Douglas MacArthur

From Example Problems
Jump to navigation Jump to search
For the municipality in the Philippines, see General MacArthur, Eastern Samar.
General Douglas MacArthur aboard a battle ship toward the end of World War II, 1945

Douglas MacArthur (26 January 18805 April 1964) was an American military leader credited with defeating the Japanese in World War II. He helped rebuild Japan after the war and played a key role in stopping the Communist takeover of Korea with his brilliant Inchon landing. A controversial figure, he was dismissed by President Truman but returned to the largest tickertape parade ever.

He served in the U.S. Army most of his life, taking part in three major wars (World War I, World War II, Korean War) and rising to the rank of General of the Army, one of only five people to hold that rank in U.S. history. President Manuel L. Quezon of the Philippines also made him a Field Marshal in 1937, the only American to ever hold such a rank, which he held until his death.

One of the most decorated soldiers in the history of the United States military, MacArthur became famous for both losing and retaking the Philippines during World War II. He was appointed Supreme Allied Commander in the South West Pacific Area and led a series of military victories by Allied forces in the theatre. After Imperial Japan surrendered to the Allies in 1945, MacArthur became the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers, rebuilding Japan during the Allied occupation. During the Korean War, MacArthur was removed from command for insubordination to U.S. President Harry S. Truman, causing a national controversy.

MacArthur remains one of the most controversial figures in American history. While greatly admired by many for his strategic and tactical brilliance, MacArthur is also criticized by many for his actions in command, such as his role in putting down the Bonus Army, his command in the Philippines and New Guinea, and his challenge to Truman during the Cold War. MacArthur was also criticized for his egotistical attitude. Shortly before he died, he was given the nickname "Gaijin Shogun" ("foreign military leader") a title which former Honor Guard and author David Valley believed that MacArthur would have appreciated.

Early life and education

MacArthur was born in Little Rock, Arkansas on the northwest upper floor of The Tower Building of the Little Rock Arsenal. His parents were Lieutenant General Arthur MacArthur, a recipient of the Medal of Honor during the American Civil War, who was the son of jurist and politician Arthur MacArthur, Sr., and Mary Pinkney Hardy MacArthur of Norfolk, Virginia. In 1883, when he was three years old, his other brother, Malcolm, died (his older brother Arthur would later attend the U.S. Naval Academy and die in 1923 as a Captain.) MacArthur spent much of his childhood playing in remote parts of New Mexico such as Fort Selden, where his father commanded an infantry company. In his memoir Reminiscences, MacArthur wrote that his first memory was the sound of a bugle.

When MacArthur was six years old, his father was reassigned to Fort Leavenworth in Kansas. Three years later, the MacArthur family moved to Washington, D.C. when Douglas's father took a post at the War Department. There he spent time with his paternal grandfather, Judge Arthur MacArthur, a member of the high-profile Washington political culture that had enormous influence on Douglas.

MacArthur's father was posted to San Antonio, Texas in 1893. There, Douglas attended the West Texas Military Academy, where he became an excellent student. MacArthur entered the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1898. An outstanding cadet, he graduated as valedictorian of his 93-man class in 1903, with only two other students in the history of West Point surpassing his achievements. MacArthur became a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, where he was a leader in combat engineering.

World War I

During World War I MacArthur served in France, with the 42nd Division. Upon his promotion to Brigadier General (the youngest ever in the Army) he became the commander of the 84th Infantry Brigade.

Inter-war years

In 1929 MacArthur met Isabel Rosario Cooper, a sixteen-year old Filipina Actress, whom he later took with him to Washington. He later would spend most of the inter-war period on different assignments in the Philippines. In 1932, while in Washington, D.C. he commanded the troops used to disperse the Bonus Army of First World War veterans who were in the capital protesting against the government's failure to give them benefits. He was accused of using excessive force against a peaceful protest.

