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To Leland M. Ford1
September 19, 1941 [Washington, D.C.]
My dear Mr. Ford:
I have been concerned to learn of the unfavorable political reaction of some of your constituents to your vote upon the matter of the extension of service of selectees and officers and men of the Guard and Reserve Corps. I suppose this was inevitable but it is rather depressing to find that when a man acts against his own personal interests and courageously takes a stand purely in the interest of the nation at large, he should not be judged accordingly.2
You voted for the national defense and I assume that your action was to some extent influenced by my statements to a number of congressmen of the Republican party. I do hope that this proof of your courage and patriotism will not be used to your political disadvantage. It should mark you as a representative your constituents could trust to do his full duty to the country.3
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, General Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed letter.
1. Congressman Ford, a Republican, had represented California’s Sixteenth District since 1939.
2. Ford had sent to Marshall a copy of a letter which he had written to E. O. Blackman, chairman of California’s Sixteenth District Republican Central Committee, in reply to a letter from Blackman with reference to Ford’s having voted in favor of retaining the selectees. Ford told Blackman that he realized that his vote was unpopular, but that it was “the necessary thing to do,” and that “the safety of our country hinged on our decision.” Ford had been among an audience of Republican congressmen to which Marshall had spoken at the Army and Navy Club. “At this meeting he was interrogated by every one of the Congressmen including myself, and so far as I could see it, there was nothing else for us to do but vote to keep these selectees in.” At the meeting Marshall “went into the matter of distribution of troops, percentage of selectees in each division, their status, etc. I believe if our people were wholly aware of what this situation is that there would be no question in their mind as to the course to be taken.” Ford concluded that Chief of Staff Marshall was better able to determine the needs of the army than was the average layman. “A good department head will tell you things you ought to know and not the things you like to hear. I think that General Marshall comes under this qualification, and I would stake my life that he is sound. He is a fighting man and an able man, and if the politicians would leave him alone I think we would be much better off.” (Ford to Marshall, September 11, 1941, and attached Ford to Blackman, September 3, 1941, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, General].)
3. Ford replied that he had talked with many of his constituents in Los Angeles County and had received their approval when he explained to them that he had absolute confidence in the War and Navy departments and that “this was no time for any partisanship.” (Ford to Marshall, September 23, 1941, ibid.)
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. 612-613.