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To Franklin D. Roosevelt
December 21, 1944 [Washington, D.C.]
My dear Mr. President:
Yesterday I received the commission you have bestowed on me as General of the Army.1 I appreciate very much this further evidence of your confidence and assure you that I will continue to concentrate all I have towards the furtherance of our war effort.
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. President Roosevelt signed the bill creating five-star rank positions (Admiral of the Fleet and General of the Army) on December 14, 1944. Secretary of War Stimson and Secretary of the Navy Forrestal agreed that the ranks would be bestowed in the order of current seniority: Admiral Leahy (December 15), General Marshall (December 16), Admiral King (December 17), General MacArthur (December 18), Admiral Nimitz (December 19), General Eisenhower (December 20), and General Arnold (December 21).
The navy had wanted to press Congress for the new rank in November 1942, but Marshall had been opposed. (See Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #3-427 [3: 455-56].) When his authorized biographer asked him about the rank in 1957, Marshall replied: “I didn’t want any promotion at all. I didn’t need it. The chiefs of staff on the British side were already field marshals, so they would be senior to me whatever I was made. I didn’t think I needed that rank and I didn’t want to be beholden to Congress for any rank or anything of that kind. I wanted to be able to go in there with my skirts clean and with no personal ambitions concerned in it in any way, and I could get all I wanted with the rank I had. But that was twisted around and somebody said I didn’t like the term marshal because it was the same as my name [i.e., Marshal Marshall]. I know Mr. Churchill twitted me about this in a rather scathing tone. I don’t recall that I ever made the expression. But my reason for not wanting it was, I thought it was much better that I personally shouldn’t be beholden to anything for Congress except for fair treatment—which they gave me.” (Marshall Interviews, p. 456.)
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. 703-704.