Prior to the inauguration of the Commonwealth of the Philippines, the man widely expected to become the first popularly-elected President of the Philippines was Manuel L. Quezon. He asked MacArthur to supervise the creation of a Philippine Army preparatory to independence. MacArthur accepted and was present at the inauguration of the Commonwealth of the Philippines. Legislation approved by President Franklin D. Roosevelt permitted active duty American officers to serve as military advisors overseas, and MacArthur took up residence in the Manila Hotel. Among MacArthur's assistants as Military Advisor to the Commonwealth of the Philippines was Dwight D. Eisenhower.

When MacArthur retired from the U.S. Army in 1937, he was made a Field Marshal of the Philippine Army, by President Quezon but returned in July 1941 as commander of United States Army Forces Far East (USAFFE), based in Manila when he was recalled to active duty for fear of impending war with Japan.

World War II

MacArthur landing at Leyte Beach in 1944

After the United States entered World War II, MacArthur became Allied commander in the Philippines. He courted controversy on several occasions, especially when he overruled his air commander, General Lewis H. Brereton, who had requested permission to launch air attacks against Japanese bases on nearby Taiwan. Consequently much of the US Far East Air Force was destroyed on the ground in the Philippines, the prelude to a Japanese invasion. His headquarters during the period of defeat in the Philippines was in the island fortress of Corregidor, while his making only one trip to the front lines in Bataan led to the disparaging moniker and ditty, "Dugout Doug." In March 1942, as Japanese forces tightened their grip on the Philippines, MacArthur was ordered by US President Franklin D. Roosevelt to relocate to Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. With a select group of advisers and subordinate military commanders, MacArthur fled the Phillipines, arriving at Batchelor Airfield in Australia's Northern Territory on the 17th March and taking The Ghan railway through the Australian outback to Adelaide, South Australia. His famous speech, in which he said "I came out of Bataan and I shall return", was made at Terowie, South Australia on March 20. During this period President Manuel L. Quezon decorated him with the Philippine Distinguished Conduct Star.

MacArthur became Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in the Southwest Pacific Area (SWPA) and took command of Australian, US, Dutch and other Allied forces defending Australia, fighting mainly in and around New Guinea and the Dutch East Indies. On 20th July 1942 SWPA headquarters was moved to what is now the MacArthur Central building in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, where he stayed from 1942 to 1944. Australian and American forces under MacArthur's command eventually achieved success, overrunning Japanese resistance in 1943 and 1944.

"Coming ashore in 1944"

MacArthur's handling of the Australian forces under his command during this time has been the subject of much criticism, both by his contemporaries and subsequent historians. During 1942, MacArthur controlled more Australian than US forces. However, it has been claimed that he decreed that all Australian victories would be reported as "Allied victories", while American victories would be reported as American. It is also a widely-held view that, from mid-1943 onwards. MacArthur confined the Australian Army divisions under his command to tough and largely irrelevant actions, while reserving the more prestigious actions for his own nation's troops. As a result, there is an enduring antipathy towards MacArthur in Australia, especially concerning his attitude towards the Kokoda Track Campaign which he thought irrelevant.

American forces under MacArthur's command took back the Philippines on October 20th 1944, fulfilling MacArthur's vow to return to the Philippines and consolidating their hold on the archipelago after heavy fighting. In September 1945 MacArthur received the formal Japanese surrender which ended World War II.

He was awarded and received the Medal of Honor for his leadership in the Southwest Pacific Theater. Philippine President Sergio Osmeña also decorated him with the Philippines' highest military award, the Medal of Valor.

Post-World War II

After World War II, MacArthur served as Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers (SCAP). His first responsibility was overseeing the reconstruction in Japan. Though it was officially an effort of the Allies, the US was firmly in control, and MacArthur was effectively the dictator of Japan during this period. In 1946, MacArthur's staff created the constitution that is in use in Japan to this day. MacArthur handed over power to the newly-formed Japanese government in 1949, and remained in Japan until relieved by President Truman on April 11, 1951. Truman replaced SCAP leader MacArthur with General Ridgway of the Armed Forces.

