Statesman – Chapter 25 – Back to Duty

Publisher: The George C. Marshall Foundation

General and Mrs. Marshall were vacationing at Huron Mountain resort in Michigan in August 1950 when he was called to the telephone at a country store nearby. It was the usual rural scene with local citizens sitting around and peering covertly at the elderly visitor as he came to take his phone call from Washington. They had been told, of course, that the U.S. President was on the phone, waiting to speak to the former Secretary of State. Aware that he could be overheard, Marshall was laconic and brief. The onlookers heard little more than “Yes, Mr President,” for Truman only asked that Marshall drop in to see him when he was next in Washington. The phone call opened the way for Marshall’s third recall to active duty since his retirement as Chief of Staff five years previously.

The General could not have been surprised that Truman was about to ask him to succeed Louis Johnson as secretary of Defense, because he had known before the beginning of the Korean War in late June that friction was great between Johnson and Dean Acheson, and Truman preferred the latter. Acheson had talked with Marshall shortly after the conflict began, and then Marshall was called to the Pentagon for a briefing. General Ridgway thought this briefing not sufficient and gave him another. On July 4, Truman and his daughter, Margaret, drove out to Leesburg, ostensibly for a pleasant visit. Truman later wrote that he had decided by late June to remove Johnson from the Cabinet, but he obviously wanted to see how familiar Marshall was with the immediate international situation and whether he was still a strong man on whom the President could rely in the swiftly developing crisis in Korea.

Louis Johnson, the tall, bald Secretary of Defense, had long been a cyclonic presence on the American scene. He was a partner in a


prestigious West Virginia law firm with offices in Washington. National commander of the Aniei’ican Legion in 1932-33, he had used his position to gain national political standing. He was brought into the administration by Roosevelt’in June 1937 as Assistant Secretary of War, and became a counterweight to Harry Woodring, the isolationist Secretary of War Marshall had found himself embarrassed by the fights between the two men when he was Deputy Chief of Staff. Johnson thought he had a promise of Woodring’s place, but Roosevelt had decided instead to name the Republican Henry L. Stimson. As a leading fund raiser for Truman in 1948, Johnson asked for and got the post of Secretary of Defense which Forrestal had held since the position was created in 1947. In congratulating Johnson on his new position, Marshall wrote him that he would do well to avoid playing politics Johnson had not taken the advice. He picked Stephen Early, Roosevelt’s press secretary, as his deputy, and it was widely believed that this was a first step in his campaign for the presidency. It was his, tendency to quarrel with members of the Cabinet, and particularly with Acheson, that angered Truman. In September 1950, the President wrote:

Louis began to show an inordinate egotistical desire to run the whole government. He offended every member of the cabinet. We never had a cabinet meeting that he did not show plainly that he knew more about the problems of the Treasury, Commerce, Labor, Agriculture than did the Secretaries of those departments. He played no favorites; all of them were included. He disliked Cap Krug-a kindly person who finally left under pressure, he disliked Chapman, Krug’s successor. He never missed an opportunity to say mean things about iny personal staff.

Then he tried to use the White House press men for blowing himself up and everyone else down, particularly the Secretary of State. He had conferences with enemy Senators of mine-Wherry, McCarthy, Brewster, Taft, Hickenlooper-and made terrible statements to them. After doing a goodjob on implementing the unification plan which I’d drawn up after World War II, on the advice of every field commander, army, navy, and air, he almost wrecked the whole thing. He misrepresented the facts to every committee before which he appeared All this was carefully reported to me factually by men who were present-I have no spy system.

The Korean War brought blame for Johnson’s “crippling” defense cuts, which followed the President’s budget-cutting promisesof 1948. Later, Truman was accused of making the Defense Secre-


tary a scapegoat for his own sins, but even before the war he had decided that Johnson would have to go, and the war simplified the solution to an enlarging internal fight.

Marshall went to see Truman on September 6, after returning to Leesburg from Michigan. Truman told him that he had to get rid of Johnson and asked if Marshall would “act as Secretary of Defense through the crisis if I could get Congressional approval.” Marshall warned, “I want you to think about the fact that my appointment may reflect upon you and your Administration. They are still charging me with the downfall of Chiang’s government in China I want to help, not hurt you.” Moved by this candor, Truman wrote his wife, “Can you think of anyone else saying that? I can’t and he’s of the great.”

Marshall set no conditions except that he would stay only for six months to a year. He did request that Robert Lovett, long-time colleague and friend, be named Deputy Secretary of Defense, and he seems to have supposed that Lovett would succeed him when he retired. On September 7, the President was recounting to Mrs. Truman the details of his talk with Marshall and said that he would have to break the bad news to Louis Johnson, hoping that Johnson would, because of the attacks on him, resign and let Marshall take the post. “If he doesn’t, I shall simply fire him as I did Wallace and Morgenthau.” In his September 14 diary entry, he said that he had determined on September 1 (a Friday) that Johnson must go, but decided to wait until Monday and then postponed telling him for another week (which would be the 12th) Before the 12th came, an article in The New York Times stated that Johnson was to be dismissed. Johnson called Truman on the 11th to ask what it all meant, and’Truman told him he would have to resign. The President then asked Deputy Secretary of Defense Early to prepare a letter of resignation for his chief. Johnson attended the Cabinet meeting on September 12 and followed Truman into his office to ask that he not be fired, while handing the President an unsigned letter of resignation. Truman told him that he must sign it and later revealed to Mrs. Truman that the Secretary was weeping as he did so. The President at once telephoned General Marshall and then arranged for a press release.

