George C. Marshall
|3rd United States Secretary of Defense|
September 21, 1950 – September 12, 1951
|President||Harry S. Truman|
Robert A. Lovett
|Preceded by||Louis A. Johnson|
|Succeeded by||Robert A. Lovett|
|2nd Chairman of the American Battle Monuments Commission|
1949 – October 16, 1959
|Preceded by||John J. Pershing|
|Succeeded by||Jacob L. Devers|
|50th United States Secretary of State|
January 21, 1947 – January 20, 1949
|President||Harry S. Truman|
Robert A. Lovett
|Preceded by||James F. Byrnes|
|Succeeded by||Dean Acheson|
|United States Special Envoy to China|
December 20, 1945 – January 6, 1947
|President||Harry S. Truman|
|Preceded by||Position established|
|Succeeded by||Position abolished|
|15th Chief of Staff of the United States Army|
September 1, 1939 – November 18, 1945
|President||Franklin D. Roosevelt|
Harry S. Truman
|Preceded by||Malin Craig|
|Succeeded by||Dwight D. Eisenhower|
George Catlett Marshall
December 31, 1880
Uniontown, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Died||October 16, 1959 (aged 78)|
Washington, D.C., U.S.
|Resting place||Arlington National Cemetery|
Lily Carter Coles
(m. 1902; died 1927)
Katherine Boyce Tupper Brown
|Education||Virginia Military Institute (BS)|
|Civilian awards||Nobel Peace Prize|
Congressional Gold Medal
|Branch/service||United States Army|
|Years of service||1902–1959|
|Rank||General of the Army|
|Commands||Chief of Staff of the United States Army|
Deputy Chief of Staff of the United States Army
5th Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division
Fort Moultrie and District I, Civilian Conservation Corps
8th Infantry Regiment
15th Infantry Regiment
World War I Korean War
|Military awards||Army Distinguished Service Medal (2)|
|College football career|
|Career highlights and awards|
Marshall's voice George C. Marshall's speech at Harvard University introducing the Marshall Plan, June 5, 1947
George Catlett Marshall Jr.(December 31, 1880 – October 16, 1959) was an American soldier and statesman. He rose through the United States Army to become Chief of Staff under presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman, then served as Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense under Truman. Winston Churchill lauded Marshall as the "organizer of victory" for his leadership of the Allied victory in World War II. After the war, he spent a frustrating year trying and failing to avoid the impending civil war in China. As Secretary of State, Marshall advocated a U.S. economic and political commitment to post-war European recovery, including the Marshall Plan that bore his name. In recognition of this work, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1953.
Born in Pennsylvania, Marshall graduated from the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) in 1901. Marshall received his commission as a second lieutenant of Infantry in February 1902 and immediately went to the Philippines. He served in the United States and overseas in positions of increasing rank and responsibility, including platoon leader and company commander in the Philippines during the Philippine–American War. He was the Honor Graduate of his Infantry-Cavalry School Course in 1907, and graduated first in his 1908 Army Staff College class. In 1916 Marshall was assigned as aide-de-camp to J. Franklin Bell, the commander of the Western Department. After the nation entered World War I in 1917, Marshall served with Bell who commanded the Department of the East. He was assigned to the staff of the 1st Division, and assisted with the organization's mobilization and training in the United States, as well as planning of its combat operations in France. Subsequently, assigned to the staff of the American Expeditionary Forces headquarters, he was a key planner of American operations including the Meuse-Argonne Offensive.
After the war, Marshall became an aide-de-camp to John J. Pershing, who was then the Army's Chief of Staff. Marshall later served on the Army staff, commanded the 15th Infantry Regiment in China, and was an instructor at the Army War College. In 1927, he became assistant commandant of the Army's Infantry School, where he modernized command and staff processes, which proved to be of major benefit during World War II. In 1932 and 1933 he commanded the 8th Infantry Regiment and Fort Screven, Georgia. Marshall commanded 5th Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division and Vancouver Barracks from 1936 to 1938, and received promotion to brigadier general. During this command, Marshall was also responsible for 35 Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camps in Oregon and southern Washington. In July 1938, Marshall was assigned to the War Plans Division on the War Department staff, and later became the Army's Deputy Chief of Staff. When Chief of Staff Malin Craig retired in 1939, Marshall became acting Chief of Staff, and then Chief of Staff, a position he held until the war's end in 1945.
As Chief of Staff, Marshall organized the largest military expansion in U.S. history, and received promotion to five-star rank as General of the Army. Marshall coordinated Allied operations in Europe and the Pacific until the end of the war. In addition to accolades from Churchill and other Allied leaders, Time magazine named Marshall its Man of the Year for 1943. Marshall retired from active service in 1945, but remained on active duty, as required for holders of five-star rank. From December 15, 1945 to January 1947, Marshall served as a special envoy to China in an unsuccessful effort to negotiate a coalition government between the Nationalists of Chiang Kai-shek and Communists under Mao Zedong.
