A selection of historic photographs from the life of Homer Lea.
(Please click any thumbnail to open the high resolution version of each.)
HLRS-10011. University of the Pacific
In the fall of 1893, Homer Lea enrolled for his sophomore high school year in the college preparatory academy of the University of the Pacific, a small Methodist-Episcopal college near San Jose, California, not far from his maternal grandmother’s residence.
Source: University of the Pacific, San Jose, Cal, Post Card, No. 5112, E. von Bardeleben, New York and Germany, circa 1900.
HLRS-10013. Homer Lea at the residence of Marco Newmark, a Los Angeles High School friend, circa 1894-1895.
Source: Personal Papers, Mr. and Mrs. James D. Lea, Houston, Texas.
HLRS-10018. Occidental College.
Homer Lea attended Occidental College from September 1896, to June 1897, when the college occupied what had been the old army headquarters building (depicted here, circa 1885) on the east side of Hill Street between Sixth and Seventh streets.
Source: St. Vincent’s College, No. 00031869, Los Angeles Public Library.
HLRS-10022. Maclean Hospital.
In May 1899, Lea took a leave of absence from Stanford and checked into San Francisco’s Maclean Hospital (depicted here) for surgery after a riding accident. He contracted small pox at the hospital and subsequently gave up plans to return to Stanford while recuperating at home.
Source: San Francisco Call, November 18, 1896.
HLRS-10024. Dowager Empress
In 1898, Dowager Empress Tzu Hsi (depicted here, circa 1900) responded to Emperor Kwang-hsu’s introduction of westernized reforms that were inspired by his advisor K’ang Yu-wei, by placing the Emperor under house arrest and putting a price on K’ang Yu-wei’s head.
Source: Arthur J. Brown, The Chinese Revolution (New York: Student Volunteer Movement, 1912).
HLRS-10025. Emperor Kwang-hsu.
Emperor Kwang-hsu was 26 years old when the Dowager Empress deposed him in 1898. He died two days before the Dowager’s death in November 1908.
Source: Washington Times, November 13, 1908.
HLRS-10027. Robert E. Lee.
Homer Lea successfully sold himself as a military expert to the Chinese Empire Reform Association by claiming he was a relative of the famous Confederate general, Robert E. Lee, which he was not.
Source: Library of Congress No. LC-B8172-001.
While traveling in China in 1900, Homer Lea met with Baron Yamagata Aritomo (depicted here as a Field Marshal in the early 1890s), a former Japanese prime minister and founder of the modern Japanese army.
Source: H.W. Wilson, Japan’s Fight for Freedom, Vol. 3 (London: Amalgamated Press, 1906).
HLRS-10038. Pao Huang Hui Medal
Gold medal presented to General Homer Lea by the Los Angeles branch of the Chinese Empire Reform Association (Pao Huang Hui) at the dedication of their new headquarters at 419 Los Angeles Street, Los Angeles, on January 2, 1904. The Chinese inscription on the medal reads: “To comrade General Lea, loyalty and honesty, the comrades of this association give this medal to General Lea.”
Source: Lawrence M. Kaplan files.
HLRS-10039. Order of Kwang Hsu Medal
Homer Lea received a gold medal, the “Order of Kwang Hsu,” an eight pointed star, suspended from his neck on a crimson ribbon from K’ang Yu Wei during their 1905 cross-country tour. Lea’s medal was reportedly inscribed: “To Homer Lea from Kang Yu Wei.” The medal had an image of the Emperor on the obverse, and on the reverse were two crossed flags, one with a Chinese dragon representing the Chinese imperial flag, and one with the Pao Haung Hui flag with its three stars representing liberty, education and equality. There was an inscription around the medal’s border saying the medal was presented by the Emperor in his 34th year through K’ang Yu-wei. Beneath the reform flag were the Chinese words “Pao Huang Hui.”
Source: Lawrence M. Kaplan files.
HLRS-10043. Western Military Academy Incorporation Articles
Articles of Incorporation of the Western Military Academy, November 23, 1904.
Source: California State Archives, 1020 O Street, Sacramento, California 94244.
First Sergeant Ansel. E. O’Banion, Troop A, Fourth Cavalry Regiment, U.S. Army, circa 1902. In 1904, O’Banion became Homer Lea’s principal drill instructor of Chinese Empire Reform Association cadets in Los Angeles.
Source: U.S. Cavalry Museum, Fort Riley, Kansas.
HLRS-10045. Angelus Hotel
Homer Lea periodically had meetings at the Angelus Hotel to plan for Chinese Empire Reform Association military cadet training. He recruited George W. West and Ansel E. O’Banion to be drill instructors at the Angelus Hotel.
Source: Angelus Hotel Post Card, No. 3566, Adolph Seloge Publishing Co., St. Louis-Leipzig-Berlin, circa 1904.
HLRS-10050. Fresno CERA Group
Homer Lea (seated) and Fresno Chinese Empire Reform Association officers and their attorney (Standing left to right: Captain Ben. O Young, Captain W.S. Scott, attorney William D. Crichton and Lieutenant E. Curtis Neal), circa 1904-1905.
Source: Fresno Bee, February 21, 1943.
