want no prisoners. I wish you to kill and burn, the more you kill and
burn, the better you will please me"
in the Court Martial of Maj. Littleton Waller
In the Philippines
by Katharine Lee Bates, author of
America the Beautiful
Silvery rice-fields whisper wide
How for home and freedom their owners died.
We've set the torch to their bamboo town,
And out they come in a scampering rush,
Little brown men with spears.
Down they go in a crush,
Hideous writhing huddles and heaps
Under the palms and the mango-trees.
More, still more! Shoot 'em down
Like brown jack-rabbits that scoot
With comical leaps
Out of the brush.
No prisoners, then. As for these --
The flag that dreamed of delivering
Shudders and droops like a broken wing.
Silvery rice-felds whisper wide
How for home and freedom their owners died.
From America the Beautiful and Other Poems
(New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Co., 1911)
from a black soldier to the New York Age from Manila, Philippine Islands,
August 11, 1899
I have mingled freely among the natives and
have had talks with American colored men here in business, and who have
lived here for years, in order to learn of them the cause of their
(Filipino) dissatisfaction and the reason for this insurrection and I must
confess they have a just grievance. All this would never have occurred if
the army of occupation had treated them as people. The Spaniards, even if
their laws were hard, were polite and treated them with some
consideration; but the Americans, as soon as they saw that the native
troops were desirous of sharing in the glories as well as the hardships of
the hard won battles with the Americans, began to apply home treatment for
colored peoples. Curse them as damned niggers, steal and ravish them, rob
them on the street of their small change, take from the fruit vendors
whatever suited their-fancy and kick the poor unfortunate if he
complained, desecrate their church property, and after fighting began,
looted everything in sight, burning, robbing the graves.
This may seem a little tall-but I have seen with my own eyes carcasses
lying bare to the broiling sun, the result of raids on the receptacles for
the dead in search for diamonds. The troops, thinking we would be proud to
emulate their conduct, have made bold of telling their exploits to us. One
fellow, a member of the Thirteenth Minnesota,
told me how his boys did; another, a Tennessean, told me of how some
fellows he knew had cut off a native woman's arm in order to get a fine
inlaid bracelet. On upbraiding some fellows one morning whom I met while
on a walk (I think they belonged to a Nebraska or Minnesota regiment, they
were stationed on the Malaban road) for the conduct of the American troops
toward the native and especially as to raiding, etc., the reply was:
"Do you think we could afford to stay over here and fight these
damned niggers without making it pay all it's worth? The government only
pays us $13 per month; that's starvation wages. White men can't stand
it." Meaning they could not live on such small pay. In saying this
they never dreamed that colored soldiers would never countenance such
conduct. They talk with impunity of 'niggers' to our soldiers, never once
thinking that they are talking to home "niggers" and should they
be brought to remember that at home this is the same vile epithet they
hurl at us, they beg pardon and make some effeminate excuse about what the
Filipino is called.
I want to say right here, if it were not for the sake of the 10,000,000
black people in the United States, God alone knows on which side of this
subject I would be. And for the sake of the black men who carry arms and
pioneer for them as their representatives, ask them not to forget the
present administration at the next election. Party be damned! We don't
want these islands, not in the way we ought to get them, and for Heaven's
sake put the party in power that pledges itself against this highway
robbery-expansion is too clean a name for it.
African-American soldiers in the Phillipines during the Spanish American
at Santa Ana, in the
was just turned twenty-one,
And Henry Phipps, the Sunday-school superintendent,
Made a speech in Bindle's Opera House.
"The honor of the flag must be upheld," he said,
"Whether it be assailed by a barbarous tribe of Tagalogs
Or the greatest power in Europe."
And we cheered and cheered the speech and the flag he waved
As he spoke.
And I went to the war in spite of my father,
And followed the flag till I saw it raised
By our camp in a rice field near Manila,
And all of us cheered and cheered it.
But there were flies and poisonous things;
And there was the deadly water,
And the cruel heat,
And the sickening, putrid food;
And the smell of the trench just back of the tents
Where the soldiers went to empty themselves;
And there were the whores who followed us, full of syphilis;
And beastly acts between ourselves or alone,
With bullying, hatred, degradation among us,
And days of loathing and nights of fear
To the hour of the charge through the steaming swamp,
Following the flag,
Till I fell with a scream, shot through the guts.
Now there's a flag over me in Spoon River!
A flag! A flag!
to the President and Congress of the United States, and to Gen.
Leonard A. Wood
Erskine Scott Wood (next to Ken Kesey, Wood has probably been
Oregon's most famous writer. He was a friend of Mark Twain, of Chief
Joseph, and Ansel Adams.)
Six hundred Moros have been slain -- all -- all --
Fathers and mothers and boys and girls and black-eyed babes.
It is a glorious victory.
I weep for the little children who shall never
The little children of the slim soft limbs, so full of grace.
I have seen these naked little children lying about like broken toys,
Their fat little arms and legs tossed about as if they were asleep. Dead!
