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To Robert R. McCormick
January 11, 1940 [Washington, D.C.]
My dear Colonel McCormick:
A number of people have sent me clippings from the Tribune regarding an impromptu talk I made before the National Historical Societies here in Washington several weeks ago. I thought I was talking in a rare cultural calm that has little of newspaper publicity, but I find myself plastered all over the pages of the papers.
Unfortunately most of the quotations were not verbatim and some of the conclusions were drawn from the sentences extracted from a paragraph without regard to the context. For this reason I am sending you, as something of an historian yourself, a mimeographed copy of what I actually said, less a preamble and a few conclusions.1
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. Marshall was probably referring to a story by Walter Trohan, a Chicago Daily Tribune Washington correspondent, which was widely reprinted. Trohan said that the chief of staff had “exploded an oratorical bomb in the laps of several hundred historians today by attributing colossal wastefulness in past wars to botchy histories and slipshod teaching lessons of the past.” Trohan purported to quote Marshall’s speech at some length. (Chicago Daily Tribune, December 29, 1939, p. 3.)
In his reply, McCormick, Chicago Tribune Lab editor and publisher, and formerly a colonel in the American Expeditionary Forces in France, replied that he doubted Marshall’s premise that in the past United States organization for war had been colossally wasteful. “I will add a last opinion . . . that I do not believe National Guard Troops can ever be made into first class troops, as they have become satisfied with a low standard. I feel it is necessary to keep them, not for national defense against an alien enemy, but to have them sufficiently numerous to overwhelm the regular army when, and if, the time comes when it will be used to overthrow the republic.” (McCormick to Marshall, January 15, 1940, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, General]; ellipsis in the original.)
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. 139-140.