1-341 To General John J. Pershing, February 23, 1934

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: February 23, 1934

To General John J. Pershing

February 23, 1934 Chicago, Illinois

Dear General:

I am not at all certain of your correct address but I imagine any letter addressed to you in Arizona will reach you. I saw a note in the paper that you had gone to the south west for the remainder of the winter, and I was relieved to learn that you had decided to avoid disagreeable phases of a winter in Washington.

Out here it is very cold today, and has been colder. Sudden changes are the curse of the climate, and we had one of forty two degrees in ten hours a few weeks ago. I never know what costume I should wear to the office. As I walk down and back, the question of a heavy or light overcoat and woolen or leather gloves, is a problem. I envy you the beautiful Arizona winter days. My sister spent several months there three years ago and loved it.

Just now we are all interested in the air mail affair. The Army has taken over our National Guard hangars and offices. I was out there yesterday just after they learnt of the death of one of their pilots. They only have young fellows inexperienced in night flying, unfamiliar with the necessary modern instruments, and comparatively untrained in blind flying. I think the personnel here only averages a half-hour of blind flying.1

I have been trying to get them to take over our National Guard pilots. They are graduates of the blind flying course and have flown all the mail routes out of Chicago at night and many times by day.

Another thing, the air service is endeavoring to handle all their staff work, administrative work, with their own personnel, which seems wholly insufficient. A great deal of the work could be better done by other Army officers trained in such administrative tasks. It worried me to see the state of things yesterday.

I am not seeing very much of General Dawes. I really am a little embarassed. He seems to me so tragic. And I know he must be exceedingly sensitive. I think, if the Exposition pays out this summer, that will buck up his morale tremendously, as he will feel responsible for the financial involvements, and if the underwriters get all their money back it will be a triumph for these days, when all other investments realize but a portion of the original amounts.2 Ever so often the papers carry some comment on his bank relations with the Federal government. Two Sundays ago the Tribune gave a page, with photographs, to the tragedies among the former high and mighty, in the depression. Most of the writeups referred to instances of suicide, but Dawes was included in the presentation. I know such things must open every wound. He does not react with his old dash. I made some reference to an article in “Time” the other day—having no connection with him or the depression. He remarked, in rather a pathetic tone for him, “I don’t know why it is but they (Time) always hammer me”.

Take good care of yourself.


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. Allegations of fraud by private airmail contractors caused the Roosevelt Administration to cancel all such contracts, effective February 19, 1934, and to order the Army Air Corps to haul the airmail. The events surrounding this decision and its repercussions are discussed by the chief of the Air Corps at that time, Major General Benjamin D. Foulois, in his memoirs, From the Wright Brothers to the Astronauts, pp. 235-61.

2. Since 1929, Charles G. Dawes had been chairman of the finance committee for the international exposition—officially titled “A Century of Progress”—which commemorated the city of Chicago’s first centenary. The exposition, which ran from May 26 through November 13, 1933, was considered successful enough by its backers to reopen for the 1934 season (May 26 to October 30).

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. 418-419.

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