24 Jul 2012

Moro Campaign 1902-1913

    The Sultan of Bayan visits Captain John J. Pershing at Camp Vicars, Mindanao, 1902 - (National Archives)

    The purpose of this website is to preserve and document visual images of the little-known history of the United States and the Moros, the Muslims of the southern Philippine Islands, in the early part of the 20th Century. It is my hope that it will spur increased interest in and examination of this highly colorful and dramatic episode of American and Philippine history. The photographs, drawings, and maps were gathered by me during the course of four years of in-depth research in the National Archives, the Library of Congress, the US Army Military History Institute, the Special Collections of several major universities, and from private collections.

    In the context of this website, the term "Moroland" refers to a brief and largely forgotten episode of American history, when the United States occupied, ruled, and sought to change the destiny of the Moros, the Muslim peoples of the southern Philippine islands. It was the nation's first sustained encounter with a volatile mixture of nation building, insurgency, counterinsurgency, and militant Islamism. To the American public of the early 1900's, for a time, it was as much in the news and public consciousness as Afghanistan and Iraq are a century later. For policy makers and the military leadership, opinion was equally divided and contentious. In this may lie the story's value.

    In the official military histories of the US Army its numerous battles, skirmishes and expeditions are referred to collectively as "The Moro Campaigns" (1902 to 1913)Even then the Army's Moro Campaigns represented only a part of the total armed conflict that took place between the United States and the Moros. The much smaller Moro Constabulary, a native force led by American and European officers carried an equally important, and sometimes greater, share of the counterinsurgency burden. 

Historians or writers often mistakenly lump together the long struggle between the U.S. and the Moros with either the Spanish American War or the Philippine-American War (a,k.a. "Philippine Insurrection") despite  separate origins and a distinctively different character. The armed conflicts between the United States and the Moros more closely resembled (and at the time were often compared to) the famous late-19th Century wars with the American Indian nations of the Great Plains; in violence and ferocity they were easily their equal.  And like every story of epic warfare, it produced heroes, villains, triumphs, tragedies, mythology, humor and sorrow.

    Unfortunately the Moroland of the early 21st Century is as troubled and contentious as it was one hundred years ago. Most Americans are only dimly aware that a century later the U.S. military has quietly returned to Moroland, to battle “radical Islamist terrorism.” Army Green Berets, Navy Seals, and other elite forces advise and support the Armed Forces of the Philippines in what has become more than a forty year long fight with Muslim separatist rebels. It is the smallest of the fronts on what has been designated the “global war on terror”, and the American role has received scant attention from Congress and little in the way of objective and critical and examination from outside media or think tanks in the U.S.
Robert A. Fulton, author MOROLAND: The History of Uncle Sam and the Moros 1899-1920.
On This Web Site:
    If you would like to learn more about the United States and the Moros in the early part of the 20th Century, either before or after perusing the photographs, a 32-page abstract entitled "Uncle Sam and the Moros 1899-1920" is provided on this web site or can be downloaded in a printable PDF format.
    A short series of maps that depict the location of Moroland in relation to Asia and the Philippine Islands and its constituent parts.
    The core of this site is eleven Photo Galleries on the subject; which are accessible by clicking on the links below. At the beginning of the 20th Century, glass-plate photography had reached a high level of sophistication and quality and was extensively used by the US Army Signal Corps to document America's newest claimed territory, the Philippine Islands, as well as the resultant Philippine-American War and the Moro Campaigns. At the same time, the introduction of the famed Kodak “Brownie” camera and paper-based film in 1900 put photography into the enthusiastic hands of ordinary people. Both produced many thousands of photographic prints of the principal figures, peoples, and events of the American period in Moroland.
    A series of short, stand-alone articles and vignettes related to the subject.
    I have compiled a list of what I believe to be the best and/or most interesting related books, articles, or web sites on the subject.

To go to books, CLICK on either book image above.
Contact: Inquiries or comments may be sent to mail101@morolandhistory.com.

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