1-315 To General John J. Pershing, January 24, 1932

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: January 24, 1932

To General John J. Pershing

January 24, 1932 [1933] Fort Screven, Georgia

Dear General:

I see references to you frequently in the press since your return from abroad and one picture of you in the Movie.1 You seem to be in fine shape and I certainly hope this is the case, and that you have avoided this epidemic of flu which has struck hard in the South. The weather here has been mild and delightful all winter—no severe cold and few rains. I ride, play tennis and occasionally fish for diversion, and the family offers me plenty of company. Mollie (19) is with us and Mrs. Marshall’s sister. Allen (16) crashed in an aeroplane Xmas day and now takes nourishment thru a glass tube. He fractured his jaw, cracked a cheek bone, lost four teeth and suffered a severe concussion. Fortunately, he made a quick recovery, except that his teeth must remain wired together for another four weeks until his jaw bone has healed. Then he can go back to school at Woodbury Forest in Virginia.

I hope Warren is progressing in his business in spite of the depression.2 If he weathers this gale he should have little to fear in the future.

I went up for my promotion exam in December, but I doubt if a vacancy occurs before June. I find the life here quiet but interesting and agreeable. The personnel are of an unusually high standard and I find it pleasant to again be in close touch with young officers and the men.

I gather from Peter Bowditch’s letters that he is having a very hard time financially and with a sick wife. He bitterly regrets having resigned from the army.3

General Dawes’ troubles as I learned of them thru political speeches, “Time” and the press, seemed a tragic climax to a conspicuous career.4 I have wanted to write to him, but have hesitated because of ignorance as to his actually situation and because it has been years since I have seen him or heard from him—eight, I believe.

March’s book seems to have died in the public mind, murdered by his convincing egotism.5

Some one in Savannah told me you had been appointed Grand Marshal of the Inaugural parade. I did not see the account in the paper. This is a fine compliment to you, but I imagine that you do not relish the job.

Baruch seems to be in the middle of things again.6 He interested me more than most interesting men. I always enjoyed talking to Baruch and Mr. Baker more than any other of the prominent characters of my tour in Washington with you.

This is a long and rambling letter, but I wish you would write me one, equally long with what you are doing and thinking these days.


G. C. Marshall

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

Document Format: Handwritten letter signed.

1. Marshall presumably saw Pershing’s picture in the newsreels. The general had returned from France in late November, 1932.

2. Pershing’s son, Warren, had graduated from Yale University in 1931 and was working as a stockbroker in New York City.

3. Major Edward R. Bowditch, Jr., had resigned on April 16, 1925.

4. On January 22, 1932, former Vice-President Charles G. Dawes became president of the new Reconstruction Finance Corporation (R.F.C.), a governmental institution designed to make confidential loans to corporations. Critics attacked the R.F.C.’s lending policies as favoring the wealthy and the large corporations. On June 6, 1932, Dawes suddenly resigned from the R.F.C. A few days later he returned to Chicago to take control of the Central Republic Bank and Trust Company—popularly called the “Dawes Bank”—which was experiencing financial difficulty, as were all Chicago banks. On June 27 the R.F.C., to prevent the bank’s failure, committed itself to lend it ninety million dollars. (Jesse H. Jones, Fifty Billion Dollars: My Thirteen Years with the RFC, 1932-1945 [New York: Macmillan, 1951], pp. 72-81.)

When the R.F.C.’s lending policies—and the Dawes loan in particular—were made public in July, 1932, criticism of the R.F.C., of Dawes, and of the Hoover Administration increased. In midwestern states, the Dawes loan caused the Republican party “heavy damage.” On November 4, four days before the election, President Hoover made a “spirited and at times dramatic defense” of the loan in a St. Louis, Missouri, speech. (“National Affairs,” Time 20 [November 14, 1932]: 10.)

Despite the R.F.C. loan, in October the Dawes bank was forced to reorganize as the City National Bank and Trust Company. (“Still Open Dawes,” Time 20 [October 17, 1932]: 47.)

5. Former Chief of Staff Peyton C. March had written The Nation At War (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, Doran, 1932).

6. Bernard M. Baruch had been active during the 1932 election campaign as an economic advisor to Franklin D. Roosevelt. Following the election, as Baruch later recalled, rumors of his influence with the new administration and reports that he would be appointed to some significant government position were common for months. (Bernard M. Baruch, Baruch: The Public Years [New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1960], pp. 249-50.)

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. 384–386.

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