tv Douglas Mac Arthurs Military Career CSPAN April 19, 2021 8:00pm-8:52pm EDT
funding for american history tv comes from these companies who support c-span 3 as a public service. and now university of mary washington history professor porter blakemore evaluates the military career of general douglas macarthur from his west point graduation in 1903 to being relieved of command by president harry truman during the korean war in 1951. this video is courtesy of the university. it's from their great lives lecture series. professor porter blakemore has been teaching at mary washington since 1979. and will retire this coming may. a native virginian from newport
news. he did his undergraduate work at the university of north carolina at the chapel hill and earned his doctorate from the university of georgia. following graduation from chapel hill. he sped over four years on active duty as a naval officer and aviator. before dr. blakemore came to mary washington. he taught for two years at james madison university and worked for one year as a research historian for the national park service. at mary washington. he has taught many courses including military history european diplomatic history of germany western civilization europe since 1945 as well as two seminars of the great war and on nazi, germany. professor blakemore took students to europe on 22 occasions 20 of them for a very popular course. title european capitals dr. blakemore has spoken several times in great lives previously delivering commendable lectures
our own bismarck and george's patent it's a pleasure to welcome back to the great live series professor porter, blakemore. you good evening, and welcome to douglas macarthur. before i begin i would like to offer a couple of thank-yous for us. i would like to thank the sponsor of this talk caldwell banker elite their support is much appreciated. and secondly, i would like to thank bill crawley who's involvement in the great lives lecture since the beginning is largely responsible for their success. thank you both. now the topic i'm going to talk about tonight is douglas macarthur certainly a very prominent american during the first half of the 20th century. it was an american general went to west point.
and served in many capacities particularly in his career after 1919. and so what i'm going to do and let me give you a sense of what it is. i'm going to talk about. i'm going to talk first of all about his family background. his west point career very briefly. his role in world war i the great war and i'm going to pause about 1919 in his career. say a few words about his personality because i think his personality is is an important factor in trying to understand. the successes and failures of macarthur's career after that, i'm going to talk about the details of his enigmatic career of successes and failures. he was superintendent of west point. he was the army chief of staff. he was very much as i'm sure most of you know involved in the second world war. he was also the allied leader of the japanese occupation after 1945 and then he played a key role in the korean war which
breaks out in 1950. a little bibliography give you an idea of some of the literature that's been written on macarthur. i only pick three sources and first of all, there's william manchester's biography american caesar. manchester was a marine corps veteran during the second world war in the pacific and he said that he didn't particularly respect macarthur when he began doing the research and writing of the biography. but by the time he had finished he had come to respect him a lot. so if you're interested in the full story of macarthur's life from someone who actually did value him the manchester biography is good eric larabee published in 1987 commander in chief franklin delano roosevelt his lieutenants in their war. he has a couple of chapters on roosevelt at the beginning and then a chapter on each of roosevelt's key subordinates in managing the war george marshall for instance. and of course there is a chapter
on macarthur and i think it's a very valuable read because he gives i think a pretty accurate assessment of macarthur's role during the second world war. then there's david halberstam the coldest winter america in the korean war published in 2007. that's also i think important because it shows in great detail macarthur's role in that particular conflict. so there are some bibliography some sources that you can look at if you're interested in. further readings about macarthur now, let me turn to his early life. douglas macarthur was born january 26 1880 in little rock, alabama, little rock, arkansas. excuse me. his father was arthur mcgraw macarthur a regular army officer who had fought in the american civil war won the medal of honor at missionary ridge during the chattanooga campaign, and he would rise up in rank and be one of the senior generals in the united states army at the turn of the century.
