I Swear: A Filipino President Took His Oath of Office in DC

In 1944, when the Philippines was counted among U.S. territories, the Department of Interior was also in charge of many Philippine-related affairs.  When Commonwealth President Manuel Quezon died in exile on August 1, 1944, Vice President Sergio Osmeña immediately took his oath as the new Commonwealth President at the office of Secretary of Interior Harold Ickes. Supreme Court Associate Justice Robert Jackson administered the oath and the President’s daughter Maria Paloma Osmeña and Carlos P. Romulo were present to witness the event. Later that year, President Osmeña accompanied General Douglas MacArthur in the historic landing at Leyte.

Osmena Cabinet

The Osmena Cabinet. Front row (L-R):  Jaime Hernandez, Secretary of Finance; President Sergio Osmena; Colonel Carlos P. Romulo, Resident Commissioner and Secretary of Information.Back row (L-R): Colonel Mariano A. Erana, Judge Advocate General of the Army of the Philippines in charge of the Department of Justice, Labor, and Welfare; Dr. Arturo B. Rotor, Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce; Manuel Nieto, Secretary Cabinet; Ismael Mathay, Budget and Finance Commissioner; Colonel Alejandro Melchor, Under Secretary of National Defense representing General Basilio Valdes, Secretary of National Defense.

Photo credit: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Digital artifact

Here is a film footage of the oath-taking ceremony (the clip begins at 2:20).

Further information

Department of Interior.  1849 C St., NW, Washington, DC.  Restricted Access. For more information visit the Department of Interior website


“Osmena Takes Oath as Philippines’ President,” The Washington Post, 2 Aug 1944: 1; Vicente Albano Pacis (1971) President Sergio Osmeña: A Fully-Documented Biography (Manila: Philippine Constitution Association).

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