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To John W. McCormack1
February 6, 1942 [Washington, D.C.]
My dear Mr. McCormack:
With reference to your telephonic inquiry of the 4th as to the pending bill for a Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps, I would like to say that I regard the passage of this bill at an early date as of considerable importance.2 In general, we have secured most of the legislation required for the complete mobilization of the Army so that we can go ahead with its development and definitely plan for the future. However, we lack Congressional authority for the establishment of a Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps, and as a result we can make no definite plans. Also, I am under continued pressure from many directions regarding this phase of our preparations.
It is important that as quickly as possible we have a declared national policy in this matter. Women certainly must be employed in the “over-all” effort of this nation, and for the activities indicated in the draft of the law proposed to Congress we consider it essential that their status, their relationship to military authority, should be clearly established.
There are at the present moment volunteers being employed for critical phases of the Aircraft Warning Service, on which the security of the coast lines of the United States depend. We are deeply appreciative of the work being done by these volunteers, but I am convinced that in such vital matters, the uncertainties of purely volunteer personnel are a dangerous risk. We wish to remedy this situation as quickly as possible, and to start at once the training of the initial cadres of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps units for the various services concerned.
I hope that Congress will see fit to clear this legislation at an early date.
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. McCormack, Democrat from Massachusetts, was the majority leader in the House of Representatives.
2. The original bill that Congresswoman Edith Nourse Rogers, Republican from Massachusetts, had introduced in May 1941 to create a Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps of twenty-five thousand had stalled in the House Military Affairs Committee and had encountered opposition from the Bureau of the Budget. (See editorial note #2-574, Papers of George Catlett Marshall [2: 641-42].) After Pearl Harbor the Bureau of the Budget withdrew its opposition and Rogers introduced a revised W.A.A.C. bill on December 31,1941 (H.R. 6293). Army planners testified that women would only be used in positions where civilian personnel were unavailable, where security necessitated military personnel, and where they would not displace Civil Service employees. The bill rapidly cleared the various House hurdles, and the Military Affairs Committee voted its approval on January 28. Senate hearings began on February 6 and committee approval was expected to be rapid; but opposition to the idea of women’s military service was developing in the House Rules Committee and on the floor of the House. (Mattie E. Treadwell, The Women’s Army Corps, a volume in the United States Army in World War II [Washington: GPO, 1954], pp. 24-25.) See Marshall Memorandum for the Secretary of War, March 18,1942, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #3-134 [3: 135-37].
Recommended Citation: ThePapers 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. 3, “The Right Man for the Job,” December 7, 1941-May 31, 1943 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991), p. 99.