MacArthur, Douglas
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Douglas MacArthur

Douglas MacArthur

The American general Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964) attained widespread fame through his military activities in the Pacific during World War II and the cold war.

Douglas MacArthur was born in Little Rock, Ark., on Jan. 26, 1880, the descendant of a long line of military men. His father, Arthur MacArthur, was a well-known general. Educated in a haphazard fashion on Western frontier posts, Douglas MacArthur recalled, "I learned to ride and shoot even before I could read or write." A poor-to-average student, MacArthur began to excel upon entering the military academy at West Point, N. Y., in 1899. Under the watchful eye of his mother, who followed her son to the military academy, he compiled an outstanding record. Proud, and convinced of his destiny as a military leader, MacArthur graduated first in his class in 1903, with the highest scholastic average at the academy in 25 years.

MacArthur sailed to the Philippines for his first military assignment. In 1904 he was promoted to first lieutenant and that October was ordered to become his father's aide-de-camp in Japan. Shortly thereafter he embarked upon a tour of the Far East, which he later termed the "most important preparation of my entire life."

Rising Military Career

Returning to the United States, MacArthur began his meteoric rise through the military ranks. In 1906 he was appointed aide-de-camp to President Theodore Roosevelt and in 1913 became a member of the general staff. As colonel of the "Rainbow Division" during World War I, MacArthur emerged as a talented and flamboyant military leader, returning from combat with a wide assortment of military decorations. Following the war, he became a brigadier general and superintendent of West Point, where he remained until 1922. After another sojourn in the Philippines, MacArthur was appointed chief of staff of the U.S. Army in 1930, a post he held through 1935.

The interwar years were frustrating ones for professional soldiers, and MacArthur led a troubled existence. In 1922 he married Louise Cromwell Brooks; in 1929 they were divorced. Gloomy about the social unrest of the 1930s, he warned a Pittsburgh, Pa., audience in 1932: "Pacifism and its bedfellow, Communism, are all about us…. Day by day this cancer eats deeper into the body politic." His uneasiness perhaps explains his savage assault in June 1932, in the midst of the Great Depression, on the thousands of ragged veterans of World War I who had massed in Washington, D.C., to petition Congress for early payment of their war service bonuses. Camped with their wives and children in a miserable shantytown, they were set upon by tanks, four troops of cavalry withdrawn sabers, and a column of steel-helmeted infantry with fixed bayonets—all led by MacArthur. He sought to justify this action by contending that he had narrowly averted a Communist revolution.

MacArthur found a more appropriate field for his endeavors in 1935, when President Franklin Roosevelt dispatched him to the Philippines to develop a defensive strategy for the islands. In 1937 he married Jean Marie Faircloth. Retiring from the U.S. Army, he continued his work for the government of the Philippines. With the heightening crisis in Asia, he was recalled to active duty as a lieutenant general and commander of U.S. forces in the Far East in July 1941.

Despite advance warning, the Japanese invasion of December 1941 badly defeated MacArthur's forces in the Philippines. In part, this reflected Japanese military superiority, but it also followed from MacArthur's assessment of Japan's unwillingness to attack the Philippines. The American and Filipino forces were forced to retreat to Bataan. MacArthur was determined to hold the Philippines but the situation was hopeless, and he was ordered to withdraw to Australia to take command of Pacific operations. Reluctantly MacArthur agreed, and accompanied by his wife and child, he set out on a daring escape by PT boat. Dismayed by the bitter American defeat and by the apparent abandonment of the men at Bataan, he vowed upon arrival, "I came through and I shall return."

Success in the Pacific

After the Philippine debacle, MacArthur began the long campaign to smash Japanese military power in the Pacific. Hampered in the early months by shortages of men and supplies, MacArthur's forces eventually won substantial victories. Although his personal responsibility for the battles and the extent of the casualties inflicted by his command were inflated by the skillful news management of his staff, there can be little question of the general's success in New Guinea and in the Philippines. Despite the urgings of other military leaders to bypass the Philippines in the drive on Tokyo, MacArthur convinced President Roosevelt that an invasion was necessary. In October 1944 MacArthur waded onto the invasion beach at Leyte and delivered his prepared address into a waiting microphone: "People of the Philippines: I have returned…. Rally to me." For MacArthur, as for millions of Americans, it was an inspiring moment—one that even eclipsed in drama his acceptance of the Japanese surrender in Tokyo Bay on Sept. 2, 1945.