he was a hero of the philippine insurrection in 18 in the 1890s military governor of the islands and you can see here the origins of douglas macarthur's involvement in love of the pacific and the philippines. arthur macarthur was recalled by president mckinley in 1901 after he had dealt shabali with a close friend of the president the future president william howard taft who was a civilian governor in the philippines. he did have other commands, but he expected to become chief of staff the united states army, but never did receive that appointment and when he died in 1912, he died with an element of bitterness. so father of douglas macarthur is an important figure in his life. douglas macarthur entered west point in 189 here he is as a cadet. he graduated at the top of his class with some of the highest marks ever received there.
only a couple of people actually did better one was robert e lee. he was a dashing figure tall trim and handsome. his mother nicknamed pinky followed him there to manage her son's social life and see that he excelled. and she stayed with him ultimately until her death in 1936. so she was very formidable person. and keep played certainly. there's no question as we'll see a key role in his life helping to shape his personality. after west point after he graduated he joined his father briefly in asia, but returned to washington to work in the war department. as an aid to president theodore roosevelt. the first decade of the 20th century. when world war i came and america entered the war in 1917. it was douglas macarthur who proposed the formation of an all-american division. made up of national guard units throughout the country.
and the army agreed to do this and they created the 42nd division. making the rainbow division because of the simple fact that the members of this organization came from various parts of the country. macarthur so much combat particularly in 1918 the united states did not get into this war april of 1917. he's so much combat and eventually rose through positions of responsibility in the 42nd division and ended up in the fall of 19. 18 as a commanding officer of that division he consistently demonstrated courage under fire and leadership ability. and it wars in he had been promoted to the rank of brigadier general. now, let me pause here at the end of the great war in 1918 19 and talk a little bit about macarthur's personality at that point in time. he really did not live as other men as one source says in europe.
during the fighting on the western front. he really wore a helmet. he never really wore a gas mask. he was seldom at headquarters. and he went about his business unarmed but always with a writing crop. here's a picture of macarthur during the war. he had much talent. he demonstrated much talent. he was very brave and decisive. he had great presence tall and handsome but egocentric. a real loner with no close friends and eventually surrounded by worshipful sycophants. i think in some ways by this time in his life. he had been somewhat ruined by his parents. his father was egocentric. his father had political military conflicts as a son would later in his life. and his father was quite bitter at the end of his life when when he died in 1912. i think one of the most
important influences on macarthur's life. however was his mother. pinky came from norfolk. and she was i think i would say a prototype of the helicopter mother that we have today. she cultivated macarthur's sense of superiority. kept alive his father's legacy so he could avenge the family honor throughout his career. and that he was she was the key architect of macarthur's career, but also the creator of his almost unique self-absorption. that cloaked and frequently diminished his equally great talent. that's historian. david halberstam said and i quote here. in the army the needs of self are always to be balanced with a sense of obligation loyalty and respect for the institution and the need to observe others. and observe orders loyalty works two ways not only to make those beneath you respectful of your orders but to teach you what you owe to those who are your
superiors here douglas macarthur like his father before him failed a critical test. now in 1919 in the immediate wake of world war. i macarthur largely because of his success during the war. was appointed the superintendent of the army military academy at west point and he would serve in that capacity from 1919 to 1922. he had many challenges during those years the teaching methods at west point were antiquated. they had not really changed much at all since the civil war. congress also in the wake of world war. i was cutting back appropriations, even though equipment was worn out and obsolete. the curriculum was i think his most important concern. the curriculum that existed prepared the cadets for past rather than future wars. as macarthur said and i quote. how long are we going on going
to go on preparing for the war of 1812? in quote a cavalry offers his wife said at the time after world war one the cavalry rent went right on training to fight the indians. in quote inspired leadership was needed to liberalize the curriculum at west point and bring the tactical instruction up to date. and macarthur provided it. he introduced a whole series of reforms. he plays more emphasis on the humanities in the curriculum at the academy and the social sciences while not neglecting science all to broaden the cadet perspective. the cadets in his view were to isolated so he reduced such provincialism by giving them more opportunities to see the rest of the service. outside world he brought in gas lecturers eliminated the worst aspects of hazing and he ordered the faculty to visit other
