Kentucky Historical Society
KHS Register Article Wins National Award
Frankfort, KY - An article from The Register of the Kentucky Historical Society was named the winner of the Distinguished Writing Award by the Army Historical Foundation at that organization's 10th Annual Members Meeting on June 12. The article is "A Killing in the Philippines, 1900: A Kentuckian Faces Insurgency and Military Justice," by Meredith Mason Brown. It was published in the Winter 2006 issue of The Register.
"That's wonderful news! I'm thrilled," replied Brown when he was notified of the award. He added that "much of the credit belongs" to editor Kenneth H. Williams and the staff of The Register for their work with him in developing the article.
Since 1997, the Army Historical Foundation has presented annual Distinguished Writing Awards to recognize excellence in writing and research on U.S. Army history. It presents awards for books and articles, with article awards both for pieces published in army professional journals and for those appearing in other journals and magazines. Brown's article in The Register won in the latter category.
The article tells the story of Preston Brown, a Kentuckian who was a 28-year-old first lieutenant when he was deployed to the Philippines in September 1900 as part of American forces fighting what has become known as the Philippine or Philippine-American War. In December of that year, Brown shot and killed a Filipino who had been in American custody and who, according to widely varying accounts, may have been trying to escape.
Three months after this incident, a fellow lieutenant with whom Brown had a running feud filed a complaint about Brown's killing of the Filipino. An investigation led to a court-martial hearing, which resulted in Brown's conviction for manslaughter. He was sentenced to dismissal from the Army and five years' hard labor in a federal penitentiary.
Brown, however, was from the prominent Brown and Preston families of Kentucky and was quite well connected. His father had even helped Theodore Roosevelt, who became president soon after Brown's conviction, with research for Roosevelt's book The Winning of the West. When the case reached his desk, Roosevelt commuted Brown's sentence, allowing him to remain in the Army with only minor penalties. Brown served with distinction during World War I and ultimately became a major general.
Meredith Brown, a great-nephew of the article's subject, "tells this complicated story with great aplomb and good detail," said Register editor Williams. He added that he believes that the prize committee judges were probably impressed with how Preston Brown's story "still resonates today. The difficulty of determining insurgents among the indigenous populations of Iraq and Afghanistan remains a major issue facing the U.S. military. So does the question of treatment of detainees."
Meredith Brown lives in Connecticut and is a retired partner of Debevoise & Plimpton LLP in New York. He is currently writing a biography of Daniel Boone, who was also the subject of a book for young readers by Brown's father, John Mason Brown, the noted New York writer and drama critic.
The Register of the Kentucky Historical Society, the state's scholarly quarterly, is a benefit of membership of the Kentucky Historical Society. Published since 1903, it continues to provide fresh perspectives on the history of the commonwealth and its people.
The Army Historical Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Arlington, Va., that is dedicated to preserving the history and heritage of the American soldier. It is raising funds to build the National Museum of the United States Army, to be located at Fort Belvoir, Va.
An agency of the Kentucky Commerce Cabinet, the Kentucky Historical Society, since 1836, has provided connections to the past, perspective on the present, and inspiration for the future. KHS operates the Old State Capitol, the Kentucky Military History Museum, and its headquarters, the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History. Since 1999, the thirty-million- dollar Center has welcomed more than one million visitors. For more information about the Kentucky Historical Society and its programs, visit the Web site.