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26 June, 2013
Secretary Root's Record:"Marked Severities" in Philippine Warfare
Secretary Root Considers this Policy Humane


On February 17, the very day on which Secretary Root wrote the letter to Senator Lodge which has been quoted, General Miles addressed him a letter which contained this statement:

It is now three years since the opening of hostilities between the United States forces and those in the Philippine Islands, and this warfare has been conducted with marked severity.


Secretary Root in reply on March 5 said:

It is not the fact that the warfare in the Philippines has been conducted with marked severity. On the contrary, the warfare has been conducted with marked humanity and magnanimity on the part of the United States.


When Secretary Root said this, he had before him the orders and the records which have been quoted, though he denies knowing of General Smith's verbal orders. As has been shown, however, they had been called to his attention by petition to the Senate a month before, and the cable to Manila was unbroken.

General Miles is the commander of the army, and a man of very wide experience, extending almost from his boyhood till now. He has fought his countrymen in the South and Indians in the West. To him it seemed that the war had been conducted "with marked severity."

Yet Secretary Root denied this, and on the same evidence asserted that it had been conducted "with marked humanity."

Which is at fault upon the facts known, the Secretary's standard of truth or his standard of humanity?

Let us cite against him the highest authority:

General Grant was the President in 1870, Mr. Fish was the Secretary of State, and the Cuban rebellion was in progress. The Springfield Republican contains an instructive comparison, in which General Bell's account of his operations in Batangas is printed in parallel columns with a letter of Mr. Fish conveying General Grant's protest against what Mr. Root would seem to consider humane warfare:

General Bell's Report

For the next six days all station commanders will be employed hunting insurgents and their hidden food supplies within their respective jurisdictions. Population of each town will be turned out, and all transportation that can be found impressed to bring into government storehouses all food that is found, if it be possible to transport it. If not, it will be destroyed. I am now assembling in the neighborhood of 2,500 men, who will be used in columns of about fifty men each. I take so large a command for the purpose of thoroughly searching each ravine, valley, and mountain peak for insurgents and for food, expecting to destroy everything I find outside of towns. All able-bodied men will be killed or captured. Old men, women, and children will be sent to towns. This movement begins January 1, by which time I hope to have nearly all the food supply in the towns. These people need a thrashing to teach them some good common sense, and they should have it for the good of all concerned.

Secretary Fish's Letter

When Count Valmaseda, in April of last year (1869), issued a proclamation declaring that every man from the age of fifteen years upward, found away from his habitation, and not proving a sufficient motive therefor, would be shot, that every habitation found unoccupied would be burned, and that every house not flying a white flag should be reduced to ashes, it became the duty of the undersigned to convey to Mr. Lopez Roberts the protest of the President against such a method of warfare.

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