2-079 To Brigadier General Asa L. Singleton, November 22, 1939

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: November 22, 1939

To Brigadier General Asa L. Singleton1

November 22, 1939 [Washington, D.C.]


Dear Singleton:

With reference to the President’s visit to Warm Springs, I was talking over the `phone to Watson just before they left.2 I suggested that he go over and take a look at Benning, and he immediately said: “I will take the President over there.”

Now, my point is this: I have seen the President there once or twice as a private citizen and as a Governor, and each time it was for some review effect. I do not believe he gets much out of that. So I suggest that if you can get Watson over to see some interesting field stuff—and without personal labor on his part, then you might pave the way for the President to see something of that nature which would awaken his interest in the practical training of the Army, just as the Navy has stimulated his interest over their big annual maneuvers.

I make this suggestion—that whatever arrangement is made, no one press him to see this or that or understand this or that; that whatever is furnished him in the way of data be on one sheet of paper, with all high-sounding language eliminated, and with very pertinent paragraphed under-lined headings; that a little sketch of ordinary page size is probably the most effective method, as he is quickly bored by papers, by lengthy discussions, and by anything short of a few pungent sentences of description. You have to intrigue his interest, and then it knows no limit. If you have a good sergeant with the gift of restrained gab, fine looking and impressive, you might work him in the plot and the proper moment beside the car. I have found that the ordinary Army method of presenting things to the President gets us nowhere and rather irritates him. I leave the solution to you.3

I am hoping that I can get down to Benning around the 7th or 8th of December, but this will depend entirely on an appointment with the President and a date for a Military Committee hearing. I want to stop first at Bragg, then at Columbia, and then if I can possibly arrange it, spend three days entirely with you—if this is convenient. I will write you later when I know more about my plans.

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. Singleton was the commandant of the Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia.

2. Brigadier General Edwin M. Watson was the president’s military aide.

3. Writing later of his disappointment that President Roosevelt did not visit Fort Benning during his trip to Warm Springs, Singleton surmised that “the Presidential party left Georgia earlier than was planned. This is just a guess on my part premised on Watson’s telephonic promise that he would phone me later, which he failed to do for reasons unknown to me. We indicated to Watson the many interesting new training features under way here. We learned of their departure through the press.” (Singleton to Marshall, December 3, 1939, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)

Recommended Citation: ThePapers 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. 107-108.

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