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Site last updated
26 June, 2013
Secretary Root's Record:"Marked Severities" in Philippine Warfare
Introduction


ADAMS BUILDING,
23 Court St.,
Boston.
August 29, 1902.

Messrs. Moorfield Storey and Julian Codman,
Boston, Mass.
Gentlemen:

In the course of a speech delivered yesterday at Weirs, N.H., President Roosevelt is reported as having used the following language: "The army, which has done its work so well in the Philippine Islands, has ... been cruelly maligned even by some who should have known better.... The temptation to retaliate for the fearful cruelties of a savage foe is very great, and now and then it has been yielded to. There have been a few, and only a few, such instances in the Philippines; and punishment has been meted out with unflinching justice to the offenders."

In an official communication of the Hon. Elihu Root, Secretary of War, under date of February 17 last, is the following:

"The war in the Philippines has been conducted by the American army with scrupulous regard for the rules of civilized warfare, with careful and genuine consideration for the prisoner and the non-combatant, with self-restraint, and with humanity never surpassed."

In his speech at Arlington on Decoration Day, so called, in May last, President Roosevelt said, "Determined and unswerving effort must be made to find out every instance of barbarity on the part of our troops, to punish those guilty of it, and to take, if possible, even stronger measures than have already been taken to minimize or prevent the occurrence of all such instances in the future."

As a Committee, we submit the foregoing statements to you, with a view to ascertaining whether they will bear examination so far as the rules of warfare, as generally accepted, are concerned, or are in conformity with the facts as they have been elicited by investigation or appear of record.

Furthermore, we would ask you to advise us, in so far as can be ascertained, whether satisfactory or complete revelations could have been elicited by any investigations conducted under the conditions imposed thereon by the orders issued from the War Department and the instructions therein contained.

We have the honor to be, etc.,

Charles Francis Adams,
Carl Schurz,
Edwin Burritt Smith,
Herbert Welsh,
Committee.

September 20, 1902.
Messrs. Charles Francis Adams, Carl Schurz, E. Burritt Smith, and Herbert Welsh, Committee.

Gentlemen:

Your communication of the 29th ult. has been received, and considered carefully.

To answer satisfactorily the questions which you ask, it is necessary to review an extensive and complicated record, bearing constantly in mind the relations of the high officials concerned, civil and military, to each other and to the national government. It will, in the first place, be noticed that the duty of prosecuting any investigation such as that promised by President Roosevelt in the Arlington speech rests primarily on the Secretary of War. Under the conditions existing in the Philippines, it would devolve upon him to make, in the language of the President, a "determined and unswerving effort to find out every instance of barbarity, and to punish those guilty of it."

The entire record of the Secretary of War in connection with the Philippine Islands and the recent transactions therein must therefore be examined, so far as it is known, in order to determine how much confidence can be reposed on any statements relating thereto which have emanated or may emanate from him.

What is that record?

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