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Nov 23, 2008

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christopher

The Greensboro Daily News noted Thomas Alexander's death in the May 12, 1914 issue. It did not contain details of the actual cause of death, but the paper on and around that day was full of news bulletins about hostilities with Mexico, so shortly after the American invasion of Vera Cruz, and the many cases of border skirmishes with Mexican "snipers" all along the U.S.-Mexican border. It would seem Trooper Alexander was a casualty of some anonymous dust-up during that time.

The paper noted that Sandy Alexander was stoic about his son's death. The most interesting item is the paper's note that Thomas Alexander was an art student in New York at the time of his enlistment.

Ed Cone

Great stuff, thnx, Christopher -- any way you can get a link or scan of the article to me?

chris

I found it on microfilm at the UNCG library. I printed it off but the copy was illegible. When I'm over there tomorrow, I'll have the laptop with me and will try to transcribe the thing. It's not that long.

Ed Cone

Many thanks. What a neat little piece of crowd-sourced journalism this has turned out to be.

Bobthesurgeon

.. a note about general of the army john j pershing and the 10th cavalry...after returning to west point in 1897 to serve as an instructor, lieutenant pershing became widely known by the cadets as "nigger jack"..this due to his command of the 10th cavalry buffalos...after being reassigned to the phillipines, first as commander and than as governor, john pershings nickname was changed to "black Jack" a more benign and palatble version of the previous. His "methods" for dealing with islamic terrorists recently gained attention as the united states army found itself in the unenviable position of having to deal with islamic terrorists as its major enemy for must of the 2001-2008 period. Mindanao, a southern phillipine province, has been 90 percent islam in an otherwise catholic country for the past 800 years or so. Captain Pershing, faced with nightly raids by islamic forces, who would set themselves on fire and charge the barracks, taking more american soldiers with them, had a simple solution. He took each dead muslim body and placed it in a simple casket with a pig. He than sent a few of these caskets back to the islamic forces, with a note that each and every soldier would be buried in this manner, ( it was rumored the bodies were defaced with the genitals being placed in the pigs mouth) There were no more terrorist attacks after the intial exchange...for this initiative captain pershing eventually became colonel pershing and than 5 star general of the armies, the only general besides george washington who was so named in his own lifetime.

Billthedisbarredlawyer

Nigger Jack, later Black Jack Pershing, achieved greatness aiding the white man with his burden of "helping" lesser dark races to the tune of an estimated 1 million Phillipinos genocided under his "care." Most were Catholics. After the US occupation, very little of the land went back to peasants but to "American interests" of the time. They hated us for our freedom even then.

Ed Cone

Waterboarding by US soldiers in the Philippines caused outrage at home.

Al Kaader

"America answers by its silence".....like FDR's bestest buddy, Uncle Joe Stalin said, " ..if you murder one person it is a tragedy. If you murder a million it is a statistic." Statistics of a million murdered find their way to a peaceful, innocuous part of the brain while the narrative of one missing white woman or white child, with a hint of foul play involved, will occupy hours of TV news. We are a queer species.

Domthedefrockedfriar

Ed: I am a faithful and alert reader but I never respond. Please don't forget about us.

Bobthesurgeon

...once again the United States is the big, bad wolf who will get blamed for everything wrong in the world..lets see if my children are old and senile before france germany and england have a black head of state...bill have you ever been to the phillipines? do you know any filipinos?

Ed Cone

Bob, not sure what your comment means. People are discussing well-documented episodes from an explicitly imperialist phase of American history, not blaming the US for everything bad in the world. A free people can discuss history, can't we? Or do you have some politically correct version to which we must all adhere?

Bobthesurgeon

Ed...when past events as read to us from a collection of europeean, anti-american academics, which may or may not have happened ( 1,000,000 really? did anyone check to see what the population of the phillipines was in 1900?) are being extrapolated to include our future we are no longer discussing history...we are discussing politics.....I for one am hoping to move on a teensy bit and focus on how those strong carolina granite gravestones and the stories of the proud people under them can better help us deal with the problems and challenges which confront us now...on a lighter note you are on the money about me being politically correct..you know where i learnt that from

Ed Cone

Hard to discuss the Philippines (a topic you introduced, with apparent glee) without getting into some nasty business. The death toll is discussed in the footnotes here; one million dead is a number taken seriously, but it is not conclusive.

