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To General John J. Pershing
June 28, 1929 Fort Benning, Georgia
I saw Adamson in Washington the end of May and he told me you would not return before September. Your stay will be longer than I had counted on. I have been hoping I could write congratulations on your designation as Ambassador, tho I do not know whether or not you would care for the duties. Yet I think you are more admirably equipped for the post than any other citizen. It would be a fine thing for the country to have you in a powerful position there during this particular period. However, I suppose the choice will be one of political considerations rather than “business efficiency”, advertising to the contrary notwithstanding.1
I have had a very busy spring and feel much in need of a respite, so I am leaving in two days for the Eaton Ranch near Sheridan, Wyoming, to remain there until September 10th.
I was called to Washington by Mr. Davis, who wanted me to go out to Manila with him as prospective Chief of Constabulary, Mr. Stimson having started the business of getting the law amended to repermit army officers to be so detailed. Mr. Stimson had proposed my name, but I declined for several reasons, the most important one that I do not fancy Mr. Davis as a backer in the present difficult situation. Also, that I should keep closer to straight army business at my age.2
My sister spent a good bit of the past ten months with me, enjoying Benning tremendously and being a Godsend for me. She left when I went to Washington. June 15th I made the graduation address at the V.M.I. They were good enough to invite me after I turned down the Superintendency,3 so I accepted and had a hot trip.
Please try and arrange to make me a visit this winter when the climate is most unfavorable in the north and delightful here. I can give you privacy, gaiety, delightful young people, fine horses and pretty constant diversions, as you might elect. Adamson rather led me to feel that you might have come last year if I had pressed harder. Knowing how you are pursued by importunate people, I always try to go easy on invitations, but they are, I believe, more sincere and more warmly supported by a desire to have you, than those more strenuously proposed.
I hope Miss May has recovered from the shock of last winter, tho I know she will find it hard to adjust herself to life in Lincoln without her sister.4 Please give her my warm regards.
Warren, I understand, is doing very well at Yale. I had thought he was at Boston “Tech”.
With affectionate regards,
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. The American ambassador to France, Myron T. Herrick, died on March 31, 1929. For a few weeks there was speculation that General Pershing might be named to succeed him, but the former Republican governor of New Jersey, Walter E. Edge, resigned his United States Senate seat to take the post in November.
In his letter to Marshall, Pershing said: “What you say about my becoming Ambassador is very much appreciated, but as a matter of fact I could not, in the first place, afford it, and in the second place I wouldn’t be bothered with the thousand and one details that the Ambassador over here is called upon to handle. Every American who comes to France thinks he has a special call on the Ambassador and feels rather neglected and perhaps insulted if he is not invited to take luncheon or dinner.” (Pershing to Marshall, July 13, 1929, LC/J. J. Pershing Papers [General Correspondence].)
2. Dwight F. Davis had been secretary of war between October 14, 1925, and March 5, 1929. His appointment as governor-general in May, replacing Henry L. Stimson, who returned to the United States in March to become secretary of state, was something of a surprise. Davis faced continuing agitation for independence by Filipino leaders. The post Davis offered Marshall carried the rank of brigadier general.
Pershing responded on July 13: “I think you were very wise indeed not to accept Mr. Davis’ invitation to go to the Philippines with him. In the first place the climate is enervating and in the second place I could hardly think of a more unsatisfactory person to work with. Your future interest lies in your continued splendid service with the Army. I hope things may come out for you much better in the near future than you now hope.” (Ibid.)
3. Cocke presumably made the offer privately. There is no correspondence on this matter in the V.M.I. archives.
4. Mary Pershing Butler died at her home in Lincoln, Nebraska, on December 13, 1928.
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. 343-344.