As Secretary of State from 1947 to 1949, Marshall advocated rebuilding Europe, a program that became known as the Marshall Plan, and which led to his being awarded the 1953 Nobel Peace Prize. After resigning as Secretary of State, Marshall served as chairman of the American Battle Monuments Commission and president of the American National Red Cross. As Secretary of Defense at the start of the Korean War, Marshall worked to restore the military's confidence and morale at the end of its post-World War II demobilization and then its initial buildup for combat in Korea and operations during the Cold War. After resigning as Defense Secretary, Marshall retired to his home in Virginia. He died in 1959 and was buried with honors at Arlington National Cemetery.
George Catlett Marshall Jr. was born in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, the youngest of three children born to George Catlett Marshall and Laura Emily (née Bradford) Marshall. He was a scion of an old Virginia family, as well as a first cousin, three times removed, of former Chief Justice John Marshall. Marshall's father was active in the coal and coke business. Later, when asked about his political allegiances, Marshall often joked that his father had been a Democrat and his mother a Republican, whereas he was an Episcopalian.
Marshall was educated at Miss Alcinda Thompson's private school in Uniontown and spent a year at Uniontown's Central School. Having decided early in life that he desired a career in the military, from ages 16 to 20 Marshall studied at Virginia Military Institute (VMI). He played offensive tackle on the football team and in 1900 he was selected for All-Southern honors.
At the start of his college career, Marshall was subjected to a hazing incident in which upperclassmen positioned an unsheathed bayonet with the point up and directed him to squat over it. After twenty minutes, Marshall fainted and fell. When he awoke, he had a deep laceration to one of his buttocks. While being treated for his injury, Marshall refused to inform on his classmates. Impressed with his bravery, the hazers never bothered him again.
During his years at VMI, Marshall always ranked first in military discipline and about midway academically. He attained the rank of first captain, the highest a cadet could achieve, and graduated 15th of 34 in the Class of 1901.
Following his graduation from VMI, Marshall served as Commandant of Students at the Danville Military Institute in Danville, Virginia. He took a competitive examination for a commission in the United States Army, which had greatly expanded to deal with the war with Spain and the occupation of the Philippines. Marshall passed, and used endorsements his father obtained from both of Pennsylvania's U.S. Senators to bolster his application. He was commissioned a second lieutenant of infantry in February 1902. In a matter of days he married, resigned the Danville job, and shipped out to the Philippines.
Prior to World War I, Marshall received various postings in the United States and the Philippines, including serving as an infantry platoon leader and company commander during the Philippine–American War and other guerrilla uprisings. He was schooled in modern warfare, including a tour at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas from 1906 to 1910 as both a student and an instructor. He was the Honor Graduate of his Infantry-Cavalry School Course in 1907, and graduated first in his 1908 Army Staff College class.
After another tour of duty in the Philippines, Marshall returned in 1916 to serve as aide-de-camp to the commander of the Western Department, former Army chief of staff Major General J. Franklin Bell, at the Presidio in San Francisco. After the United States declared war on Germany in April 1917, Marshall relocated with Bell to Governors Island, New York when Bell was reassigned as commander of the Department of the East. Shortly afterwards, Marshall was assigned to help oversee the mobilization of the 1st Division for service in France.
During World War I, Marshall had roles as a planner of both training and operations. In the summer of 1917, he was assigned as assistant chief of staff for operations on the staff of the 1st Division. After overseeing the division's mobilization and organization in Texas, he departed for France with the division staff in mid-1917. On the long ocean voyage, his roommate was the division's assistant chief of staff for training, Lesley J. McNair; the two formed a personal and professional bond that they maintained for the rest of their careers.
After arriving in France, Marshall served with the 1st Division on the St. Mihiel, Picardy, and Cantigny fronts. In late 1917, John J. Pershing, the commander of the American Expeditionary Force, inspected the 1st Division. Unimpressed by what he observed, Pershing began to berate division commander William L. Sibert in front of Sibert's staff. Sibert took Pershing's criticism in silence, but when Pershing turned his attention to the division chief of staff, Marshall angrily interceded to inform Pershing of logistical and administrative difficulties of which Pershing was unaware. Marshall also informed Pershing that the AEF staff had not been very helpful in dealing with the problems. The division commander and staff were concerned that Marshall's willingness to confront Pershing had probably cost him his career. Instead, Pershing began to seek out Marshall and ask for his advice.
Marshall won recognition and acclaim for his planning of the attack for the Battle of Cantigny, which took place from May 28 to 31, 1918; its success resulted in the first notable American victory of the war. On May 26, Marshall was injured while traveling to several subordinate units to conduct pre-attack coordination. As he departed the division headquarters area, his horse stumbled, fell, and rolled over; Marshall's left foot was caught in the stirrup, and he sustained a severe sprain and bruise. A physician bound Marshall's injured ankle and foot with adhesive tape so that he could avoid medical evacuation and remain with the division to oversee the Cantigny attack. Marshall was awarded the Citation Star for his heroism during this battle. When the Silver Star medal was created in 1932, Citation Stars were converted to the new award.
