2-169 To Bernard M. Baruch, May 14, 1940

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: May 14, 1940

To Bernard M. Baruch

May 14, 1940 [Washington, D.C.]


Dear Mr. Baruch:

Major Smith has just shown me your note to him of May 11th.1

With reference to the second paragraph, in regard to the 280,000 men: Very confidentially, I think you will be interested in knowing that I battled twice yesterday to have the President include in his special defense message, which presumably goes to Congress tomorrow, the 280,000. At the moment he declined to go further than 15,000; but even more confidentially, and for your eye alone, he stated that he would give me the remaining 38,000 in July by Executive Order, creating a deficiency. Mr. Morgenthau, who meets me with the President this morning, is hopeful that he can get him to come out in the open in this. I merely mention these items that you may see the difficulties in getting even what you call “a pitiful number.”

The President is deeply interested in increasing airplane production.2 Our air production has been materially increased by Allied orders, and continues to increase. What General Arnold is interested in is again the personnel question—an increase in the number of pilots trained to operate planes, and of course the bombs and weapons for the planes. That is the bottle-neck at the moment in the Air program. It takes longer to develop the crew than it does to build the plane. Thank God we have fair production now, but we have nothing like enough pilots to maintain our present GHQ force on a going basis in campaign. This is a very hasty note; I am due at the White House in about an hour.3

Faithfully yours,

Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.

Document Format: Typed letter.

1. On May 10, Marshall had Major Walter B. Smith send Baruch a three-page memorandum exemplifying the chief of staff’s desire for prompt increases in Regular Army manpower. Baruch replied the next day encouraging Marshall to “go after the money necessary to increase the arms to equip what seems like a pitiful number of men—280,000.” Baruch requested information regarding appropriations during the previous decade. (Baruch to Smith, May 11, 1940, Princeton/B. M. Baruch Papers.) Smith’s letter to Baruch of May 14 listed the War Department’s military appropriations 1930-40, and noted that the total of $3,496,000,000 was $1,164,000,000 “less than the estimates of minimum requirements made by the Chiefs of Arms and Services.” (Both of Smith’s letters are in NA/RG 165 [OCS, Emergency File].)

2. Following the May 13 meeting with the president, Secretary Morgenthau noted in his diary: “The part that worries me most is the President’s statement that he wants to have 50,000 planes and wants the Government to build a lot of factories. I just can’t see it and I told him so. No one has thought the plan through.” (FDRL/ H. Morgenthau, Jr., Papers [Presidential Diary, 2: 533].)

3. Marshall had two meetings at the White House on May 14. At the first, beginning at 10:30 A.M., Marshall, Morgenthau, Woodring, Johnson, Arnold, and several others discussed Air Corps appropriations. (Notes on this are in Morgenthau Diary, 262: 174-76.) Following this meeting, General Marshall met with President Roosevelt, who eliminated the army’s request for an immediate 15,000 men and cut seacoast defense requests thereby reducing the army’s supplemental requests by $24,000,000. But he added $80,000,000 for two hundred B-17’s and $106,000,000 for pilot training. The president was thus prepared to request $732,000,000 in added funds for fiscal year 1941 for the army. (The documents concerning this discussion—several with handwritten notations by Marshall and one handwritten budget summary by Roosevelt—are in NA/RG 165 [OCS, Emergency File].)

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. 212-213.

Digital Downloads




Holding Rights: Public Information
Holding ID: 2-169

Rights: Public Information