BTW, Pershing and Washington were Generals of the Armies of the US, but the five-star designation did not exist until WWII.

Lex

Now you've got me interested. My late grandfather, Hooper Alexander Jr., also rode with Pershing in pursuit of Pancho Villa. Documentation of his military career, gathered years ago by my father, is somewhere within the 20 boxes of records and memorabilia I brought home after Dad died three years ago. My first plan for retirement, assuming I get to retire and my first plan isn't not starving, is to get as much of that stuff on the Interwebz as possible before dying.

Bobthesurgeon

you are on the money Ed its summed up here nicely for those who are interested: http://www.history.army.mil/faq/FAQ-5star.htm

chris

From the Greensboro Daily News, May 12, 1914.

GREENSBORO NEGRO TROOPER IS KILLED
___________________________

Son of Sandy Alexander, a Member of the Tenth Cavalry, Killed on Border
_________________________

NO PARTICULARS WIRED

_______________

A Greensboro negro, Thomas R. Alexander, was killed yesterday on the Mexican border according to a message received by his father yesterday afternoon from a captain of the 10th Cavalry, or which the boy was a member. No details were received, the message being merely an announcement of the death and a query as to the disposition of the body.
The boy’s father is Sandy Alexander, who runs a barber shop under the Greensboro Loan and Trust company. Sandy said yesterday upon receiving the message that although it was a great shock it was nothing more than he expected.
The telegram was sent from a point in Arizona as follows:
“Sandy Alexander,
“311 1/2 South Elm street,
“Greensboro, N.C.
“Your son, Thomas R. Alexander, was shot and killed here today. Do you wish remains shipped to you? If so, where? Answer at once.
“C. S. Babcock, Captain 10th Cavalry.”

Sandy wired immediately for the body to be sent to Greensboro.
The boy enlisted 18 months ago. He was in an art school in New York at the time.

BustaBoro

Great read. My dad keeps up with the blog. He came into town for lunch on Saturday (the 22nd) and we took a little detour down Haywood St from my home in Glenwood, through Warnersville, and by Union Cemetery so I could give him a brief history lesson. Thanks for all the additional info. I'm an aspiring history teacher in GCschools and am really hoping to be able to incorporate some local history (field trips to Union cemetery?!) into my lessons.
And just for the record, if we're talking history, we're talking politics. There is no seperation. Not for the primary historical actors, nor for the historians and amateur historians discussing it after the fact.
And Bob, if you would like to read a good account of what actually happened in the Spanish-American war, try Smedley Butler's book "War is a Racket". He's a little harder to dismiss as a "european, anti-american academic". He was a major-general in the Marines who was the most decorated Marine in history at the time of his retirement. He also led a bunch of vets in their bonus march on Washington (anti-american vets maybe?). Point being, calling someone or some view anti-american is a complete cop-out and subverts more serious conversations and discussions.

Bobthesurgeon

..General Butler did not fight in the spanish-american war save for a polic post in guantanamo bay after the battle had already been fought so his knowledge of what "really happened" in the spanish-american war is limited. I can fully dismiss General Butlers later, post war years as that of someone who returned to his quaker roots and made his living speaking to primarily socialist gatherings; i.e. again the european influence..although i do not dismiss socialism as anti-american, the history of our country points overwhelmingly to a people who value freedom and free markets over control by the government and socialism. I will agree with General Butler on one thing though: when american troops are fighting they are doing the bidding of the american corporation, we have encapsulated our economic freedom in this entity for better or worse and it is a part of our fabric, through times good and bad; the alternative is a dull basket of "isms": statism, socialism, communism, and on the other extreme , fascism, all of which have threatend our republic in the 20th century, and all of which we have defeated, thanks to competent and brave men like General Butler....

Ed Cone

Bob, What is your understanding of what really happened in the war, and what is your evidence to support that view? So far you've offered only deflections, digressions, and aspersions on others.

Not that it's necessary for him to be considered a worthy historian, but Butler, a two-time Medal of Honor winner, saw combat as a young officer in the Philippines.

Jeff P Howe

What an excellent project, Ed. I tip my hat to you.