With the end of World War II, President Harry Truman appointed MacArthur supreme commander of the Allied Powers in Japan. MacArthur set out in the next 6 years to remold Japanese society. His rule proved unexpectedly benevolent. The Occupation successfully encouraged the creation of democratic institutions, religious freedom, civil liberties, land reform, emancipation of women, and formation of trade unions. It did little, however, to check the monopolistic control of Japanese industry.

The outbreak of fighting in Korea in 1950 resulted in MacArthur's appointment as commander of the United Nations forces in July. Engaged in a desperate holding action against North Korean forces in the first months of combat, MacArthur launched a brilliant counterattack at Inchon which routed the North Korean armies. Advancing his troops to the Yalu River, the boundary between North Korea and China, MacArthur inexplicably discounted the possibility of Chinese intervention and assured his troops that they would be home for Christmas dinner. In November, however, massive Chinese armies sent the UN forces reeling in retreat. Angered and humiliated, MacArthur publicly called for the extension of the war to China. President Truman, who wanted to limit American involvement in Korea and had repeatedly warned MacArthur to desist from issuing inflammatory statements on his own initiative, finally relieved the general of his command in April 1951.

"Old Soldiers Never Die"

MacArthur's return to the United States was greeted by massive public expressions of support for the general and condemnations of the President. On April 19, 1951, he presented his case to a joint session of Congress, attracting a tremendous radio and television audience. His speech ended on a sentimental note that stirred millions of Americans, "I now close my military career and just fade away…." But MacArthur became more active than he had predicted. After testifying at great length before the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees, he barnstormed across the country, lambasting the Truman administration and assuming the leadership of those Americans who believed that the President and his advisers had "sold out" Asia to communism.

In December 1952 president-elect Dwight Eisenhower met with MacArthur to hear the general's views on ending the Korean War. MacArthur advocated a peace conference which, if unsuccessful, would be followed by "the atomic bombing of enemy military concentrations and installations in North Korea and the sowing of fields of suitable radioactive materials," the bombing of China, and the landing of Chinese Nationalist troops in Manchuria to overthrow the Communist government. To his chagrin, MacArthur was not consulted again.

Perhaps aware that his political appeal was ebbing, MacArthur had accepted a job as chairman of the board of the Remington Rand Corporation in August 1952. Thereafter, shaken by illness, he retreated to a life of relative obscurity. A soldier to the end, he died in the Army's Walter Reed Hospital on April 5, 1964.

Further Reading

MacArthur's own evaluation of his life is in his Reminiscences (1964). For his speeches see A Soldier Speaks, edited by Vorin E. Whan, Jr. (1965). D. Clayton James, The Years of MacArthur, vol. 1: 1880-1941 (1970), is a scholarly portrait of the general. A penetrating study of MacArthur's career is Richard Rovere and Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., The MacArthur Controversy and American Foreign Policy (1965). An objective treatment of MacArthur's generalship is Gavin Long, MacArthur as Military Commander (1969). John Gunther, The Riddle of MacArthur: Japan, Korea and the Far East (1951), is helpful for understanding the general's personality, as are the adulatory books of Clark Gould Lee and Richard Henschel, Douglas MacArthur (1952); Charles Willoughby and John Chamberlàin, MacArthur, 1941-1951 (1954); and Courtney Whitney, MacArthur: His Rendezvous with History (1956). A useful collection of writings by and about the general is Lawrence S. Wittner, ed., MacArthur (1971). □

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MacArthur, Douglas

Douglas MacArthur

Born: January 26, 1880
Little Rock, Arkansas
Died: April 5, 1964
Washington, D.C.