institutions of higher education. he did this at a price that was caused by his personality. as stephen ambrose and admirer says quote. he was a supreme egotist who could not bring himself to pay proper respect to the professors in quote. he never explained himself to either the general faculty. or the academy academic board he was the superintendent. though many of his reforms however were rejected by the board when this tour ended in 1922. he had actually permanently changed the academy bringing into the 20th century and making it into one of the outstanding military colleges in the world. and therefore i think his career is as superintendent of west point was a an important success. as far as douglas macarthur is concerned. now in 1930 fd went on did other
things he was appointed? chief of staff of the united states army he had successes with congress. as chief of staff and he would serve in this capacity from 1930 to 1935. he warned about the coming war during a period of widespread pacifism. he was most concerned about communism the socialists the soviet union that was developing at that time. he tried to get out of congress money. to at least prevent the army from decaying to a dangerous level. while the great depression cheapened deepened and made that task very difficult. but i might add he disbanded the experimental armored force and did not value the army air corps. your service as chief of staff obviously tanks and airplanes played a very important role in the upcoming second world war that began in 1939 in our role in 19. 41 the biggest problem that
macarthur had however during his stint as chief of staff. was a debacle with what was called the bonus army in july of 1932. at the end of world war i the united states congress passed piece of legislation promising the veterans of that war anyone who served on active duty? in the conflict a bonus of $500 after 25 years. you served in europe. you got 500 dollars if you just join the armed forces and never left the united states you still were to get 300 dollars. by 1932 the situation for many veterans was pretty desperate. and someone came up with the idea that they should lobby congress to essentially move up the time scale for the bonus from 25 years to basically 13 years, which would be 1932. they really needed the money. and a lot of veterans
essentially fought to washington to campaign to try to influence congress. so that would pass this legislation. and the number who arrived in washington was around 15,000. the camp with their wives and children in shacks. hacking cases second-hand army puck tents on the flats across the anacostia river from washington. there was a very minor communist influence here. and there were some minor scuffles with the police with nothing really serious herbert hoover the president of the united states and secretary of war patrick hurley. in 1932 in the summer of 1932 after congress refused to act to pass a new piece of legislation. they decided to use military force to disperse the bonus marchers. to essentially escort them out of town. and macarthur, of course as chief of staff the army was responsible for this.
and what happened was the battle of anacostia flats as they called it. he used several hundred infantry in cavalry. george patton commanded the capital unit dwight eisenhower's one of macarthur's aids at this point. they use some light tanks to drive the bonus expeditionary force down, pennsylvania avenue. hoover and hurley ordered macarthur not to pursue the marchers over the 11th street bridge to the anacostia flats. but macarthur ignore the orders. according to dwight eisenhower's as a at the time quote. he said he was too busy and did not want either himself or his staff bothered by people coming down and pretending to give orders in quote. the army units drove the families across the bridge and from the camp, which burned to the ground. macarthur went public held a press conference in the wake of this. it was a big uproar over what
the army had done. he claimed that no one was seriously injured, which was not so he said that only about 10% of the bonus marchers were veterans not so 94% were bona fide veterans of the great war. and he also claimed that the mob he believed were led by communists were about to take over the government. and this was not so as well. the consequences of this were that this incident seriously damaged his reputation. and he became very closely associated with the political right after this. it's interesting. there's a famous story about franklin roosevelt who was in governor of new york at the time. and he had a conversation in august of 1932 with the senator from louisiana judy long. and his staff in the governor's office in albany. sat there as roosevelt kept
saying yes huey. yes, huey. i understand huey. yes huey. so it's basically on one sided conversation and eventually he hung up. and his staff asked, you know. why did you talk to that guy? and roosevelt said it's all very well for us to laugh over huey. but actually we have to remember all the time that he really is one of the two most dangerous men in the country. who was the other he was asked by his staff? the other is douglas macarthur. and roosevelt who would become president in march of 1933 went on to explain and i quote here. far beneath the surface of american life given the stress of economic collapse in the threat of public disorder. he felt there was a latent sense that democracy had run its course at the totalitarians had a point that some measure of liberty would have to be sacrificed to strong leadership. all there was lacking was a familiar figure of the man on horseback.
