An unpublished letter.
North Korea invaded South Korea on June 25, 1950, starting the Korean War. Gen. Douglas MacArthur led an American-dominated UN coalition in the defense of the South, and in the subsequent counter-offensive that out-flanked the North Korean army, forcing it to retreat northward in disarray. UN forces pursued them all the way...
North Korea invaded South Korea on June 25, 1950, starting the Korean War. Gen. Douglas MacArthur led an American-dominated UN coalition in the defense of the South, and in the subsequent counter-offensive that out-flanked the North Korean army, forcing it to retreat northward in disarray. UN forces pursued them all the way through North Korea and eventually approached its Yalu River border with the People’s Republic of China. The Chinese had warned that they would become involved rather than watch the North Koreans be defeated and have an enemy military on their border. During a trip to Wake Island to meet with President Truman early in the war, MacArthur was specifically asked about Chinese involvement; he said he did not believe that the Chinese would invade. However, on November 19, 1950, Chinese military forces did just that, crossing the Yalu River, routing the UN forces and forcing them on a long retreat. MacArthur repeatedly requested authorization to launch a full-scale war against China by striking supplies, troops, and airplanes in the Chinese homeland with conventional weapons and also requested permission to deploy nuclear weapons in Korea. The Truman administration feared that such an action would greatly escalate the war and possibly draw China’s ally, the Soviet Union, in as well. Angered by Truman’s desire to maintain a “limited war,” MacArthur began issuing statements to the press, warning them of a crushing defeat if his advice was not followed.
In March 1951, after a U.S.-led counterattack again turned the tide of the war in the UN’s favor, Truman alerted MacArthur of his intention to initiate cease-fire talks. Such news ended any hopes the General had retained of leading a full-scale war against China, and MacArthur quickly issued his own ultimatum to China. MacArthur’s declaration threatened the expansion of the war, and was, by his own aide’s later admission, ‘designed to undercut’ Truman’s negotiating position. At the same time, MacArthur continued to advocate an expansion of the war by communicating directly with like-minded Republican congressmen, who then pressed for such action in the press. These acts violated the U.S. Army’s tradition of civilian control over the military and foreign policy and were considered acts of insubordination. On April 11, 1951, President Truman, with the backing of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as well as the Secretaries of State and Defense, relieved General MacArthur of his military command and replaced him with Gen. Matthew Ridgway, a commander who would act in concert with the administration’s foreign policy. The move resulted in a firestorm of criticism, and Truman and his supporters were besieged by angry Americans who saw MacArthur as a bastion against Communism and his replacement as some kind of surrender. This included the country's major publications and their publishers, such as William Randolph Hearst, Robert (Bertie) McCormick (Chicago Tribune) and Roy Howard (Scripps Newspapers), who reveled in criticizing Truman and his decision to relieve MacArthur. These men helped create the environment for MacArthur's triumphant return home after his firing. In May of 1951, Congress began hearings into the firing, which served as a pulpit for the relieved General.
Not all opinion was against Truman. June Holloway was a lifelong friend of Harry Truman and from the same part of the country. He was also the Kansas City director of the powerful General Services Administration or GSA. That month, he sent his friend Truman an article relating to the Bonus March, which took place in 1932 when MacArthur was Army Chief of Staff, and showed that 1951 was not the first time MacArthur had ignored a command from his civilian superiors. Back in 1924, the World War Adjusted Compensation Act awarded U.S. veterans bonuses in the form of certificates they could redeem in 1945. Then the Depression hit, and many of the vets were unemployed and struggling to feed their families. Some 17,000 of them, supported by another 25,000 family and friends, and calling themselves the "Bonus Expeditionary Forces," marched to Washington and set up a make-shift camp at Anacostia, demanding early payment of the bonus Congress had promised them. Retired Marine Corps General Smedley Butler, one of the most popular military figures of the time, visited their camp to back the effort and encourage them, but MacArthur was convinced they were communists aimed at undermining the US government, an allegation that was not true. The Hoover administration, in the midst of a reelection campaign, saw the marchers as a threat and wanted them gone. On July 28, U.S. Attorney General William D. Mitchell ordered the veterans removed from all government property. Washington police met with resistance, shots were fired and two veterans were wounded and later died. Veterans were also shot dead at other locations during the demonstration. President Hoover then ordered the army to clear the veterans' campsite.
Led by MacArthur, Army infantry and cavalry supported by six tanks began pushing the veterans out, destroying their makeshift camps as they went. The cavalry advanced with swords drawn, and some blood was shed. Next, Secretary of War Hurley twice sent orders to MacArthur indicating that President Hoover, worried that the government reaction might look overly harsh, did not wish the Army to pursue the Bonus Marchers across the bridge into their main encampment on the other side of the Anacostia River. But MacArthur sent his men across the bridge anyway. So Hoover got rid of the reminder these veterans posed of the poor condition of the country, and MacArthur dispersed people he called communists, but the affair was caught by newsreel cameras and shown in movie theaters across the country. People of all political stripes were horrified that violence was used against American veterans, and this contributed to Hoover's unpopularity.
Typed letter signed, White House letterhead, Washington, June 9, 1951, to William A. (June) Holloway. "Dear June, I certainly did appreciate yours of the fourth, containing the story about General MacArthur in the bonus affair. I am acquainted with that situation and know the facts are just as you have stated them. Of course, Bertie McCormick, old man Hearst, and Roy Howard would like very much to obliterate that event from the General's career — it can't be done. Sincerely yours, Harry Truman."
Letters of Truman relating to his firing of MacArthur are very uncommon. This was acquired directly from the descendants of the recipient and has never before been offered for sale.
Frame, Display, Preserve
Each frame is custom constructed, using only proper museum archival materials. This includes:The finest frames, tailored to match the document you have chosen. These can period style, antiqued, gilded, wood, etc. Fabric mats, including silk and satin, as well as museum mat board with hand painted bevels. Attachment of the document to the matting to ensure its protection. This "hinging" is done according to archival standards. Protective "glass," or Tru Vue Optium Acrylic glazing, which is shatter resistant, 99% UV protective, and anti-reflective. You benefit from our decades of experience in designing and creating beautiful, compelling, and protective framed historical documents.Learn more about our Framing Services