File:Macarthur hirohito.jpg
General MacArthur and Emperor Hirohito

After the surprise attack of the North Korean army in June 1950 started the Korean War, the United Nations General Assembly authorized a United Nations (UN) force to help South Korea. MacArthur led the UN coalition counter-offensive, noted for an amphibious landing behind North Korean lines in the Battle of Inchon. As his forces approached the Korea-China border, the Chinese warned they would become involved. During his trip to Wake Island to meet with President Truman, MacArthur was specifically asked by President Truman about Chinese involvement in the war. MacArthur was dismissive.

On October 25, 1950, the People's Liberation Army attacked across the Yalu River, forcing the U.N forces to embark on a lengthy retreat. MacArthur sought an extension of the conflict into China, but President Truman refused his request. Later declassified documents indicate that MacArthur wanted to use nuclear weapons on Chinese territory, some sources suggesting as many as 50. A nuclear strike might have drawn the Soviet Union into the war and perhaps launched a Third World War. Truman feared a nuclear exchange and needless Chinese deaths. After heated arguments between the two men, Truman relieved MacArthur of his duty on April 11, 1951. General Matthew B. Ridgway replaced MacArthur and stabilized the situation near the 38th parallel.


MacArthur returned to Washington (his first time in the continental US in 11 years), where he made his last public appearance in a farewell address to the U.S. Congress, interrupted by thirty ovations. In his closing speech, he mused: "Old soldiers never die, they just fade away."

On his return from Korea, after his relief by Truman, MacArthur encountered massive public adulation, which aroused expectations that he would run for the US presidency as a Republican in 1952. However, a Senate Committee investigation of his removal, chaired by Richard Russell, contributed to a marked cooling of the public mood and his presidential hopes died away.

In the 1952 Republican presidential nomination contest, rumors were rife that Sen. Robert Taft of Ohio offered the vice presidential nomination to MacArthur. Had a Taft-MacArthur ticket defeated Democrat Adlai Stevenson in November, the general would have become President upon Taft's sudden death eight months later in July 1953. Taft, who was initially favored to win the GOP nomination, lost the nomination to Dwight Eisenhower

MacArthur spent the remainder of his life quietly in New York, except for a spectacular "sentimental journey" to the Philippines in 1961, when he was decorated by President Carlos P. Garcia with the Philippine Legion of Honor, rank of Chief Commander. During one of his visits, the Pan-Philippine Highway was renamed to MacArthur Highway in his honor.

President John F. Kennedy solicited MacArthur's counsel in 1961. The first of two meetings was shortly after the Bay of Pigs fiasco. According to White House staffer Kenneth P. O'Donnell, MacArthur was extremely critical of the Pentagon and its military advice to Kennedy. MacArthur also cautioned the young President to avoid a U.S. military build-up in Vietnam, pointing out that domestic problems should be given a much greater priority. Kennedy was said to have come out of the more than three-hour meeting stunned and enormously impressed.

MacArthur and his second wife, Jean Faircloth, are buried together in downtown Norfolk, Virginia; their burial site is in a small museum dedicated to his memory, and there is a major shopping mall named for him across the street from the burial site. The couple's son changed his surname and now lives anonymously as a saxophonist in the New York area.

MacArthur's nephew, Douglas MacArthur II, served as a diplomat for several years.

Summary of Service

West Point

Early Career

World War I

  • 1917 - 1918: Becomes Chief of Staff of the 42nd Infantry Division and is credited with naming it the "Rainbow Division". Joins the American Expeditionary Force bound for France
  • June 1918: Appointed a Brigadier General in the National Army and serves as Divisional Chief of Staff, 84th Infantry Brigade, and is later appointed as the Divisional Commander
  • 1918 - 1919: Cited for extreme battlefield bravery and also is wounded in combat and gassed by the enemy. Was known for personally leading troops into battle, often without a weapon of his own. Begins to develop a negative relationship with General of the Armies John Pershing, after feeling that Pershing is wasting the lives of his troops with bad military tactics.
  • May 1919: Returns the United States a hero, but is distraught over the lack of recognition his Rainbow Division receives for actions in France.