American general

American general Douglas MacArthur attained widespread fame through his military activities in the Pacific region during World War II (193945) and the Korean War (195053). His military conquests were sometimes inspiring and other times highly criticized. Regardless, MacArthur remains the key figure in the American victory in the Pacific during World War II.

Student to soldier

Douglas MacArthur was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, on January 26, 1880, the descendant of a long line of military men. His father, Arthur MacArthur, was a well-known general. Educated in a random fashion on the rugged Western frontier posts, Douglas MacArthur recalled, "I learned to ride and shoot even before I could read or write."

An average student, MacArthur began to excel upon entering the military academy at West Point, New York, in 1899. Proud and convinced of his destiny as a military leader, MacArthur graduated first in his class in 1903 with the highest scholastic average at the academy in twenty-five years. After graduation from the academy, MacArthur sailed to the Philippines for his first military assignment. In 1904 he was promoted to first lieutenant, and that October was ordered to become his father's aide-de-camp (secretary) in Japan. Shortly thereafter he embarked upon a tour of the Far East, which he later called the "most important preparation of my entire life."

Rising military career

Returning to the United States, MacArthur began his fast rise through the military ranks. In 1906 he was appointed aidede-camp to President Theodore Roosevelt (18581919) and in 1913 became a member of the general staff. He was appointed colonel of the Rainbow Division during World War I (191418), or the Great War, in which European powers, along with America and Russia, waged war over control of Europe. MacArthur emerged as a talented and colorful military leader. He returned from combat with many military honors.

Following the war, he became a brigadier general and superintendent of West Point, where he remained until 1922. After another assignment in the Philippines, MacArthur was appointed chief of staff of the U.S. Army in 1930, a post he held through 1935.

In between wars

The years between World War I and World War II were frustrating ones for professional soldiers, and MacArthur was no exception. In 1922 he married Louise Cromwell Brooks and divorced her in 1929. Soon afterward, the national economy bottomed out during the 1930s, as the Great Depression (a period from 1929 to 1939 during which nearly half the industrial workers in the country lost their jobs) consumed America. Gloomy about the social unrest of the 1930s, he warned a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, audience in 1932 about the presence of Communists (people who believed in communism, a political system in which goods and property are owned by the government). At a time of great uncertainty, MacArthur was able to stir fears that Communists were living in America.

In June 1932 thousands of ragged veterans of World War I marched on Washington, D.C., to petition Congress for early payment of their war service bonuses. Camped with their wives and children, they were set upon by tanks, four troops of cavalry with drawn swords, and steel-helmeted infantry with fixed bayonetsall led by MacArthur. He argued that his actions narrowly prevented a Communist revolution. This would not be the last time MacArthur would favor extreme measures of force.

World War II

In 1935 MacArthur went back to military service when President Franklin Roosevelt (18821945) sent him to the Philippines to develop a defensive strategy for the islands. Only two years later, he married Jean Marie Faircloth and retired from the U.S. Army in 1937. His retirement would not last, though. With the heightening crisis in Asia, he was recalled to active duty as a lieutenant general and commander of U.S. forces in the Far East in July 1941.

Despite advance warning, the Japanese invasion of December 1941 badly defeated MacArthur's forces in the Philippines. MacArthur was determined to hold the Philippines but the situation was hopeless. He was ordered to withdraw to Australia to take command of Pacific operations. Reluctantly, MacArthur agreed, and accompanied by his wife and child he set out on a daring escape by patrol torpedo (PT) boat, a small, lightweight craft. Discouraged by the American defeat, he announced upon arrival, "I came through and I shall return."

Success in the Pacific

After the Philippine defeat, MacArthur began the long campaign to smash Japanese military power in the Pacific during World War II. Slowed in the early months by shortages of men and supplies, MacArthur's forces eventually won major victories. Although his personal responsibility for the battles was exaggerated by the skillful news management of his staff, there can be little question of the general's success in New Guinea and in the Philippines.