Johnson’s carefully drafted letter indicated that various difficulties and pressures had created great controversies and divisions in Washington, and that since much criticism was aimed at him, he proposed to resign. As instructed, he recommended that Truman choose General Marshall, who could pull the country together.5


The prospect of Marshall’s appointment won strong support in the Cabinet and in Congress, where most Democratic members approved the change, though many Republicans suggested taking a second look. Arthur Krock in The New York Times saw the appointment as solving several problems for the White House. The country had lost confidence in the administration and in the Department of Defense. The public saw Marshall as “eminently qualified to correct past errors and prevent the commission of new ones.” Marshall would halt the war between Defense and State and stop the interservice battling. Although some critics thought Marshall was vulnerable on China, the Republicans would not dare go too far on that tack, “lest the country turn on them in anger and disgust?

The Times, in its editorial comment on the nomination, suggested that Truman was probably more to blame for defense problems than Johnson. The Secretary would be succeeded “by a man of great force, immense experience, and keen foresight to whom no aura of politics attaches and in whom the people place unbounded confidence.” The Washington Post made many of the same points. Marshall was a military man with a civilian mind, “a truly authentic American in his respect for and devotion to our American
system of government.” The Post felt this was of the greatest importance. The country seemed to be moving toward a garrison state, a situation in which “the military is under constant temptation to take advantage of its power. But it is fortunate that in these circumstances there is a Marshall to fall back upon.”

Walter Lippmann found it interesting and fortunate that the appointment came at the time of the Inchon victory in Korea, and also when plans were afoot to use German forces in Western European defense. Marshall was “the soldier who understood that the revolution in Asia cannot be dealt with by American military intervention. He is the soldier who understood that European society must be made worth defending.”

The Chicago Tribune sounded the sour note that would become a battle cry for the most reactionary opponents of the administration. Its editorial blared that Johnson had been thrown out to save Acheson. Acheson had brought in Marshall, who had betrayed China to Stalin’s agents, thus making Korea indefensible. The paper reiterated its old charges of Marshall’s conspiracy with Roosevelt to withhold information from officers at Pearl Harbor, the disarming of Chiang Kai-shek, and the failure of the Marshall Plan. It was vintage Colonel McCormick, and the attack continued-as Marshall had warned Truman it would. The Tribune’s car-


toonist first showed Marshall as a simpleton lackey of a villainous British-type Acheson, later depicting him as a senile clown cutting out paper dolls.

In the Senate hearings that followed, Democrats and most Republican members of the Senate Committee on the Armed Forces asked for a quick confirmation Senators Cain of Washington and Knowland of California paid tribute to Marshall’s war contributions, but wondered about the wisdom of permitting a soldier to head the Department of Defense.

Had the nomination been a simple matter of a vote in the Senate, Marshall might have escaped some of the worst abuse. Even then it could not have approached the unaniimous confirmation that a Republican-controlled Senate gave him in 1947 as Secretary of State. Because the Democrats’ President had been elected in 1948 and the Democrats had recaptured Congress, partisanship was back in style.

The chief objection (and a valid one) was that a military man should not be Secretary of Defense. This point had been raised in the debate on the unification bill in I1947. The National Security Act passed that year provided that “a person who has within ten years been on active duty as a comniissioned officer in a regular component of tlie armed services shall not be eligible for appointment as Secretary of Defense.”

After these questions had been aired, the Chairman mentioned that a list of questions had been submitted by Senator William Jenner of Indiana, not a member of the committee. One of the right-wing Republican senators who had launched several attacks against the adniinistration, Jenner was within two years of another senatorial election campaign, and the Marshall nomination offered an opportunity for partisan advantage. Senator Leverett Saltonstall of Massachusetts argued that some of the questions should be discussed only in executive session, but Senator Lyndon Johnson said that since they had been asked in open session, they should be answered there. Though some of Jenner’s questions were straight-forward requests for information, most of them were loaded.

Marshall sat at one end of a table and Jenner at the other. Marshall gazed impassively at the Senator, only occasionally chuckling in recognition that Jenner was trying to make a political point rather than seeking information.

Why did he permit the signing of Lend-Lease agreements “which gave the Russians priority at the expense of ‘the American fighting forces?’ Marshall replied that he had signed no such agreement, but that the aid had been made by the government to help in the


fight against the Nazis. Why did he secure the appointment of Alger Hiss as executive secretary of the American Secretariat at Dumbarton Oaks? Marshall replied (correctly) that he did not recall having anything to do with that arrangement. Why did he accept a commission to force Chiang Kai-shek to take Communist China and its armies into the National Government of China? Marshall replied that the query begged the question.

“Why did you join in the suppression of the Wedemeyer Report on China?” was expected to give the General trouble. In his clipped, crisp voice, Marshall declared, “I did not join in the suppression of the report. I personally suppressed it.” He continued:

I sent General Wedemeyer over there as a last resort to find out what we might do and when his report came back, it involved a trusteeship for Manchuria with the Russians also being involved. Chiang Kai-shek had said flatly he would resign before accepting any relationship in which the British or Russians had a part. I n addition ,
the report had come at the time when the United States and Britain were dealing with the Greek question in the I! N. and they didn’t want to bring up the idea of trusteeship.

