2-189 To Major General William N. Haskell, June 3, 1940

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: June 3, 1940

To Major General William N. Haskell

June 3, 1940 [Washington, D.C.]


Dear Haskell:

I received your letter of May 28th and was very much interested in your point of view regarding the possible mobilization of the National Guard.1

As you have seen since writing your letter, the President made reference to this in his message. The purpose of that reference was not to proceed to the immediate mobilization of the National Guard—quite the contrary; what was wanted was the authority to move in the matter at such a time and to such a degree as the situation in Central and South America (this is confidential to you), might demand. We did not want this Congress to adjourn and leave us in the situation of having to ask that Congress be recalled for the purpose of granting authority to order into service the equivalent of two or three divisions, or to be compelled to call them in a much less effective status on the basis of a call.2

I am due to go before a Congressional Committee tomorrow on this subject, and I expect they will give me a hard time. All our plans are to get such quick increases of volunteers enlisted for duration, as we can manage in order to avoid the necessity of calling for elements of the National Guard. Of course in all of this much will depend on the further developments abroad, as each crisis there produces an important action of the sub rosa forces in this hemisphere.

Faithfully yours,

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. Haskell, commanding general of the New York National Guard, had received a copy of Major General John F. O’Ryan’s telegram of May 10 and Marshall’s letter to Congressman Walter G. Andrews of May 16 (see Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #2-173 [2: 215-17].) Haskell wrote to say that he agreed with Marshall’s decision against mobilizing the National Guard at this time. “I just thought I would drop you this note to let you know that everyone up here doesn’t agree with General O’Ryan’s telegram. At least they don’t agree with it unless and until you are able to foresee the continued use of the Guard in the Federal service and the imminence of the involvement of the United States in war.” (Haskell to Marshall, May 28, 1940, GCMRL/ G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)

2. Marshall’s staff prepared a document introduced as House Joint Resolution 555, which provided that in the event that a national emergency arose between the adjournment of the Seventy-sixth Congress and the convening of the Seventy-seventh in January 1941, the president was authorized to call to duty the nation’s army reserve “in such manner as he may deem necessary.” At his hearing on the resolution on June 4, Marshall said that the War Department was not seeking to mobilize the National Guard but merely to permit the department’s emergency planning for hemispheric defense to proceed on the assumption that the Guard was available to replace Regular units sent to various spots in the Western Hemisphere. (GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Testimonies].) A struggle developed in the House between those who wished to limit the president’s authority to use the Guard outside United States possessions and those who wished him free to defend the entire hemisphere as he saw fit. The point soon became moot, as the session continued until the new Congress convened.

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. 234-235.

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