In mid-1918, Pershing brought Marshall on to the AEF operations staff, G-3, where he worked closely with Pershing and was a key planner of American operations. He was instrumental in the planning and coordination of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, which contributed to the defeat of the German Army on the Western Front in 1918. Marshall held the permanent rank of captain and the temporary rank of colonel; He was recommended for promotion to temporary brigadier general in October 1918, but the Armistice occurred before the recommendation was acted on. After the Armistice, Marshall served as chief of staff for the U.S. Eighth Corps.
After the war, Marshall reverted to his permanent rank of captain. In 1919, he became an aide-de-camp to General Pershing. Between 1920 and 1924, while Pershing was Army Chief of Staff, Marshall worked on a number of projects that focused on training and teaching modern, mechanized warfare. He taught at the Army War College and was a key planner in the War Department. He then commanded the 15th Infantry Regiment for three years in China, where he learned to speak basic Mandarin. In 1927, as a lieutenant colonel, he was appointed assistant commandant of the Infantry School at Fort Benning, where he initiated major changes to modernize command and staff processes, which proved to be of major benefit during World War II. Marshall placed Edwin F. Harding in charge of the Infantry School's publications, and Harding became editor:41 of Infantry in Battle, a book that codified the lessons of World War I. Infantry in Battle is still used as an officer's training manual in the Infantry Officer's Course and was the training manual for most of the infantry officers and leaders of World War II.
From June 1932 to June 1933, Marshall was the commanding officer of the 8th Infantry Regiment at Fort Screven, Georgia. From July 1933 to October 1933 he was commander of Fort Moultrie, South Carolina and District I of the Civilian Conservation Corps, and he was promoted to colonel in September 1933. He was senior instructor and chief of staff for the Illinois National Guard's 33rd Division from November 1933 to August 1936.
Marshall commanded the 5th Brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division and Vancouver Barracks in Vancouver, Washington from 1936 to 1938, and was promoted to brigadier general in October 1936. In addition to obtaining a long-sought and significant troop command, traditionally viewed as an indispensable step to the pinnacle of the US Army, Marshall was also responsible for 35 Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camps in Oregon and southern Washington. As post commander Marshall made a concerted effort to cultivate relations with the city of Portland and to enhance the image of the US Army in the region. With the CCC, he initiated a series of measures to improve the morale of the participants and to make the experience beneficial in their later life. He started a newspaper for the CCC region that proved a vehicle to promote CCC successes, and he initiated a variety of programs that developed their skills and improved their health. Marshall's inspections of the CCC camps gave him and his wife Katherine the chance to enjoy the beauty of the American northwest and made that assignment what he called "the most instructive service I ever had, and the most interesting."
In July 1938, Marshall was assigned to the War Plans Division in Washington, D.C. and subsequently reassigned as Deputy Chief of Staff. In that capacity, then-Brigadier General Marshall attended a conference at the White House at which President Franklin D. Roosevelt proposed a plan to provide aircraft to England in support of the war effort, lacking forethought with regard to logistical support or training. With all other attendees voicing support of the plan, Marshall was the only person to voice his disagreement. Marshall also spoke in favor of a large ground army although Roosevelt had said a large air force would be a greater deterrent to enemies than a large army. Despite others' belief then that he had ended his career, this action resulted in his being nominated by Roosevelt to be the Army Chief of Staff. At the time of the appointment, Marshall was only 34th in seniority, outranked by 21 major generals and 11 brigadier generals, but he was fifth in seniority under an unwritten rule that the chief of staff should be able to serve a four-year term before reaching 64.
Upon the retirement of General Malin Craig on July 1, 1939, Marshall became acting chief of staff. Marshall was promoted to general and sworn in as chief of staff on September 1, 1939, the same day the German Army launched its invasion of Poland. He held this post until retiring in November 1945.
On May 11, 1940 Congress cut $10 million from a $28 million appropriation budget for equipment to detect Japanese aircraft off the west coast of America. Marshall saw Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau Jr. and they went to see Roosevelt together; Marshall emphasized the supreme importance of getting the full amount and told Roosevelt "you have got to do something and you’ve got to do it today". So Marshall got "all he wanted and more".
In 1941, Marshall became a Freemason, raised "at sight" by the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia. ("At sight" is the procedure by which a Grand Master confers on a candidate all three Masonic degrees - Apprentice, Fellowcraft, and Master - at one time.)
As Chief of Staff, Marshall organized the largest military expansion in U.S. history, inheriting an outmoded, poorly equipped army of 189,000 men and, partly drawing from his experience teaching and developing techniques of modern warfare as an instructor at the Army War College, coordinated the large-scale expansion and modernization of the U.S. Army. Though he had never actually led troops in combat, Marshall was a skilled organizer with a talent for inspiring other officers. Many of the American generals who were given top commands during the war were either picked or recommended by Marshall, including Dwight D. Eisenhower, Jacob L. Devers, George S. Patton, Terry de la Mesa Allen Sr., Lloyd Fredendall, Lesley McNair, Mark Wayne Clark and Omar Bradley.
