Monday, July 18, 2011

Embedded journalists reporting on the Battle of Manila of May 1, 1898.

Photo of screen image of original copy of the New York Journal of May 8, 1898  in the collection of the Newseum, Washington DC.

We enjoyed the Newseum (short for news museum) on Pennsylvania & Sixth, a short walk from the National Mall in Washington DC, because it afforded us historical reportage and current multi-media coverages of significant American and international events.

We've known the Newseum for quite some time through its website. We knew what to expect.  Thus, we gave ourself a day to enjoy the Newseum beginning with its collection of original editions of American newspapers that capture significant moments in history from as far back as the colonial period.

We were not surprised to find the May 8, 1898 edition of the New York Journal that headlined Gen. George Dewey's victory at the Battle of Manila.

The Journal front page spread was the "detailed American account of the Great Battle of Manila from Journal correspondent John T[inney] McCutcheon on board the United States gunboat McCulloch," his special cable dispatch six days after the defeat of the Spanish fleet in Manila Bay on May 1:

     Hong Kong, May 7.—This is the result of the great fight in Manila Bay:

     Eleven Spanish ships destroyed.
     Eight Spanish ships captured.
     Four shore batteries at Cavite demolished.
     Three forts on Corregidor Island reduced.
     Four hundred Spaniards killed.
     Six hundred Spaniards wounded.
     Spanish supplies lost and captured to the amount of $5,000,000.
     American loss:
     Eight men slightly wounded.
     One thousand dollars damage.
     Those are the figures of victory. The story of the battle will live forever. 
     The names of its heroes can never die.
     The fighting began at 5 o’clock in the morning.

     The Spaniards  surrendered at 12:40 in the afternoon. 

Aside from McCutcheon, there were two other journalists embedded with Dewey's fleet to cover the Spanish-American war in the Asiatic region.  These were Edward Walker Harden and Joseph L. Stickney.

McCutcheon and Harden were reporting for the Chicago Tribune, and Stickney for the New York Herald. We are sticking to these assignments even if there are accounts that say Stickney reported for Chicago papers. Their battle of Manila stories could have been syndicated by their papers, which may explain how McCutcheon's account found its way to the New York Journal

He started with the Chicago Morning News as an artist in 1889, worked as cartoonist of the Tribune from 1903 until he retired in 1946, and was awarded the Pulitzer prize for cartoons in 1931.   He wrote eleven books,  one of them Stories of Filipino Warfare (1900).  His articles covering Dewey's victory until the "taking of Manila" in August 1898 were included in the collection of stories on the war in Cuba and the Philippines by the reporters of the Chicago Records (1898). 

Harden was the financial editor of the Chicago Tribune when he volunteered as  war correspondent with the US Navy for his paper and the New York World in 1898.  He later reported on the "Financial and Industrial Conditions of the Philippines, 1898" based on the studies he did for six months as a special commissioner of the United States.   

McCutcheon and Harden were actually close friends, and according to one account, they accompanied each other to the Far East, "where they joined Commodore Dewey's Asiatic Squadron."  McCutcheon was best man when Harden got married in New York on September 9, 1903.

Joseph Stickney, a graduate of the US Naval Academy, was a naval officer before he opted to become a reporter.  He was in Tokyo doing intelligence work for the New York Herald when the US declared war against Spain.  He wrote --

"... I had gone to Japan to keep a look-out upon the British, Japanese and Russian fleets in the Far East, because there were such indications of tension among the Western powers that it was desirable to be in the neighbourhood of Asiatic waters for any war that might occur between Russia and Great Britain. 

“Being in Tokio (sic), Japan, I cabled to Commodore Dewey on Saturday, April 9th, as follows:

“”The Secretary of the Navy gives me permission to accompany your squadron to the Philippines if you do not object. May I go with you, agreeing not to send while with you any news except when approved by you?  If yes, shall I come immediately? Stickney, Imperial Hotel.”

“I received next day the following reply, dated Honkong (sic):

“”Yes; come immediately. Dewey.”

Stickney even got designated as Dewey's aide.  Here's his account of his appointment --

“As a non-combatant, I felt that I had a right to no privileges except those granted me by the Admiral.  On Saturday I asked him if I might be allowed a position on the forward bridge, if a battle should be fought.