a symbol for the fascist minded among americans to rally around and who better qualify for this role? who came better equipped with charm tradition and majestic appearance than douglas macarthur? we must tame these fellows said roosevelt and make them useful to us. and of course this came for the man who would become president in march of 33 and be president for 12 years. now macarthur retired as chief of staff of the army in 1935 he stayed in the army, but he was sent by the president and it was roosevelt by this time to the philippines. to essentially become a and advisor to the philippine government. the philippines were one scheduled to get their independence from the united states in 1946. and so macarthur went out there. he loved manila loved the philippines and he began to
serve as the advisor of the philippines and here he is advising the i guess. the philippine scouts in 1935 while he was there. he was promoted field marshall by manuel quezon. who was the leader of the philippines and the hat that he would wear throughout pretty much the rest of his career was the hat of a field marshal in the philippine army. given to him by key zone while there he talked about the danger of war with japan. he would be brought back on active duty. by roosevelt in august of 1941 to take over command of american armed forces in the western pacific in east asia. he was however at that time confident that the japanese would not attack the philippines. so here he is the new commander in the pacific appointed by roosevelt just on the eve of the
outbreak of the war in 1941. now world war one world war ii, excuse me came in 1941 to the united states with the attack surprise attack on pearl harbor on december 7th that year macarthur was in the philippines. he was the commanding officer there at the time. and right at the beginning of the war, he essentially committed a big mistake that really did sully in some ways i think is reputation during the war. macarthur got noticed from the war department six hours after. the bombing of pearl harbor that pearl harbor attack have occurred and that the united states was at war with japan. the only offensive striking force that the united states had in the western pacifica at that time was a group of b-17 bombers. stationed in the philippines most of them at clark air base
just north of manila. the commander of those air forces in the philippines was major general lewis breiten. who immediately asked macarthur for permission to attack the japanese basis in formosa the island of taiwan today with the b-17 bombers macarthur refused. and while the b-17 sat at clark air base not distributed anywhere. they were essentially destroyed in the japanese air attack. and so basically we lost the only offensive force in the far east almost immediately. later, macarthur denied the six-hour warning. he also denied that breitan requested to use the v17 bombers and he blamed the failure at clark field on foreverton. in some ways the defeat a clark air base was worse than pearl harbor pearl harbor. we didn't really have any advance notice in the philippines we did. so this was one of his first
failures, i guess at the beginning of the second world war in the philippines. the second failure came almost immediately after this in his defense of the island of luzon. and you can see here the the red line on the map is designed to show the extent of the japanese conquest in the pacific and what they wanted to establish as a defense perimeter to prevent the united states from coming back. obviously pearl harbor is outside of their perimeter, but the attack on pearl harbor was destroy the american pacific fleet. and people make it so that we could not really come back and attack them anytime soon, and you can see the philippines there. just to the east of what is today vietnam? what was then french endo china very close to formosa? and so it became not surprisingly despite the fact that macarthur didn't think the japanese would attack the philippines it became an early
target of japanese aggression right at the beginning of 1942. luzon is the northernmost island in the philippines and here it is down at the bat at southern part is manila bay and where the capital of the philippines manila is located? macarthur essentially had about 12,500 americans plus some philippine troops to defend luzon from any japanese attack. and that attacked did in fact come early in 1942. in the american and philippine troops were driven south and eventually onto the batan peninsula, which is in the lower left there right at the entrance to manila bay. macarthur during the defense of luzon and batan only visited the troops one time his headquarters was on the island of corigador right small island right in the mouth of manila bay. he bitterly complained
throughout the early months of 1942 about washington and how washington was not sending any relief troops to help him out. well, washington under those circumstances in early 1942 had no way of sending any kind of relief troops to the philippines. it was trying to just hold on to what we had. eventually macarthur would be ordered off of corrigador by roosevelt. and we go to australia and there he would command. as we'll see one of the major theaters of war in the pacific through the remainder of the conflict. so the beginning of the war for douglas macarthur in 1941, saw two significant failures. but what's interesting is that he was deified at home. streets were named after him babies were named after him. he received the medal of honor. it was george marshall who really pushing for this back by roosevelt and they gave him the
