African American Poetry (1870-1928): A Digital Anthology

Editor's Note, "Foraker and the Twenty-Fifth" by Carrie Williams Clifford (1911)

This poem focuses on an episode involving a white Ohio politician named J.B. Foraker, who fought on the Union side in the Civil War and later went into government, serving first as Governor of Ohio and then as a Senator. In 1906, Foraker opposed Roosevelt's decision to punish a black Infantry Battalion -- the "25th Infantry Battalion" named in Clifford's poem; 167 soldiers were dismissed from service after an incident of racialized violence in Brownsville, Texas. Notably, the 25th Infantry Battalion had been deployed during the Spanish-American War, and many of the soldiers punished by Roosevelt were combat veterans. Later, Roosevelt would work against Foraker, leading to the latter's defeat in a bit for re-election to the Senate. 

For more on the Brownsville Affair of 1906, click here.
For more on Joseph B. Foraker, click here.
For more on the 25th Infantry Regiment (the so-called 'Buffalo Soldiers'), click here.

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