No matter how long one has been studying Philippine history there is always something new. It is one of the pleasures of diggingthrough dusty tomes and digital libraries. I belong to some of the better Facebook history groups, which means once in a while something comes up that gets my investigative juices going, like the report that the Philippines could have been called the McKinley Islands, after US President William McKinley who allegedly promised to Christianise and civilise the Archipelago as he pinned a paper US flag into a map in 1901 while pitching for the Methodist vote in an upcoming election.
Coursey does not tell us which ‘prominent Americans’ made the suggestion but does suggest it was a non-starter.
“A proposal was put forth to rename the Philippine archipelago after the late president. From The New York Tribune:
Washington. Sept. 29 —A suggestion, emanating from a high source, and which is meeting with widespread favor, is to change the name of the Philippine Islands to the McKinley Islands. The object is, of course, to perpetuate the name and glory of the martyred President and his administration. It is intended to bring the proposition before the next Congress, and it is not doubted that it will be accepted without question if presented in the proper manner.
The appropriateness of the suggestion is generally conceded, as. save for the foresight and persistence of President McKinley, the Philippines might to-day occupy a different and far less intimate relation to the United States than is now being shaped f“or them. It is pointed out that this proposed change would link his name with the government of the country for all time and also would be a constant and conspicuous reminder to future generations throughout the world that it was in his administration that the republic expanded its beneficent influence to the Orient and there established in enduring for its institutions and systems.
The proposition, though at present entirely tentative, contemplates a complete change of nomenclature in the whole archipelago. For example, the entire group is to be named the McKinley Islands, and the process of Americanization is to be carried out to the minutest detail by giving to the different islands the names of distinguished Americans of the past and present time. This part of the scheme embraces the idea of bestowing upon the different islands and provinces the names of the men most prominently identified with the acquisition and management of the islands. For instance, the members of the American Commission which negotiated the Paris Treaty would thus be honored, as well as the names of Admiral Dewey, General Law, Governor Taft, General Otis, Secretary Root and others. It is expected that within a few days the proposition will take a sufficiently definite shape to warrant its promoters permitting the use of their names in its advocacy.”
And it was fake news, according to Robert Lincoln O’Brien, editor of the Boston Herald, cited in What Is News? by Lula O. Andrews in The Sewanee Review Vol. 18, No. 1 (Jan., 1910). The proposal was a ‘hot weather’ hatched by a group of resourceful reporters … when there was a dearth of news.