In a low, hard tone of conviction, he went on, “Besides that, this was a report froi? a man I sent to find out something for me and not for a public speech, but it became, frankly, I guess, a political issue at the time.”

Why did he not protest policies at Tehran, Yalta, and Potsdam that handed half the world to Stalin on a silver platter? Marshall reminded the interrogator that he had not attended political meetings at those conferences, and’ that the Joint Chiefs were represented by Admiral Leahy.

Did he favor turning over US sovereignty to a superstate and making American armed forces a permanent foreign legion? The General snorted with a short laugh: “That pretty well covers the waterfront. No, I am not in favor of that.”

“Will you assure the American people unequivocally that as Secretary of Defense you will not be dominated by or carry out the policies of the Secretary of State Dean Acheson, who will not turn his back on Alger Hiss?” As though he had been asked, “When did you stop beating your wife?,” Marshall said, “I will not answer that question.”

In the last go-round, Jenner asked where Marshall had been the night before Pearl Harbor. Marshall said he was fairly sure that he had been at home but he could not be positive. He repeated, as he


had in earlier interrogations, “that Mr. Roosevelt had nothing whatsoever to d o with where I was that evening and never discussed it with me afterward, and it had no relationship to his actions at all.”

The committee went into executive session and ended by approving the nomination 10-2, with Knowland and Cain voting the noes.

The debate on amending the National Security Act came in the two houses of Congress on September 15. In the House of Representatives, debate was limited and the chief excitement was provided by Representative Dewey Short of Missouri, sometime teacher and preacher, devoted to conviviality, the Bible, Shakespeare, and stump oratory, when he brought cheering Republicans to their feet by calling Marshall “a catspaw and a pawn’’ who had been called back “to bail out desperate men who are in a hole.” He proposed that Representative Carl Vinson’s name be substituted for that of Marshall, and Representative James Fulton was ready to make such a motion when Vinson, long-time Chairman of the Naval Affairs Committee and now Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, stopped it. The House also tried to make the initial amendment acceptable to those who feared that the door was open to military domination by adding an amendment to the proposed legislation stipulating that the exemption was to apply only to Marshall. This was sent on to the Senate, where it was accepted.

Since the vote came late in a congressional election year, many representatives were missing. Twenty-seven Republicans, including Javits, Keating, John Lodge, Van Zandt, and Richard Nixon, voted with 193 Democrats to pass the amendment 220-105 (the 105 consisting of a hundred Republicans and five Democrats).’*

In the Senate, Harry F. Byrd, Sr., led the fight for the amendment in the absence of Senator Millard Tydings. Terming Marshall one of the greatest and ablest leaders available in one of history’s severest crises, he lauded the General’s devotion to duty, which made him willing to accept one more burden. He stressed Marshall’s lack of personal ambition and said that ten years earlier Marshall had persuaded him to stop the publication of an article the Virginia Senator had written calling for Marshall’s election as President.

Most of the opponents of the measure voiced opposition to a military man’s heading the Defense Department, but several strongly criticized the administration’s foreign policy. Senator Taft, already regarded as the leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 1952, said he felt that, if he voted for Marshall, he would be approving a policy favorable to Communism in the Far East, which had dominated the Far East Division of the State


Department, and would be approving Acheson’s policy in China, Formosa, and Korea. Senator Knowland and several other critics of Acheson repeated this theme, but it remained for Senator Jenner, who had failed to draw blood with his earlier questions, to create the big scene. William S. White, correspondent for The New York Times, described the speech “As Senator Jenner delivered his speech, at times in shouts and half-screams, the entire Senate, on the Republican as well as the Democratic side, sat with stony faces.” Jenner said that the Democratic Party had been captured from the inside and used to hasten the destruction of the country. Those responsible would go into history as America’s greatest criminals in peace and war. This was a desperate administration trying to cover up “its bloody tracks of treason.” The appointment of George Marshall was an attempt of the administration “to swallow up the treachery of the past in the new treachery they are planning for the future.”

In the most memorable words that he would ever speak, Jenner thundered:

General Marshall is not only willing, he is eager to play the role of a front man for traitors.

The truth is this is no new role for him, for General George C. Marshall is a living lie.

Senator Lucas tried to protest but was waved aside and drowned out as Jenner continued his diatribe-a dress rehearsal of the longer attack that Joseph McCarthy would unleash a year later. Jenner attacked Roosevelt, Truman, Marshall, and Acheson for Pearl Harbor, sell-outs to Russia, betrayal of China, a disastrous Marshall Plan. They were now depending on the Marshall appointment to save them, but it would not work.

“Unless he, himself, were desperate, he could not possibly agree to continue as an errand boy, a front man, a stooge, or a conspirator for this Administration’s crazy assortment of collectivist cutthroat crackpots and Communist fellow-travelling appeasers.” It was tragic, he concluded, that Marshall was not enough of a patriot to tell the truth, “instead ofjoining hands once more with this criminal crowd of traitors and Communist appeasers, who, under the continuing influence and direction of Mr. Truman and Mr. Acheson, are still selling America down the river.”

The Senate was accustomed to vehement charges and loose rhetoric, but Jenner had gone beyond the pale. When he had finished, Leverett Saltonstall, tall, graying Republican from Massachusetts,


former Governor of his state, whose long, square-jawed face might have descended from Richard Saltonstall, who had come to America in 1620, struggled to his feet. He was ill but had come to support a man for whom he had long held great respect.

