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The Relief of MacArthur

The focus shifted from military operations after President Truman suddenly relieved General MacArthur of all his military commands. The President took this step following five days of consultation with his chief military and civilian advisers. The culmination came on 10 April when he directed General Bradley to send General MacArthur a message stating:

     I deeply regret that it becomes my duty as President and Commander 
     in Chief of the United States Military Forces to replace you as 
     Supreme Commander, Allied Powers; Commander in Chief, United 
     Nations Command; Commander in Chief, Far East; and Commanding 
     General United States Army, Far East. You will turn over your 
     commands, effective at once, to Lieutenant General Matthew B. 
     Ridgway. [1] 

The abrupt dismissal of so distinguished a soldier as General MacArthur aroused considerable furor in the United States and elsewhere. Charges of "cavalier treatment" and "foreign pressure" as well as broad hints of political machination followed his dismissal. The entire matter was aired extensively between May and August 1951 before the Committee on Armed Services and the Committee on Foreign Relations of the United States Senate. No definite conclusions were drawn, but testimony given the committees provided some indication of the reasons which impelled President Truman's decision. [2] Charges that MacArthur's removal was fostered, and actually engineered, by certain nations allied with the United States in Korea, particularly the British, were not well founded. While these nations, through press media and even through official channels, criticized General MacArthur's conduct of the campaign and expressed grave fears that his recommendations might lead to a general war, no evidence existed that any of these nations petitioned President Truman for MacArthur's dismissal.

[1] Rad, JCS 88180, Bradley (Personal) for MacArthur, 11 Apr. 51.

[2] The Joint Committee on Armed Services and Foreign Relations which conducted these hearings was composed of Senator Richard B. Russell, Chairman; Senator Styles Bridges; Senator Alexander Wiley, Senator H. Alexander Smith; Senator Bourke B. Hickenlooper; Senator William F. Knowland; Senator Harry P. Cain; Senator Owen Brewster; and Senator Ralph E. Flanders. Witnesses appearing before the committee included General MacArthur; Secretary of Defense Marshall; General Bradley; General Collins; General Vandenberg; Admiral Sherman; Secretary of State Acheson; General Wedemeyer; and former Secretary of Defense Johnson. Among its indefinite conclusions the committee reached the following: "The removal of General MacArthur was within the constitutional powers of the President but the circumstances were a shock to the national pride," and "There was no serious disagreement between General MacArthur and the Joint Chiefs of Staff as to military strategy in Korea." See MacArthur Hearings, pp. 3601-02.

For months prior to his relief, General MacArthur had, according to Washington officials, expressed opinions on matters beyond his purview in a manner not befitting a military commander. These opinions had not only embarrassed President Truman and his advisers, but threatened, these same officials claimed, to have a profound effect upon international public opinion and to jeopardize the relationships of the United States with its allies. Until President Truman's order forbidding expressions of personal opinion on political and military policy, such expressions were more acts of military impropriety than of misconduct. But after the order, any public expression of opinion contrary to established national policy violated a Presidential directive.

Although it may have been a contributing factor, General MacArthur's conduct of the campaign, from a purely military standpoint, did not bring about the President's decision. His inability to anticipate the Chinese attack in late November and the subsequent withdrawal of the United Nations forces in December apparently did not cause his dismissal from command. [3]

Immediately after MacArthur's relief; President Truman stated publicly that MacArthur was unable to give his wholehearted support to the policies of the U.S. Government in matters pertaining to his official duties. He pointed out that while full debate on matters of national policy was a vital element of any true democracy, military commanders had to be governed by the policies and directives issued to them in the manner provided by U.S. laws and the Constitution. [4] Hence, General MacArthur's removal from command seems to have stemmed from his official protestations and public expressions of dissatisfaction with United States Far Eastern military and political policies made by him between August 1950 and April 1951.

[3] President Truman later stated that he did not blame General MacArthur for the failure of his November offensive. The President felt that MacArthur was no more to be blamed for the fact that he was outnumbered than was General Eisenhower for his heavy losses in the Battle of the Bulge. The difference, as the President saw it, between Eisenhower in 1944 and MacArthur in 1950 was the manner in which MacArthur tried to excuse his failure. See Truman, Memoirs, II, 381-82.

[4] During conversations with the author in June 1961, former President Truman declined to elaborate on statements already made in his memoirs as to his reasons for dismissing General MacArthur. He stated that General MacArthur had been, and remained, a "great American and a great general" and that he had no desire to tarnish MacArthur's public image. Truman did, however, assert emphatically that his course of action had been the only one open to him and that, faced again with the same situation, he would do the same thing. To do otherwise would have been to abdicate his great responsibility as Commander in Chief.

[5] Memo, Burns for Rusk, Asst. Secy. State for Far Eastern Affairs, 29 May 50, sub: Notes on State-Defense Conference Held 25 May 1950, cited in Hoare, The JCS and National Policy, vol. IV. ch. IV, "The Knotty Problem of Formosa."

