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Memorandum for Admiral Leahy and Admiral King
March 11, 1944 Washington, D.C.
Since my return to the city there has been brought to my attention the desire of Mr. Vinson of the House Naval Committee to have Representative Maas make a trip to the Pacific. I have seen Mr. Vinson’s letter to the Secretary of the Navy and the latter’s reply.1 I am informed that you, that is, Admiral Leahy and Admiral King, and also General Arnold, approve of the trip. This puts me in a puzzling if not embarrassing position.
You are both familiar with the measures which were taken last March to avoid visits by a variety of Committees of Congress to the various active theaters. The Truman Committee proposed a trip to England and to the Mediterranean and the President referred the matter to me for an opinion. You will find attached my memorandum to him of March 19th and also his memorandum of March 23rd to the leaders in Congress.2
Following the foregoing there developed a prolonged wrangle in which Senator Barkley had to take a leading part to settle a dispute between the Senate Military Committee and the Truman Investigating Committee. The final decision was a compromise with members of both Committees and Senator Russell of the Foreign Relations Committee being authorized to make the trip.
I am told by the officers representing the War Department in such matters on the Hill that if Mr. Maas makes this trip the precedent is broken and we shall probably not only be deluged with requests but will be seriously attacked by those members who were deprived of the opportunity which they so much desired.
I was informed by the Speaker, Mr. Rayburn, that he did not intend that anyone from the House should go into the active theaters. However, this is not borne out by Mr. Vinson’s proposal in regard to Mr. Maas. Furthermore, the President has acquiesced to the visit by two members of Congress to England, and possibly to Africa, as guests of the British Government. He did not intend that they should go to Africa but apparently involved himself in this without realizing he was doing so.
I certainly do not wish to set myself up as the discordant voter in this matter and I am perfectly willing to go along with you gentlemen but I wanted you to read this note so that you will be prepared for what will happen as a consequence of favorable action on Mr. Vinson’s request.3
G. C. Marshall
Document Copy Text Source: Records of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (RG 218), Leahy White House Records, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.
Document Format: Typed memorandum signed.
1. Carl Vinson, a Democrat from Georgia, was chairman of the House Naval Affairs Committee. Congressman Melvin J. Maas, a Republican from Minnesota, was a colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve and was on active duty in the South Pacific in 1942. The two letters to which Marshall refers are not in the Marshall papers.
2. See Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #3-559 [3: 595-96].
3. Senator Alben W. Barkley was a Democrat from Kentucky, and Senator Richard B. Russell was a Democrat from Georgia. Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn was a Democrat from Texas. General Marshall drafted a letter to Congressman Vinson for Admiral Leahy’s signature on behalf of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, which reminded him of the March 1943 memorandum. The Joint Chiefs of Staff suggested that Vinson discuss the matter with the Speaker of the House.
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. 333-334.