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Memorandum for the President
July 16, 1941 Washington, D.C.
With reference to your informal direction to me last Monday morning to ascertain the suitable time for a message by you to the Congress regarding the removal of the legal limitations now adversely affecting the Army, I have talked to the principal leaders, and have had many others queried on the subject, all, of course, confidentially. The consensus of opinion appears to be that a message from you as soon as possible would be highly desirable, in fact, they believe this will be necessary to a favorable consideration of the recommendations of the War Department.1
I discussed this a few minutes ago with Senator Barkley, who is strongly of the opinion that this action should be taken as soon as possible. Mr. Wadsworth and Senator Hill are of the same opinion today.2 There is evidently a much better understanding of the seriousness of the situation than was the case a few days ago.
G. C. Marshall
Document Copy Text Source: Franklin D. Roosevelt Papers, Official File, 1413, Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, Hyde Park, New York.
Document Format: Typed memorandum signed.
1. On July 21 President Roosevelt sent a message to Capitol Hill urging Congress quickly to enact legislation which would extend the service of selectees, national guardsmen, and reservists in the army beyond one year. Roosevelt stated that the danger to United States national security was “infinitely greater” than the year before. “It is true that in modern war men without machines are of little value. It is equally true that machines without men are of no value at all. . . . Within two months disintegration, which would follow failure to take Congressional action, will commence in the armies of the United States. Time counts. The responsibility rests solely with the Congress.” (The Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1941 volume, ed. Samuel I. Rosenman [New York: Harper and Brothers, 1950], pp. 272-77.) In August the Senate, by a vote of 45-30, and the House of Representatives, by a vote of 203-202, authorized extension from twelve to eighteen months of service under the Selective Training and Service Act. President Roosevelt approved the Service Extension Act of 1941 on August 18, and three days later he issued Executive Order 8862 extending active military service to eighteen months.
2. Alben W. Barkley, a Democrat from Kentucky, had been majority leader since 1937. James W. Wadsworth was a Republican congressman from New York, and Lister Hill was a Democratic senator from Alabama.
Recommended Citation: The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, ed. Larry I. Bland, Sharon Ritenour Stevens, and Clarence E. Wunderlin, Jr. (Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 2, “We Cannot Delay,” July 1, 1939-December 6, 1941 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986), p. 567.