In 1944 MacArthur convinced President Roosevelt that an invasion of the Philippines was necessary to ensure victory in the Pacific. In October 1944 MacArthur waded onto the invasion beach at Leyte and delivered his prepared address into a waiting microphone: "People of the Philippines: I have returned. Rally to me." For MacArthur, as for millions of Americans, it was an inspiring moment, possibly even more inspiring than his acceptance of the Japanese surrender at Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945.

With the end of World War II, President Harry Truman (18841972) appointed MacArthur supreme commander of the Allied powers in Japan. During this appointment, MacArthur successfully reduced Japan's military, helped restore the Japanese economy, and advanced religious freedoms and civil liberties in postwar Japan.

A new war

The outbreak of the Korean War, in which American-led forces aided South Korea in their fight against Communist North Korea, resulted in MacArthur's appointment as commander of the United Nations (UN) forces. In the first months of combat, MacArthur launched a brilliant attack at Inchon that severely hurt the North Korean armies.

MacArthur then advanced his troops to the Yalu River, the boundary between North Korea and China. Failing to consider the possibility of a Chinese attack, he assured his troops that they would be home in time for Christmas dinner. In November, however, massive Chinese armies sent the UN forces into retreat. Angered and embarassed, MacArthur publicly called for the extension of the war to China. President Truman, who wanted to limit American involvement in the East, had repeatedly warned MacArthur not to express his own ideas of the war to the public. Truman finally relieved the general of his command in April 1951.

"Old Soldiers Never Die"

MacArthur's return to the United States was greeted by massive public expressions of support for the general and criticisms from the president. On April 19, 1951, he presented his case to a joint session of Congress, attracting a tremendous radio and television audience. His speech ended on a note that stirred millions of Americans: "I now close my military career and just fade away."

MacArthur became more active than he had predicted. He testified at great length before the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees. Then he traveled across the country criticizing the Truman administration, insisting they had sold out Asia to communism. In December 1952 President-elect Dwight Eisenhower (18901969) met with MacArthur to hear the general's views on ending the Korean War. MacArthur supported a peace conference that, if unsuccessful, would be followed by "the atomic bombing of enemy military concentrations and installations in North Korea." MacArthur also called for military action to overthrow Communist China. As a result, MacArthur was not consulted again.

MacArthur then retreated to a life of out of the public eye. A soldier to the end, he died in the army's Walter Reed Hospital on April 5, 1964. His wife, Jean, died on January 22, 2000, at the age of 101. Although controversial throughout much of his career, MacArthur is remembered as one of America's great military leaders.

For More Information

Finkelstein, Norman H. The Emperor General: A Biography of Douglas MacArthur. Minneapolis: Dillon Press, 1989.

MacArthur, Douglas. Reminiscences. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1964.

Manchester, William. American Caesar, Douglas MacArthur, 18801964. Boston: Little, Brown, 1978.

Perret, Geoffrey. Old Soldiers Never Die: The Life of Douglas MacArthur. New York: Random House, 1996.

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MacArthur, Douglas

MacArthur, Douglas (1880–1964), American general in World War II and the Korean War.Born in Little Rock, Arkansas, and raised on army posts by his father, Gen. Arthur MacArthur, and mother, Mary, Douglas Mac Arthur graduated from West Point in 1903. An engineering officer, he served in the Philippines and Panama. In 1913–17, he was assigned to the army's General Staff. During World War I, he was chief of staff of the 42nd (Rainbow) Division in France and subsequently commanded the 84th Infantry Brigade as a brigadier general. In 1919–22, he was superintendent of West Point, then served two tours of duty in the Philippines. As army chief of staff (1930–35), MacArthur evoked much criticism by using military force in 1932 to disperse encampments in Washington, D.C., of unemployed veterans, “Bonus Marchers,” seeking their pensions. In 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed MacArthur military adviser to the U.S. colony of the Philippines, and the general spent the next six years training the Filipino Army.

