World War I
John J. "Black Jack" Pershing

John J. "Black Jack" Pershing
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 6 to 8
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   7.29

     challenging words:    expeditionary, so-so, stalemate, chairman, havoc, hailed, seniority, offensive, helping, discontent, rebellion, tactics, best, ranks, armistice, recruit
     content words:    John Joseph Pershing, West Point, United States Military Academy, Spanish-American War, African-American Tenth Cavalry, San Juan Hill, Russo-Japanese War, John J., Brigadier General, Helen Frances Warren

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John J. "Black Jack" Pershing
By Jane Runyon

1     John Joseph Pershing was not a born military man. He was born in the small town of Laclede, Missouri, in September of 1860. He began his young adult life as a schoolteacher about nine miles from his home town. He heard about a chance to continue his education. He decided to pursue the opportunity. He and other young men took a test given in his state. The prize for the competition was an appointment to West Point, the United States Military Academy. He won the competition and joined the corps of cadets in 1882. He proved to be just a so-so student. He did, however, excel as a class leader. He was admired for his ability to lead. He was also feared for the intimidating ways he accomplished his goals.
2     After graduation, Pershing kept busy serving his country. First he fought in the West against the Sioux and Apache. He then became a college professor teaching military tactics for four years. He fought in the Spanish-American War in 1898. He earned the nickname "Black Jack" by leading the African-American Tenth Cavalry in the frontier and at San Juan Hill during the Spanish-American War in 1898. He was sent to the Philippines in 1903, where he helped stop a rebellion of Moro natives. He was appointed as a military attaché to Japan during the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05. He observed the war and recorded what happened for the purpose of preserving history.
3     In 1906, John J. Pershing was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General. He received this promotion before 800 officers who had more seniority in the army. Most of these officers could not help but wonder if the promotion had something to do with his marriage to Helen Frances Warren. Her father just happened to be the chairman of the Senate Military Affairs Committee. Pershing had also formed a friendship with President Theodore Roosevelt. Both of these coincidences seemed to help his advancement through the ranks.

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