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

had.  He kept trying to persuade me to tell him who did the shooting,
which was impossible for me to tell him; he also repeats there is a
lot of them talking now; said ---- has acknowledged that he was in
the shooting.
  I said, "Mr. ----, if ---- has been man enough to tell you he
was in the shooting, it looks funny he didn't tell you who else was
in it."  He said, "That's all right; it's all coming out."
  Then he began to ask me about my family; said it would be bad for
me to have to leave a young family and be turned over to the State of
Texas.  I told him before I would be willing to swear a lie on any-
body I would be willing to go to Texas or anywhere else, because the
truth stands in its place.  He said, "You know if you go to Texas
nobody knows the result.   You will get there.  You may never return
here any more."  I said "God's will must be done.  If it is His will
for me to go, I suffer His will may be done."
  Now, I might read at length to the same character, but it is
not necessary.  I have read what I have read only to show, if
there be any truth in this, that there is still an effort being made
on the part of the Government to find out, by seeking for con-
fessions and otherwise, how to identify some of these discharged
soldiers as having participated in that offense.
  Mr. President, I have no objection to that.  Upon the testi-
mony as it stands now I am of the opinion none of the soldiers
did any shooting in that town that night; but about that, as I
have repeatedly said, I may be mistaken. I do not know who
did it, but I do know that if there be a guilty man in that
battalion, no man should throw a straw in the way of having
that guilt established.
  But, Mr. President, there is a right way and a wrong way
to do these things. It seems to me that these men, poor, help-
less, friendless, as they are, should at least have the benefit
secured to them by the Congress of the United States of having
an opportunity to confront their accusers, to answer testimony
with testimony; that it is contrary to the spirit of American
institutions that men should be found guilty of crime, serious
crime, the crime of murder, if you please, as well as numer-
ous crimes that go hand in hand with the commission of this
offense, in this instance, by such methods as are represented in
the letter from which I have read briefly.
  Therefore it is not for the purpose of standing in the way of
any proper investigation, but for the purpose of authorizing such
further investigation as may be desired that I have undertaken
to create a tribunal, and I have undertaken to name the mem-
bers who shall compose that tribunal. I have selected retired
army officers.
  I have sought to name men who are high enough in rank and
old enough in age as well as in service to be absolutely free
and independent, to have absolutely free and unbiased minds
to bring to bear in passing judgment upon charges that may be
offered before them.    The charge contemplated to be there
offered and passed upon is simply the charge of any nature
that will tend to identify any one of these soldiers against
whose reenlistment anybody may desire to offer any such ob-
  Now, I want to remind Senators that this whole subject has
come down to a very narrow point. There is no longer before
us any question as to the constitutional power of the President
to discharge, for whether he has that power or not he has dis-
charged these men; they are out of the service. We have heard
everybody testify who was willing to come before us or whom


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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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