“He answered: “I think you’ll be satisfied.” After the council of war, when the officers had returned to their respective ships, he sent for me to come to the quarter deck, and said:  “Mr. Stickney, Mr. Caldwell [his naval secretary] has volunteered for duty at the guns, and I have decided to appoint you my aide.  You will take station with me on the forward bridge.”  He paused and then added with a quizzical twinkle in his eye: “Satisfied?” 

While in Hongkong, Dewey imposed restrictions on what the three embedded reporters could send to their papers.  “The commodore," McCutcheon would recall later, "has asked the three newspaper men with the fleet to send no cablegrams which might reveal the plans of the fleet, because these cablegrams would be returned at once to Madrid and from there to Manila.  Consequently there are a good many things which it would be inadvisable to have printed at this time and which it would not be well to cable.”

In Manila, Stickney had all the advantages over Harden and McCutcheon. By being right beside Dewey on the Olympia all throughout the battle, he saw how the commodore directed the war.  The Chicago boys were on the gunboat McCulloch, which was positioned opposite the Olympia, where they could only see how the battle proceeded. 

It was six days later on May 7 that America would know of Dewey's defeat of the Spanish armada in Manila Bay because the story could only be dispatched by telegram from Hongkong.  

Before they all left Manila on board the McCulloch, Dewey again admonished them to file their stories only after his official report has been dispatched to Washington, and that they should not include any speculations about his post-victory plans in Manila.    

According to Lyons (1970),  "the biggest news beat of the Spanish-American War was scored by E.W. Harden of the New York World [Chicago Tribune?--LFR], who won a rickshaw race with Joseph Stickney of the New York Herald to the Hong Kong telegraph office to file a one-paragraph report of Dewey’s victory at Manila.  This was a whole week after the battle. For America had no Pacific cable.” 

Below is one account of how that happened although we doubt the part about the length of Harden's story-- 

"Upon arrival in Hong Kong, Consul General Wildman took a steam launch to the McCulloch to ferry the new arrivals to shore.  Even before the launch could tie up at the docks, Harden and Stickney were leaping ashore and racing for the telegraph office.  The younger Harden took a shortcut, arriving only minutes before Stickney.  While the clerk protested the lengthy (3,000 word) dispatch, Stickney arrived and went directly to the manager's office.

"Stickney's observance of office protocol earned the loyalty of the manager, who ruled that the first dispatch would the the Herald's.  Harden protested, ordering dispatches to the general manager of the telegraph lines in London requesting the immediate dismissal of the Hong Kong office manager.  The clerk refused to send Harden's complaint to the general manager after noting that it was NOT a WAR DISPATCH.  

"The crafty Harden finally resorted to bribery, informing the office manager he would pay for his dispatches in a rate THREE TIMES the commercial rate and NINE TIMES the press rate.  The bribe worked, and the office manager ruled that Harden's dispatch to the Tribune would go first, followed by Stickney's dispatch, and finally McCutcheon's.

"In keeping with the conditions imposed by Commodore Dewey, Harden advised the clerk that Lieutenant Brumby's dispatches must preceded them all, and specified that these official dispatches must be repeated.  Harden's instructions were in keeping with the LETTER of the conditions, though not the spirit.  In requiring that Dewey's dispatches be repeated, it mean delays at each of the six relay stations between Hong Kong and the U.S. Capitol.  At the first relay station, Harden's report of the battle passed the official report of Lieutenant Brumbly, arriving between 3 and 4 A.M. (hours ahead of everyone else), just in time to make the morning editions."

Lyons wrote that the first report actually came from Spanish sources but the garbled story had "Dewey's fleet retiring damaged."

We haven't laid our hands on Harden's and Stickney's stories but they could not have been any longer or more detailed than McCutcheon's considering the limitations of telegraphy.

Dewey's report was brief:
"HONGKONG, May 7, 1898. (Manila, May 1.)

"The squadron arrived a Manila at daybreak this morning. Immediately engaged enemy and destroyed the following Spanish vessels: Reina Christina, Castilla, Don Antonio de Biloa, Don Juan de Austria, Isla de Luzon, Isla de Cuba, General Lezo, Marquis del Duaro, El Curreo, Velasco, one transport, Isla de Mandano, water battery at Cavite. I shall destroy Cavite arsenal dispensatory. The squadron is uninjured. Few men were slightly wounded. I request the Department will send immediately from San Francisco fast steamer with ammunition. The only means of telegraphing is to the American consul at "Hongkong.

