In a simple sentence, historian Walter Karp described the U.S. reaction to the firing of MacArthur as "...the most convulsive public outburst in American history." The White House received 20,000 telegrams a day that disapproved and cursed Truman for his actions. Americans posted signs on their property that read "To Hell with the Reds and Harry Truman." Republicans vilified Truman and called him a "political assassin" of a great-war hero. Most Americans, however, ultimately came to support Truman.

     Some information for this write up obtained from Gordon's "American History"

General Douglas MacArthur, United States Army General, Military Governor of Japan, Supreme Commander United Nations Forces, Korea. Pipe Smoker. b. 1880 d. 1964.

MacArthur was born the son of an American Civil War hero, Arthur MacArthur, who won the Congressional Medal of Honor and commanded American troops in the Philipines during the Philipine Insurrection. Perhaps due to his upbringing as the offspring of a heroic military figure, Douglas MacArthur developed a flamboyant and theatrical personality.

During World War II, MacArthur was given command of the U.S. Army in the Pacific. He developed and executed an island hopping combat strategy against Japan with great success, which gave him the spotlight of war hero fame. Fittingly, MacArthur was aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay to receive the official capitulation of the Japanese government on September 2, 1945. After World War II, he was appointed military governor of Japan. In this newly found political position, his ego grew as a result of success in remodeling the Japanese political landscape and playing a key role in its reconstruction.

Korea would prove to be the theatre for which MacArthur would be best remembered. The political hangover of World War II resulted in a number of issues including the status of Korea. Split into two occupational zones as a result of General Order #1, MacArthur promised the people of Korea that they would be given national independence after the surrender of the Japanese.

The events that followed resulted in the formation of the Republic of Korea, which comprised the southern half of the split country. At the time of Liberation Day, on which South Korea was created, MacArthur delivered a speech promising to defend Korea from communist invasion if such an invasion ever became a threat.

"I shall defend it as I would California." -- Douglas MacArthur, 1945.

Contradicting that statement several years later, MacArthur took a new position more in line with the thinking of Washington. The White House was stating that Korea was outside of the U.S. Defense Perimeter and was not an area of national interest.

"Anyone who commits the American Army in the Asian mainland should have his head examined." -- Douglas MacArthur, 1949.

Just over five months later, war would break out in Korea and Douglas MacArthur would arrive with American troops to mount a defense of the Pusan Perimeter. North Korean aggression towards South Korea would become an issue and bring the United Nations into the conflict. MacArthur was appointed "Supreme Commander" of the United Nations forces with a mandate to drive the North Koreans north of the 38th parallel.

MacArthur's first big move was to land United Nations troops at Inchon Harbor, effectively putting them at the North Korean rear. The resulting victory would force the North Koreans to retreat. Feeling he had the enemy on the run and an opportunity to unify Korea under the United Nations flag, and with authorization from the United Nations General Assembly, MacArthur rushed northward, jumping well over the original objective of the 38th parallel.

The Chinese weren't especially happy about MacArthur's troop movements. They issued a number of warnings, mentioning the possibility of intervention in the war if MacArthur continued northward. President Harry S. Truman was nervous, and at first his fears of war with China were settled by MacArthur's assurances that China was bluffing. MacArthur, too bloated with ego and confidence in his vision, would see no view except for his own. On October 25, 1950, the People's Liberation Army of China attacked the U.N. forces and drove them into retreat.

MacArthur proposed to Truman that they take the war to China. He had no doubt that he himself could handle whatever China might throw at him. Truman rejected the proposal, resulting in MacArthur's open disagreement with his president. MacArthur also openly suggested his solutions were the better solutions in the conflict and that military subordination to a civilian government was chaining him and keeping him from success in the "new war."

In March of 1951, Harry S. Truman relieved General Douglas MacArthur from his command. It is said that he only waited as long as he did because of MacArthur's popularity with the American people and the fear that dismissing him could hurt Truman's political future.

I'd like to preface this by saying that I neither agree nor disagree with the good General's outlook on war and world politics. The world has changed drastically since the time this speech was given but I felt that it belonged here in some context. That being said...

The following is the text of General Douglas Macarthur’s farewell speech given before a joint session of Congress on April 19, 1951 after he was dismissed as Commander in Chief of the United Nations forces in Korea.

”Some may say to avoid spread of the conflict into an all-out war with China. Others, to avoid Soviet intervention. Neither explanation seems valid, for China is already engaging with the maximum power it can commit, and the Soviet will not necessarily mesh its actions with our moves. Like a cobra, any new enemy will more likely strike whenever it feels that the relativity in military or other potential is in its favor on a worldwide basis.

The tragedy of Korea is further heightened by the fact that its military action is confined to its territorial limits. It condemns that nation, which it is our purpose to save, to suffer the devastating impact of full naval and air bombardment while the enemy's sanctuaries are fully protected from such attack and devastation.

Of the nations of the world, Korea alone, up to now, is the sole one which has risked its all against communism. The magnificence of the courage and fortitude of the Korean people defies description. They have chosen to risk death rather than slavery. Their last words to me were: "Don't scuttle the Pacific."

I have just left your fighting sons in Korea. They have met all tests there, and I can report to you without reservation that they are splendid in every way.

It was my constant effort to preserve them and end this savage conflict honorably and with the least loss of time and a minimum sacrifice of life. Its growing bloodshed has caused me the deepest anguish and anxiety. Those gallant men will remain often in my thoughts and in my prayers always.

I am closing my fifty-two years of military service. When I joined the army, even before the turn of the century, it was the fulfillment of all my boyish hopes and dreams.

The world has turned over many times since I took the oath on the plain at West Point, and the hopes and dreams have long since vanished, but I still remember the refrain of one of the most popular barracks ballads of that day which proclaimed most proudly that old soldiers never die; they just fade away.

And like the old soldier of that ballad, I now close my military career and just fade away, an old soldier who tried to do his duty as God gave him the light to see that duty. Good-bye.”

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