The first battle at Bud Dajo happened during the final days of General Leonard Wood's term as governor of the Moro Province. Wood's term was a time of great reform. Some of these reforms, including the abolition of slavery and the imposition of the cedula - a registration poll tax - were less than popular with his Moro subjects. The cedula was especially unpopular, since the Moros interpreted it as a form of tribute, and according to Vic Hurley, Moro participation in the cedula was very low even after 30 years of American occupation. These reforms, coupled with the general resentment of foreign Christian occupiers, created a tense and hostile atmosphere during Wood's tenure, and the heaviest and bloodiest fighting during the American occupation of Mindanao and Sulu took place under his watch.
Although Moro hostilities died down during the latter days of Wood's governorship (the tenure of Wood's replacement, General Tasker H. Bliss, was a period of relative peace), it was in this tense atmosphere of Moro resentment that the events leading to the Battle of Bud Dajo played out. According to Hermann Hagedorn, the Moro rebels of Bud Dajo were "the rag-tag-and-bobtail remnants of two or three revolts, the black sheep of a dozen folds, rebels against the poll tax, die-hards against the American occupation, outlaws recognizing no datto and condemned by the stable elements among the Moros themselves." (pg. 64) Vic Hurley, author of Swish of the Kris, adds that “the causes contributing to the battle of Bud Dajo were resentment over the curtailing of slave-trading, cattle-raiding, and women-stealing privileges of the Moros of Sulu.”
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