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26 June, 2013
Secretary Root's Record:"Marked Severities" in Philippine Warfare
Col. Gardener's Report


The evidence does not end here. On February 7, 1902, after considerable delay, Governor Taft transmitted to Secretary Root the report of Colonel Gardener, the governor of Tayabas province, so that it had been in his possession ten days when he wrote his letter of February 17.

It was the statement of an army officer of excellent standing and the governor of a province. It contained, among others, the following statement:

As civil governor, I feel it my duty to say that it is my firm conviction that the United States troops should, at the earliest opportunity, be concentrated in one or two garrisons, if it is thought desirable that the good sentiment and loyalty which formerly existed to the United States government among the people of this province should be conserved and encouraged.

Being in close touch with the people, having visited all the pueblos one or more times, having lived with them in their homes, I know that such a sentiment once existed. Of late, by reason of the conduct of the troops, such as the extensive burning of barrios in trying to lay waste the country so that the insurgents cannot occupy it, the torturing of natives by so-called "water cure," and other methods, in order to obtain information, the harsh treatment of natives generally, and the failure of inexperienced, lately appointed lieutenants commanding posts to distinguish between those who are friendly and those unfriendly, and treating every native as if he were, whether or no, an insurrecto at heart, this favorable sentiment above referred to is being fast destroyed and a deep hatred toward us engendered. If these things need be done, they had best be done by native troops, so that the people of the United States will not be credited therewith.

Almost without exception, soldiers, and also many officers, refer to the natives in their presence as "niggers"; and the natives are beginning to understand what the word "nigger" means.

The course now being pursued in this province, and in the provinces of Batangas, Laguna, and Samar, is, in my opinion, sowing the seeds for a perpetual revolution, or at least preparing the people of these provinces to rise up in revolution against us hereafter whenever a good opportunity offers. Under present conditions the political situation in this province is slowly retrograding, and the American sentiment is decreasing and we are daily making permanent enemies.

In the course above referred to, troops make no distinction often between the property of those natives who are insurgents or insurgent sympathizers and the property of those who heretofore have risked their lives by being loyal to the United States and giving us information against their countrymen in arms. Often every house in a barrio is burned.

In my opinion the small number of irreconcilable insurgents still in arms, although admittedly difficult to catch, does not justify the means employed, especially when taking into consideration the sufferings that must be undergone by the innocent, and its effect upon the relations with these people hereafter.


A Secretary anxious to discover the truth and to repress barbarity would naturally have sent this report with others to the committee of the Senate. It would be difficult to get more valuable evidence. It was, however, withheld; and its author, denied the opportunity to appear before the Senate Committee, has since been harried by a court of inquiry almost into nervous prostration, if we may believe the newspaper reports. But over all reliable information as to the investigation of his charges the veil of the censorship has been drawn.

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