Inter-war Years

  • 1937 - 1941: Civilian advisor to the Philippine Government on military matters. Is appointed a Field Marshal in the Philippine Army, the only American officer in history accorded with that rank. Begins wearing the cap which is so often associated with him, that being a Field Marshal cover with U.S. Army crest
  • April 1937 - marries Jean Faircloth
  • February 21, 1938 - Arthur MacArthur IV is born

World War II

  • July 26, 1941: Recalled to active service in the United States Army as a Major General
  • July 27, 1941: Appointed a Lieutenant General in the Army of the United States and becomes Commanding General of USAFFE (United States Army Forces in the Far East)
  • December 1941: Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, is promoted to General in the Army of the United States and ordered to defend the Philippine islands from a Japanese invasion
  • February 22, 1942: President Franklin Delano Roosevelt orders MacArthur out of the Philippines as the American defense of the nation collapses. Upon leaving MacArthur says, "I shall return."
  • 1942 - 1943: Begins the conquest of New Guinea and is generally credited with halting an invasion of Australia by Japanese forces
  • 1943 - 1944: Begins a series of arguments with the Joint Chiefs of Staff regarding a return to the Philippine Islands. The majority of the Joint Chiefs want to bypass the Philippines and take Formosa. MacArthur makes a personal appeal to President Roosevelt that, should the Philippines be bypassed, he would publically denounce the war effort as betraying captured U.S. soldiers and leaving a large enemy flank to the rear of U.S. forces attacking the Japanese home islands.
  • December 1944: Becomes a General of the Army and is ranked the second highest ranking officer of the U.S. Army, second only to George Marshall
  • 1944 - 1945: Due to logistics issues the Joint Chiefs decided to invade the Philippine Islands. MacArthur again must fight to convince his superiors to invade the entire Philippine Islands, whereas initial plans call for only an invasion of the south. The Joint Chiefs at last agreed that MacArthur is to invade the Philippine Islands at Leyte Gulf and strike towards Manila.
  • February 5, 1945: MacArthur fulfills his promise to return and liberates Manila
  • August 1945: Is considered for promotion to Six Star General (General of the Armies) to lead to massive invasion force which will attack Japan in 1946. Is stunned when the atomic bomb ends the war abruptly, quoted that "this apparatus will make men like me obsolete". MacArthur knew nothing of the bombs development, however Eisenhower did.
  • September, 1945: Presides over the surrender of Japan and becomes military governor of Japanese home islands. Threatens the Soviet Union with armed conflict should Red Army soldiers attempt to occupy any part of Japan.

Occupation of Japan

  • December 15, 1945 - Orders the end of Shinto as the state religion of Japan
  • 1945 - 1948: Begins sweeping reforms, drafts a new constitution for Japan, and puts an end to centuries of Emperor god-worship
  • 1948 - 1950: Becomes second man in Japan to a new Ambassador-Extraordinary, appointed by President Harry Truman. Attempts to run for President in 1948 but withdraws his candidacy after the news media states that MacArthur would be disloyal to his Commander-in-Chief if he ran against Harry Truman.

Korean War

  • July 8, 1950: Following the invasion of North Korea into South Korea, MacArthur is named Commander of all United Nations forces in Korea.
  • July 31, 1950: Travels to Taiwan and conducts diplomacy with Chiang Kai-Shek
  • September 15 1950: Leads UN forces at the Battle of Inchon, seen as one of the greatest military manuveers in history
  • October 15 1950: Meets with President Truman on Wake Island after heavy disagreements develop regarding the conduct of the Korean War. When meeting Truman, it is very noticeable that MacArthur does not salute his Commander-in-Chief but rather offers a handshake
  • November - December 1950: Advocates for full scale war with China upon that nation's entry into the Korean War. Is outraged when military leaders in Washington restrict the war to only the Korean theater.
  • April 11, 1951: After he publicly criticizes White House policy in Korea, Harry Truman removes MacArthur from command and orders him to return to the United States
  • April 19, 1951: At a farewell address before Congress, MacArthur gives the famous Old Soldiers Never Die speech
  • May 1951: Retires a second time from the U.S. Army, but is listed as permanently active duty due to the regulations regarding those who hold Five Star General rank. For adminsitrative reasons, is assigned in absentee to the Office of the Army Chief of Staff

Later life

Dates of rank

In 1955, a bill passed by the United States Congress authorized the President of the United States to promote Douglas MacArthur to the rank of General of the Armies (a similar measure had also been proposed unsuccesfully in 1945). However, due to regulations involving retirement pay and benefits, as well as MacArthur being junior to George C. Marshall (who had not been recommended for the same promotion), MacArthur declined promotion to what many view would have been seen as a Six Star General.

