3-281 To Mrs. Newton D. Baker, August 14, 1942

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: August 14, 1942

Subject: World War II

To Mrs. Newton D. Baker

August 14, 1942 [Washington, D.C.]

Dear Mrs. Baker:

While you indicated that your letter of August eleventh was not to be acknowledged I must tell you that your generous and gracious answer to my letter is deeply appreciated. It seldom happens that I receive such a frank and generous reaction as yours.1 Incidentally, and confidentially, I have found that women are much more generous in such matters than the men from whom I receive strong protests or criticism.

I have grown accustomed to such misunderstandings, and find that they are not confined to people outside Army circles. Just recently one developed in my own family. After I had put an inspector on the case I found that every statement or allegation was incorrect, without factual foundation. On the other hand I also find it necessary to have a careful watch kept on letters of this character because from time to time they serve a very valuable purpose.

I’m sorry I can’t help you about your son-in-law.2 I do wish that some time I might have the opportunity of seeing you again because I remember with a great deal of pleasure our brief contacts just after the World War. And I might say to you personally what I have frequently said to others, that your husband remains the greatest brain and character with whom I have ever come in contact.3

Sincerely yours,

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. Elizabeth (Mrs. Newton D.) Baker had written to the chief of staff to protest the lack of interest on the part of the War Department in answering appeals of families in reference to soldiers missing in action in the Philippines. (Baker to Marshall, August 5, [1942], GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, General].) “I was quite perturbed when I read your letter because the furnishing of information to the relatives of soldiers who have been killed or wounded is a matter of personal interest to me,” Marshall replied. He had checked into the specific case about which Baker had written him, to find that the father of the soldier had been notified by The Adjutant General that “persons serving in the Philippines would be considered as missing in action until definite information to the contrary was received.” (Marshall to Baker, August 7, 1942, ibid.) Mrs. Baker replied that the soldier’s family had misrepresented the situation to her. “They haven’t the ghost of a reason for feeling that the War Department has been withholding information and I owe you an abject apology,” she wrote. “Your letter accomplished several things—it restored my faith in the War Department, it destroyed my faith in the representations of friends, and gave me ammunition to present to those who felt no letter would ever reach you.” (Baker to Marshall, August 11, 1942, ibid.)

2. Mrs. Baker had written that her family did not know the whereabouts of her soldier son-in-law. (Ibid.)

3. In 1956 Marshall observed: “As to Mr. Baker, I’ll say that he was the greatest American—or I will put it, the greatest mind—that I came into contact with in my lifetime. . . . I had a number of conversations—intimate conversations—with Mr. Baker and I admired him beyond any other man that I have ever known.” (Marshall Interviews, p. 269.)

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), pp. 304-305.

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