Their chubby bodies naked and glistening;
Their laughter forever hushed. Ended their childish joy of living,
Ended by a blue hole in the forehead -- by a black spot on the breast --
by a bullet in the smooth, soft belly.
I have seen them lie under the sun, wounded, wailing for water -- dying.
I have seen them with eyes staring and patient, not understanding; I have
seen their eyes clouded in the hideous suffering, waiting for death.
I have seen the mangled abdomens and shattered limbs and the dumb,
frightened look of their eyes, saying,
"Why must we die? Why must we be killed? Why should our childish
lives be ended?"
Why! In the name of Christ, the compassionate, the all merciful -- Why?
I have heard the sharp shriek of childish agony as the bullet struck its
I have heard the childish moans as little boys lay dying -- killed by
I have seen the yellow mother stoop over her slendor boy and fall upon
him, dead, --
She, too, crushed by a bullet, --
Mingling their blood together in death as when she gave him life.
Or did God give it?
"Kill Every one
over the age of 10."
- Gen. J. Smith
must not be tolerated on the part of any native. The time has now arrived
when all natives in this brigade (i.e, the territory in the charge of the
brigade; no native troops were in the US Army), who are not openly for us must be
regarded as against us. -
Below: at Mt.
The Moro people victimized above have subsequently spawned,
over a century, many resistance groups. Like the Seminoles in
Florida, they have never been completely subjugated. Several have recently been
labeled as sympathetic to Al Qaeda. Imagine.
Above and below: 2nd Oregon at rest
in the Phillipines.
"Of course I feel pity for the
dead and wounded, but it all adds to the general feeling of horror
for the whole business of war. I wonder if people would have wanted
these God-forsaken islands if they had foreseen the cost. That
twenty million dollars that they paid bought only Manila. Most all
the men who think in the Army Corps are opposed, and have been from
the start, to holding these islands. Well, I hope we may never get
another weak-kneed politician in the presidential chair at a
critical time like this" - letter
home from Herbert Cooper Thompson, 2nd Oregon
|...who are not openly for us must be
regarded as against us. - General Bell. on
the eve of the massacres of Moros.
"Either you're with the United States of America
or you're against the United States of America. (Applause.) - George
Bush, speaking in Portland, on the eve of
Army troops arriving in Moroland, the Phillipines, a century later."
another President, Grover Cleveland (1904)
our Government entered upon a war for the professed purpose of
aiding to self-government and releasing from foreign rule a
struggling people whose cries for liberty were heard at our very
doors, it rallied to its enthusiastic support a nation of freemen,
in whose hearts and minds there was deeply fixed by heredity and
tradition the living belief that all just powers of government are
derived from the consent of the governed.
It was the mockery of Fate that led us to an
unexpected and unforeseen incident in this conflict, and placed in
the path of our Government, while professing national righteousness,
representing an honest and liberty-loving people, and intent on a
benevolent, self-sacrificing errand, the temptation of sordid
aggrandizement and the false glitter of world-power.
No sincerely thoughtful American can recall what
followed without amazement, nor without sadly realizing how the
apathy of our people's trustfulness and their unreflecting
acceptance of alluring representations can be played upon.
No greater national fall from grace was ever known
than that of the Government of the United States, when in the midst
of high design, while still speaking words of sympathy with the weak
who struggled against the strong, and while still professing to
exemplify before the world a great Republic's love for
self-government and its impulse to stay the bloody hand of
oppression and conquest, it embraced an opportunity offered by the
exigencies of its beneficent undertaking, to possess itself of
territory thousands of miles from our coast, and to conquer and
govern, without pretense of their consent, millions of resisting
people -- a heterogeneous population largely mixed with elements
hardly within the light of civilization, and all far from the
prospect of assimilation with anything American.
In one hand the party in power held aloft before our
people the dazzling and misleading promise of commercial advantage
and the glory of rivaling monarchical expansion, while with the
other it slaughtered thousands of the abject possessors of the soil
it coveted, and sent messages of death and disease to thousands of
In the wildest exhibition of partisan rancor the
Democratic party cannot be accused of reactionary opposition to any
movement within the lines fixed by our national mission and
traditions that tends to increase our country's greatness. It
demands, however, that this mission and these traditions shall above
all things be inviolably preserved as guides to our national
activity and standards for the measurement of every national
achievement. Democracy will not be cajoled into silence by the
transient appearance of a manufactured or heedless public sentiment,
but will speak, and trust for its vindication to the sober second
thought of our people. Refusing to accept the shallow and
discreditable pretense that our conquest in the Philippines has gone
so far as to be beyond recall or correction, we insist that a nation
as well as an individual is never so magnanimous or great as when
false steps are retraced and the path of honesty and virtue is
The message of the Democracy to the American people
should courageously enjoin that, in sincere and consistent
compliance with the spirit and profession of our interference in
behalf of Cuba's self-government, our beneficent designs toward her
should also extend to the lands which, as an incident of such
interference, have come under our control; that the people of the
Philippine Islands should be aided in the establishment of a
government of their own; and that when this is accomplished our
interference in their domestic rule should cease.