Pale and stunned by Jenner’s invective, he declared in shocked, halting tones:

I wish I had the words and the voice to express how strongly I disagree with many of the statements which have just been made.

. If there is any man whose public life has been above censure. . it is George C Marshall . .

I wish I had the vocabulary to answer the statement that General Marshall’s life is a lie, because if ever there was a life spent in the interest of our country, a life that is not a lie, it is the life of George C. Marshall.

When told of this attack in the Senate, Marshall said, ‘Jenner? Jenner? I do not believe I know the man.”

The virulence of Jenner’s speech surprised many Republicans who opposed changing the National Security Act. The party leaders-Cain, Knowland, Mundt, Malone, Ferguson, and Taft-carefully dissociated themselves from the highly personal attack, while warning against the Far Eastern policies of Secretary Acheson. Taft made the final speech on the Republican side, praising Marshall as a general but expressing fear about amending the National Security Act. Senator Virgil Chapman of Kentucky, mindful that Eisenhower was being pushed as a candidate for the Republican nomination against Taft, asked the Ohio Senator whether the same bar against a general for Secretary of Defense would apply if a general were a presidential candidate. Cautiously, Taft said that it did not necessarily apply, but an argument could be made against having a general as such a candidate. “As a rule-with the great exception of General Washington-that has not been a particular political success.” After that neat answer, which some Democrats felt disposed of both Eisenhower and MacArthur, Vice President Barkley called for the vote.

Fifteen Republicans-Darby, Dworshak, Hendrikson, Ives, Morse, Mundt, Saltonstall, Schoeppel, Smith of Maine, Thye, Tobey, Wiley, and Williams-voted with forty-two Democrats to approve the nomination 57-11 . Shortly after confirmation, Marshall was sworn in at the Pentagon by legal counsel Felix Larkin. He was back in familiar surroundings.


Several newspaper columnists who had been following the debate speculated as to Marshall’s reasons for undertaking the job, and Taft had wondered why a man who had lost a kidney would assume the office in an election year, when much of the abuse would be directed at him

In The New York Times Magazine, William S White, conservative Texan and long-time member of the Times staff, wrote perceptively on September 24 about the General, posing rhetorical questions and answers as to why Marshall had agreed to leave the peace and quiet of Leesburg for the old hurly-burly. He mentioned “sense of duty.” But he believed, and on this he is persuasive, that Marshall could not close his eyes to the problems that had broken over Johnson He had spent forty-five years as a professional soldier. He did not consider himself a great Secretary of State. “What he does have reason to know quite well is that in military matters there are few, if any, who can teach him the rubrics. This new job, as Secretary of Defense, he must have said to himself, I can do.”

The harshness of the campaign and the rough days ahead might be matters to dread for Mrs. Marshall but not for him, White thought. “The General is a man of toughness and of a realism so profound that the fact of the deep hostility to him held by many isolationists is treated in his mind exactly as the fact that there are a certain number of miles, some of them on narrow, uneven roads, between here and Leesburg.”

Marshall, he noted, was one of the least politically partisan of men. He was no more an admirer of parts of the New Deal than was the chairman of the Republican National Committee. Marshall held to the theory that every man and country should work his or its passage.

He was not a saber rattler: “There is in him far less confidence in purely military strength than there is in many a professor or editorial writer.” He did not try to grab power. He would not forget who was President of the United States or omit any courtesy, and he would not forget who was Secretary of State.

Now he comes back, the man who lives in high’memory, the man who had finished and done It will be a terrible chore to a man of 69, whose life has been spent for thirty years in enterprises that did not sleep. Will it kill the General, as so many are so poignantly afraid? Perhaps it will, perhaps not. In any case he is not one of those to whom a legendary infantry commander once called: “Come on you b-s, do you want to live forever?”


In November, after the attacks made on his nomination for Secretary of Defense, Marshall showed his disdain for political expediency by requesting President Truman to present the name of Mrs. Anna M. Rosenberg of New York for the post of Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower. A more cautious man would have thought twice about the nomination, given the current climate of opinion. Marshall’s recommendation was a New Dealer, a Jew, an Easterner, and a woman; proposed for a top job in a man’s world-getting more troops for the armed forces.

In the late fall of 1950, one of Marshall’s problems was the lack of an adequate reservoir of manpower to meet the demands of Korea and of commitments in Europe, while maintaining a sufficient reserve at home He had long been conscious of the-recurring problem that faced the armed services in peacetime: how to maintain sufficient manpower for defense without a continuing draft or without a professional army.

Before the end of World War II, he had called to Washington his old friend and adviser, John McAulay Palmer, long-time advocate of a citizen army, to work out plans for the postwar period. Ensconced in a special office in the Library of Congress, Palmer produced a detailed plan. Marshall had included it in his final report to the Secretary of War under the name “Universal Military Training,” and had pressed for this legislation before going to China and while he was Secretary of State However, Congress had not been favorable, and the armed forces were tentative about it. The coming of the Korean War made desperately necessary large increases in the armed forces and the scraping up of every reserve that could be found. He knew that manpower was one of the first problems he must tackle.