In July 1941, MacArthur was appointed to command all U.S. forces in East Asia, but when Japanese planes attacked American bases near Manila several hours after their attack on Pearl Harbor, they destroyed most of the American warplanes on the ground. For three months, Mac Arthur led the defense of the Philippines; but in March 1942, Roosevelt ordered him to Australia to command the Southwest Pacific Area theater. MacArthur vowed: “I shall return.”

While the U.S. Navy pushed through the Central Pacific, MacArthur, with American reinforcements, launched an offensive from Australia against Japanese forces on the coastline of New Guinea, using highly successful “leapfrogging” flanking envelopments with combined air, land, and sea forces. The high point of MacArthur's campaign came in October 1944, when despite the reluctance of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), he convinced Roosevelt to allow him to liberate the Philippines rather than bypass the archipelago. The image of MacArthur with his crushed officer's hat, aviator sunglasses, and corncob pipe was familiar to Americans. Most famously, photographers showed him wading ashore at Leyte in the Philippines as he launched the liberation that continued through July 1945. In December 1944, he was promoted to the new rank of general of the army (five stars). He accepted the Japanese surrender on the USS Missouri on 2 September 1945.

Appointed by President Harry S. Truman as Supreme Allied Powers Commander, MacArthur directed the occupation of Japan (1945–50), implementing generally liberal economic, social, and political reforms, but delaying rebuilding of Japan's industrial economy until ordered by Truman in 1948. As a conservative Republican, MacArthur was seriously considered for the GOP presidential nomination in 1948, but he was defeated in the early primaries.

With the outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950, Truman also named MacArthur commander of the U.S. and United Nations forces there. The general persuaded the JCS to authorize an amphibious flanking envelopment at Inchon in September, and by October, South Korea had been liberated. Truman, with MacArthur's concurrence, then expanded the war aims to unify the peninsula. When UN forces crossed the 38th parallel and advanced toward the Yalu River, the border with China, despite warnings from Beijing, MacArthur met with Truman on Wake Island, dismissing the danger of Chinese intervention and predicting quick victory.

China intervened massively in late November, pushing the UN forces back to the 38th parallel and beyond. MacArthur then clashed with the JCS and the White House, blaming them for forcing him to fight a limited war. Arguing that there was “no substitute for victory,” MacArthur sought permission to expand the war to China by bombing bases in Manchuria, perhaps with nuclear weapons, and by assisting Chinese Nationalist troops from Taiwan to invade the mainland. However, as the JCS discovered early in 1951, MacArthur exaggerated the Communist Chinese threat to overrun South Korea. Battle lines stabilized in March 1951 when a new field commander, Gen. Matthew B. Ridgway, rallied the U.S. and UN forces.

Truman proposed a cease‐fire that month, but MacArthur sabotaged the plan. When the press printed a letter from the general to Republican congressman Joseph Martin condemning Truman's policy in Korea as appeasement, an outraged president, supported by the JCS, removed MacArthur from all his commands on 11 April 1951. Two weeks later, after returning to a hero's welcome, MacArthur addressed a joint session of Congress and appealed for public support for his strategy. But although Americans were frustrated with the stalemated war, Senate hearings into MacArthur's accusations revealed that most military and diplomatic experts opposed his plan at a time when the Soviet Union in Europe was seen as the main threat to U.S. interests. Few Americans wanted an expanded war with China.

After fifty‐two years of active service, the general with his flare for the dramatic gesture and his penchant for political controversy retired from the army and became an officer of a large business corporation. Another effort to nominate him for president failed in 1952 when the GOP chose a far more genial and less controversial general, Dwight D. Eisenhower.
[See also Inchon Landing; Korean War; Korean War: U.S. Naval Operations in; Philippines, U.S. Involvement in the; World War II, U.S. Naval Operations in: The Pacific.]

Bibliography

D. Clayton James , The Years of MacArthur, 3 vols., 1970–85.
Carol Petillo , Douglas MacArthur: The Philippine Years, 1981.
Michael Schaller , Douglas MacArthur: The Far Eastern General, 1989.