Faced with the necessity of turning an army of former civilians into a force of over eight million soldiers by 1942 (a fortyfold increase within three years), Marshall directed McNair to focus efforts on rapidly producing large numbers of soldiers. With the exception of airborne forces, Marshall approved McNair's concept of an abbreviated training schedule for men entering Army land forces training, particularly in regard to basic infantry skills, weapons proficiency, and combat tactics. At the time, most U.S. commanders at lower levels had little or no combat experience of any kind. Without the input of experienced British or Allied combat officers on the nature of modern warfare and enemy tactics, many resorted to formulaic training methods emphasizing static defense and orderly large-scale advances by motorized convoys over improved roads. In consequence, Army forces deploying to Africa in Operation Torch suffered serious initial reverses when encountering German armored combat units in Africa in the Battle of Kasserine Pass and other major battles. Even as late as 1944, U.S. soldiers undergoing stateside training in preparation for deployment against German forces in Europe were not being trained in combat procedures and tactics in use there.
Originally, Marshall had planned a 265-division Army with a system of unit rotation such as practiced by the British and other Allies. By mid-1943, however, after pressure from government and business leaders to preserve manpower for industry and agriculture, he had abandoned this plan in favor of a 90-division Army using individual replacements sent via a circuitous process from training to divisions in combat. The individual replacement system devised by Marshall and implemented by McNair exacerbated problems with unit cohesion and effective transfer of combat experience to new soldiers and officers. In Europe, where there were few pauses in combat with German forces, the individual replacement system had broken down completely by late 1944. Hastily-trained replacements or service personnel reassigned as infantry were often given only a few weeks' refresher training before being thrown into battle with Army divisions locked in front-line combat.
The new men were often not even proficient in the use of their own weapons, and once in combat, could not receive enough practical instruction from veterans before being killed or wounded, sometimes within the first few days. Under such conditions, many soldiers suffered a crippling loss of morale, while veterans were kept at the front until they were killed, wounded, or incapacitated by battle fatigue or illness. Incidents of soldiers going AWOL from combat duty as well as battle fatigue and self-inflicted injury rose rapidly during the last eight months of the war with Germany. As one historian concluded, "Had the Germans been given a free hand to devise a replacement system..., one that would do the Americans the most harm and the least good, they could not have done a better job."
Marshall's abilities to pick competent field commanders during the early part of the war was decidedly mixed. He was instrumental in advancing the careers of the highly capable generals such as Eisenhower, Bradley, Patton, Krueger and Clark. A notable exception was his recommendation of the swaggering Fredendall to Eisenhower for a major command in the American invasion of North Africa during Operation Torch. Marshall was especially fond of Fredendall, describing him as "one of the best" and remarking in a staff meeting when his name was mentioned, "I like that man; you can see determination all over his face." Eisenhower duly picked him to command the 39,000-man Central Task Force (the largest of three) in Operation Torch. Both men would come to regret that decision, as Fredendall was the leader of U.S. Army forces at the disastrous Battle of the Kasserine Pass.
During World War II, Marshall was instrumental in preparing the U.S. Army and Army Air Forces for the invasion of the European continent. Marshall wrote the document that would become the central strategy for all Allied operations in Europe. He initially scheduled Operation Overlord for April 1, 1943, but met with strong opposition from Winston Churchill, who convinced Roosevelt to commit troops to Allied invasion of Sicily for the invasion of Italy. Some authors think that World War II could have ended earlier if Marshall had had his way; others think that such an invasion would have meant utter failure.
It was assumed that Marshall would become the Supreme Commander of Operation Overlord, but Roosevelt selected Eisenhower as Supreme Commander. While Marshall enjoyed considerable success in working with Congress and Roosevelt, he refused to lobby for the position. President Roosevelt didn't want to lose his presence in the States. He told Marshall, "I didn't feel I could sleep at ease if you were out of Washington." When rumors circulated that the top job would go to Marshall, many critics viewed the potential transfer as a demotion for Marshall, since he would leave his position as Chief of Staff of the Army and lose his seat on the Combined Chiefs of Staff.
On December 16, 1944, Marshall became the first American Army general to be promoted to five-star rank, the newly created General of the Army – the American equivalent rank to field marshal. He was the second American to be promoted to a five-star rank, as William Leahy was promoted to fleet admiral the previous day.
Throughout the remainder of World War II, Marshall coordinated Allied operations in Europe and the Pacific. He was characterized as the organizer of Allied victory by Winston Churchill. Time magazine named Marshall Man of the Year for 1943. Marshall resigned his post of chief of staff on November 18, 1945, but did not retire, as regulations stipulate that Generals of the Army remain on active duty for life. He was succeeded as Army chief of staff by General of the Army Dwight Eisenhower.