Fuller reports from the embedded journalists would come later in American magazines.  While McCutcheon was a cartoonist, he was also a photographer, and his and Harden's articles would carry illustrations based on McCutcheon's photographs.  Stickney carried his own camera.

McCutcheon's photograph used in Harden's Dewey at Manila-One Year's Retrospect.

The Spaniards had their official accounts of their defeat. We have yet to see a Filipino reporter's coverage of the Asiatic part of the war between Spain and America, and we'd like to think that there could have been a feature about it in the Diario de Manila.  

McCutcheon's photograph used in Harden's Dewey at Manila-One Year's Retrospect.

The Philippine revolution was in exile in Hong Kong.  In about two months Manila would fall, and the US and Spain would sign a treaty of peace in Paris.  In the brief interlude, Aguinaldo came home and proclaimed independence on June 12 in Cavite.  

Little did McCutcheon imagine that that independence would be short-lived and his countrymen would be engaged in their first foreign war in Asia,  as invaders of an alien soil, when he wrote -- 

“In years to come, if the fond hopes of the Filipinos are to be realized, the 12th of June will be an occasion of rejoicing and jubilee.  It will be to the natives of these islands what the Fourth of July is to the Americans.  The declaration of independence will be read to the school children, every house will be gay with Filipino flags, and the sounds of parading bands will share the honors with the noisy firecracker and the soaring skyrocket.  It will become such an institution that the daily papers will speak familiarly of it as the”Glorious Twelfth,” and on the morning of the 13th there will be a great deal of fire news.

“On the afternoon of June 12 the formation of a provisional government was officially proclaimed in Old Cavite ...


You may want to read what the three embedded journalists wrote later after May 1, 1898. 
  • Harden, Edward W. (1899, May). Dewey at Manila. One Year’s Retrospect. Frank Leslie’s Popular Monthly. 48(1): 21-38.  Available at [Harden wrote as the U.S. Commissioner to the Philippines. Illustrations were done by his friend John T McCutcheon.]
  • The Chicago Record’s War Stories (1898) by the staff correspondents in the field.  Available at Stories written by John T McCutcheon in this collection:  Dewey's Fleet in Mirs Bay, The Battle of Manila, After Dewey's Victory, On the Eve of the Battle, A Day Off Blockaded Manila, American Soldiers in Cavite, A Battle in the Night, The Taking of Manila, and Fighting at Malate.    The Battle of Manila and The Taking of Manila are blow-by-blow accounts of the May 1 and August 12-13 battles between America and Spain, respectively.  Fighting at Malate tells of his guided inspection with a Filipino general of the Filipino lines against the Spaniards. 
  • McCutcheon, John T. (1899, April).  The Surrender of Manila. (August 13, 1898.) As Seen from Admiral Dewey’s Flagship. The Century Magazine. 47(6):935-942.  Available at 
  • Stickney, Joseph L.  (1899).  Admiral Dewey at Manila and the Complete Story of the Philippines/Life and Glorious Deeds of Admiral George Dewey including a Thrilling Account of our Conflicts with the Spaniards and Filipinos in the Orient. Chicago: Imperial Publishing Company.  Available at [He wrote as Admiral Dewey’s Aide. Fully illustrated with photographs many of which were taken by the author during the battle, from the bridge of the flagship “Olympia” in Manila Bay.]
  • Stickney, Joseph L.  (1899).  War in the Philippines and Life and Glorious Deeds of Admiral Dewey. A Thrilling Account of our Conflicts with the Spaniards and Filipinos in the Orient including the Glorieous Deeds of the Great Commander and The Complete Story of the Philippine Islands, Historical and Descriptive. Chicago: Imperial Publishing Company.Available at [He wrote as Admiral Dewey’s Aide. Fully illustrated with photographs many of which were taken by the author during the battle, from the bridge of the flagship “Olympia” in Manila Bay.]
Other references used in this blog --

Monday, July 4, 2011

Recalling "Give me Liberty or Give me Death!" this 4th of July

Patrick Henry delivered his "Give me Liberty or Give me Death" on 23 March 1775 during the second Virginia revolutionary council at the St. John's Episcopal Church ((left) in Richmond.  Today, visitors of the Church may have the chance to see the re-enactment of that session where Patrick Henry rose to deliver the call for American independence. George Washington, who was a member of that convention, is portrayed by the actor shown above.

