Wood, Leonard

Wood, Leonard, 1860–1927, American general and administrator, b. Winchester, N.H. After practicing medicine briefly in Boston, he entered the army in 1885 and was made an assistant surgeon; in 1891 he was promoted to captain. At the outbreak of the Spanish-American War he joined with his friend Theodore Roosevelt in organizing a volunteer cavalry unit—the Rough Riders—and as their commander he participated in the attack on Santiago de Cuba. He was military commander of Santiago (1898–99), and as military governor (1899–1902) of Cuba until the republic was formed, he cooperated in improving sanitary conditions on the island. Sent (1903) to the Philippines as governor of Moro prov., he was promoted (1903) to major general. He helped crush the opposition to U.S. occupation there, although he was criticized for his ruthlessness. From 1906 to 1908 he commanded U.S. military forces in the Philippines. Returning to the United States, he served (1910–14) as U.S. army chief of staff. He was commander (1914–17) of the Dept. of the East and after the outbreak of World War I in Europe led the movement for preparedness in America. He advocated the creation of civilian training camps, which brought him into conflict with the neutralist position of President Wilson, and incurred the President's displeasure. After the U.S. entry into World War I, Wood was refused a commission on the European front. He failed to win the Republican nomination for President in 1920, but he was appointed (1921) governor-general of the Philippines. Distrusting the natives' capacity for self-government, he reversed the lenient policy of his predecessor, F. B. Harrison. Wood liquidated the economic enterprises of the Philippine government, assumed wide powers of control, allowed little prerogative to the legislature, and surrounded himself with military advisers. Until Wood died in 1927, unrest was widespread among the Filipinos, and in 1925 the Philippine senate unanimously voted to hold a plebiscite on independence. The report of the Thompson Commission, sent to the islands in 1926, sharply criticized Wood's rule.

See biography by H. Hagedorn (1931, repr. 1969).

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