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To General John J. Pershing
November 15, 1923 Washington, D.C.
My dear General:
. . . I had hoped in this letter to tell you the status of your Annual Report but unfortunately, cannot yet do so. I re-drafted the Report and had General Wells go over it. He proposed some changes on the ground that I had been too moderate. I made these changes and submitted my original draft and the new one to General Martin. He was in agreement with General Wells’ idea. General Hines has had both drafts for the past ten days but has not yet been able to go over them.1 He promised me this morning that he would try to do this today. As soon as the matter is settled, I will send you the final draft.
Major Thompson has just received a letter from Penfield of the National Defense Society,2 with a proposal that that organization arrange to give you a dinner on your arrival in New York, in order that you might make a public statement under such auspices. Penfield goes on to say—“Such a dinner can serve an additional purpose, in that I would get together in the form of a Reception Committee, representatives from all patriotic, civic, social and fraternal societies and organizations in this territory.”
Other proposals of this sort will undoubtedly be made and I wish you would think the matter over and let me have your views in order that the proper steering may be done over here. I had not thought about this until Penfield’s letter came this morning, but my first reaction is that as you went abroad in the capacity of a private citizen, you should return under the same cloak and have nothing to say apropos of your trip at that time. It is conceivable, in fact rather probable, that a very elaborate reception will be proposed for your arrival in New York. Certainly there will be an unusual opportunity to launch any public statement you might have to make. If you said nothing about your observations abroad and merely talked on the National Defense, the omission of the former would tend to emphasize the latter. However almost anything you did at that time would be examined into and given some construction by those who fear you as a Presidential candidate and also by those friends who desire to have you such. This angle makes the matter a rather delicate one and deserving of some forethought, especially as we have had a succession of verbose Senators returning from cursory examinations of the European situation.
I have heard from Roger Scaife regarding the publication of your Memoirs. His reply was not direct to my question regarding, primarily, the best time for the publication of the serial story3. . .
G. C. Marshall, Jr.
Document Copy Text Source: John J. Pershing Papers, General Correspondence, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
Document Format: Typed letter signed.
1. Brigadier General Briant H. Wells (U.S.M.A., 1894) had been the War Department’s assistant chief of staff, G-1, between September 1, 1921, and October 31, 1923. Brigadier General Charles H. Martin replaced Wells in that position. Major General John L. Hines had been deputy chief of staff since December 5, 1922.
2. Major Charles F. Thompson (U.S.M.A., 1904) was a member of the General Staff. Clarence M. Penfield was executive secretary of the American Defense Society.
3. Marshall quotes a letter from Roger L. Scaife, a director of the Houghton Mifflin publishing house, regarding the memoirs. In it Scaife notes, “It is just possible that it might have a bigger success five years from now than at the present, for we are rather in the doldrums as far as war literature is concerned.” Marshall was also in contact with Churchill Williams of the Saturday Evening Post regarding possible serialization of the memoirs.
Approximately one-third of this letter is printed here. In addition to the Scaife letter, omitted paragraphs include mentions of Marshall’s trip to Louisville, Kentucky, Warren Pershing’s activities, arrangements for the general’s return, and the busy schedule in the office.
Recommended Citation: The Papers 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. 1, “The Soldierly Spirit,” December 1880-June 1939 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1981), pp. 245-246.