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Memorandum for General Pershing
January 15, 1923 Washington, D.C.
With regard to the proposal for reviewing military textbooks in the Historical Section, I fear that some of the public education officials who are pacifistic in their feelings, would seize upon a letter of the character suggested, as a basis for accusing the Army, and more particularly, the General Staff, of endeavoring to mold public opinion along militaristic lines. Once a book has been printed, its author and the publisher would undoubtedly actively resent unfavorable reviews by the War Department. Being a Governmental agency, political pressure and attack could easily be incited. The same result cannot follow in the case of unfavorable reviews by individuals.1
I am not now able to suggest a method of handling this matter. If the writers of textbooks could be induced to take advantage of the facilities of the Historical Section, improvement in the treatment of our war incidents might be made.
G. C. M.
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed memorandum signed.
1. In the late autumn of 1922, General Pershing became concerned by the criticisms being voiced by various individuals and patriotic organizations regarding the treatment of military matters in various American history textbooks. He ordered the Historical Section of the War College to study and to submit a recommendation on the matter. Colonel Oliver L. Spaulding, Jr., chief of the Historical Section, responded in December by recommending that the adjutant general of the army send a letter to the superintendent of public instruction in each state, territory, the Philippine Islands, and the District of Columbia, offering to provide "upon request from proper authority, reviews of books, analyzing them from a military point of view and furnishing simple statements as to the accuracy of their presentation of facts." (Spaulding [s. Major General E. F. McGlachlin] to Pershing, December 22, 1922, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)
Recommended Citation: The Papers 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. 1, “The Soldierly Spirit,” December 1880-June 1939 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1981), p. 218.