medal despite the fact that he hadn't really demonstrated any courage, which is something you had to demonstrate in in combat to deserve the medal. the national father's day committee named macarthur number one father for 1942. to which he replied that he hoped his son when he was gone would remember him in repeating the simple prayer our father who art in heaven? now the war after 1942. course proceeded successfully for the united states the war department in washington and the navy department. and the joint chiefs of staff had to figure out how they were going to organize the war in the pacific. american strategy at this time was to focus on europe. we had a european europe first strategy because we thought that europe was probably the most threatening theater nazi's successes at this time where such it looked like the soviet
union might in fact collapse collapse and that would isolate great britain. or we still had to do some things in the pacific. because the pacific was going to be basically a navy war not europe. and the navy had a lot of influence in washington, and of course douglas macarthur was out there. and we couldn't just ignore him. and so what president roosevelt did particularly in consultation with george c marshall the chief of staff the united states army is to try to figure out how to organize things in the pacific. one thing was pretty clear. and that was that george c. marshall did not want. douglas macarthur arthur back in washington, that would be a real headache. so he wanted to try to keep him in the pacific and let the army have some kind of role in the pacific war. and what they decided to do was essentially divide the pacific war into two theaters.
there would be the central pacific theater of operations headquartered at pearl harbor and under the command of admiral chester nimitz. then there would be the southwest pacific theater headquartered in australia and under the command of douglas macarthur. and these two theaters he would advance across the central pacific from the gilberts to the marshalls to the marianna islands to set up the offensive that would target the japanese home islands and macarthur's forces. would advance up the solomon islands new guinea also, ultimately in the direction of the philippines and macarthur of course was determined to return to the philippines when he left the philippines early in march of 1942. he promised i shall return and of course he had this long family and personal background with the philippines and he was determined to go back and liberate that area from japanese
occupation. now from 1942 until the summer of 194. american forces gradually essentially gain the initiative over the japanese winning key battles such as midway in june of 1942. and the guadalcanal campaign, which in august of 194 to and we began to march in what is called an island hopping campaign. back to take the war directly to the japanese home islands. ireland hopping was designed to essentially bypass japanese strong points if we could gain control of the water in the pacific with our submarines and surface ships and our naval aircraft. then any isolated japanese post no matter how large could not really threaten us. we can just bypass and they would wither on the vine because they couldn't receive any supplies from the japanese government the japanese armed forces back in japan.
so this was the strategy and this is basically what we succeeded in doing. in those months in late 1942 1943 and about the first half of 1944 the central pacific campaign started in the gilberts went to the marshalls and spring of 1944 essentially got to the marianas. and there they seized the island of saipan retook guam and also sees the island of tinian. and what that would do would bring the japanese home islands into range of a new bomber that we were building which became the b-29. and so we could really then take the war directly to the japanese home island. macarthur of course was determined to return to the philippines and this was an important strategic decision on part of the united states. did we really need to go back to the philippines? given the island hopping strategy. could we just bypass the
philippines? that was what the joint chiefs were discussing in the summer of 1944. eventually, what would happen is that a conference would be held at pearl harbor? in july of 1944 and roosevelt would come across on the cruiser augusta from the west coast united states nimitz was already there. that's nimitz on the right. and macarthur would come up from australia. and other advisors would be there as well and they would talk about art. what do we actually going to do here? there were those who thought that we did not need to go back to the philippines that the japanese forces there. would wither on the vine we could take the war directly to japan bypass the philippines. we were thinking in terms of staging and invasion of the japanese home islands from formosa modern-day taiwan. we would not do that. we would actually plan ultimately to use okinawa for that. so what was the need to go back to the philippines?
