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To Harry S. Truman
June 21, 1941 [Washington, D.C.]
My dear Senator:
I have just read your letter to Lieutenant Knoll at Fort Leonard Wood, and I want you to know that I highly appreciate the stand you have taken.1 Your letter is a gem, and I shall treat it as confidential as you request. However, if all names, including yours, were omitted, would you mind our making some use of this to stop the flood of this sort of pressure?2
Your letter should certainly act as a check on the young man in question—and I hope it won’t lose you a vote; but if it could be given wider application both in the field and on the Hill, our problem might be materially simplified.
Thank you very much for the stand you have taken.
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed letter.
1. Lieutenant Rudolph J. Knoll, stationed at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, had written to Senator Truman criticizing United States foreign policy. In a reply which he copied and sent to the chief of staff, Truman wrote: “While I was a Lieutenant of Field Artillery in training at Fort Sill in 1917 and later as a Captain in France, it would never have occurred to me to write a letter to Senator Jim Reed and give him my opinions of the state of the Nation. First, l was too busy with the job in hand. Second, I didn’t feel qualified and, third, there was something in the Army Regulations which said that an officer in the Army should not express opinions on political subjects.” Truman noted that “things may be different now” and “younger officers may be smarter,” but he still would not write to a government official. (Truman to Knoll, June 14, 1941, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)
2. With the senator’s permission, the War Department issued a press release on June 29, publicizing Truman’s letter and using his name. Also included in the release was the text of A.R. 600-10, Paragraph 4, which stated that political activity by soldiers to influence legislation was forbidden unless authorized by the War Department. A War Department letter to all officers, dated October 4, 1940, reinforced A.R. 600-10. (Press Release, June 29, 1941, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)
Recommended Citation: ThePapers of George Catlett Marshall, ed.Larry I. Bland, Sharon Ritenour Stevens, and Clarence E. Wunderlin, Jr.(Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 2, “We Cannot Delay,” July 1, 1939-December 6, 1941 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986), pp. 544-545.