HLRS-10052. Fernand Parmentier
Fernand Parmentier, a prominent Los Angeles architect with ties to Richard A. Falkenberg, became a lieutenant general and chief of staff of Falkenberg’s “Chinese Imperial Reform Army” in 1904.
Source: Press Reference Library: Notables of the Southwest (Los Angeles: Los Angeles Examiner, 1912).
HLRS-10061. Adna R. Chaffee
Former U.S. Army Chief of Staff, retired Lieutenant General Adna R. Chaffee (seen here as a Major General of Volunteers during the 1900 Boxer Rebellion) thought very highly of Homer Lea and wrote a glowing introduction to The Valor of Ignorance.
Source: W.A.P. Martin, The Siege in Peking(New York: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1900).
HLRS-10062. Joseph P. Story
Former U.S. Army Chief of Artillery, retired Major General Joseph P. Story (seen here as a colonel, circa 1902), like Adna Chaffee, thought highly of Homer Lea and also wrote a glowing introduction to The Valor of Ignorance.
Source: Robert Arthur, The Coast Artillery School 1824-1927 (Fort Monroe, Virginia: Coast Artillery School Press, 1928).
HLRS-10064. Japanese edition of The Valor of Ignorance
The Japanese edition of The Valor of Ignorance, retitled The Future War Between Japan and America to popularize it in Japan, sold very well in Japan. Homer Lea signed the rights to the Japanese edition over to Sun Yat-sen to help finance Sun Yat-sen’s Chinese revolutionary movement. Lea claimed the book went through 24 editions and sold 26, 000 copies in the first month of its publication in 1911
HLRS-10067. J. P. Morgan
On February 2, 1909, a member of Homer Lea’s “Red Dragon” conspiracy tried to solicit financial backing for the conspiracy from businessman J. P. Morgan, who rejected the offer with the replay: “I am ready to do business with any established government on earth but I cannot help to make a government to do business with.”.
Source: Print Collection Portrait File, No. 1701404, New York Public Library.
HLRS-10069. James N. Gillett
California Governor James N. Gillett (depicted here) invited Homer Lea to be a delegate to the first Pacific Coast Congress, which convened in San Francisco in November 1910. Lea addressed the Congress as an authority on the potential Japanese threat and the question of coast defenses.
Source: Library of Congress, No. LC-B2-1033-14.
HLRS-10071. Elihu Root
In June 1911, the Leas visited Washington D.C., where they obtained a passport and Homer Lea tried to solicit government support for a Chinese revolution. He approached Senator Elihu Root (seen here, circa 1909), a former Secretary of War and champion of military reform, who was his choice when dedicating The Valor of Ignorance. Lea warned him of an imminent revolution and change of government in China, but Root made no promises.
Source: Library of Congress, No. LC-B-725-12.
HLRS-10081. Field Marshal Lord Roberts
Field Marshall Lord Frederick Sleigh Roberts, former commander-in-chief of the British Army (depicted here in a 1900 photograph), was so impressed with The Valor of Ignorance (1909) that he purchased every copy he could obtain in London to distribute to his friends and associates. He also asked Homer Lea to write a book about British defense challenges, which became The Day of the Saxon (1912).
Source: Post Card, Simon Brothers Ltd, circa 1900.
HLRS-10083. Reventlow Day of Saxon translation
Graf Ernst zu Reventlow, a writer on international subjects, produced a German translation of The Day of the Saxon in 1913 with the revised title, Des Britischen Reiches Schicksalsstunde, Mahnwort eines Angelsachsen, which read “The British Empire’s Fateful Hour, The Warning of an Anglo Saxon General,” to popularize it for German readers.
Source: Kaiser Wilhelm Post Card, No. 1564, Verlag von Gustav Liersch & Co., Berlin,1907.
HLRS-10084. Santa Monica
When Homer Lea and his wife Ethel returned from China in May 1912, they took up residence at a small Santa Monica cottage overlooking the ocean at 135 Wadsworth Avenue. During Lea’s recuperation from his stroke, Ethel’s son, Albert H. Powers, often wheeled him along the board walk at Santa Monica Beach where they both enjoyed fishing from the pier.
Source: In and About Los Angeles (Los Angeles: E.P. Charlton & Co., 1906).
HLRS-10087. Chinese Delegation 1914 Visit
In 1914, when a delegation of Chinese Nationalist League officials (seen here) visited Ethel Lea (in white dress) and asked to visit Homer Lea’s tomb, they were horrified to learn that he had been cremated and his ashes were in her home. They expected and believed he deserved a more fitting resting place.
Source: Source: Charles O. Kates Personal Papers, Mr. Brian Kates, Pomona, New York.
HLRS-10089. Douglas MacArthur
General Douglas MacArthur, commander of United States Forces in the Far East at the time of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, was particularly familiar with Homer Lea’s writing. According to Major General Charles A. Willoughby, MacArthur’s Chief of Intelligence in the South West Pacific during World War II, MacArthur’s defense of the Philippines rested in part on his “encyclopedic knowledge of previous campaigns in the Philippines, with particular reference to what Homer Lea had written about them.”
Source: Lawrence M. Kaplan files.
Homer Lea: American Soldier of Fortune
By Dr. Lawrence M. Kaplan
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