After World War II ended, the Congressional Joint Committee on the Investigation of the Pearl Harbor Attack received testimony on the intelligence failure. It amassed 25,000 pages of documents, 40 volumes, and included nine reports and investigations, eight of which had been previously completed. These reports included criticism of Marshall for delay in sending General Walter Short, the Army commander in Hawaii, important information obtained from intercepted Japanese diplomatic messages. The report also criticized Marshall's lack of knowledge of the readiness of the Hawaiian Command during November and December 1941. Ten days after the attack, Lt. General Short and Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, commander of the Navy at Pearl Harbor, were both relieved of their duties. The final report of the Joint Committee did not single out or fault Marshall. While the report was critical of the overall situation, the committee noted that subordinates had failed to pass on important information to their superiors, including Marshall.
A secret report into the Army's role, the Clausen Report was authorized by Secretary Stimson; it was critical of Short and also of Colonel Bratton who, he concluded, arrived later on Sunday morning than he initially claimed during testimony and invented a story about not being able to get in touch with Marshall which "nearly destroyed" Marshall.
Main article: Marshall Mission
President Harry Truman in December 1945 sent Marshall to China, where he had served in the 1920s. His new mission was to broker a coalition government between the Nationalist allies under Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek and Communists under Mao Zedong. Mao promised Marshall the Communists would give up armed revolution, embrace the old enemies, and build a democracy in China. Marshall hoped for a coalition government, and toasted their common future. The Americans assumed that if the Communists won the Civil War, they would remain on friendly terms with the United States. Marshall had no leverage over the Communists, but he threatened to withdraw American aid essential to the Nationalists. Both sides rejected his proposals and the Chinese Civil War escalated, with the Communists winning in 1949. His mission a failure, he returned to the United States in January 1947. Chiang Kai-shek and some historians later claimed that cease-fire, under pressure of Marshall, saved the Communists from defeat. As Secretary of State in 1947–48, Marshall seems to have disagreed with strong opinions in The Pentagon and State Department that Chiang's success was vital to American interests, insisting that U.S. troops not become involved.
After Marshall's return to the U.S. in early 1947, Truman appointed Marshall Secretary of State. As one of the most well-regarded and least politicized national leaders, he made an ideal front office personality. He became the spokesman for the State Department's ambitious plans to rebuild Europe. He did not design the plans, and paid little to details or negotiations. He did not keep current on details of foreign affairs. As one biographer notes, he had never been a workaholic. He turned over major responsibilities to his deputies, especially Under-Secretary Robert A. Lovett, and refused to be troubled by minutiae. By 1948, with frailties building up, his participation was further curtailed. Marshall said, "The fact of the matter is that Lovett bears the principal burden as I get away whenever possible." On June 5, 1947 in a speech at Harvard University, he outlined the American proposal. The European Recovery Program, as it was formally known, became known as the Marshall Plan. Clark Clifford had suggested to Truman that the plan be called the Truman Plan, but Truman immediately dismissed that idea and insisted that it be called the Marshall Plan. The Marshall Plan would help Europe rebuild and modernize its economy along American lines, and open up new opportunities for international trade. Stalin ordered his satellites in Eastern Europe not to participate. Marshall was again named "Man of the Year: by Time in January 1948.
Truman repeatedly rejected Marshall's advice on Middle Eastern policy. As Secretary of State, Marshall strongly opposed recognizing the newly formed state of Israel. Marshall felt that if the state of Israel was declared a war would break out in the Middle East (which it did in 1948 one day after Israel declared independence). Marshall saw recognizing the Jewish state as a political move to gain Jewish support in the upcoming election, in which Truman was expected to lose to Dewey. He told President Truman in May 1948, "If you (recognize the state of Israel) and if I were to vote in the election, I would vote against you." However, Marshall refused to vote in any election as a matter of principle.
During his tenure as Secretary of State, Marshall also urged President Harry S. Truman to immediately called for The Netherlands to stop their invasion of Indonesia and immediate armistice. Marshall also urged The Netherlands to immediately withdraw from Indonesia and transfer all of the sovereignty to Indonesia as part of Marshall Asian policy. However The Netherlands ignored Marshall and Truman's administration pressure and resume its invasion of Indonesia in-order to re-occupied Indonesia as their previous colony, on-which Indonesia has declared their Independence on August 17, 1945. As a result, the Marshall Plan program for The Netherlands economic recovery was put on hold and the Truman Administration threatened to cut all of The Netherlands economic aid program, if The Netherlands didn't immediately withdraw from Indonesia. Under pressure from Truman administration and as an effort of Secretary of State George Marshall in arbitrating the conflict between The Netherlands and Republic of Indonesia, The Netherlands finally agree to withdraw from Indonesia and transferred all of its sovereignty to the newly independent Republic of Indonesia following the Dutch–Indonesian Round Table Conference in 1949.
Marshall resigned as Secretary of State because of ill health on January 7, 1949. He was severely exhausted throughout his tenure in the position. Acheson in late 1947 said he was underperforming like "a four-engine bomber going only on one engine." Truman named him to the largely honorific positions of chairman of the American Battle Monuments Commission and president of the American National Red Cross. He received the 1953 Nobel Peace Prize for his post-war work, despite the criticism that he was a warrior not a pacifist.
