The Philippine-American War : President Theodore Roosevelt’s thoughts and comments on the American atrocities toward the Filipino’s & the Water Cure Torture.

 

 

 

May 30, 1902: President Theodore Roosevelt addresses a vast Memorial Day crowd at Arlington Cemetery before assembled veterans and journalists.

In his “indignant” speech, Roosevelt defended the U. S. Army against charges of “cruelty” in the ongoing Philippine-American War by racializing the conflict as one being fought between the forces of “civilization” and “savagery.” He dismissed the Filipinos as “Chinese half-breeds,” and insisted “this is the most glorious war in our nation’s history.”

In the same year, Albert Gardner, in Troop B of the 1st U.S. Cavalry, composed a would-be comic song dedicated to “water-cure” torture, sung to the tune of the Battle Hymn of the Republic:

“1st
Get the good old syringe boys and fill it to the brim
We’ve caught another n*gger and we’ll operate on him
Let someone take the handle who can work it with a vim
Shouting the battle cry of freedom

Chorus
Hurrah Hurrah We bring the Jubilee
Hurrah Hurrah The flag that makes him free
Shove in the nozzel deep and let him taste of liberty
Shouting the battle cry of freedom”

President Roosevelt privately assured a friend the water cure was  “an old Filipino method of mild torture”  and claimed when Americans administered it  “nobody was seriously damaged.”

The ”treatment” consisted of spread-eagling a prisoner on his back, forcing his mouth open with a bamboo stick and pouring gallons of water down his throat. Helpless, the prisoner was pumped with water until his stomach was near the bursting point. Then he was questioned. If he refused to answer, an American soldier stood or kneeled on his belly, forcing the water out. One report by a U.S. soldier told how “a good heavy man” jumped on a prisoner’s belly “sending a gush of water from his mouth into the air as high as six feet.”

This cure was repeated until the prisoner talked or died. Roughly half the Filipinos given the cure did not survive. How many Filipinos were killed by torture is not known, but the extent of the practice is documented by a letter sent home by a soldier who bragged of inflicting the water cure on 160 Filipinos, 134 of whom died. A Harvard-educated officer, 1st Lt. Grover Flint, testified before the US Senate on the routine torture of Filipino combatants and civilians. He described the “water cure” as standard US Army torture.

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About The Author

Executive Editor & Founder

Ligaya is the Executive Editor & Writer at Pinoy-Culture.com. She lives in NYC with her two dogs and spends her time reading, writing, collecting and buying books online and in safe haven, Strand Bookstore, watching her guilty tv show pleasure Vikings, and overdosing herself in coffee as a certified caffeine addict. Her book, Diwatahan: A Look Into the Precolonial Beliefs, Practices, Myths, & Folklore of the Philippines, is currently in progress and is scheduled to be published in Summer of 2017.

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