First Published: 2007-12-10

 
Reply: The Un-American Way of Torture
 

In 1776, many Americans believed in generosity to prisoners. George Washington encouraged kind treatment for Hessian prisoners, writes Brian O’Malley.

 

Middle East Online

Dear Editor,



In her October 9, 2007 column, The Un-American Way of Torture, Mona Eltahawy wrote of attending an anti-torture protest in America. A passerby apparently referring to detainees at Guantanamo Bay said, “So maybe we should send them all picnic baskets and flowers, then.”

In 1776, many Americans believed in generosity to prisoners. On December 25, 1776, George Washington captured several hundred Hessian mercenaries garrisoned at Trenton, New Jersey. In his book, The Day is Ours, William M. Dwyer quoted from Herbert H. Freund's translation of a journal by Johannes Reuber, one of the Hessians captured on Christmas Night at Trenton.

As the prisoners approached Philadelphia, a curious crowd gathered to view the Hessians. Some charitable souls even brought food and drink for the prisoners. A vengeful chorus, however, soon agitated the crowd: “They cried out that we ought to be hanged for coming to American to rob them of their freedom.”

The hecklers shoved aside magnanimous gift-bearers and transformed the curious crowd into an angry mob. The American guards had to rush the Hessians to safety.

Reuber added, “Later, General Washington of the Americans made a proclamation and it was posted all over the city: the Hessians were without blame and had been forced into this war. The Hessians had not come of their own free will. They should not be regarded as enemies but as friends of the American people and should be treated as such.”

According to Reuber, the change was instantaneous. “Because General Washington had full authority and he gave his honest word, it became better for us. All day long, Americans big and little, rich and poor, came to the barracks and brought us food and treated us with kindness and humanity.”

In the book Enemy Views, Bruce E. Burgoyne offered this translation of Reuber: “Old, young, rich and poor, all treated us in a friendly manner and each day we received one pound of bread and meat....”

In both translations, however, George Washington encouraged kind treatment for Hessian prisoners.

With regards,

Brian O’Malley

Atlantic Beach, Florida

United States of America

 

UN Security Council lenient to Turkey’s Syria offensive

Washington probes Hezbollah ‘narcoterrorism’

Tillerson to present US strategy on Syria to European, Arab allies

Russia pension funds may invest in Aramco IPO

Iranian woman skydiver looks to break down stereotypes

Qaeda leader calls on Muslims to attack Jews, Americans over Jerusalem

Palestinians in occupied West Bank get 3G

Turkish army clashes with Kurdish militia amid US alarm

Turkey arrests dozens accused of ‘terror propaganda’

Three French female jihadists face possible death penalty in Iraq

Women journalists protest separation during Pence visit to Jerusalem

Egypt military accuses presidential hopeful of committing crimes

Israeli minister calls to ban author praising Palestinian teen

Qatar supports Turkey’s offensive against Kurds

World powers meet on Syria chemical attacks

Morocco's king appoints five new ministers

Pence pledges US embassy move by end of 2019 on Jerusalem trip

Russia calls for diplomatic solution to Yemen conflict

Russia invites Kurds to join Syria peace process

Turkey shells Kurdish targets in northern Syria

Closer look at pro-Ankara rebels amassing around Afrin

Pence set for Palestinian snub

Abbas to ask EU to recognise Palestinian state

Saudi-led coalition to give $1.5 bln in Yemen aid

Mattis: Turkey gave US advance warning on Syria operation

Yemen releases budget for first time in three years

Saudi calls for cooperation between OPEC, non-OPEC countries

France presses Turkey to end offensive against Kurds

The changing faces of al-Qaeda in Syria

Kurdish militia fire rockets at Turkish town

Moroccans wary depreciation of dirham could raise cost of living, despite benefits

Deserted streets, terrified civilians after Turkey attacks Afrin

Iraqi, Kurdish leaders hold talks on bitter regional dispute

Russia-led Syria peace congress to be held January 30

Turkey launches new strikes on Kurdish targets in Syria

Egypt's Sisi says will stand for re-election

Pence heads to Mideast despite Muslim, Christian anger

Assad regime says Syria a 'tourist' destination

Journalists arrested while reporting Sudan protests

Aid for millions of Palestinians hostage to politics

Lebanon thwarts holiday attacks using IS informant

Mortar fire wounds 14 in Syria mental hospital

Turkish military fires on Kurdish forces in Syria's Afrin

More than 32,000 Yemenis displaced in intensified fighting

UN warns of "lost generation" in South Sudan's grinding conflict