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Memorandum for the President
October 25, 1940 Washington, D.C.
Subject; White and Colored Quotas under Selective Service.
In accordance with your instructions of yesterday afternoon, each Corps Area Headquarters was called by telephone and ordered to confine its notification of quotas to State Governors and a total of the men required, without reference to color. These instructions reached all the Corps Areas but one prior to any action having been taken. However, in the Sixth Corps Area (States of Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan), it was found that the staff officer concerned, in order to permit the State Directors to make initial preparations, had informally advised them of the proper quotas on a basis of so many white and so many colored. Instructions were given this Corps Area that in making its formal requisition on the Governors, no reference to color would be made.
The instructions of the War Department to Corps Area commanders stating the terms and methods for making calls on the States, are rather lengthy and have not been treated as confidential. So far as we have been able to determine, only three copies of these instructions have gotten out of the hands of the Corps Area commanders, the War Department and the Selective Service Headquarters. These three were sent to the State Directors of Michigan, Illinois and Wisconsin. One copy was delivered to an individual in Texas, but has been withdrawn. However, the general contents of these instructions have been known to a great many people as result of frequent conferences during a long period of years.
The desires of the President in this matter might be met by issuing another directive to Corps Area commanders on the basis of altering the white and black quotas in order to increase the latter quota. The first call,—that for November 18th—provided for a lesser number of colored men than the 10% ratio. This was done because a number of colored organizations to be created will not have been activated until next January. The calls planned for January include about 15% colored quota, sufficient to make the general average that of 10%.
By making various adjustments, temporarily assigning colored recruits or trainees to reception centers rather than to organizations, we could readjust the quotas for the first call and could utilize this purpose as the reason for delaying the call on the Governors until after November 5th.1 This would mean a corresponding delay in the date of the first reporting of trainees, which has been assumed to be November 18th.
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. General election day.
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), pp. 338-339.