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To William Allen White1
January 25, 1940 [Washington, D.C.]
My dear Mr. White:
The attached editorial was brought to my attention today on returning from an inspection trip on the West Coast. There have been a number of somewhat similar comments regarding the remarks I made before a meeting of the Historical Society here in Washington, but your reaction is of more importance to me than that of the ordinary commentator.2
I am enclosing you a copy of what actually was said, which I thought at the time was being confined to a rather academic calm rather than a highly publicized meeting. The 25% referred to was not a comment as to the strength of the Army but one, as you will see, regarding a comparison of the mobilization status of the Navy and the Army. I was talking about systems rather than strength, and specifically, I was not criticizing our present system but was endeavoring to explain the problem which is normal to all Army planning.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. White was the well known editor and owner of the Emporia [Kansas] Gazette.
2. The editorial “What’s the Matter?” appeared on January 11, p. 4. White wrote that if Marshall’s statement that the army was not 25 percent ready for action was true, then President Roosevelt must “answer to this gross and terrible charge of incompetence.” As commander in chief of the army for the past seven years, Roosevelt had, White asserted, apparently let the army run down to 25 percent efficiency in preparedness; yet he has had “every request he has made for the army granted,” and was now asking for much more.
3. Responding to Marshall’s letter, White wrote: “I am sorry that I gave the wrong impression. I shall try soon to straighten it out.” (White to Marshall, January 30, 1940, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, General].)
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. 148-149.