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To the Editor of the Oregonian
August 20, 1940 [Washington, D.C.]
I have just received the editorial published in The Oregonian of August 14, in which there is a short comment devoted to my recent inspection trip.1 I appreciate the complimentary references to me, but in the interest of facts, I would like to say this:
For months I have been scheduled to inspect each of the Army maneuvers, commencing on the West Coast on August 13th, and then proceeding to Camp Ripley, Minnesota, for the 15th, Louisiana for the 17th, the First Army maneuvers in northern New York on the 19th, and the Second Army maneuvers on the 24th. It became evident that, due to my hearings before Congress and other matters of great moment here in Washington, I would not be able to be absent from the city for such a length of time or on the dates mentioned. As a matter of fact, my decision to take the recent trip was made on Friday afternoon, August 9th when I learned that there would be no hearings before Congress until the following Thursday, the 15th, and that no important decisions would be required in regard to other matters in the interim. The Secretary of War did not know of my proposed departure until four o’clock on that afternoon, and the President, I am quite certain, knew nothing of my departure or plans, and I would not be at all surprised if he still is unaware that I took the trip.
My purpose was solely to learn at first hand something of the conditions of the troops in the field, to talk to the particular officers, get their reactions, find out what their difficulties were, and see what could be done to improve matters.
The interview given to Mr. Hazen in Portland was purely accidental; I saw no other members of the press and he reached me, purely on a basis of past friendship and his acquaintance with Mr. Hamilton Corbett.2
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. The editorial, entitled “General Marshall’s Journey,” said: “This page yields to no one in admiration for General Marshall, chief of staff of the United States army. It believes he has the capabilities for being one of the greatest commanders in the history of the American army. But he is a soldier. He takes his orders. And we do not doubt that he was ordered to make his present whirlwind trip around the country, during the course of which he appears to be stopping just long enough at each place to give out interviews in favor of conscription. It is not a question of the general’s insincerity. He obviously feels deeply on the subject. And the majority of the people are with him. But the White House and the war department are well aware that such a round-the-country journey by the chief of staff, when the Burke-Wadsworth bill is in its crucial stage, will cause an increase in the telegrams and letters pouring in upon congress. Generals do not make such trips at such critical times without approval and without being under orders.”
2. David W. Hazen, a correspondent for the Oregonian, and Hamilton F. Corbett—who had given Marshall the supper and breakfast mentioned in Marshall to Mrs. Butler Ames, August 16—were friends from the days when Marshall commanded Vancouver Barracks, Washington. In response to another Portland friend’s criticisms of the editorial, Marshall observed: “I was rather sorry that I wrote to The OREGONIAN, though maybe it was just as well I did. I have never before written to any one of the papers in relation to any attack on me, and I would not have written that letter except for the fact that it prefaced the statement by complimentary references, which made it impersonal rather than personal.” (Marshall to Ralph A. Fenton, August 31, 1940, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].) The Oregonian printed Marshall’s letter and said, “we apologize for fearing that he had been subjected to such pressure.”
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. 290-292.