When the early months of the Korean War showed how poorly prepared the Defense Department was, President Truman fired Secretary Louis A. Johnson and named Marshall as Secretary of Defense in September 1950. The appointment required a congressional waiver because the National Security Act of 1947 prohibited a uniformed military officer from serving in the post. This prohibition included Marshall since individuals promoted to General of the Army are not technically retired, but remain officially on active duty even after their active service has concluded. Marshall was the first person to be granted such a waiver; in 2017, Jim Mattis became the second and in January 2021, General Lloyd Austin became the third. Marshall's main role as Secretary of Defense was to restore confidence and morale to the Defense Department while rebuilding the armed forces following their post-World War II demobilization.
Marshall worked to provide more manpower to meet the demands of both the Korean War and the Cold War in Europe. To implement his priorities Marshall brought in a new leadership team, including Robert A. Lovett as his deputy and Anna M. Rosenberg, former head of the War Manpower Commission, as assistant secretary of defense for manpower. He also worked to rebuild the relationship between the Defense and State Departments, as well as the relationship between the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Marshall participated in the post-Inchon landing discussion that led to authorizing Douglas MacArthur to conduct operations in North Korea. A secret "eyes only" signal from Marshall to MacArthur on September 29, 1950 declared the Truman administration's commitment: "We want you to feel unhampered strategically and tactically to proceed north of the 38th Parallel". At the same time, Marshall advised against public pronouncements which might lead to United Nations votes undermining or countermanding the initial mandate to restore the border between North and South Korea. Marshall and the Joint Chiefs of Staff were generally supportive of MacArthur because they were of the view that field commanders should be able to exercise their best judgment in accomplishing the intent of their superiors.
Following Chinese military intervention in Korea during late November, Marshall and the Joint Chiefs of Staff sought ways to aid MacArthur while avoiding all-out war with China. In the debate over what to do about China's increased involvement, Marshall opposed a cease–fire on the grounds that it would make the U.S. look weak in China's eyes, leading to demands for future concessions. In addition, Marshall argued that the U.S. had a moral obligation to honor its commitment to South Korea. When British Prime Minister Clement Attlee suggested diplomatic overtures to China, Marshall opposed, arguing that it was impossible to negotiate with the Communist government. In addition, Marshall expressed concern that concessions to China would undermine confidence in the U.S. among its Asian allies, including Japan and the Philippines. When some in Congress favored expanding the war in Korea and confronting China, Marshall argued against a wider war in Korea, continuing instead to stress the importance of containing the Soviet Union during the Cold War battle for primacy in Europe.
Main article: Relief of Douglas MacArthur
Increasingly concerned about public statements from MacArthur, commander of United Nations forces fighting in the Korean War, which contradicted President Truman's on prosecution of the war, on the morning of 6 April 1951, Truman held a meeting with Marshall, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Omar Bradley, Secretary of State Dean Acheson and advisor W. Averell Harriman to discuss whether MacArthur should be removed from command.
Harriman was emphatically in favor of MacArthur's relief, but Bradley opposed it. Marshall asked for more time to consider the matter. Acheson was in favor but did not disclose this, instead warning Truman that if he did it, MacArthur's relief would cause "the biggest fight of your administration." At another meeting the following day, Marshall and Bradley continued to oppose MacArthur's relief. On 8 April, the Joint Chiefs of Staff met with Marshall, and each expressed the view that MacArthur's relief was desirable from a "military point of view," suggesting that "if MacArthur were not relieved, a large segment of our people would charge that civil authorities no longer controlled the military."
Marshall, Bradley, Acheson and Harriman met with Truman again on 9 April. Bradley informed the President of the views of the Joint Chiefs, and Marshall added that he agreed with them. Truman wrote in his diary that "it is of unanimous opinion of all that MacArthur be relieved. All four so advise." (The Joint Chiefs would later insist that they had only "concurred" with the relief, not "recommended" it.)
On April 11, 1951, President Truman directed transmittal of an order to MacArthur, issued over Bradley's signature, relieving MacArthur of his assignment in Korea and directing him to turn over command to Matthew Ridgway. In line with Marshall's view, and those of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, MacArthur's relief was looked upon by proponents as being necessary to reassert the tenet of civilian control of the military.
In September 1951, Marshall retired to his home, Dodona Manor, in Leesburg, Virginia. Purchased by the Marshalls in 1941, Dodona had previously served as a quiet weekend retreat for the busy couple. Gardening was one of General Marshall's favorite pastimes, and in retirement he grew vegetables throughout the year, including tomatoes and pumpkins, while Katherine Marshall enjoyed tending to her rose garden. The home was restored beginning in the 1990s and the house are gardens are open to the public as a museum.
