Saturday, September 07, 2013

Did the USA kill 600,000 Filipinos in Luzon from 1899-1901?

According to Gore Vidal they did:

"General J. Franklin Bell, a propos our seizure of the Philippines. “In order to combat such a population, it is necessary to make the state of war as insupportable as possible, and there is no more efficacious way of accomplishing this than by keeping the minds of the people in such a state of anxiety and apprehension that living under such conditions will soon become intolerable.”

"General Bell himself, the old sweetheart, estimated that we killed one-sixth of the population of the main island of Luzon—some 600,000 people."

The Source for Vidal's statement:

"West Point: America’s Power Fraternity (1973)  and Moorfield Storey’s Conquest of the Philippines. (1926).  Storey’s source - the New York Times of May 3, 1901."

"West Point" simply quotes "Conquest" and can be ignored. Here is the quote from "Conquest of the Philippines" (page 121):

"No official estimate of the number of people killed by such measures throughout the islands
since the beginning of the war has ever been made. General J. M. Bell, however, made the 
estimate that in Luzon alone one-sixth of the native population had been wiped out as a con- 
sequence of the war (18). Luzon then had a population of over three and a half million, and
one-sixth of that number meant 600,000 men, women and children. "

The Facts:

1) Gore Vidal mixes up  his General Bells.  There were TWO general Bells on Luzon in 1900.  First, Major General J. Franklin Bell quoted in the first paragraph and second, Brig. General  James M. Bell - who was supposedly interviewed on May 3, 1901. They were two very different people.  James M. Bell was the 60 year old  Military governor of 3 provinces on Luzon - total population 600,000.  He returned to the USA in April 1901; and retired in October 1901.  General J. Franklin Bell stayed in the Philippines from 1899-1902 and was later criticized for harshness.

2) There is no record of John M. Bell in the May 3rd, 1901 New York Times. There IS one for May 1, 1901 (will be discussed later).

3) Moorfield Storey wasn't a historian but a political partisan and President of the "Anti-Imperialist League" from 1905-1921. He ran for Congress in 1900 as an Independent "anti-imperialist".  His book 'Conquest of the Philippines' is an attack on American Philippine policy not an objective history.

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