After visiting the William Jones Memorial in Warsaw, Virginia, that "tribute of the undying gratitude of the Filipino people" to the author of the Jones Law, we drove to Richmond with one thing in mind--the wide and grand marble staircase of The Jefferson Hotel--a popular tourist attraction there. It has been rumored to be the model of Atlanta mansion stairs in Gone with the Wind where Rhett Butler (Clark Gable) carried Scarlett O'Hara (Vivien Leigh) up in his arms. 

We could have tarried there a little longer but the front desk urged us to catch the re-enactment of Patrick Henry's delivery of the Give me Liberty or Give Me Death scene at the actual site of the second Virginia revolutionary council convention--the St. John's Episcopal Church--on 23 March 1775.  Performances are done on summer Sundays, from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend. We arrived right on time, the playlet started as soon as we got settled on our seats.

The audience assumed the role of delegates aside from the actors who played Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and eight others.  We of course supported the call for rebellion against the Brits!

This historical journey reminded us that many years ago, United States history was part of our high school curriculum.  If we remember correctly, we had Philippine history in the freshman year, US history in the sophomore year, and world history in the junior year.  

Of the many persons, places and events we had to memorize, those that can be recalled easily were George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Patrick Henry, probably in that order; 4th of July, because it was both the American and our independence day in our youth; Gettysburg address, the Declaration of Independence and the phrase "Give me Liberty of Give me Death."

It's possible that most people would forget the name Patrick Henry but his call of liberty or death would certainly ring familiar to those who had to memorize the piece for the oratorical contests among town or provincial schools.

Henry's words still endure and inspire.  The young Chinese protesters carried "Liberty or Death" in their placards during the Tienanmen Square upheaval.

It would take more than a year for the colonies to translate Patrick Henry into the Declaration of Independence through the pen of Thomas Jefferson in June 1776.  A month later, on 4th of July 1776, they would declare their independence from Great Britain. 

It's fireworks time!

Photo taken at the News Museum on Pennsylvania Ave., Washington DC shows the replica of the press used in the printing of the Declaration of Independence, a large reproduction of which serves as background of the exhibit.  The original Declaration can be seen at the US National Archives.

Give Me Liberty Or Give Me Death **
Patrick Henry, March 23, 1775.

No man thinks more highly than I do of the patriotism, as well as abilities, of the very worthy gentlemen who have just addressed the House. But different men often see the same subject in different lights; and, therefore, I hope it will not be thought disrespectful to those gentlemen if, entertaining as I do opinions of a character very opposite to theirs, I shall speak forth my sentiments freely and without reserve. This is no time for ceremony. The questing before the House is one of awful moment to this country. For my own part, I consider it as nothing less than a question of freedom or slavery; and in proportion to the magnitude of the subject ought to be the freedom of the debate. It is only in this way that we can hope to arrive at truth, and fulfill the great responsibility which we hold to God and our country. Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offense, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty toward the Majesty of Heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings.

Mr. President, it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and, having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it.

I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past. And judging by the past, I wish to know what there has been in the conduct of the British ministry for the last ten years to justify those hopes with which gentlemen have been pleased to solace themselves and the House. Is it that insidious smile with which our petition has been lately received? Trust it not, sir; it will prove a snare to your feet. Suffer not yourselves to be betrayed with a kiss. Ask yourselves how this gracious reception of our petition comports with those warlike preparations which cover our waters and darken our land. Are fleets and armies necessary to a work of love and reconciliation? Have we shown ourselves so unwilling to be reconciled that force must be called in to win back our love? Let us not deceive ourselves, sir. These are the implements of war and subjugation; the last arguments to which kings resort. I ask gentlemen, sir, what means this martial array, if its purpose be not to force us to submission? Can gentlemen assign any other possible motive for it? Has Great Britain any enemy, in this quarter of the world, to call for all this accumulation of navies and armies? No, sir, she has none. They are meant for us: they can be meant for no other. They are sent over to bind and rivet upon us those chains which the British ministry have been so long forging. And what have we to oppose to them? Shall we try argument? Sir, we have been trying that for the last ten years. Have we anything new to offer upon the subject? Nothing. We have held the subject up in every light of which it is capable; but it has been all in vain. Shall we resort to entreaty and humble supplication? What terms shall we find which have not been already exhausted? Let us not, I beseech you, sir, deceive ourselves. Sir, we have done everything that could be done to avert the storm which is now coming on. We have petitioned; we have remonstrated; we have supplicated; we have prostrated ourselves before the throne, and have implored its interposition to arrest the tyrannical hands of the ministry and Parliament. Our petitions have been slighted; our remonstrances have produced additional violence and insult; our supplications have been disregarded; and we have been spurned, with contempt, from the foot of the throne! In vain, after these things, may we indulge the fond hope of peace and reconciliation. There is no longer any room for hope. If we wish to be free-- if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending--if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained--we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of hosts is all that is left us!

