As Black History Month approaches, a Valley Forge Associate Professor chronicles a little-known incident in Roosevelt’s administration. Telling the compelling story of the dismissal and eventual exoneration of black soldiers of the 25th Infantry, Tom Durwood brings this powerful story of miscarriage and justice back into the spotlight.
King of Prussia, PA -- (SBWIRE) -- 01/07/2013 -- While still considered by many to be a young and progressive President, a new book by Valley Forge Associate Professor, Tom Durwood, reveals a side of Theodore Roosevelt that was mostly hidden from the public’s eye.
‘Teddy’s Tantrum’ offers an insightful chronicle of Roosevelt’s 1906 dismissal and eventual exoneration of 167 members of the 25th infantry. As one of the many racially-segregated units of the United States Army, their story is set to resonate more than ever with the approaching 2013 Black History Month.
This new account revisits a little-known 1906 incident in Teddy Roosevelt’s administration and finds an epic “lost” story of intrigue, combat, politics and redemption.
On November 5, 1906, Roosevelt dismissed 167 members of the 25th Infantry in what historian Lewis Gould calls “one of the most glaring miscarriages of justice in American history.” Sixty years later, a journeyman writer named John D. Weaver, the son of a clerk at the 1906 hearings, embarked on a campaign to exonerate the soldiers. His book produced a small measure of justice: in February of 1973, the U.S. Army issued an apology to the men of the 25th Infantry and awarded the sole surviving battalion member (Dorsie Willis) back pay.
This is the first chronicle of the entire Brownsville story, treating Weaver and the troops’ exoneration as an equal part of the narrative. Author Tom Durwood scratches the surface of “Teddy’s tantrum” and finds a confluence of rich characters and enduring themes. It is a story of military heroism and redemption, loyalty and betrayal, presidential influence and the power of narrative. Teddy’s Tantrum seeks to set the neglected episode in its historical context.
Revisiting the roots and consequences of the tantrum provides a fresh look at Teddy Roosevelt. His behavior in the tantrum can now be tied to other incidents in his personal life and administration. Original scholarship provides the first historical account of John D. Weaver’s two-decade campaign for exoneration.
As the author explains, ‘Teddy’s Tantrum’ proves that there were many sides to the 26th President.
“This story certainly publicizes a side of Roosevelt’s character that was kept hidden from the public. While known to be a complex man, the story of the 25th Infantry brings to light a different side to the Roosevelt people thought they knew,” says Durwood, who works at a Military College and has been voted Teacher of the Year twice since 2009.
He continues, “With Black History Month on the country’s doorstep, it is now more important than ever to piece together a better understanding of not just the ‘real’ Teddy Roosevelt, but a landmark event in American History that often remains hidden from public view.”
Placing a strong focus on Weaver’s diligent campaign to clear the names of the 25th Infantry, Durwood’s work is captivating a growing audience around the world.
“The project will develop fresh perspectives on the position of blacks in the turn-of-the -century army. In 1898 they were the heroes of San Juan Hill, and Roosevelt praised them in his memoir. Less than a decade later, they are mutineers and murderers,” says Dennis Showalter, former President of the Society for Military History.
Historian Patricia O’Toole was equally as impressed. She said that, “I’ve always thought the story of the Brownsville Affray one of the best ‘lost’ stories in American history. And the 60-years-after-the-fact redemption … is a terrific punchline. You’ve got a great subject.”
‘Teddy’s Tantrum’, published by Empire Studies Press, is available from Amazon: http://amzn.to/Wawu4X
About the Author: Tom Durwood
Tom Durwood is a teacher, writer and editor with a deep background in history.
Tom currently teaches Public Speaking and Basic Communications as guest lecturer for the Naval Special Warfare Development Group at the Dam's Neck Annex of the Naval War College. Tom also teaches English Composition and Literature at Valley Forge Military College, where he has won the Teacher of the Year Award twice.