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Tydings–McDuffie Act

Senator Millard Tydings is one of the authors of the Philippine Independence Act.

The Tydings–McDuffie Act (officially the Philippine Independence Act, Pub.L. 73–127, 48 Stat. 456, enacted March 24, 1934) was a United States federal law which provided for self-government of the Philippines and for Filipino independence from the United States after a period of ten years. It also established strict limitations on Filipino immigration.

The act led to the writing of the 1935 Constitution of the Philippines and the establishment under it of the Commonwealth of the Philippines with the first directly elected President of the Philippines.

It was authored in the 73rd United States Congress by Senator Millard E. Tydings of Maryland and Representative John McDuffie of Alabama,[1] and signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, all Democrats.


  • Provisions 1
    • Immigration 1.1
  • History 2
    • Immigration 2.1
  • See also 3
  • References 4


The Tydings–McDuffie Act specified a procedural framework for the drafting of a constitution for the government of the Commonwealth of the Philippines within two years of its enactment. The act specified a number of mandatory constitutional provisions, and required approval of the constitution by the U.S. President and by Filipinos. The act mandated U.S. recognition of independence of the Philippine Islands as a separate and self-governing nation after a ten-year transition period.[2]

Prior to independence, the act allowed the U.S to maintain military forces in the Philippines and to call all military forces of the Philippine government into U.S. military service. The act empowered the U.S. President, within two years following independence, to negotiate matters relating to U.S. naval reservations and fueling stations of in the Philippine Islands.[2]


The act reclassified all Filipinos, including those who were living in the United States, as aliens for the purposes of immigration to America. A quota of 50 immigrants per year was established.[2] Before this act, Filipinos were classified as United States nationals, but not United States citizens, and while they were allowed to migrate relatively freely, they were denied naturalization rights within the US, unless they were citizens by birth in the mainland US.[3]


In 1934, Manuel L. Quezon, the President of the Senate of the Philippines, headed a "Philippine Independence mission" to Washington, D.C. It successfully lobbied Congress and secured the act's passage.[1]

In 1935, under the provisions of the act, the 1935 Constitution of the Philippines was drafted and became law, establishing the Commonwealth of the Philippines with an elected executive, the President of the Philippines.

In 1943, Tydings introduced a similar bill for independence of Puerto Rico, a territory of the US. While its political parties supported the bill, Luis Muñoz Marín, leader of the Popular Democratic Party (PPD) did not, and he was influential in persuading Congress not to pass the bill.


The immigration quota under the act was low, and immigration continued at levels much higher than the legal quota.[4] This was due to the strength of agricultural lobbies, such as the Hawaiian sugar planters, which were able to successfully lobby the federal government to allow more male Filipino agricultural workers provided that they demonstrated a need. This further increased the Filipino population in Hawaii which had at one point been 25% of agricultural workers on the islands.[4]

The act also led to the Filipino Repatriation Act of 1935.[5]

This act extended the Asian-exclusion policy of the Immigration Act of 1924 to the soon-to-be-former territory. This policy hampered the domestic lives of many Filipinos within the US because any Filipino who wished to go to the Philippines and then return to the United States would be subject to the restrictions on Asian immigration to America and would likely never be allowed to return.[4]

In 1946 the US decreased the tight restrictions of Tydings-McDuffie Act with the Luce–Celler Act of 1946, which increased the quota of Filipino immigrants to 100 per year and gave Filipinos the right to become naturalized American citizens.[6]

See also


  1. ^ a b Zaide, Sonia M. (1994). The Philippines: A Unique Nation. All-Nations Publishing Co. pp. 314–315.  
  2. ^ a b c The Philippine Independence Act (Tydings-McDuffie Act) (approved March 24, 1934), The Corpus Juris.
  3. ^ Filipino Americans. In 2006. . Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications, Inc.
  4. ^ a b c Posadas, Barbara Mercedes (1999). The Filipino Americans. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press. pp. 1–30. 
  5. ^ Jeffrey D. Schultz (2000). Encyclopedia of Minorities in American Politics: African Americans and Asian Americans. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 275.  
  6. ^ Filipino americans. In 2006. . Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications, Inc.
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