Michael Schaller

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John Whiteclay Chambers II. "MacArthur, Douglas." The Oxford Companion to American Military History. 2000. Encyclopedia.com. 2 Jul. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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MacArthur, Douglas

Douglas MacArthur, 1880–1964, American general, b. Little Rock, Ark.; son of Arthur MacArthur.

Early Career

MacArthur was reared on army posts and attended military school in Texas. At West Point he achieved an outstanding scholastic record, and after graduation (1903) he served in the Philippines and in Japan. He was (1906–7) aide to President Theodore Roosevelt, a friend of his father, and was attached (1913–17) to the army general staff. After the United States entered World War I he fought in France, first as chief of staff of the 42d (Rainbow) Division and then, having been promoted (June, 1918) to brigadier general, as commander of the 84th Infantry Brigade.

As superintendent of West Point (1919–22) he helped modernize the academy's military training program. After holding various commands (1922–25) in the Philippines, he returned to the United States and served (1925) on the court-martial of Gen. William Mitchell. He was (1928–30) department commander in the Philippines and then served (1930–35) as chief of the general staff. In 1932 he provoked much criticism by personally commanding the troop action that evicted the Bonus Marchers from Washington. In the tense and threatening days of Japanese expansion President Franklin Delano Roosevelt appointed (1935) MacArthur head of the American military mission to the new Philippine Commonwealth. Accepting command of the Philippine military establishment, he retired (1937) from the U.S. army, but later returned to duty (July, 1941) to command U.S. armed forces in East Asia.

World War II

After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, MacArthur commanded the defense of the Philippines until Mar., 1942, when, under the orders of President Roosevelt, he left for Australia to take command of Allied forces in the Southwest Pacific. From Australia he launched the New Guinea campaign and later (Oct., 1944–July, 1945) directed the campaigns that led to the liberation of the Philippines. He was promoted (Dec., 1944) to the new rank of general of the army (five-star general). MacArthur accepted the surrender of Japan on the U.S.S. Missouri on Sept. 2, 1945. He was then named commander of the Allied powers in Japan and directed the Allied occupation of Japan. He was seriously considered for the Republican presidential nomination in 1948, but his defeat in the Wisconsin state primary discouraged his supporters.

The Korean War and After

At the beginning (1950) of the Korean War he was appointed commander of UN military forces in South Korea, while retaining his command of Allied forces in Japan. After driving the North Korean forces back over the 38th parallel, MacArthur received President Truman's permission to press into North Korea and advance all the way to the Yalu River—the border between North Korea and Communist China—despite warnings that this might provoke Chinese intervention. When China did intervene, causing the UN forces to fall back in disarray, MacArthur pressed for permission to bomb Chinese bases in Manchuria. Truman refused such permission and finally (after MacArthur had made the dispute public) removed him from command in Apr., 1951.

On his return to the United States, MacArthur was given a hero's welcome and invited to address a joint session of Congress. Another attempt to nominate MacArthur for the presidency was unsuccessful in 1952. Retired from active service, he became an officer of a large business corporation.

Bibliography

See biographies by D. C. James (3 vol., 1970–85), N. Finkelstein (1989), M. Schaller (1989), and G. Perret (1996); studies by C. Whitney (1956), J. W. Spanier (1959, repr. 1965), G. M. Long (1969), J. Clayton (1985), S. R. Taaffe (1998), S. Weintraub (2000) and (2007), S. Morris, Jr. (2014), and M. Perry (2014).

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MacArthur, Douglas

MacArthur, Douglas (1880–1964) US general. A divisional commander in World War I, he became army chief of staff in 1930, and military adviser to the Philippines in 1935, retiring from the US Army in 1937. Recalled in 1941, MacArthur conducted the defence of the Philippines until ordered out to Australia. As Supreme Allied Commander in the sw Pacific from 1942, he directed the campaigns that led to Japanese defeat. He became commander of UN forces on the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950. Autocratic and controversial, he was relieved of his command by President Truman in 1951.

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