Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Lindsay, John N. (Philippine-American War correspondence)
View entire collection guide What's This?
Search this collection
Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Immediate Source of Acquisition
  • Statement of Potentially Harmful Content
  • Preferred Citation
  • Content Description
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Bibliography

  • Contributing Institution: Center for American War Letters Archives
    Title: John N. Lindsay Philippine-American War correspondence
    Identifier/Call Number: 2017.545.wc.r
    Physical Description: 0.08 Linear Feet (1 folder)
    Date (inclusive): 1898 January 4 - 1899 March 3
    Abstract: This collection contains eight photocopied correspondence from John N. Lindsay to Bertha E. Tait during the Philippine-American War.
    Language of Material: English .
    Container: Philippine American War 1
    Container: 8
    Container: 1

    Conditions Governing Access

    This collection is open for research.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    Gift of Reta Westfall.

    Statement of Potentially Harmful Content

    This collection may contain materials that are difficult to view, are potentially harmful, or use outdated and culturally insensitive language. Chapman University preserves and makes these materials accessible to researchers to ensure long-term accuracy of these historical records. This repository aims to not promote or otherwise celebrate this content, but to use it for educational and research purposes.
    Please see the National Archives and Records Administration's (NARA) "Statement on Potentially Harmful Content" for more information: https://www.archives.gov/research/reparative-description/harmful-content

    Preferred Citation

    [Item title / description; Box "n" / Folder "n"], John N. Lindsay Philippine-American War correspondence (2017.545.wc.r), Center for American War Letters Archives, Chapman University, CA.
    For the benefit of current and future researchers, please cite any additional information about sources consulted in this collection, including permanent URLs, item or folder descriptions, and box/folder locations.

    Content Description

    This collection contains eight photocopied correspondence sent from [rank unknown] John N. Lindsay, United States Army to Bertha E. Tait during the Philippine-American War. He shared his opinions about US colonialism while serving in the Philippines, and made observations about the Catholic Church, the Filipino people and their oppression, the natural environment surrounding Manila, and the economic potential of the Philippines throughout his correspondence with Tait. According to the donor, Lindsay and Tait would eventually become married to each other.
    In a letter written from Manila on September 30, 1898, Lindsay admitted that he did not write as candidly with his family as he did with her, fearing they would worry more about his well-being. He proceeded to describe what he saw while visiting an unnamed palace somewhere in Manila, from where it was possible to see Manila Bay. He observed numerous ships anchored in the bay, and among them claimed to have seen the British battleship, "the Powerful." He later wrote in this letter that while on guard duty he had seen General Emilio Aguinaldo.
    In a letter dated to October 15, 1898, Lindsay wrote about the possibility of US annexation of the Philippines. He wrestled with themes of colonialism and US economic interest while expressing sympathy for the Filipino people. Lindsay was particularly disturbed by the Spanish Inquisition against Filipinos.
    He stated that "you have no doubt read about the Spanish Inquisition and its countless instruments of fiendish cruelty where heretics were clad in mockery [and] were left to torture and to death because they had the moral courage and physical grandure [sic] to stand up before opposition, hatred, and death and speak their honest convictions and raise the whole world intelectualy [sic]." He continued to share gruesome details about one of the torture dungeons he had seen in Manila where he found the remains of ten Filipino soldiers. Lindsay clarified that he "had said nothing about this before for I wanted the fact to be well known before making this statement so it would not be said that the statement was without any direct evidence." He also disclosed that rumors of more gruesome dungeons were spreading but he had yet to verify them.
    On January 9, 1899 Lindsay expressed his general discomfort with staying in the Philippines using potentially offensive or harmful language in the following quotation. He suggested that he had enlisted into service out of patriotism but did "not wish to be used as instruments to civilize a race of half barbarous people."
    In a February 18, 1899 letter, Lindsay informed Tait about his recent movement towards the "firing line. . . . All ready for business" by the afternoon of February 6, 1899. He provided Tait with an overview of his feelings regarding fights against the Filipino forces and used offensive or harmful language to describe them. Lindsay stated that "I consider it no honorable thing to fight these half civilized indians [sic]. First, they have not a sufficient amount of arms to cope with the Americans. Secondly; they have no knowledge of military operation. Third; they have no means of operating against us. Under these circumstances, there is no possibility of gaining much military honor."
    Lindsay went on to provide an overview of US casualties on the third page of this correspondence. It should be noted that within this context, he proceeded to use the N word in quotations when recording a casualty count of "6300." It remains unclear who he was specifically referring to, but according to Matthew Wills' article The Jim Crow Army in the Philippine-American War stated that "more than 6,000 African American soldiers took part" in this war. It is possible that Lindsay was referring to US soldiers who were of African American descent but this is pure speculation at the time of this writing. On page four of this correspondence, Lindsay once again uses the n word in quotations when stating he would not describe human remains "for it is too horid."
    Lindsay also shared that "the Americans have burned every hut they came to while following the insurgents and left [desolation] behind them . . . . [Filipinos] [were] guilty of fighting for liberty; just what we fought for in '1776', and I think they have as good a right to do it now as we had then."
    Lindsay wrote the last letter in this collection from the trenches "on the San Juan del Monte River" on March 3, 1899.

    Conditions Governing Use

    There are no restrictions on the use of this material except where previously copyrighted material is concerned. It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain all permissions.


    Wills, M. (2020). The Jim Crow Army in the Philippine-American War. JSTOR Daily: Politics and History. https://daily.jstor.org/the-jim-crow-army-in-the-philippine-american-war/#:~:text=The%20Philippine%2DAmerican%20War%20of,American%20soldiers%20who%20took%20part. Accessed September 15, 2022.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Spanish-American War, 1898
    Philippines -- History -- Philippine American War, 1899-1902
    United States. -- Army.