Corporal David Fagen was born in 1875, in Tampa, Florida. He enlisted in the United States Army on June 4th, 1898, at the age of 23, shipping out to the Philippines in 1899, which was in the grip of a rebellion against U.S. imperial designs on the islands after casting out centuries of Spanish imperialism and colonialism.
Corporal Fagen deserted and joined the Filipino rebels after only five months in US uniform on the islands, which were marred by constant resentment and arguments with his white commanding officers with more than a taste of racism. For this reason and more, he came to realize that the Filipino people were his natural comrades in arms and were waging a just struggle against imperialism.
He served faithfully alongside his revolutionary Filipino comrades for the next two years, eventually winning the rank of Captain. He earned such acclaim and respect among the Filipino masses that they began to call him “General Fagen.” He was involved actively in at least eight classes with imperialist U.S. troops from 1900 to 1901, capturing a steamship and its cargo of useful arms and ammunition being his most notorious and lauded action. His success as a guerilla leader and soldier frustrated U.S. imperialist notions on the island, and he was never really considered to have been captured or killed.
Although his actions have been for the most part forgotten in the history of the United States, his legacy preserved. The black man from the Florida swamps who used the skills he learned in those swamps to harry and frustrate U.S. imperialism, and serve the Filipino people, has enshrined him in the pantheon of Filipino national heroes and that of revolutionary anti-imperialist fighters everywhere.