Editorial Note

On Thursday, April 5, Congressman Joseph W. Martin, Jr., of Massachusetts, Republican minority leader in the House of Representatives, in the course of a speech on the House floor (Congressional Record, volume 97, part 3, page 3480) read the contents of a letter, dated March 20, which he had received from General MacArthur in response to one sent him by Mr. Martin 12 days earlier. The texts of both letters with brackets, as printed in Hearings, page 3182, are here reprinted:

Letters exchanged by Hon. Joseph W. Martin, Jr., and General MacArthur, March 1951

(1) Letter from Hon. Joseph W. Martin, Jr., to General MacArthur, March 8, 1951:

[From Daily Congressional Record, April 13, 1951, p. 3938]

Office of the Minority Leader,
House of Representatives,
Washington, D.C., March 8, 1951.

General of the Army Douglas MacArthur,
Commander in Chief, Far Eastern Command.

My Dear General: In the current discussions of foreign policy and over-all strategy many of us have been distressed that, although the European aspects have been heavily emphasized, we have been without the views of yourself as Commander in Chief of the Far Eastern Command.

I think it is imperative to the security of our Nation and for the safety of the world that policies of the United States embrace the broadest possible strategy and that in our earnest desire to protect Europe we not weaken our position in Asia.

Enclosed is a copy of an address I delivered in Brooklyn, N.Y., February 12, stressing this vital point and suggesting that the forces [Page 299] of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek on Formosa might be employed in the opening of a second Asiatic front to relieve the pressure on our forces in Korea.

I have since repeated the essence of this thesis in other speeches, and intend to do so again on March 21, when I will be on a radio hook-up.

I would deem it a great help if I could have your views on this point, either on a confidential basis or otherwise. Your admirers are legion, and the respect you command is enormous. May success be yours in the gigantic undertaking which you direct.

Sincerely yours,

Joseph W. Martin, Jr.

(2) Reply thereto by General MacArthur, March 20, 1951:

[From Daily Congressional Record, April 13, 1951, p. 3938. See also Daily Congressional Record, April 5, 1951, p. 3482]

General Headquarters,
Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers,
Tokyo, Japan, March 20, 1951.

Hon. Joseph W. Martin, Jr.
House of Representatives, Washington, D.C.

Dear Congressman Martin: I am most grateful for your note of the 8th forwarding me a copy of your address of February 12. The latter I have read with much interest, and find that with the passage of years you have certainly lost none of your old-time punch.

My views and recommendations with respect to the situation created by Red China’s entry into war against us in Korea have been submitted to Washington in most complete detail. Generally, these views are well known and clearly understood, as they follow the conventional pattern of meeting force with maximum counterforce, as we have never failed to do in the past. Your view with respect to the utilization of the Chinese forces on Formosa is in conflict with neither logic nor this tradition.

It seems strangely difficult for some to realize that here in Asia is where the Communist conspirators have elected to make their play for global conquest and that we have joined the issue thus raised on the battlefield; that here we fight Europe’s war with arms while the diplomatic [diplomats?] there still fight it with words; that if we lose the war to communism in Asia the fall of Europe is inevitable, win it and Europe most probably would avoid war and yet preserve freedom. As you pointed out, we must win. There is no substitute for victory.

With renewed thanks and expressions of most cordial regard, I am

Faithfully yours,

Douglas MacArthur.
[Page 300]

As a result of the disclosure of MacArthur’s letter, with its implicit criticism of United States and United Nations policies, President Truman took counsel during the next several days with his diplomatic and military advisers on the question of dismissing the General. On April 9, responding to a request made by the President two days earlier, General Bradley reported to Mr. Truman the judgment of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that, on purely military grounds, General MacArthur ought to be replaced. This judgment was unanimously concurred in by Acheson, Harriman, and Marshall, who were present with the President and Bradley.

During the period between April 6 and 9, a number of meetings were held on the question of General MacArthur’s dismissal, but no contemporary records of them have been found. On April 6, Mr. Truman met with the Acheson–Marshall–Harriman–Bradley group apparently before and after a regular Cabinet meeting on that date. Later on the same day, the four met without the President. On the next day, the Chief Executive met with the same group and made his formal request that the Joint Chiefs of Staff be polled. On April 8, the President consulted separately with Secretary of the Treasury John W. Snyder and Mr. Acheson, indicating his readiness to act on the following day when Bradley conveyed the JCS recommendation. Also on April 8, General Bradley and the Service Chiefs met and agreed on the need for dismissal of MacArthur, after which they conveyed their decision to Secretary Marshall. On the following day, the President received the unanimous recommendation of Acheson, Marshall, Harriman, and Bradley for dismissal and decided to proceed on this course. Lieutenant General Matthew B. Ridgway was to succeed to all of MacArthur’s commands, i.e., Supreme Commander, Allied Powers (Japan); Commander in Chief, Far East; Commanding General, United States Army, Far East; and Commander in Chief, United Nations Command. Lieutenant General James A. Van Fleet would take Ridgway’s place as Commander of the United States Eighth Army in Korea. President Truman signed the appropriate orders on April 10, with plans calling for the formal notification to MacArthur to be conveyed personally by Secretary of the Army Frank Pace, then in Korea, who would proceed to MacArthur’s headquarters for the purpose. This was scheduled to take place at 10 a. m. on April 12 in Tokyo (8 p. m., April 11, in Washington), but the threat of a premature news leak late on April 10 along with a delay in transmission of the message to Mr. Pace due to mechanical difficulties moved the President to make public the dismissal notice, effective immediately, at approximately 1 a. m. on April 11 in Washington to coincide with the arrival in Tokyo in mid-afternoon of a communication from the Department of Defense concerning the action.

(Testimony by Secretary Marshall in Hearings, pages 345 ff.; Truman, [Page 301] Years of Trial and Hope, pages 445–450; Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Harry S. Truman, 1951, pages 222–223, 288 ff.; Acheson, Present at the Creation, pages 520–524; Collins, War in Peacetime, pages 280–287; Schnabel, Policy and Direction, pages 374–377; Cabell Phillips, The Truman Presidency (Baltimore, Penguin Books, Inc., 1969), pages 340–347. Notes on the discussion held in Washington during the period in question were subsequently dictated by President Truman on April 28 and by General Bradley on April 23–24, 1951. Copies of these notes from the Truman Library, the JCS Files, and the Bradley Papers have been provided to the Department of State by the Department of Defense and are in file 795.00/4–551.)