eric clarabee says that in a private session with the president during this pearl harbor conference macarthur essentially gave a veil threat that he was going to make a political issue out of this in the upcoming presidential election in the fall of 1944. roosevelt was running for a fourth term. so the decision was reached at pearl harbor to go back to the philippines and back to the philippines they win. and here is macarthur returning to the philippines in october of 1944. what was the cost of the campaign pretty high? the casualties for american servicemen was 47,000 with 10,380 killed in action. and 36,550 wounded. almost the same as okinawa the bloodiest action in the pacific. or two the non-battle casualties were the highest in the war
93,400. and the civilian casualties it's estimated that 100,000 filipinos civilians died in the battle over the philippines. in 1944 manila as a city was basically leveled because of the fighting there. three army divisions united states army divisions. this would be close to probably about 60,000 men. we're in fact engaged in northern luzon fighting the japanese there on. victory over japan day in mid-august 194 so was the return to the philippines necessary, probably not although there has been some argument about this. was it worth the cost. very high cost now when the war ended in the late summer of 1945 macarthur was chosen to host the
allied or the japanese surrender ceremony on board the uss. missouri in tokyo bay so here he is sitting down at the table signing the surrender documents at that time. and so the war ended i guess in certain glorious way for douglas macarthur nimitz was there. william f. halsey was there. lots of other people who are involved in the war in the pacific were there, but it was a macarthur who essentially chaired the ceremony. now after the surrender of japan macarthur became essentially the ruler as supreme allied commander of the occupation of japan and he would serve in this capacity. areas with the emperor hirohito from 1945 until the end of 1950 actually his politics were surprising. very liberal and democratic he
achieved great success. one of the fairest the occupation was one of the fairests and most honest military occupations in all of history. he allowed the japanese to write their own new constitution. here rojito was no longer considered a god. this was one of our demands. ending the war with the japanese. but he became the symbol of the state and of the unity of the people. the diet or the legislature was created with supreme power and it was elected by universal suffrage universal franchise. macarthur gave the japanese a bill of rights many ways modeled on the american bill of rights women got equality. so i think his role as the overseer of the japanese occupation from 1945 to 19. 50 was really an excellent.
i guess example of his talent and what he could in fact do. and it's probably macarthur's most important accomplishment throughout his career. now that was going on the occupation of japan. war broke out in korea and june of 1950. korea at the end of the fighting in 1945 was taken out of japanese control it had been in japanese control from the early years of the 20th century as part of the japanese empire. so korea was going to get its independence. the americans and the soviets who were in manchuria northern china at that time. taking the surrender of the japanese forces there decided to draw a line across the center of korea along the 38th parallel
and the soviets would take the surrender the japanese forces north of that line and the americans would take surrender south of that line. and that line in the late 1940s as the cold war heated up essentially became a kind of de facto border between north korea backed by the chinese communists who had seized china in october of 194. north korea was under the leadership of a north korean marxist by the name of kim il sung and he established the regime that is in power in north korea today. the leader of north korea is the grandson of kim il soon. south korea was to be democratic the capital would be sold. you can see it on the map there. and what happens is and there's still a little bit of confusion over exactly. why the north koreans acted some people at the time thought that stalin was pushing the north koreans to distract the
americans in east asia in the western pacific away from europe so he could make a move in europe. course the american president at this time was harry truman franklin roosevelt had died in april of 19. 85 truman had succeeded him and had been reelected surprisingly. in 1948. so harry truman was the american president. what happens? is that the north korean army attacks across the 38th parallel in late june 1950? and they achieve surprise and great success. there were a number of american divisions in south korea, but they were not up to full complement. they had just a fraction of the number of troops. they should have this is part of the american demobilization process after world war ii. the north korean forces push south driving the american forces and south korean forces ahead of them. and eventually the americans in
south koreans kind of established a perimeter down perimeter. you can see it on the map down in the southeast section of the peninsula around busan, which was a port city so that became the pusan perimeter. women north korean attacked occurred the united states went to the united nations. and essentially because the soviet union was boycotting security council on the day that this issue was brought up the security council made the korean war a un action. a police action of course, most of the troops were american nevertheless there were other foreign troop swedes for instance if you watched mash you've encountered a few foreigners in korea. during the korean war um what happens is that truman immediately wants to defend south korea. lisa likes macarthur who is there on the scene basically to command the united nations forces?