The Formosa Issue

The first occasion after the outbreak of the Korean War on which General MacArthur ran afoul of President Truman developed not over Korea, but over the general issue of American policy toward Formosa. This problem had been under discussion by officials of the Department of Defense and the Department of State for some time before the Korean situation developed. [5]

[6] MacArthur Hearings, p. 2579.

[7] DA, TT 3426, 27 Jun. 50.

Page 368

During the extraordinary conferences at Blair House after the North Korean invasion of South Korea, General Bradley had read to the assembled high officials a memorandum MacArthur had given Secretary of Defense Johnson during the latter's Tokyo visit. This paper, which Secretary Johnson thought brilliant and to the point, set forth in cogent terms the reasons why Formosa should not be allowed to pass to the control of Communist China, but should instead be fully protected by the United States. [6] President Truman, on 27 June 1950, ordered General MacArthur to deploy the Seventh Fleet to prevent attacks on Formosa by the Chinese Communists and, conversely, attacks by the Formosan garrison on the Chinese mainland. [7] In a public announcement on the same date, President Truman explained that he had taken this action because, "the occupation of Formosa by Communist forces would be a direct threat to the security of the Pacific area and to United States forces performing their lawful and necessary functions in that area." He also fended off any charge that the United States intended to seize the island stronghold by declaring, "The determination of the future status of Formosa must await the restoration of security in the Pacific, a peace settlement with Japan, or consideration by the United Nations." [8]

When visited by General Collins in mid-July, General MacArthur had told the Army Chief of Staff that as soon as the Korean situation had become sufficiently stabilized he intended to visit Formosa for talks with Chiang Kai-shek. The Joint Chiefs on 28 July 1950 informed MacArthur that the Chinese Communists had announced their intention of capturing Formosa and would probably succeed unless the Chinese Nationalists made timely efforts to defend the island. They had recommended to the Secretary of Defense, they stated, that the Nationalists be permitted to break up hostile concentrations through military action, even if it meant attacks on the mainland. [9]

MacArthur gave full concurrence to this proposal, and informed the Joint Chiefs of Staff that he and a selected staff would visit Formosa about 31 July to survey the situation. [10] In reply the Joint Chiefs of Staff suggested that, pending new instructions on certain policy matters being considered by the Departments of State and Defense, MacArthur might prefer to send a senior officer to Formosa on 31 July, and to proceed later himself. They added, however, that if he felt it necessary, he should feel free to go since the responsibility was his own. [11] MacArthur chose to make the initial Formosa visit in person so that he could resolve uncertainties arising out of conflicting reports from the island about the status of Chiang's government and its armed forces. [12]

MacArthur, accompanied by Admiral Struble, flew to Taipeh on 31 July where for two days he conferred with Chiang Kai-shek and his generals. But not until five days after his return to Tokyo did MacArthur report to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. [13] Meanwhile, press reports speculating that MacArthur had made binding agreements and political promises to Chiang Kai-shek caused Washington officials considerable uneasiness since they could not judge the validity of these reports. In addition, the Department of State heard from its representative in Taipeh that MacArthur was about to transfer fighter squadrons to Formosa, a move not authorized by Washington, and a move which General MacArthur had not actually planned. [14] Chiang Kai-shek added fuel to the flame by issuing a public statement that could be interpreted as indicating the existence of extensive secret agreements between himself and MacArthur. [16] There was also an erroneous but widespread belief that MacArthur had made the trip to Formosa without the knowledge or approval of the nation's leaders.

[8] Statement by the President of the United States, 27 Jun. 50, MacArthur Hearings, p. 3369.

[9] Rad, JCS 87401, JCS to CINCFE, 28 Jul. 50.

[10] Rad, C 58994, CINCFE to JCS, 29 Jul. 50.

[11] Rad, JCS 87492, JCS to CINCFE, 29 Jul. 50.

[12] Rad, C 59032, CINCFE to JCS, 30 Jul. 50.

[13] MacArthur considered his report to be timely. He stated later, "Full reports on the results of the visit were promptly made to Washington." See MacArthur, Reminiscences, p. 340.

[14] (1) Rad, JCS 87878, JCS to CINCFE, 3 Aug. 50. (2) Hoare, The JCS and National Policy, vol. IV, pp. 20-21.

Nevertheless, the uninformed speculation in the press and the lack of real knowledge as to what MacArthur had done on Formosa, coming at a time when the United States was trying to convince Communist China that there were no ulterior motives lurking behind President Truman's action toward Formosa, caused the President, in a sternly worded message over Secretary of Defense Johnson's signature, to caution MacArthur. On 4 August, MacArthur was reminded in no uncertain terms, "No one other than the President as Commander-in-Chief has the authority to order or authorize preventive action against concentrations on the mainland. The most vital national interest requires that no action of ours precipitate general war or give excuse to others to do so." [16]

