The 1898 Treaty of Paris ended the Spanish–American War, with Spain ceding the Philippines to the United States. Islam had arrived in the Philippines before the Spanish. Spain had conquered the northern islands, and the southern islands had become the Sultanate of Sulu. The Spanish cession included the islands of Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago, and the ceded territory included the islands of the Sultanate of Sulu located in the Philippine archipelago where slavery and piracy had for centuries been practiced by the Moros. The Spanish had established coastal garrisons but had never controlled the jungle interiors of the islands.
In 1899, U.S. Brigadier General John C. Bates negotiated the Kiram-Bates Treaty for American Sovereignty over the Moro land, which recognized and respected the position of the Sultan and the Sultanate as well as their Muslim traditions, laws, and practices with the Sultan of Sulu. After the U.S. had completed its goal of suppressing the resistance in Luzon in the Spanish–American War, it unilaterally abrogated the Bates Treaty on March 2, 1904, claiming the Sultan had failed to quell Moro resistance and that the treaty was a hindrance to the effective colonial administration of the area. Bates later confessed that the agreement was merely a temporary expedient to buy time until the northern forces were defeated.