Letter to John C. Hagan, Jr., December 22, 1954

TO JOHN C. HAGAN JR.1

­­December 22, 1954

Pinehurst, North Carolina

My Hagan:    I appreciate your letter of November 19 advising mc that that the Department of State, the Department of Defense, and the National Archives will, by Presidential directive, cooperate in providing to The George C. Marshall Research Foundation, Inc., such documentary material relating to my career in public office as may legally be made available. I am glad to learn that the Commonwealth of Virginia will provide land in Lexington for the construction of a building to house the collection of documents.2

In accordance with your request, I will turn over to the Foundation those documents in my personal possession which may legally and appropriately be made a part of the collection being assembled by the Foundation.3 It is my Understanding that transfer will not be effected until such time as Federal authorities agree that facilities established by the Foundation are sufficient for safeguarding the documents.4

I am honored by the action of the Board of Directors and hope you will let them know my appreciation.5

With best regards,6      Faithfully yours,

GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers (Retirement, Chronological)

1. John Campbell Hagan Jr. (VMI, 1921), cofounder and president of a Richmond, Virginia, investment banking firm, was named president of the VMI Board of Visitors in 1953. Marshall had resigned from the Board of Visitors earlier in 1954. (George to Ebeling, December 23, 1954, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Retirement, General].)

2. The “Presidential directive” was a memorandum from President Truman dated January 17, 1953, to the secretaries of state and defense and the head of the General Services Administration advising them that “The Board of Visitors of the Virginia Military Institute has arranged for the organization of the George C. Marshall Research Foundation, Inc. [GCMRF], as a non-profit Virginia corporation. The purpose of the Foundation will be to collect and receive papers and records with other historical objects and documents, and to provide a suitable building to house them at VMI. To assist in effectuating this, the General Assembly of Virginia has enacted legislation authorizing VMI to deed land to the Foundation.” (Memorandum for the Secretary of State et al., January 17, 1953, GCMRL/Frank McCarthy Papers [Additions, Box 3].) “This building will be a library and museum and will be open to the public,” Truman clarified. (Ibid.)

3. “The establishment of the Foundation has been a matter of great interest to me,” Truman continued, “and I have consulted with VMI officials about it over a period of more than a year. In connection with these conferences, I have agreed that the United States Government would in so far as practicable make available to the Foundation documentary material relating to the activities of General Marshall as a soldier, as Secretary of State, and as Secretary of Defense. A committee composed of representatives of the White House the Departments of State and Defense and the National Archives, has given considerable study to the procedures by which the Government can assist the Foundation in obtaining the documentary material it will want.” (Ibid.)

The committee had been established as a result of a meeting on February 19, 1952, during which Truman “left no doubt in our minds that he was determined to have some kind of research foundation established for General Marshall.” (“Meeting with president Truman Regarding Establishment of a Foundation for General George C. Marshall,” Feb 19, 1952, NA/RG 59 [Central Decimal File, 114.2/2-1952].) A detailed committee report dated April 1, 1952, identified the location and extent of relevant documents in the files of the Departments of State, Defense, Army, Navy as well as the National Archives, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, and Marshall’s Pentagon office. It recommended that as a first step “a program for selection of pertinent material” be created and that for the purpose a library director be appointed and assured of cooperation by the National Historical Publications Commission. (“George C. Marshall Memorial” and attachment, April l, 1952, ibid.).

3.Truman related that “The VMI library is equipped to receive and maintain such material on a temporary basis pending construction of the Research Center building.” (Memorandum the Secretary of State et al., January 17, 1953, GCMRL/Frank McCarthy Papers [Additions, Box 3].) “We find that although you have indicated generous cooperation in our talks, we have nothing in writing to supplement thee conversations,” Hagan had written to Marshall. “We would appreciate it tremendously if you would write a letter to me, as President of the Foundation, stating your intent to give this organization certain papers which you are willing to have included in the collection.” (Hagan to Marshall, November 19, 1954, ibid.)

4. “Many of the pertinent Government records will remain classified or will be withheld from the public for a number of years,” Truman had explained in his 1953 charge. “I am requesting each of you to bring this memorandum to the attention of your successors in office as a matter of urgency. I feel confident that they will wish to support the efforts that have commenced to provide suitable recognition to one of the greatest Americans of our age.” (Memorandum for the Secretary of State et al., January 17, 1953, ibid.) On November 23, Hagan wrote to J. Clifford Miller, president of Miller Manufacturing Company, Incorporated, in Richmond, Virginia, and also a former president of the VMI Board of Visitors who was vice president of the GCMRF board, that he had inquired through Senator Harry Byrd’s office about President Eisenhower’s feelings concerning Truman’s directive. “I have a letter back from Senator Byrd’s office stating that General Persons contacted the President and that he was in full agreement with Truman’s action concerning the disposition of General Marshall’s papers.” (Hagan to Miller, November 23, 1954, GCMRL/GCMRF Records [General Correspondence 1951—62J.) Hagan also noted that “I have been in touch with Colonel C. J. George, Aide to General Marshall, to enlighten him on various events that have taken place in the Foundation and keep him fully informed.” (Ibid.) George had been involved with the foundation since its earliest stages. “The President has asked [White House Press Secretary] Joe Short to organize a small committee to consider the whole matter,” Clayton Fritchey wrote to Marshall Carter on February 19, 1952, asking that he attend a meeting in the cabinet room on February 19 at 3:00 p.m. “I think the President and Joe now realize that this undertaking is much more extensive and complicated than they at first realized.” (Fritchey to Carter, February 9, 1952, GCMRLMarshall S. Carter Collection [Department of Defense, Box 14].) Carter responded that his “present activities are such that I would find it impossible to serve on the committee (unless, of course, directed so to do).” Instead he “strongly” recommended “Maj. C. J. George who has been for the past 5 years and is now Gen. Marshall’s alter ego, special assistant, deputy, and part-time masseur.” (Carter to Fritchey, February 13, 1952, ibid.)

5. The board, which included the superintendent of VMI, had named Frank McCarthy a director at its November 18 meeting in Richmond. “Your close personal relation and friendship with General Marshall, together with your unquestioned competence in the field of public relations will do much to make our plans come to a successful conclusion,” General Milton wrote to McCarthy the next day. (Milton to McCarthy, November 19, 1954, GCMRL/Frank McCarthy Papers [Additions, Box 3].) After meeting with Milton and other members of the board, McCarthy and Hagan “put together the necessary papers and framed letter which we thought General Marshall might write to the Board.” McCarthy had planned to deliver these in person to Marshall in Pinehurst, but weather conditions made that impossible so, upon returning to California, he sent the documents and draft letter to Marshall. (McCarthy to Milton, November 30, 1954, ibid.)

6. “I am most appreciative of receiving your letter and I am sure that I can speak for the Board of Directors,” Hagan responded to Marshall on December 27. “Knowing your feeling in connection with this project, I assure you I will do everything within my ability to proceed with dignity and discrimination, which is characteristic of you.” (Hagan to Marshall, December 27, 1954, GCMRL/GCMF Records [General Correspondence 1951-1962].) See pp. 897-99 and 902-3.