They tell us, sir, that we are weak; unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying supinely on our backs and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot? Sir, we are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. The millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitable--and let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come.

It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace-- but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Puerto Princesa [Palawan] underground river in the 1920s.

Front page photograph from Manila Bulletin, 02 July 2011 issue.

Early evening of 01 July, Salem, MA.--We've just opened the online version of the 02 July edition of the Manila Bulletin, and the picture spread on top of the front page reminded us of deferred plans to go nature tripping in Palawan foremost of which is to explore the Puerto Princesa underground river.   

The US Navy officials in the picture above could have nothing else to describe their exploration but superlative praises just like the many local and foreign nature lovers before them. 

Two days ago, we came across a report of a similar journey by Americans in the 1920s [see bibliographic note].  They might not have totally covered the underground river then partly because their guides had some fears arising from superstitions about the dark and forbidding place.  Their report --

 "There are many natural wonders to be seen everywhere in exploring these isles [the Philippines].  Perhaps the most impressive of all is the underground river, which exists on the long and narrow island of Palawan.  Here a good sized river bursts forth from a cave close to the shore.  The natives regard this black cave as something supernatural and terrible.  American explorers have ventured several miles up its hidden depths; but the full passage of the river never has been, perhaps never can be traced. The river fills the bottom of the strange tunnel which nature has made for it.  At some distance up the passage, a mass of great rocks have been shaken by earthquakes from the roof, and almost block the passage.  Climbing over these, adventurers have explored the wonderful passage beyond, piercing its absolute blackness by means of artificial light.  Sometimes the tunnel expands into vast cathedral halls of inexpressible awe and majesty; sometimes it contracts to a narrow hole, almost completely filled by the rushing waters.  The rocks along its edge have been worn into every conceivable, fantastic shape.  The whole cavern seems destined to be exploited some day as one of the chief natural wonders of the world." 

Today, it has become a major tourist attraction not only in Palawan but also in the country.

It is now one of the 28 finalists in the worldwide search for the N7W (New 7 Wonders of the World), and the seven will be officially announced on 11.11.2011 (11 November, 2011). 

Philippine President Benigno Aquino III himself has campaigned for votes.  "We only need a billion votes," he was quoted as saying, "just half a day of texting for all Filipinos who have cellular phones.

From YouTube:  Puerto Princesa Underground River and the Sirenia Fossil


  • Part 56. (c1924). Chapters XXIX-XXX--The Philippines. The World and its People. New York: Ira R. Hiller.
Two days ago, we found this booklet in an antique shop in Salem, Massachusetts.  This is where we usually rest-stop during our almost 2-mile walk from our sister's place to the downtown Essex mall. We take some time to examine old stuffs and rummage through old pictures, books and magazines hoping that we may find something Philippine to bring home.  After all, American trading ships sailed from Salem to Asia including the Philippines in the 1800s, and there may be relics from those years that have found their way to this store.

Part 56 comprises three chapters, two about the Philippines (Luzon and Southern Islands) and the third about Borneo and Celebes. The pages carry labels perhaps to catch the interest of the American readers. The Luzon pages are marked "The Renowned Virgin of Antipolo", "The Friars' Land and Pagsanjan", "Baguio and its Amazing Road", "The Modernizing of the Igorots" and "Baseball among the Head-hunters" while the Southern Islands have "Taal and Mayon, Our Volcanos", "Negritos, Visayans, and Moros", "The Jolly Harbor of Cebu", "An Ancient Idol in Modern Dress" [referring to the Sto Nino of Cebu] and "The Lovely Tropic Town of Zamboanga".

Readers today may not be pleased with some portions of this material like those about the Igorots and about religious practices.