and this is what happens he takes over. he tries to stabilize the pusan perimeter so that the american and south koreans aren't driven off the peninsula and that is successful. and decide to launch a flanking attack. as the north koreans up at incheon and you can see on the map on the northwest side of south korea there. in the purple john that was deep in the in the flank of the the north korean forces, which had gone south what macarthur thought would happen if he could land a couple of divisions 50,000 men there they could retake soul, which had lost in? captured by the north koreans and they could drive across korea. south of the 38th, peninsula 38 parallel severing the lines of communications of all the north korean troops that had gone south turning them into a mob basically. and capturing and thus
liberating south korea. the north so this is what he planned. his staff every member have his staff said don't do it. it's too risky. the big problem was tides the tides in the inch on area were very very high. and very low and therefore the tides would limit allied access to the beaches for a good number of hours during each day. and so this became a real problem of supply and it might lead to the isolation of the american troops that actually got sure if the north koreans were able to react quickly. to the invasion macarthur insisted, however he basically said we're going to do this. and so they did it. and the inch on landing which came on september 15 19 50 was a terrific success. we landed with one marine one army division backed up by other forces.
they retook soul and then drove across the korean peninsula severing the lines of communications the south the north korean troops in the south panic tried to get back north eventually many of them thousands were captured by the american forces and the south korean forces. the initial objective of the un intervention was to liberate south korea. but determine administration was persuaded by macarthur. after the inch on invasion that they had an opportunity to go ahead and cross the 38th parallel and reunified korea. and so macarthur ordered that and so un forces mostly americans crossed the 38th parallel. began to advance northward into north korea. the chinese had warned us against that but macarthur was sure that the chinese would not intervene. and so we began to advance north and got fairly close to the yalu
river, which is part of the border between north korea and china still today. and it was at that point. and mid-november 19 50 and 300,000 members of the people's liberation army of communist china cross in the north korea and drove the un forces back drove them so far back that soul was lost again to the north koreans and this time the chinese so we were driven back across the 38 parallel. and so the war was on the verge of really escalating. and what macarthur wanted to do as a supreme commander was essentially. bomb chinese staging areas across the yellow river in china he also hinted that they might be able to use tactical nuclear weapons against the chinese. and he also recommended the use of nationalist chinese troops to attack mainland, china.