After retiring, Marshall largely withdrew from public life. A notable exception was in June 1953, when he accepted President Eisenhower's appointment to head the American delegation to the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. The delegation included Earl Warren and Omar Bradley, and according to Bradley, as Marshall walked up the Westminster Abbey aisle to take his seat before the ceremony, the audience rose to its feet as a gesture of respect. Marshall looked behind him to see who the arriving dignitary was, then realized the audience had stood for him. Marshall was also invited to the post-ceremony banquet at Buckingham Palace, and was the only non-royal seated at Queen Elizabeth's table.
George Marshall was the youngest of three siblings. His older brother Stuart Bradford Marshall (1875–1956) was a graduate of the Virginia Military Institute, and became a manager and executive in several metal production corporations, including the American Manganese Manufacturing Company. He later worked as a metallurgist and consulting engineer specializing in the production and operation of blast furnaces, coke ovens, and foundries. George and Stuart Marshall were long estranged because George married Lily Coles, who a few years before had rejected Stuart's proposal. When Stuart found out George was engaged to Lily, Stuart made unkind remarks about her, and George "cut him off my list." Marshall's sister, Marie Louise (1876–1962) was the wife of Dr. John Johnson Singer, an Army physician who died in 1934.
On February 11, 1902, Marshall married Elizabeth Carter "Lily" Coles at her mother's home in Lexington, Virginia. Marshall met Lily after listening to her play the piano across the street from VMI. Marshall, being immediately smitten, would "run the block," or leave barracks after hours, to be with her. After traveling abroad to Japan, Korea, and China with Marshall, Lily returned to the U.S. to have a goiter removed. She died on September 15, 1927 after thyroid surgery that strained her weak heart. They did not have children.
On October 15, 1930, Marshall married Katherine Boyce Tupper (October 8, 1882 – December 18, 1978); They had no children, but she was the mother of three children with Baltimore lawyer Clifton Stevenson Brown. He had been murdered by a disgruntled client in 1928. The second Mrs. Marshall was a graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts; she later studied at the Comédie-Française, and toured with Frank Benson's English Shakespearean Company. She authored a memoir in 1946, Together: Annals of an Army Wife.
One of Marshall's stepsons, Allen Tupper Brown, was an Army lieutenant who was killed in Italy on May 29, 1944. Another stepson was Major Clifton Stevenson Brown Jr. (1914–1952). Stepdaughter Molly Brown Winn, the mother of actress Kitty Winn, was married to Colonel James Julius Winn, who had been an aide to Marshall. Molly Winn was active in preserving Marshall's legacy, including preserving Dodona Manor and publishing Marshall's World War I memoirs.
Marshall died at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C. on October 16, 1959. Although he was entitled to official proceedings, Marshall preferred simplicity, so he received a special military funeral that dispensed with many of the usual activities. The ceremonies included lying in state at Washington National Cathedral for 21 hours, guarded by representatives from each U.S. armed service and a VMI cadet.
President Eisenhower ordered flags flown at half-mast, and was among the invited guests for the funeral service held at Fort Myer. Other dignitaries included former President Truman, Secretary of State Christian A. Herter, former Secretary of State Dean G. Acheson, former Governor W. Averell Harriman and Generals Omar N. Bradley, Alfred M. Gruenther, and Matthew B. Ridgway. His parish priest, Franklin Moss Jr. from St. James Episcopal Church in Leesburg conducted the chapel and graveside services, assisted by former chief chaplain and National Cathedral Canon the Reverend Luther Miller.
Marshall was buried at Arlington National Cemetery, Section 7, Grave 8198, beside his first wife and her mother, Elizabeth Pendleton Coles (1849–1929). His second wife was also buried with him after she died in 1978.
Marshall's reputation for excellence as a military organizer and planner was recognized early in his career, and became known throughout the Army. In a performance appraisal prepared while Marshall was a lieutenant in the Philippines, his superior, Captain E. J. Williams responded to the routine question of whether he would want the evaluated officer to serve under his command again by writing of Marshall "Should the exigencies of active service place him in exalted command I would be glad to serve under him." (Emphasis added.)
In 1913, Lieutenant Colonel Johnson Hagood completed a written evaluation of Marshall's performance in which he called Marshall a military genius. Responding to the question of whether he would want his subordinate Marshall to serve under him again, Hagood wrote "Yes, but I would prefer to serve under his command." (Emphasis added.) Hagood went on to recommend Marshall's immediate promotion to brigadier general, despite the fact that there were more than 1,800 officers, including Hagood, who were senior to him.
After the surrender of the Nazi German government in May 1945, Henry L. Stimson, the Secretary of War, paid tribute to Marshall in front of a gathering of members of the Army staff, concluding with: "I have seen a great many soldiers in my lifetime and you, Sir, are the finest soldier I have ever known."
In addition to his military success, Marshall is primarily remembered as the driving force behind the Marshall Plan, which provided billions of dollars in aid to post war Europe to restart the economies of the destroyed countries. In recent years, the cooperation required between former European adversaries as part of the Marshall Plan has been recognized as one of the earliest factors that led to formation of the European Coal and Steel Community, and eventually the European Union.