Bobthesurgeon

... my "understanding" comes from discussions with actual filipinos, both my wifes family and others , who report an oral history from their parents about the war and , if there were 1,000,000 souls killed , than surely Aguinaldo and his band of thugs played a major role in the killing of many peaceful, fillipino neutrals. My "understanding" comes from having been in the country, not just reading about it, and seeing the love most fillipinos have for the united states i.e. walking down Taft avenue and Mckinley Road to the Dewey Boulevard. In the phillipines, the most popular american name for buildings schools and hospitals is not Maccarthur but Mckinley, than Dewey and Taft, and after Maccarthur, Mohammed Ali. Long after Cuba was run over by communists, the Phillipines clung to america, finally letting go of the navel bases and other ties in the last part of the previous century. Ask actual fillipinos, not european dabblers or senile American Generals, what the "fillipino" genocide was and they will tell you to a person it took place at the hands of the japanese......not the americans.. i am sorry for being so spirited, i just get agitated when the "facts" are being validated by people with an agenda

Ed Cone

Streets named for the victors, family anecdotes, and a preference for the US over colonial Spain and Imperial Japan are not numbers and accounts of a war. You've changed the subject again.

Bobthesurgeon

start with the following: Matthew Smallman-Raynor "The phillipine insurrection and the 1902-1904 cholera epidemic-Journal of Historical Geography-24(1):68-89.....anything by Smallman is a good read , he ties medicine, war and history together in a fairly analytical way and he has a bit of an attitude,probably from being outside the tradtional cambridge-oxford academia
also:
http://www.carlisle.army.mil/usawc/Parameters/05spring/deady.pdf...

Bobthesurgeon

sorry i cant figure out the link thing..anyway the main point of the above is that the vast majority of the civilian deaths occurred because of a cholera epidemic. Was that the fault of america? I will concede that america was partially to blame for a conflict taking place, and that, in a strictly american legal sense, if the proximate cause of the cholera epidemic was the armed conflict , than yes we are a responsible party...hardly a "genocide" though, it diminishes other genocides by using that label

Ed Cone

Interesting article from the War College journal, thnx.

So...in an unabashedly imperial phase, the US decided to take possession of a country that had almost completed the overthrow of its colonial masters. "Aguinaldo and his band of thugs," as you describe them, were, according to the article, "wary but hopeful that the American victory would facilitate Philippine independence."

But: "US President William McKinley decided to annex the archipelago for two principal reasons, one ideological, the other interest-based. He announced his decision to a group of missionaries, citing America’s duty to 'educate the Filipinos and uplift them and Christianize them.' Like many, he believed the Filipinos were too backward to capably govern themselves. The practical consideration in an era of unbridled colonialism was that a weak independent Philippines would be a tempting acquisition for other colonial powers."

As an official Philippines historical site puts it, "The Philippines was again confronted with another foreign enemy." Aguinaldo is not a villain in this account. Of course, one man's terrorist is another's freedom fighter. Sites like this one, not to mention honors and memorials in his name, indicate that Aguinaldo is seen by many as the latter.

Interesting that you cite Smallman-Raynor, a contemporary writer, as an authority. I'm not challenging his expertise in the slightest, just noting that you previously held first-hand experience during the war as the gold standard for credibility -- and incorrectly stated that Butler lacked it.

Bobthesurgeon

Ed I will admit America does have some blood on its hands...Smallman is introduced to illustrate that most of the deaths were not from torture but from diarrhea....he is a historical biogeographer..kind of a neat academic specialty if i ever heard one...If I were alive back than I probably would have been an isolationist like Mark Twain, but, as we have seen throughout history, doing nothing is often as bold a statement as doing something. The legend of Aguinaldo amongst older fillipinos is unfortunately like many ex phillipine leaders, at first good but later fallen to corruption and self interest...I dont know if well ever know the full story, there was no CNN, no United Nations back than and the phillipines was, in practical terms, as far away from the United States as the moon is now....
Ed.... happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, im on call today, hoping to fit in some turkey and football in between calls to the ER

Ed Cone

It is often productive to view history through the lens of the present. We were a different country then, with a different culture.

Happy Thnxgiving to you, may your phone be silent.

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