Mrs. Rosenberg’s name had come to his attention several times during the war and again in recent weeks. Born in Hungary in 1901, she had been brought to New York as a child and acquired American citizenship through her father’s naturalization. By the 1920s she was working in the field of industrial and labor relations. As head of a public-relations firm, she had such diverse clients as R. H. Macy, Lazard Freres, Encylopedia Britanica, and Nelson Rockefeller. In the early days of the New Deal, she served on a number of regional boards dealing with the National Recovery Administration, Defense, Health and Welfare Services, the War Manpower Commission, and the Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs (she had recommended Nelson Rockefeller to President Roosevelt for that position). President Roosevelt in 1944 and President Truman in 1945 had sent her to Europe to study the Army’s


manpower problems. There she won the friendship of Generals Eisenhower and Walter Bedell Smith. O n the basis of her work in Europe, Eisenhower later helped get her the Medal of Freedom and the Medal of Merit.

From 1942 to 1945, she was a member of the President’s Labor Advisory Board, and, from 1944 to 1947, a member of the Advisory Board of the Office of War Mobilization and Reconversion. Successive Governors Herbert Lehman and Thomas Dewey of New York had in turn put her on the New York War Council. She was a member of the Manpower Consulting Committee of the Army and Navy Munitions Board, and consultant to Stuart Syniington in his capacity as Chairman of the National Security Resources Board. From Marshall’s standpoint, her most important qualification was that she was a member of the Advisory Board on Universal Military Training and had helped prepare the Compton Report backing the proposal.

In late October 1950, Marshall called her to Washington to discuss his problem. He told her that the man who had just left his office had turned him down because he had promised to take his wife on a trip. “I told him that there is a Mrs. Marshall and I promised her three times I would come home. And I haven’t been able to do it.” Mrs. Rosenberg said she couldn’t imagine how anyone could refuse him. “There was a twinkle in his eye, but he didn’t say anything.”

Two days later, he offered her the job. Meanwhile, he had asked their mutual friend Bernard Baruch to help convince her to accept. She later asked him why he had not offered the position when she was right in his office. He said that he had had to get his courage up, but had thought after what she said that she would take it. Lest
there be any doubt in her mind as to what she was plunging into, he told her that the people trying to get at him would attack her. She agreed to take the job, but suggested there be no announcement until after the coming election, so the appointment would not be used against the administration.

However, rumors began to appear, so on the morning of the election, Marshall recommended the appointment to President Truman, who announced the recess appointment as of November 15. Immediate reaction was favorable, though there were areas of the Pentagon expressing a few doubts and it became evident that some of Mrs. Rosenberg’s future colleagues failed to share Marshall’s enthusiasm .

There was nothing anonymous in her appearance, but her striking looks came from vividness rather than beauty. Her tiny frame


was always stylishly clad, and her vivacity kept her many bracelets jangling. Her high heels beat a rapid staccato on the floors of Pentagon corridors, and she spoke clearly and distinctly with a minimum of gobbledygook. Those meeting her for the first time felt that here was a personage. Old-hand newsmen liked and respected her.

Marshall was anxious to get a hurried confirmation so she could give full attention to her duties. He furnished Senator Millard Tydings, Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, with full details about her qualifications and a statement that he alone was responsible for her selection Fulton Lewis, Jr , the popular radio newscaster who was ever looking for subversion, went on the air with a warning against her after digging through files of the House Un-American Committee. The Armed Services Committee favored her candidacy but decided to hear her response to accusations of left-wing leanings. On November 29, she appeared before the committee, to reveal that she had answered all charges earlier before the House committee and been cleared. Vigorously denying that she was now or ever had been a Communist or belonged to a Communist front organization, she pointed out that the House committee had discovered that another Anna Rosenberg was involved. When Senator Saltonstall declared that he had checked with some members of the House committee and they agreed with her statements, and that General Marshall had recommended her and had said her services were vital to the war effort, the nine members of the committee present-Tydings, Harry Byrd, Sr., Lyndon Johnson, Virgil Chapman, Lester Hunt, Styles Bridges, Chan Gurney, Leverett Saltonstall, and Harry P. Cain-voted unanimously in her favor.

Everything seemed set, but the “lunatic fringe,” as Marshall called the extremists, was hard at work. Millard Tydings had been defeated in Maryland for reelection to the Senate in a vicious campaign in which his eneinies had circulated a faked photograph, cut and pasted and rephotographed to show him in friendly conversation with the former head of the Communist Party in the United States. Richard Russell of Georgia replaced him as Chairman of the Armed Services Committee. Since the Georgian had not been present for the November hearing, opponents of the confirmation decided to bring their case to him Representative Ed Lee Gossett of Texas, accompanied by Benjamin A. Freedman of New York, a right-wing activist, appeared with what they declared to be positive information that Anna Rosenberg was a Communist.

Freedman told Russell that Dr. J. B. Matthews, a staff member of the committee, had informed him that FBI files on Mrs. Rosenberg


would show that she belonged to pro-Communist organizations and was unfit to work in the Defense Department. He said that Ralph de Sola of New York, a reformed Communist, had been a member of the John Reed Club in New York in the 1930s and was ready to testify that he had seen Anna Rosenberg on several occasions there, and that he recognized the photograph of the woman of that name now being considered for the Pentagon position. He added that Mrs. Rosenberg, a member of the New York educational system, had placed his (de Sola’s) wife in the system so that she could bring in more Communists. He identified a member of the John Reed Club who had told him that Mrs Rosenberg was an important inember of the Communist Party but had warned him not to reveal her affiliation since the party intended to use her to get inside the government apparatus. He added that in a later position she had passed on the qualifications of a number of Harry Hopkins’ staff, two of whom were anarchists.

