4-512 To Brigadier General John McA. Palmer, September 18, 1944

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: September 18, 1944

Subject: World War II

To Brigadier General John McA. Palmer

September 18, 1944 [Washington, D.C.]

Dear John,

I have just this moment glanced at your letter of September sixteenth to Cal O’Laughlin.1 As I have just returned to the office and am leaving in ten minutes for Chicago, I can only make a hasty comment.2

I worked with General Pershing in the Adirondacks and throughout his preliminary hearings with War Department officers including General March, in preparation for his appearance before the Joint Committee of Congress on his return from France, early in November as I recall. My recollection is that at the time the War Department proposal was 500,000 and General Pershing, as I dimly recall, mentioned 285,000, but his testimony will show this.3 My recollection is based on General Fox Conner’s disturbed comments as to the General’s proposal for so small a force. He had not given us that figure at the time he went upon the Hill.

With further reference to the general matter, I called up Tompkins just as I was leaving for Quebec and told him that if in the hearing he was preparing for on that day anything was brought up in relation to post-war Army he should state that the plan was drafted by you. The release came entirely unexpectedly to me and I understand was obtained by the Associated Press from the Adjutant General’s Department though we are still endeavoring to trace this down. However, the prodigal use of my name in connection with the draft prepared by you and I believe unchanged by a single word, is an embarrassment to me and in due time I will see that you get the credit.4


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. Palmer had sent Marshall a copy of a letter he had written to John Callan O’Laughlin, publisher of the Army and Navy Journal, to correct statements made in the journal’s September 9 issue (“General Marshall Opposes Large Standing Army,” p. 31), which commented on War Department Circular No. 347 (see the previous document, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #4-511 [4: 586-87]) and asserted that Pershing had “urged a Regular Army of 500,000.” The proposal to maintain a standing army of this size “was not made by General Pershing and it did not meet with his approval,” Palmer stated. (Palmer to O’Laughlin, September 16, 1944, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)

2. Marshall was going to the American Legion’s annual convention.

3. Marshall wrote to correct portions of this paragraph, which was typed after he left the office. The revised first sentence read: “I worked with General Pershing in the Adirondacks preparing for his hearings before the Joint Committee of Congress, and was with him during the preliminary informal hearings he held with War Department officials, including General March, after his return to town and before his appearance on the Hill.” (Marshall to Palmer, September 19, 1944, ibid.) Concerning Marshall’s and Fox Conner’s assistance to Pershing with the testimony on what became the National Defense Act of 1920, see editorial note #1-168, Papers of George Catlett Marshall [1: 193-94].

4. Palmer had written on September 14 that he was “greatly touched” when Major General (as of August 7) William F. Tompkins, director of the Special Planning Division, “told me that you asked him to have credit given me for my part” in preparing the statement on postwar military planning in Circular No. 347, “I told him that this is not the time for such credit. The country has hailed the pronouncement as the ‘Marshall Plan’, With your great prestige back of it, I hope to live to see the accomplishment of what I have worked for all my life. That is all I ask.” (Palmer to Marshall, September 14, 1944, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)

Recommended Citation: ThePapers of George Catlett Marshall, ed.Larry I. Bland and Sharon Ritenour Stevens(Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 4, “Aggressive and Determined Leadership,” June 1, 1943-December 31, 1944 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996), pp. 587-588.

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