1-181 To General John J. Pershing, December 23, 1920

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: December 23, 1920

To General John J. Pershing

December 23, 1920 Washington, D.C.

My dear General:

On several occasions General Wright has spoken to me about the serious situation which is developing due to the failure of the Senate to confirm recent Army appointments.1 He had previously spoken to Quekemeyer about this and I believe Quekemeyer wrote you. The point of the matter seems to be this. Some feel that there is a serious danger that the Senate will fail to confirm before its recess and thus throw Army affairs into a very chaotic condition, and incidentally enable a new series of makes2 to be put through with the new session. Others feel that the confirmations will be made. As you have probably talked this over with Senator Warren, and possibly others in authority, you may know exactly what is going to be done. Of course, in that event, there is nothing more to be said. But if you do not know what Senator Lodge’s plans are, I wonder if you would be willing for me to see Senator Wadsworth in an effort to find out.3

I think, of course, that it would be very bad business for you to become involved in this affair unless there is a serious possibility of the Senate failing to confirm. However, if there is this serious possibility, then it seems to me the men who played an important part in the A.E.F. and are awaiting the confirmation of their commissions as General officers, will rather expect you to put up a fight for them, which I am sure would be your intention. Quekemeyer thought you might have seen Senator Wadsworth the day before you left the city as he knew you had gone up to the Senate. I will not do anything unless I hear from you.

It is not good practice to mix business and pleasure, but Mrs. Marshall wanted me to find out if you had in mind going to any of the dances that are being given at 2400-16th Street this winter.4 If so, she wondered if you would have dinner with us on the night of the 6th and attend the dance with us afterwards.

Both send you our love and Christmas greetings.


Document Copy Text Source: John J. Pershing Papers, General Correspondence, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

Document Format: Typed letter signed.

1. Major General William M. Wright was executive assistant to the army chief of staff.

2. A "make" was a congressionally confirmed promotion.

3. As part of his efforts to reduce military spending, Henry Cabot Lodge, Sr., Republican from Massachusetts, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was blocking Senate consideration of the War Department’s nominations for promotion. James W. Wadsworth, Jr., Republican from New York, was chairman of the Military Affairs Committee.

The "chaotic condition" to which Marshall refers was the necessity of demoting forty-three colonels and lieutenant colonels in order to provide slots for the men not promoted to brigadier and major general who would revert to their permanent, lower ranks. Furthermore, if this happened, some commanding officers would find themselves inferior in rank to some subordinates. Finally, as the Army and Navy Journal observed on January 29, 1921, "the 3285 officers of the Regular Army nominated for promotion who will revert to their former ranks should the Senate fail to confirm their nominations are very much disturbed as to where they will rank when again nominated for promotion after March 4."

4. The address of Marshall’s Washington apartment, 1919-21.

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. 205-206.

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