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General Marshall’s Remarks at Dinner for the Honorable Bernard M. Baruch1
May 24, 1944 New York, New York
When I was in France with the AEF I heard of the outstanding contribution being made to our war effort by Mr. Baruch, but it was not until 22 years ago in the Delta of the Mississippi that I came to know him personally. While trivial matters are not appropriate to this evening, I am inclined to mention that he and I were paired in a duck-shooting competition with the Governor of Louisiana and General Pershing. Mr. Baruch was the only professional in the party, at least he was the only duck hunter in practice, but the cards were heavily stacked against him. We had no positive evidence but it appeared that the Creole guides materially assisted our competitors. The great injustice, however, was perpetrated by a New Orleans newspaper which quite naturally featured the highest possible scores for the Governor of the State and the General of the Armies. It went still further in misrepresentation by placing the bag of an inconspicuous Army major well above that of your guest of honor tonight, who, as a matter of fact, was the actual high gun of the competition.
I have come to know that Mr. Baruch prides himself on his ability to penetrate the other fellow’s purpose and on his calm reticence under pressure, but at a late hour that night on the train coming north he finally confessed to me his puzzlement over this particular newspaper feature article. He understood of course why General Pershing and Governor Parker2 should have been rated tops by the local paper but he couldn’t understand why my record should have been falsified to his disadvantage. The point was, the publisher of the newspaper had been my roommate at college,3 so even the astute Mr. Baruch occasionally gets winged.
In the fall of 1938, before the country was aroused to the seriousness of the storm center rapidly gathering in Germany, Mr. Baruch called at my office to congratulate me on my appointment as Deputy Chief of Staff. He stayed but a moment and as he went out the door he made this comment: “We’re going to lick this fellow Hitler. We’re not going to let him get away with it.”
Since that day, in one way or another, he has continuously labored, first to develop America’s latent military power and subsequently, to harmonize the various conflicting elements into an efficient team. His efforts in the last field are well known to the public but in my view, he rendered his most vital service in assisting the War Department to convince Congress of the imperative necessity of making sizeable appropriations at a time when the necessity for such action was little understood and was strongly opposed. A hundred million appropriated in those days had the value of a billion later on. Regarding his work in that critical period I speak from an intimate knowledge, as he stood at my shoulder during discussions which had consequences of momentous importance to this country. Of that public service little is generally known, though in my opinion, he made his greatest contribution to his Government at that time.
Mr. Baruch is being specifically honored tonight for his service to humanity. He has contributed completely of his time and person whenever the need arose and he has been most generous in financial contributions for the betterment of mankind. I feel that I have expressed these views rather awkwardly and without the emphasis justified by his great service to this country and to the world, for that matter, resulting from his pure patriotism and his patience and wisdom.
The newspapers and magazines have emphasized these qualities for many years, but it seems to me they have not always recognized that his counsel and guidance are available not only to political administrations, Congressional committees, and large institutions, but also to the humble individual. During recent months I have learnt of several instances in which he has given much time and thought to the personal problems of soldiers in our Army. His method here has been characteristic, for instead of seeking privilege for the young men in whom he is interested, he has sought merely advice as to how they might proceed towards the realization of their ambitions and has passed this on after tempering it with his own wisdom.
I owe him a personal debt for his strong support in that difficult period of national lethargy and of hesitance to initiate the giant strides necessary to meet the world cataclysm which was about to engulf us. I am therefore both gratified and happy to have this opportunity to present to him the Gold Medal of the Institute of Social Sciences.
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Speeches, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed draft.
1. General Marshall delivered this speech at the annual dinner of the National Institute of Social Sciences held at the Waldorf-Astoria, at which time he presented Bernard Baruch with the institute’s Gold Medal in recognition of his distinguished service to humanity. The citation praised Baruch: “During many days of momentous decision, you have served your country generously and consistently with high purpose and rich results.” (H. Merrill Pasco Memorandum for the Chief of Staff, May 22, 1944, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].) Having been chairman of the War Industries Board during World War I, Baruch was adviser to the director of the Office of War Mobilization.
2. John M. Parker was governor of Louisiana during 1920-24.
3. Leonard K. Nicholson, Marshall’s roommate at the Virginia Military Institute, was publisher of the New Orleans Times-Picayune.
Recommended Citation: ThePapers of George Catlett Marshall, ed.Larry I. Bland and Sharon Ritenour Stevens(Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 4, “Aggressive and Determined Leadership,” June 1, 1943-December 31, 1944 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996), pp. 461-463.