Quezon started his political career in 1905 when he ran successfully for governor of Tayabas. In 1907, he was elected to the Philippine Assembly, where he became floor leader of the majority Nacionalista Party. In 1909, Quezon was appointed resident commissioner for the Philippines in the U.S. House of Representatives. During his years in Washington, he vigorously lobbied to secure passage of the Jones Act (1916), which pledged future independence of the Philippines. On this success, Quezon returned home a hero and became the first president of the new Philippine Senate.
In 1934, at Quezon's urging, the U.S. Congress passed the Tydings-McDuffie Act, which provided for independence 10 years after the adoption of a constitution and inauguration of a new government. On 17 September 1935, Quezon was elected president of the pre-independence Philippine Commonwealth. Alarmed by the advance of Japan into Southeast Asia, Quezon took several emergency steps in 1941 that vested him with dictatorial powers. He was reelected president that November.
In December 1941, when Japanese forces invaded the Philippines and occupied Manila, Quezon went with General Douglas MacArthur to the fortified island of Corregidor in Manila Bay. He departed the islands by submarine on 20 February 1942 and formed a government-in-exile in Washington, D.C., in May. There he served as a member of the Pacific War Council and signed the United Nations Declaration. In November 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law a bill that extended Quezon's term in office until the end of the Japanese occupation of his country. Quezon died in Saranac Lake, New York, on 1 August 1944, only months before his country's liberation. Sergio Osmeña followed him in office.
Golay, Frank H. Face of Empire: United States–Philippine Relations, 1898–1946. Madison: University of Wisconsin–Madison, Center for Southeast Asian Studies, 1998.; Pomeroy, William J. The Philippines: Colonialism, Collaboration, and Resistance. New York: International Publishers, 1992.; Quezon, Manuel L. The Good Fight. New York: D. Appleton-Century, 1946.; Quirino, Carlos. Quezon: Paladin of Philippine Freedom. Manila: Filipiniana Book Guild, 1971.