MacArthur, Douglas

MacArthur, Douglas
born Jan. 26, 1880, Little Rock, Ark., U.S.
died April 5, 1964, Washington, D.C.

U.S. general.

Son of Gen. Arthur MacArthur (1845–1912), he graduated from West Point, of which he became superintendent (1919–22). He rose through the ranks to become general and army chief of staff (1930–35). In 1932 he commanded the troops that evicted the Bonus Army. In 1937 he took over command of the Philippine military. At the outbreak of World War II he was recalled to active duty; he led the combined Philippine-U.S. forces in the Philippines until it was overrun by the Japanese (1942). From Australia, he commanded U.S. forces in the South Pacific and directed the recapture of strategic islands, returning as promised ("I shall return") to liberate the Philippines in 1944. Promoted to general of the army, he received Japan's surrender on Sept. 2, 1945. As Allied commander of the postwar occupation of Japan (1945–51), he directed the restoration of the country's economy and the drafting of a democratic constitution. As commander of UN forces in the Korean War in 1950, he stemmed the advance of North Korean troops. His request for authority to bomb China was rejected by Pres. Harry Truman; when MacArthur made the dispute public, Truman relieved him of his command, for insubordination. He returned to the U.S. to a hero's welcome, though many deplored his egotism. He was twice (1948, 1952) seriously considered for the Republican Party nomination for president.

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▪ United States general
born January 26, 1880, Little Rock, Arkansas, U.S.
died April 5, 1964, Washington, D.C.
 U.S. general who commanded the Southwest Pacific Theatre in World War II, administered postwar Japan during the Allied occupation that followed, and led United Nations forces during the first nine months of the Korean War.

Early life
      MacArthur was the third son of Arthur MacArthur, later the army's senior ranking officer, and Mary Hardy MacArthur, an ambitious woman who strongly influenced Douglas. He was graduated from West Point in 1903 with the highest honours in his class and served the next 10 years as an aide and a junior engineering officer, following this with four years on the general staff. He spent several months with the U.S. troops that occupied Veracruz, Mexico, in 1914.

      On the 42nd Division's staff in 1917–19, MacArthur was variously chief of staff, brigade commander, and divisional commander during combat operations in France during World War I and in the Rhine occupation that followed. During the 1920s he initiated far-reaching reforms while superintendent at West Point, served on William (“Billy”) Mitchell's court-martial, held two commands in the Philippines, commanded two U.S. corps areas, and headed the 1928 American Olympic Committee.

      Having advanced in rank to brigadier general in 1918 and to major general seven years later, MacArthur was promoted to general when he was selected as army chief of staff in 1930. His efforts as military head for the next five years were largely directed toward preserving the army's meagre strength during the Depression. MacArthur was widely criticized in mid-1932 when he sent regular troops to oust the Bonus Army of veterans from Washington. In 1935–41 he served as Philippines military adviser (and field marshal), endeavouring, despite inadequate funds, to build a Filipino defense force. He retired from the U.S. Army in December 1937.

      MacArthur married Louise Cromwell Brooks in 1922, but the childless union ended in divorce seven years later. In 1937 he married Jean Faircloth; Arthur, their only child, was born in Manila the next year.

Duty in World War II
      Recalled to active duty in July 1941, MacArthur conducted a valiant delaying action against the Japanese in the Philippines after war erupted in December. He was ordered to Australia in March 1942 to command Allied forces in the Southwest Pacific Theater. He soon launched an offensive in New Guinea that drove the Japanese out of Papua by January 1943. In a series of operations in 1943–44, MacArthur's troops seized strategic points in New Guinea from Lae to Sansapor, while capturing the Admiralties and western New Britain. The simultaneous northward movement of South Pacific forces in the Solomons, over whom MacArthur maintained strategic control, neutralized Rabaul and bypassed many Japanese units.

      After winning a decision to invade the Philippines next rather than Formosa, MacArthur attacked Morotai, Leyte, and Mindoro in autumn 1944. Not until the Leyte operation did he have overwhelming logistical support; his earlier plans had been executed despite inadequacies of personnel and matériel and with little assistance from the Pacific Fleet. MacArthur seriously questioned his superiors' decision to give priority to the European war over the Pacific conflict and to the Central Pacific Theater over his Southwest Pacific area.

      His largest, costliest operations occurred during the seven-month Luzon campaign in 1945. That spring he also undertook the reconquest of the southern Philippines and Borneo. Meanwhile, he left the difficult mopping-up operations in New Guinea and the Solomons to the Australian Army. He was promoted to general of the army in December 1944 and was appointed commander of all U.S. army forces in the Pacific four months later. He was in charge of the surrender ceremony in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945.

      As Allied commander of the Japanese occupation in 1945–51, MacArthur effectively if autocratically directed the demobilization of Japanese military forces, the expurgation of militarists, the restoration of the economy, and the drafting of a liberal constitution. Significant reforms were inaugurated in land redistribution, education, labour, public health, and women's rights. While he was in Japan, MacArthur also headed the army's Far East command.

UN command in Korean War
      When the Korean War began in 1950, MacArthur was soon selected to command United Nations forces there. After stemming the North Korean advance near Pusan, he carried out a daring landing at Inch'ŏn in September and advanced into North Korea in October as the North Korean Army rapidly disintegrated. In November, however, massive Chinese forces attacked MacArthur's divided army above the 38th parallel and forced it to retreat to below Seoul. Two months later MacArthur's troops returned to the offensive, driving into North Korea again. On April 11, 1951, President Harry S. Truman (Truman, Harry S.) relieved MacArthur of his commands because of the general's insubordination and unwillingness to conduct a limited war. Returning to the United States for the first time since before World War II, MacArthur at first received widespread popular support; the excitement waned after a publicized Senate investigation of his dismissal.

      In 1944, 1948, and 1952, conservative Republican groups tried in vain to obtain MacArthur's nomination for the presidency. MacArthur accepted the board chairmanship of the Remington Rand Corporation in 1952; thereafter, except for these duties and rare public appearances, he lived in seclusion in New York City. He died in Washington, D.C., in 1964 and was buried at Norfolk, Virginia.

      In personality MacArthur was enigmatic and contradictory. To many he seemed imperious, aloof, egotistical, and pretentious. To others, especially his headquarters staff, he appeared warm, courageous, unostentatious, and even humble. Most authorities agree that he possessed superior intelligence, rare command ability, and zealous dedication to duty, honour, and country.

D. Clayton James

Additional Reading
Two comprehensive studies are D. Clayton James, The Years of MacArthur, 3 vol. (1970–85), a study by a U.S. historian; and William Manchester, American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur, 1880–1964 (1978, reissued 1983), a massive, sympathetic examination of the general's character and personality. Other studies of his life and career include Frazier Hunt, The Untold Story of Douglas MacArthur (1954, reissued 1977), by an admiring correspondent; Charles A. Willoughby and John Chamberlain, MacArthur, 1941–1951 (1954); Courtney Whitney, MacArthur: His Rendezvous with History (1956, reprinted 1977), by a general close to MacArthur; Gavin Long, MacArthur As Military Commander (1969), a candid Australian view; Carol Morris Petillo, Douglas MacArthur, the Philippine Years (1981), a psychobiography; and Paul P. Rogers, The Good Years: MacArthur and Sutherland (1990), and The Bitter Years: MacArthur and Sutherland (1991), detailing the periods 1941–42 and 1943–45, respectively.

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Universalium. 2010.

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