2-529 To Brigadier General John McA. Palmer, August 15, 1941

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: August 15, 1941

To Brigadier General John McA. Palmer

August 15, 1941 Washington, D.C.

Dear John:

I returned last night to find your note of the 4th.1 Thank you for your support of me. I need it these days because I am getting knocks from every side.2

This would be a longer letter, but I find my desk piled to the ceiling with matters to be attended to, due to an absence of ten days.

With my love to you and Maude,


G. C. M.

Document Copy Text Source: John McA. Palmer Papers, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

Document Format: Typed letter signed.

1. Palmer had written to Marshall: “A few days ago I took up the cudgels for you in a modest way. One of my disciples, a man of some influence, wrote me that you were apparently against what he called the `Washington-Palmer idea’ and that you were really building up an `Uptonian’ regular army.

“My reply was as follows: `I am highly flattered that you should refer to our traditional military policy as the “Washington-Palmer idea”, but you are clear off as to what General Marshall is doing. Marshall is increasing the regular army but not in the vicious way that was adopted in 1861 and 1917. He is increasing it by bringing citizen officers and soldiers into it for the period of the emergency (essentially as Washington and Knox proposed in 1790) and not by making it a scheme for the permanent promotion of all regular army officers without reference to their individual merits. In this way he is fitting an expanding regular army into the original Washingtonian pattern. I opposed the Uptonian idea because it was predicated upon the absurd theory that all professionals are superior, per se, to all non-professionals. Marshall has no sympathy with that absurdity. He is seeking and advancing able men whether professional or non-professional and he is getting rid of incompetents and back numbers, whether professional or non-professional. In fact he has been following the Washingtonian policy as closely as was possible in a great emergency where there was almost nothing to build on.’” (Palmer to Marshall, August 4, 1941, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].) For more information on Palmer’s ideas about military policy, along with Marshall’s comments, see Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #1-266, #1-269, and #1-281 [1: 329, 333-34, 348].

2. Testifying before the House Military Affairs Committee on July 22, 1941, Marshall commented that he had received unfavorable mail since issuing his biennial report. Of the 241 unfavorable letters, most of them showed evidence of collusion and duplication of phraseology, and a large number had come from a small German group in Brooklyn and from another group in Passaic, New Jersey. He noted that 23 percent were “marked by extreme personal abuse or threats of violence against the President or the Chief of Staff” (House Military Affairs Committee, Providing for the National Defense by Removing Restrictions on Numbers and Length of Service of Draftees, Hearing [Washington: GPO, 1941], pp. 8-9.) See Marshall to Baruch, August 19, 1941, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #2-532 [2: 591-92].

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. 588-589.

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