The Senator and the Sharecropper's Son: Exoneration of the Brownsville Soldiers

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Texas A&M University Press, 1997 - 271 pages
A mysterious midnight shooting spree that began on a dirt road in Texas between Brownsville and Fort Brown on August 13, 1906, killed one civilian and shattered the lives of 167 black infantrymen who had been summarily discharged without honor by a stroke of President Theodore Roosevelt's pen. In The Senator and the Sharecropper's Son, John D. Weaver completes the task he began with his 1970 book The Brownsville Raid, which, two years later, led to the soldiers' exoneration.

Weaver now traces the intertwined lives of Ohio's Senator Joseph B. Foraker, who risked his political career in an eloquent defense of the soldiers, who "asked no favors because they are Negroes but only for justice because they are men"; of Dorsie Willis, the Mississippi sharecropper's son who emerged from obscurity as the black battalion's last survivor; and of the New York aristocrat who linked the fates of those two men—the flamboyant and popular Theodore Roosevelt. Weaver's narrative explores these tangled lives against the background of "the color line," which W. E. B. Du Bois defined in 1903 as "the problem of the twentieth century."

The Senator and the Sharecropper's Son gives a powerful human dimension to the facts of history. The senator committed political suicide by championing the men caught up in this "Black Dreyfus Affair" and Dorsie Willis, who spent fifty-nine years shining shoes in a downtown Minneapolis barbershop, told a reporter, "That dishonorable discharge kept me from improving my station. Only God knows what it done to the others."

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Contents

1 Slavery so cruel to the slave was fatal to the master
3
2 The colored people of the South have been robbed of their votes
19
3 No rebel flags will be returned as long as I am governor
30
4 Slavery must be the greatest of crimes
42
5 No triumph of peace is quite so great as the supreme triumphs of war
54
6 what it is like when the wolf rises in the heart
64
7 Theres only one life between this madman and the White House
73
8 He laughed with glee at the power and place that had come to him
82
13 The malice of politics would make you miserable
134
14 Hes weak Theyll get around him
150
15 whether Taft or the Titanic is likely to be the furthestreaching disaster
162
16 It will take a very big man to solve this thing
170
17 The Champion of People Who Had No Champion
183
Afterword
198
Bibliographic Essay
215
Notes
219

9 Prof Booker T Washington was in the city yesterday and dined with the President
90
10 Regret to report serious shooting in Brownsville
101
11 It is even more important to protect Americans in America
110
12 They ask no favors because they are Negroes
120

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About the author (1997)

John D. Weaver's ten books include Another Such Victory, a novel based on the Bonus March of 1932; The Great Experiment, An intimate view of the everyday workings of the Federal Government; the seminal biography of Earl Warren; two books on Los Angeles; and Glad Tidings, a thirty-seven-year correspondence with John Cheever.

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