This was steamy stuff, but Russell was unwilling to reopen the hearings unless a signed charge was made against her. Freedman obliged. Informed that a charge had been signed, Fulton Lewis, Jr., sent his reporter, Kenneth Nellor, to New York to get a statement from de Sola. He was accompanied by Donald Surine, an investigator on the staff of Senator Joseph McCarthy. Freedman had told Surine that he would have to get a letter from Gerald L. K. Smith, a professional anti-left agitator, before either he (Freedman) or deSola would talk. Smith gave Nellor and Surine a letter for Freedman in which he congratulated the self-styled “excommunicated Jew” on his great fight to keep “the Zionist Jew Anna Rosenberg from becoming the dictator of the Pentagon.” He urged Freedman to aid the two investigators helping them in the fight. He particularly wanted them to assist Fulton Lewis, Jr., who “is doing a magnificent job in the Rosenberg matter.” Smith urged that the letter be destroyed, but it turned up in Drew Pearson’s column.

At a reconvened hearing, with Senator Russell in the chair, J. B. Matthews denied much of what Freedman had said about him, citing an abject letter of apology from Freedman. Freedman promptly declared that he was apologizing for releasing Matthews’s statements without permission, but not for their substance. His testimony was not straightforward, and Nellor and Surine denounced him for saying that they had told witnesses that they were from the Senate Armed Forces Committee.

De Sola’s performance was also a disaster. As he was being sharply questioned by committee members, his stories began to fall apart. The man who had supposedly identified Rosenberg several


times at the John Reed Club denied the story, and de Sola’s wife repudiated statements attributed to her.

The hearings became a circus when Marjorie Shearon, fired from the Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare when Republicans were in power, read into the proceedings a list of individuals favoring some form of national insurance that had been signed by Mrs. Rosenberg and 250 other well-known Americans. She said that many of them had been cited for radical activities, among others Senator Murray of Montana and Senator Wayne Morse of Oregon, the latter being a member of the committee. It came out finally that she had at one time favored a particular national insurance plan that Mrs. Rosenberg had opposed.

A number of hearing supporters began to grow wary. Surine had brought Freedman and de Sola to McCarthy’s office, but later he declared that it was only to leave their coats and that Senator McCarthy never saw them. McCarthy went to great lengths to deny any association with anti-Semitism and ultimately voted for the Rosenberg confirmation. Fulton Lewis, Jr., who had done so much to stir up the whole affair, toned down his accusations and spoke ill of Freedman. Freedman then lit into the “smearbund” that had repudiated him, and Gerald L. K. Smith reacted with fury when Lewis was critical of him, fuming that when “the Jewish campaign to whitewash the Rosenberg woman” was organized, Lewis was found to be involved up to his neck. “The Jews had put pressure on him and Lewis had proved that he feared the Jews more than he hated Communism:”

Meanwhile Mrs. Rosenberg’s friends were sending a deluge of letters and telegrams which ultimately went into the committee’s file. Former Secretary of State Byrnes, Generals Eisenhower and Bedell Smith (then head of the C.I.A.), Bernard Baruch, and a multitude of others wrote in support and praise of her. Eleanor Roosevelt asked earnestly of Mrs. Rosenberg what she could do to help.

Mrs. Rosenberg made clear to Marshall a point she did not have to make to Mrs. Roosevelt: that the attacks on her had been based not so much on a serious belief that she was a Communist as on the fact that she had been an active backer of New Deal social legislation. Numerous letters sent in by doctors objecting to her appointment to the Defense Department were evidently due to her support of some form of national health insurance.

Aware of the emotional pressure under which Mrs. Rosenberg was laboring, Marshall made strenuous efforts to present her side of the case to the senators. The Defense Department counsel, Felix


Larkin, made available all wanted records. Marshall asked for the F.B.I. files on Mrs. Rosenberg and, after reviewing them, requested that the President release them for study by representatives of the committee. Senators Byrd, Hunt, and Cain were selected to read the files. When Russell took up the duties of Chairman, Marshall suggested that he be added to the list, but Russell declined unless the whole committee could read the files. Ultimately, the committee was satisfied by assurances from the three and from Marshall that there was nothing to substantiate the charges.

The F.B.I. had been helpful in settling the affair. An Anna Rosenberg was found in California who had belonged to the John Reed Club of New York, but had left the group when she moved to California, before de Sola said he had met her at the club. Feeling that J. Edgar Hoover had made a special effort to help, Marshall called to thank him, and then wrote a letter praising him to Truman and sent a copy to the F.B.I. director. The latter responded genially, adding, “Quite frankly, I regarded our efforts in this case as part of the routine operations of the F.B.I. . . .”

Despite the favorable attitude of the committee, Marshall feared that, Russell might allow the hearings to drag on to the end of the year. He was uneasy about the reaction of public opinion, because hostile witnesses could air charges before they came before the committee, while the favorable letters would not be revealed until the final report was made. In what was for him an unusual action, he rang up Baruch on December io, urging action to get an immediate committee report. He wanted Baruch to come to Washington to talk with Russell, or call friends of Russell in Atlanta or Savannah who might help. “Can you now, by telephone, bring such immediate action and heavy pressure to bear?”

