A VETERAN of Spanish-American War, Col. Louis J. Van Schaick was the only American to be appointed governor of Cavite. He served for two years, 1905-1907, doubtless the most fateful years in the life of the province under the American regime.
Cavite was virtually turned into a huge concentration camp as a result of the stringent policy employed to counteract the recrudescence of the revolution in the province. Under the Reconcentration Act (No. 781) of June 1, 1903, the American Governor General was empowered to “reconcentrate” the residents of towns believed “infested with Ladrones and outlaws” to prevent them from aiding the Filipino rebels.
It was during the terms of Van Schaick that the Filipino patriot, Macario Sakay, who had been waging a guerilla war for four years, (1902-1906), was tricked by the Americans into surrendering and accepting amnesty with the assistance of Dominador Gomez, a popular labor leader and politician. Sakay was attending a reception in his honor in Cavite when Philippine Constabulary soldiers surrounded the house of his host and then brought him to prison. Tried under the Brigandage Act of November 12, 1902, Sakay was convicted and hanged to death, but to the very end he was protesting that he was not a brigand but a patriot fighting for the independence of his country.
Van Schaick was born in Cabbleskill, New York, on July 1, 1875, the son of John and Francis Eliza (Shaver) Van Schaick. He studied in U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and later in the Army Staff College. He was married to the former Nellie Mae Kellogg of Battle Creek, Michigan, on August 1, 1906. Entering the U.S. Army as a second lieutenant on April 10, 1899, he was retired a colonel for physical disability due to wounds received in action, on August 31, 1934.
Coming to the Philippines with the expeditionary forces in 1899, Van Schaick held the rank of captain of the Philippine Scouts when he was appointed governor of Cavite in 1905. Afterwards he served as inspector of the Philippine Constabulary and was again appointed governor of Mindoro, 1908-1012.
Upon his return to United States, Van Schaick served successively in General Frederick Funston’s expedition to Vera Cruz, Mexico, and in General John Pershing’s expedition to North Mexico, 1914. He was also the inspector general of the American forces in Germany during the First World War, 1919-1920. Winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor, Van Schaick also received other decorations, including the Congressional Gold Life Saving Medal, Distinguished Service Star (Philippine Constabulary), Purple Heart, and the Luzon, Mindanao, and Sulu Campaign medals. He also became a mining executive in Baguio.
[Sources: (1) Franz Wissblatt, Who’s who in the Philippines, Manila, 1940; and (2) Agoncillo & Guerrero, History of Filipino People.]