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To Douglas S. Freeman
January 17, 1941 [Washington, D.C.]
My dear Dr. Freeman:
Maris has just shown me your note of January 15th to him.1
I am a little in the dark as to your meaning when you write: “The induction is progressing by such unostentatious stages,” and particularly its connection with your further reference: “We did not realize that induction would be by so many small steps.” The preliminary steps have been small, but the inductions for this month will amount to about 90,000, and I believe for February about 100,000, and for March 150,000. We already have in the field, in continental United States, over 500,000 men. Some of the National Guard units have been in active training since last September and have passed into the second phase of their training program.
What we had in mind was your getting a look at some of these camps, getting a picture of the activity, and translating that from the camp over the radio to the public.
About six weeks ago I sent about 20 newspaper men on a tour. They were the fellows who work on the military news here in Washington. They came back here almost flabbergasted with the extent of the mobilization then in progress. I get the same reaction from officers of the War Department who have not been in the field recently. I send them out by air to look into this and that, and they come back profoundly impressed by what they have seen. They had the facts on paper, but it made little impression on the mind even of the trained staff officer. So far as the Congress and the general public are concerned, I have found they haven’t any conception of how much is under way in the field.
This sounds very much as if I were trying to over-persuade you, and I am aware that your services are available in case I think it advisable to go ahead with this. My point is that I am much interested in the opinions expressed in your letter rather than the question of your going out in the field, and I would like very much to get your frank comments for my advice and assistance.2
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. Douglas S. Freeman, editor of the Richmond News Leader, offered his assistance as a publicist to the war Department. On January 13, 1941, Lieutenant Colonel Ward H. Maris, chief of the War Department’s Public Relations Branch, proposed two plans—which had been discussed as early as October 1940—to Freeman. First, he might visit the War Department and the training camps and then publish and broadcast by radio his observations. Second, he might accompany a proposed tour by airplane of the training camps and broadcast his observations from each base. (Maris to Freeman, January 13, 194l, GCMRL/G.C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon office, Selected].) Freeman replied that publicizing the slow rate of mobilization meant “overplaying news that has become familiar to the nation.” (Freeman to Maris, January 15, 1941, ibid.)
2. Replying to Marshall, Freeman stated that he “misunderstood your original idea.” He thought that a large, single induction would occur, as in 1917. Freeman told Marshall that he welcomed the opportunity to visit the camps and broadcast his observations. (Freeman to Marshall, January 18, 1941, ibid.) Maris advised Marshall to leave it up to Freeman since the chief of the Public Relations Branch did not feel that the journalist was sufficiently enthusiast about the project (Maris Memorandum for Chief of Staff, January 28, 1941, ibid.) There is no record in the Marshall papers of any broadcasts by Freeman.
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. 393-394.