In a television interview after leaving office, Harry S. Truman was asked which American he thought had made the greatest contribution of the preceding thirty years. Without hesitation, Truman picked Marshall, adding "I don't think in this age in which I have lived, that there has been a man who has been a greater administrator; a man with a knowledge of military affairs equal to General Marshall."
Orson Welles said in a 1970 interview with Dick Cavett that "Marshall is the greatest man I ever met... I think he was the greatest human being who was also a great man... He was a tremendous gentleman, an old fashioned institution which isn't with us anymore." The story Welles related to Cavett to illustrate his point was about a time he saw Marshall take the time to speak with a young American soldier who had accidentally entered the same room.
Marshall has been played in film and television by:
Marshall's dates of rank were:
|No pin insignia in 1902||Second lieutenant, United States Army: February 2, 1901 |
(Appointment accepted on February 2, 1902.)
|First lieutenant, United States Army: March 7, 1907|
|Captain, United States Army: July 1, 1916|
|Major, National Army: August 5, 1917|
|Lieutenant colonel, National Army: January 5, 1918|
|Colonel, National Army: August 27, 1918|
|Captain, Regular Army (reverted to permanent rank): June 30, 1920|
|Major, Regular Army : July 1, 1920|
|Lieutenant colonel, Regular Army: August 21, 1923|
|Colonel, Regular Army: September 1, 1933|
|Brigadier general, Regular Army: October 1, 1936|
|Major general, Regular Army: September 1, 1939|
|General, temporary, for service as Army Chief of Staff: September 1, 1939|
|General of the Army, Army of the United States: December 16, 1944|
|General of the Army rank made permanent in the Regular Army: April 11, 1946|
|Distinguished Service Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster|
|Philippine Campaign Medal|
|World War I Victory Medal with four campaign clasps|
|Army of Occupation of Germany Medal|
|American Defense Service Medal|
|American Campaign Medal (First recipient)|
|World War II Victory Medal|
|National Defense Service Medal|
|Honorary Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath (United Kingdom)|
|Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour (France)|
|Grand Cross of the Order of Military Merit (Brazil) (Presented by General Francisco José Pinto on behalf of President Getulio Vargas on 3 June 1939)|
|Grand Cross of the Order of Merit (Chile)|
|Grand Cross of the Order of Boyacá Cherifien (Colombia) (Given by President Ospina Perez as he opened the IX Panamerican Conference, March 1948)|
|Member 1st Class of the Order of Military Merit (Cuba)|
|Member 1st Class of the Order of Abdon Calderon (Ecuador)|
|Knight Grand Cross with swords of the Order of George I (Greece)|
|Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus (Italy)|
|Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Crown of Italy (Italy)|
|Grand Cross of the Order of Ouissam Alaouite (Morocco)|
|Knight Grand Cross with swords of the Order of Orange-Nassau (Netherlands)|
|Grand Officer of the Order of the Sun (Peru)|
|Member 1st Class of the Order of Suvorov (Soviet Union)|
|Croix de Guerre 1914–1918 with bronze palm (France)|
|Medal for the Centennial of the Republic of Liberia|
|Silver Medal for Bravery (Montenegro)|
|Medal of Solidarity, 2nd Class (Panama)|
|Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal (United Kingdom)|
|Pennsylvania||1939||Washington and Jefferson College||Doctor of Science (Sd.D)|
|Pennsylvania||1940||Pennsylvania Military College||Doctor of Military Science (DScMil)|
|Virginia||1941||College of William and Mary||Doctor of Laws (LL.D)|
|Connecticut||1941||Trinity College||Doctor of Laws (LL.D)|
|Vermont||1942||Norwich University||Doctor of Military Science (DScMil)|
|New York||1947||Columbia University||Doctor of Laws (LL.D)|
|New Jersey||1947||Princeton University||Doctor of Laws (LL.D)|
|Massachusetts||1947||Harvard University||Doctor of Laws (LL.D)|
|Massachusetts||1947||Amherst College||Doctor of Laws (LL.D)|
|Rhode Island||1947||Brown University||Doctor of Laws (LL.D)|
|Quebec||1947||McGill University||Doctor of Laws (LL.D)|
|Pennsylvania||1947||Lafayette College||Doctor of Laws (LL.D)|
|California||1947||University of California||Doctor of Laws (LL.D)|
|United Kingdom||1947||University of London||Doctor of Laws (LL.D)|
|United Kingdom||1947||University of Oxford||Doctor of Civil Law (DCL)|
|New Jersey||1948||Princeton University||Doctor of Laws (LL.D)|
Marshall even went to great lengths to prevent himself from falling prey to the allures of power. He had always refused to vote because he subscribed to the belief that a professional soldier should remain above politics, but he took other steps to insulate himself from the corrupting influence of power once he became chief of staff.
General Marshall could see the President anytime, but being a general he never took advantage of this. In fact, on one occasion, I think it was over Palestine actually, he told the President -- I was told by somebody at the meeting -- "Mr. President, if you take this action I wouldn't vote for you, but of course I don't vote." He as an Army officer never voted apparently in his life.
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George C. Marshall
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