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Black Battalion: Speech of Hon. Joseph B. Foraker of Ohio in the Senate of the United States, 1908

and some statements that are obviously worthless, but I submit
them in their entirety.
  This report enables us to fix with tolerable definiteness at
least some of the criminals who took the lead in the murderous
shooting of private citizens at Brownsville.  It establishes
clearly the fact that the colored soldiers did the shooting; but
upon this point further record was unnecessary, as the fact
that the colored soldiers did the shooting has already been es-
tablished beyond all possibility of doubt.  The investigation
has not gone far enough to enable us to determine all the facts,
and we will proceed with it; but it has gone far enough to
determine  with sufficient accuracy certain facts of enough
importance to make it advisable that I place the report before
you.  It appears that almost all the members of Company B
must have been actively concerned in the shooting, either to
the extent of being participants or to the extent of virtually
encouraging those who were participants.  As to Companies
C and D, there can be no question that practically every man in
them must have had knowledge that the shooting was done by
some of the soldiers of B Troop, and possibly by one or two
others in one of the other troops.  This concealment was itself
a grave offense, which was greatly aggravated by their testify-
ing before the Senate committee that they were ignorant of
what they must have known.  Nevertheless, it is to be said
in partial extenuation that they were probably cowed by
threats, made by the more desperate of the men who had actu-
ally been engaged in the shooting, as to what would happen to
any man who failed to protect the wrongdoers. Moreover, there
are circumstances tending to show that these misguided men
were encouraged by outsiders to persist in their course of con-
cealment and denial. I feel, therefore, that the guilt of the
men who, after the event, thus shielded the perpetrators of the
wrong by refusing to tell the truth about them, though serious,
was in part due to the unwise and improper attitude of others,
and that some measure of allowance should be made for the
misconduct.  In other words, I believe we can afford to rein-
state any of these men who now truthfully tell what has hap-
pened, give all the aid they can to fix the responsibility upon
those who are really guilty, and show that they themselves had
no guilty knowledge beforehand and were in no way implicated
in the affair, save by having knowledge of it afterwards and
failing and refusing to divulge it.  Under the circumstances,
and in view of the length of time they have been out of the
service, and their loss of the benefit that would have accrued
to them by continuous long-time service, we can afford to treat
the men who meet the requirements given above as having
been sufficiently punished by the consequences they brought upon
themselves when they rendered necessary the exercise of the
disciplinary power.  I recommend that a law be passed allow-
ing the Secretary of War, within a fixed period of time, say,
a year, to reinstate any of these soldiers whom he, after careful
examination, finds to have been innocent and whom he finds to
have done all in his power to help bring to justice the guilty.
  Meanwhile the investigation will be continued. The results
have made it obvious that only by carrying on the investigation
as the War Department has actually carried it on is there the


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Black Battalion: Speech of Hon. Joseph B. Foraker of Ohio in the Senate of the United States, 1908



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