these were troops under genkai-shek who had driven out of china in the fall of 1949 when the chinese communist consolidated their control over china. and so what macarthur wanted to do is use the nationalist army forces to attack china. truman did not want to do that. the joint chiefs of staff did not want to do truman and the jcss opposed escalation they feared a soviet move in europe. he feared a land war against china. in east asia and therefore truman basically told macarthur the joint teams of staff the chairman of the joint chiefs at that time was omar bradley told macarthur. no, you can't do that. macarthur really got incensed over this wrote republican congressman joseph martin condemning truman's policy as appeasement. as appeasement dirty word 1950
given what had happened in the 30s with nazi, germany. the press printed the letter and this created a firestorm of i guess conflict in the joint chiefs of staff and in washington over macarthur. and his unwillingness to accept political guidance in this war. and eventually as a consequence of this. truman fired macarthur here he is meeting with macarthur in october of 1950 on wake island. pacific so on april 11th 1951 douglas macarthur was canned by the president of the united states very traumatic affair. stanley weintraub author of macarthur's war korea and the undoing of an american hero says and i quote here at the next cabinet meeting the secretary of defense asked by truman to sum
up his impression of the final days of the macarthur dilemma. observe that it reminded him of the family with the beautiful daughter exposed to the perils of retaining her virtue. her mother worried incessantly about it. one day the husband found his wife weeping. the worst had happened the daughter had returned home to confess that she was pregnant. mopping his brow. the father said thank god that's over. which was basically the attitude of the joint chiefs and the whole defense establishment in the wake of macarthur's. essentially firing in april of 19 1951 he returned to the united states in the spring of 1951. he was the first time. the douglas macarthur had been in the lower 48 states since 1937. 1937 he gave in a crest address
to congress on april 19. and here he is speaking before congress. and in his closing words, he said and i quote here. i am closing my 52 years of military service. when i joined the army even before the turn of the century, it was the fulfillment of all of my boyish hopes and dreams. the world has turned over many times since i took the oath on the plane at west point and the hopes and dreams have long since vanished. but i still remember the refrain of one of the most popular barrack ballads of the day, which proclaimed most proudly that old soldiers soldiers. never die. they just fade. and like the old soldier of that ballad and now close my military career and just fade away. and all soldier who tried to do his duty as god gave him the light. see that duty. and he would die.
in washington at walter reed army hospital in april of 1964 and ultimately be buried. and his wife would be buried with him in norfolk to hone home of his mother and this is the the casket of macarthur and his wife in the macarthur memorial in in what norfolk and if you get to norfolk it would be worthwhile to visit there a lot of interesting things about this very i think significant american figure from the first half of the 20th century. well what about the final verdict as far as douglas macarthur is concerned. there's been some debate about this. certainly ever since his death in 1964. trevor and ernest dupuis both retired army colonels published the encyclopaedia leadership and
allied leadership in that particular war they say and i quote one, man. douglas macarthur may have risen to join the thin ranks of the great captains of history. in quote thin ranks of the great captains of history include alexander the great hannibal julius caesar genghis khan and napoleon i don't think quite measures up to that particular standard eric larrabee at the end of his chapter one macarthur in commander in chief. ask the question. what was macarthur's contribution to the war? and he answers not much really. and he provides a lot of evidence to back that. assessment i believe that though, he was a great american larger than life in many ways.
douglas macarthur was so seriously flawed. certainly in his personality that it is hard to like him. and his record makes it impossible to say he was a great general. maybe the most you can say is what historian bradley said of him while paraphrasing charles dickens. he was the best of generals. and the worst thank you so much. weeknights this month. we're featuring american history tv programs as a preview of what's available every weekend on c-span 3 tuesday and evening of programs on the life and legacy of abraham lincoln. we begin with a tour of petersen house where president lincoln died john wilkes booth shot the president as he watched to play across the street at ford's theater watch tuesday beginning at 8pm eastern and enjoy american history tv every every weekend on c-span 3 american history tv on c-span 3 every
weekend documenting america's story funding for american history tv comes from these companies who support c-span 3 as a public service. next on american history tv james haley author of captive paradise a history of hawaii discusses the life of musician composer and author liliuokalani the last queen of the kingdom of hawaii mr. haley also sketches the story of modern hawaii from the arrival of captain james cook in 1778 through a us marine act overthrow and removal of the queen in 1893 and annexation of the islands in 1898 the university of mary, washington in fredericksburg, virginia hosted this 75 minute illustrated talk as part of their crawley great lives lecture series