Whether or not Baruch intervened, the hearings continued until December 14. On that day, the committee determined there was no basis for the allegations against Mrs. Rosenberg and unanimously proposed that she be confirmed William Knowland, Estes Kefauver, Wayne Morse, and Richard Russell joined those who had previously voted for her. Harry Byrd was appointed to handle the nomination on the floor.

Marshall watched the result closely. Mrs. Rosenberg later recalled that he kept coming into her office on the day of the Senate vote to see if she had heard anything. He finally said he would be having a meeting in his office with the Joint Chiefs of Staff before they were to go to the White House, and he asked that she break into the meeting if she heard the results before they left.

“When I got word, I rushed in. He and the Joint Chiefs had their


coats on I was choked up. He said when I told him I was confirmed: ‘That’s good. Go home and get a facial; you look like hell.’ The Joint Chiefs looked shocked that General Marshall would know anything about a facial.”

It was Marshall’s nature to arrange his priorities so that he could devote his full strength and time to the main problems. He liked to develop a staff that understood what he wanted and that, with a minimum of instruction, would produce what he wanted. He could raise a standard, could make clear the direction in which the armed services were to proceed, and interject suggestions and support where needed to back younger subordinates who would do the day-by-day work. President Truman wanted a man who would restore confidence in the Department of Defense. It was for his strength of character as much as for his administrative leadership that he was called again to duty in 1950.

One of the calculated assets of Marshall’s return to public service was the return of Robert A. Lovett into government service. Marshall had known the Wall Street banker since 1940, had worked closely with hiin in the War Department during the war and at the State Department’ where Lovett had been his Under Secretary for most of his term there. He prized Lovett’s brilliance, his tendency to go straight to the heart of matters, his great sense of humor, his aversion to the limelight, and his ability to work well with a wide collection of military, political, and business leaders here and abroad. Lovett’s banking ties to Europe had long made him fallliliar with European problems and thinking on defense and foreign policy. His wider experience in military and foreign-policy matters had made him sensitive to events currently affecting the national interests of the United States. Lovett would keep many of the matters of detail off his superior’s desk. Most important to Marshall was that Lovett thought as he did, and when he was out of the country Lovett could act on a matter as if they had just discussed it face to face. If Lovett considered that a Marshall proposal was wrong, he felt easy about suggesting another course of action.

Lovett, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the service secretaries knew Marshall’s ideas on international security and national defense. His character, his known distaste for intrigue, his demand for simplicity of plans and organization, his fierce insistence on clear channels of command, his belief in responsibility and loyalty up and down, all contributed to a bracing atmosphere and set a high standard for governmental operations. His secure position in the affections of many Americans, his standing among allies abroad, and his reputa-


tion for requiring steady accomplishment of himself and his colleagues cut through the inertia of bureaucratic unconcern.

A return to a smooth working relationship between the Departments of State and Defense was the best result of Marshall’s appointment and may have been the President’s main objective in making the appointment, because he knew that Marshall and Acheson had been an effective team in the past. Marshall had corresponded with the State Department through Acheson while on his mission to China. Acheson had served as his Under Secretary of State in the transitional months when he was first named to State,
and had run the department at home while Marshall was at the Moscow Conference. Acheson, in turn, knew thoroughly the ideas and methods of Marshall. He had been impressed by Marshall’s frequent admonition “Don’t fight the problem,” and his ability to leave emotion outside the conference room. “I reserve my personal feelings for Mrs. Marshall,” he was recorded as saylng by Acheson.

Perhaps by design, but just as likely from instinctive courtesy, Marshall eased tensions between the two most prestigious departments of the government. He arranged regular conferences between himself and Acheson and between their staffs. He knew life on both sides of the river, having directed the building of the Pentagon as well as the original part of the building occupied by the State Department.

Marshall did not find it necessary to stand on ceremony. Emphasizing that by protocol the State Department outranked the Department of Defense, he insisted that the younger Acheson walk ahead of him in line. When Acheson tried to refuse, Marshall settled the question by seizing Acheson’s arm and pushing him into first place. At the first conference between the secretaries and their staffs, Marshall carefully placed himself on the civilian side of the table, across from the admirals and generals These were more than passages of courtesy; they were signals that defense and foreign policy were parts of a whole once more.

Marshall knew that critics of the administration held Acheson responsible for every woe affecting American foreign policy, that paranoid circles regarded him as a malignant growth, that some members of both parties believed that Truman had sacrificed Johnson to save Acheson’s skin, and that Marshall was being brought in to save his policies. Marshall did not have to be directed to stop the bickering between departments. He never believed that a war could be won by conflict at home. In the early days of the war, Admiral King had been kept waitingfor an appointment with Marshall for


so long that he had stormed out of the General’s anteroom in a rage. The General went to him to apologize. They could not wage war together, explained the General persuasively, unless they agreed not to let personal differences divide them.

Acheson knew that Marshall was incapable of undermining him, and he was grateful for the strength he would draw from the association. He gladly came to the Pentagon for meetings with Marshall and sent his representatives to meet with Marshall’s staff. Aware of Marshall’s long seniority in government and his standing in Truman’s eyes, the Secretary of State was prepared to defer to the General. The result was the most successful collaboration in the history of the two departments.

