (mänwĕl lōēsˈ kāˈsōn) [key], 1878–1944, first president of the Commonwealth of the Philippines (1935–44). While a law student, he joined (1899) Emilio Aguinaldo's insurrectionary army and fought the U.S. forces until 1901. He was imprisoned briefly after the insurrection. Admitted (1903) to the bar, he was elected (1905) governor of Tabayas prov. (renamed Quezon in his honor in 1946). As a member (1907–9) of the first Philippine assembly, he became floor leader of the majority nationalist party. He served (1909–16) as resident commissioner to the United States, crusading tirelessly for Philippine independence, and was instrumental in securing (1916) passage of the Jones Act, which increased self-government in the Philippines and gave the islands a pledge of future independence. On his return to the Philippines, he was elected (1916) to the first Philippine senate and was unanimously chosen president of that body—at the time the highest elective office in the land. He continued his ardent crusade for independence, strongly opposing the high-handed administration (1921–27) of Governor-General Leonard Wood, and after Wood's death effecting the appointment of the more sympathetic Henry Stimson. In 1934 he helped bring about passage of the Tydings-McDuffie Bill, which established the Commonwealth of the Philippines and promised complete independence in 1946. Quezon was elected (1935) president of the new commonwealth. As president he initiated administrative reforms, undertook many defense measures, and greatly expanded his power. Reelected in 1941, he escaped to the United States after the Japanese invasion of the Philippines in World War II and conducted a government-in-exile there until his death.

See his autobiography, The Good Fight (1946) and biographies by S. H. Gwekoh (1948), E. Goettel (1970), and C. Quirino (1971).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Philippines History: Biographies


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