Awards and decorations

During his military career, General MacArthur was awarded the following decorations from both the United States and other allied nations. The awards listed below are those which would have been worn on a military uniform and do not include commemorative medals, unofficial decorations, and non-portable awards.

United States

Recreation of Douglas MacArthur's awards as they would today appear
(does not include all foreign decorations)

Foreign awards


  • MacArthur had no middle name, though some internet sources variously ascribe him a middle initial of "A", "B", "C", "D", "M", or "S". An archivist at the MacArthur Memorial asserts that MacArthur did wear a monogrammed handkerchief with a middle initial of "A", possibly chosen to indicate his father, but the general had no official middle name.
  • Arthur and Douglas MacArthur were the first father and son to each be awarded a Medal of Honor. They remained the only pair until 2001 when Theodore Roosevelt was awarded a posthumous Medal of Honor for his service during the Spanish American War. Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. had won one for his service during World War II.
  • While MacArthur was famous for smoking a corn cob pipe, in private he actually preferred cigars.
  • MacArthur was considered a very good bridge player, and played often during his years in Australia.
  • There are two bridges and one road named after MacArthur in Taiwan, becoming one of the only three foreigners (to Taiwan) who has somewhere named after them. (The other two are Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. and George Leslie Mackay) The road is located in Taipei, although it is renamed now. The two bridges remain fully functional to this day.


Headline text

General MacArthur: Letters from the Japanese During the American Occupation. Rowman & Littlefield: 2001. ISBN 0742511154.

  • Green, Michael. Macarthur in the Pacific: From the Philippines to the Fall of Japan. Motorbooks International: 1996. ISBN 0760302022.
  • Gunther, John. The Riddle of MacArthur. Greenwood Press: 1975. ISBN 0837177014.
  • Leary, William M. MacArthur and the American Century: A Reader. University of Nebraska Press: 2001. ISBN 0803229305.
  • MacArthur, Douglas. Reminiscences. United States Naval Institute: 2001. ISBN 1557504830.
  • Manchester, William. American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur 1880–1964. Laurel: 1983. ISBN 0440304245.
  • Perret, Geoffrey. Old Soldiers Never Die: The Life and Legend of Douglas MacArthur. Random House: 1996. ISBN 0679428828.
  • Rovere, Richard H., and Arthur Schlesinger. General MacArthur and President Truman: The Struggle for Control of American Foreign Policy. Transaction Publishers: 1992. ISBN 1560006099.
  • Schaller, Michael. Douglas MacArthur: The Far Eastern General. Replica Books: 2001. ISBN 0735103542.
  • Stephenson, Neal. Cryptonomicon. A novel in which MacArthur appears as a prominent character.
  • Taaffe, Stephen. Macarthur's Jungle War: The 1944 New Guinea Campaign. University Press of Kansas: 1998. ISBN 0700608702.
  • Valley, David J. Gaijin Shogun: General Douglas MacArthur, Stepfather of Postwar Japan. Sektor Company: 2000. ISBN 0967817528.
  • Weintraub, Stanley. MacArthur's War: Korea and the Undoing of an American Hero. Free Press: 2000. ISBN 0684834197.

External links


Template:Start box Template:Succession box Template:Succession box Template:End box

af:Douglas MacArthur bg:Дъглас Макартър de:Douglas MacArthur et:Douglas MacArthur es:Douglas MacArthur fr:Douglas MacArthur ko:더글러스 맥아더 he:דאגלס מקארתור nl:Douglas MacArthur ja:ダグラス・マッカーサー no:Douglas MacArthur pl:Douglas MacArthur pt:Douglas MacArthur ro:Douglas MacArthur fi:Douglas MacArthur sv:Douglas MacArthur zh:道格拉斯·麦克阿瑟