A successful Secretary of Defense has to depend on the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It was necessary to keep them working together and to keep interservice battles to a minimum. Marshall knew the problem well, because he himself had for six years been one of the powerful service barons, voracious for his share of men and weapons for the growing Army and Army Air Force. Roosevelt had given him direct responsibility for the task of training troops, for selecting and testing officers and for planning and conducting operations. For these matters he could go directly to the President, without going through the Secretary of War. We had managed to work closely with Stimson and to keep the Secretary informed and involved while gaining his complete support at the White House. Since unification, many of the Chiefs felt constrained by the Secretary of Defense. Although the service secretaries had tended to fade into the background on operational matters, there had been unfavorable reactions to civilian assistants in the office of the Secretary of Defense who reduced the role of the military chiefs.

In this minefield, Marshall had the advantage of already knowing all of those with whom he would work. General Omar Bradley, Chairman of theJoint Chiefs of Staff, had been one of the great commanders of World War II, and Marshall had been intimately involved with his career. Since serving as an instructor in the Infantry School at Fort Benning in the late 1920s~ Bradley had been recognized as a Marshall protkgk. He was one of the “Marshall men” with whom the General kept in touch between wars. Brad-
ley’s was early a starred name on the list Marshall kept of future Army leaders.

Bradley was Marshall’s model of a field commander. Calm, utterly without flamboyance, patient, capable of hard decisions without screaming and cursing, cooperative, successful in molding winning armies, Bradley would have been Marshall’s choice for


Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff had he not already been in the job. He had long been a favorite general of fellow Missourian Harry Truman, and it was the President who had wanted him as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and who had proposed that he be awarded his fifth star. All this gave extra clout to a position that was not so fully developed as it would later be.

Although Bradley was on a close personal basis with Marshall, sometimes as hunting companion, he had never lost his awe of his chief. It was never “the Old Man” or “Marshall,” but always “General Marshall.” Although he was aware of the new Defense Secretary’s instructions that officers were to enter his office immediately when they had key matters to discuss, Bradley always stopped at the door to ask the assistant, “Is it all right for me to go in?” In conference, he would venture a different opinion if he thought he had more facts, but he worked closely and easily with his long-time superior.

Bradley’s successor as Chief of Staff, J. Lawton Collins, was another long-time Marshall favorite. They had been at Benning together, and Marshall had called on Collins to plan the reorganization of Army divisions. Marshall was also a friend of Collins’s older brother, Major General James L. Collins, former aide to Pershing and a member of his staff during World War I, but his admiration for the younger brother was based on the latter’s dazzling performance of duties in World War II. Marshall had wanted him for division command in the early Pacific fighting and suggested to MacArthur that Collins would make a fine corps leader. When MacArlhur pronounced him too young for such responsibility, Marshall called hiin to Eisenhower’s attention and Collins was given one of the two corps that landed in Normandy, seizing Cherbourg and heading forces in the Saint Lo breakout. His exploits as one of the top corps commanders in World War II won him the nickname of “Lightnin’ Joe” and put him in line to succeed Bradley as Chief of Staff, and he was there when Marshall came to the Defense desk.

Marshall did not know General Hoyt Vandenberg, Chief of Staff of the Air Force, so intimately as he did Bradley and Collins, but he knew a great deal about his background. Nephew of Senator Arthur Vandenberg, Hoyt Vandenberg first came to Marshall’s attention as Operations and Training officer of the Army Air Forces in Washington when the United States entered the war. He served in North Africa and Europe before heading the Ninth Air Force in the United Kingdom. After the war, he was in quick succession director of intelligence for the War Department, then, while Mar-


shall was Secretary of State, head of Central Intelligence (predecessor of the Central Intelligence Agency) and subsequently Vice Chief of Air Staff and then Chief of the Air Force, holding this position throughout Marshall’s time as Secretary of Defense.

Commentators speaking or writing about Marshall’s familial relations with most of the Joint Chiefs nearly always excepted Admiral Forrest Sherman as being the only one he did not really know. Actually, Marshall considered Sherman a member of the “young Navy” who was personally friendly to him. He knew of his outstanding performance as Nimitz’s Deputy Chief of Plans in the Pacific. While in the Pacific, Sherman had written Marshall to ask about the care of his horse, left behind in the Fort Myer stables. The General told him that all was well with the horse, and that as long as Sherman continued his fine performance he need have no worries.

It could be said that Marshall was on even stronger ground with Congress than he had been as Secretary of State. True, Senator Vandenberg was dying and he did not have the same relationship with Taft, Knowland, Wherry, and Bridges, who were among the anti-administration faction in the Senate. But the Democrats were in control. He had worked with Vice President Barkley during the war years on such ticklish matters as the development of the atomic bomb, and he had good working relations with Walter George, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Floor Leader Lucas had been a friend In the early 1930s in Chicago. In the House, Speaker Rayburn had worked with him both during the war and at the State Department He was fr-iendly with the majority leader, McCormack, and could depend for support on Vinson, Chairman of the Armed Services Committee.

Marshall would need all the help he could get. At this most difficult time for the armed forces, the Army’s most highly valued general would use a battlefield in the Far East to flaunt his own convictions against those of his superiors in the Pentagon, the State Department, and the White House.


Digital Downloads

XXV - Back to Duty.pdf



Holding Rights: Public Information

Rights: Public Information

Language: english