MacArthur replied the next day that he fully understood and was operating meticulously in accordance with the President's decision of 27 June. [17] Then, on 7 August, he submitted a full report of his conference with Chiang Kai-shek. He indicated Chiang's willingness to cooperate and that there was a real potential in the armed forces on Formosa, although substantial improvements would be necessary. He explained that he had directed periodic sweeps of the Formosa Strait by elements of the Seventh Fleet, periodic reconnaissance flights over certain of the coastal areas of China, and familiarization flights by small groups of United States aircraft to include temporary and refueling landings on Formosa. [18]

President Truman subsequently sent Averell Harriman to Tokyo, reputedly to caution MacArthur not only to keep the President better informed, but, on other than military matters, to make recommendations, not decisions. Afterward, Harriman stated that General MacArthur had not overstepped his military bounds in making the trip to Formosa; President Truman announced his satisfaction with General MacArthur's performance; and General MacArthur declared that anyone who hinted of friction between himself and the President was guilty of "sly insinuations, rash speculations and bold misstatements." [19]

[15] MacArthur Hearings, pp. 3383-84.

[16] Rad, WAR 88014, JCS to CINCFE, 4 Aug. 50.

[17] Rad, C 59418, CINCFE to JCS, 5 Aug. 50.

[18] Rad, C 59569, CINCFE to JCS, 7 Aug. 50.

[19] (1) Time, August 21, 1950. (2) For Harriman's report to President Truman on this visit, see Truman, Memoirs, II, 349-53; for MacArthur's reaction to Harriman's visit, see MacArthur, Reminiscences, p. 341.

[20] State Dept. Bulletin, XXIII (4 September 1950), p. 396.

Page 370

Communist nations made note of President Truman's order neutralizing Formosa and charged that the United States intended to take over and occupy the island. In August, the Peiping regime accused the United States of aggression against Formosa and asked the United Nations Security Council to order the withdrawal of ". . . all of the United States armed invading forces from Taiwan...." [20] In refutation of this charge, President Truman on 25 August directed United States Ambassador Austin to address the Secretary-General, Trygve Lie, on the matter. Austin sent Lie a complete account of the official American attitude toward Formosa, including a 19 July statement to the Congress by President Truman in which he declared ". . . that the United States has no territorial ambitions whatever concerning that island, nor do we seek for ourselves any special position or privilege on Formosa." On 28 August, the President sent Austin more ammunition with which to demolish the Communist charges concerning Formosa by telling him that the United States would welcome United Nations consideration of the case of Formosa. [21]

A week earlier, General MacArthur, who had been invited to speak at the Fifty-First National Encampment of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) in Chicago, sent instead a paper which he proposed be read at the meeting. In this paper, MacArthur stressed the strategic importance of Formosa and insisted that the United States must, at any cost, retain control of that island. He strongly hinted that the United States would be able to use Formosa as a base in any future operations against the Asiatic mainland. He pointed out also that Formosa would be a formidable threat to American security if controlled by an unfriendly power, terming it an "unsinkable aircraft carrier and submarine tender." "Nothing could be more fallacious," he charged, "than the threadbare argument by those who advocate appeasement and defeatism in the Pacific that if we defend Formosa we alienate continental Asia. Those who speak thus do not understand the Orient." [22]

This strong statement evoked an equally strong reaction from President Truman when he was informed of it by Harriman on 26 August before its publication. The President read MacArthur's paper to Harriman, General Bradley, and Secretary Johnson, then directed that MacArthur withdraw the statement. Secretary Johnson immediately cabled MacArthur that the President directed him to withdraw the message ". . . because various features with respect to Formosa are in conflict with the policy of the United States and its position in the United Nations." [23]

According to Johnson, when the President learned that MacArthur's rather lengthy statement to the VFW had been transmitted through Army communications facilities from Japan, he was particularly indignant. Johnson testified before the Senate committee, later investigating the relief of General MacArthur, that on 26 August President Truman discussed with him the advisability of relieving MacArthur as the commander in Korea, but decided to take no such action at that time. [24]

[21] (1) Ltr., Ambassador Austin to Secy.-Gen. Lie, 25 Aug. 50. (2) Ltr., President Truman to Ambassador Austin, 28 Aug. 50. (3) MacArthur Hearings, pp. 3473-76.

[22] Quotation in Whitney, MacArthur: His Rendezvous with History, pp. 378-79.

[23] MacArthur Hearings, pp. 2586, 3480.

[24] MacArthur Hearings, pp. 2587, 3665.

General MacArthur's immediate response to the Presidential order was to fire a protest to the Secretary of Defense, claiming that his VFW message had been carefully prepared to support fully the President's policy decision of 27 June with respect to Formosa and pointing out that the subject of Formosa had been freely discussed in all circles, "Governmental and private, both at home and abroad." MacArthur obviously felt he could separate his views as a private citizen from those as the commander in chief, United Nations Command. For he observed that the views embodied in his statements to the VFW were "purely my personal ones." Noting that the VFW undoubtedly had given wide distribution to his speech in advance press releases, MacArthur advised Johnson that suppressing his message under these conditions would be a grave mistake. [26] General MacArthur nevertheless was ordered to withdraw his message to the veterans' group. President Truman later softened the blow to MacArthur's feelings by transmitting to him the text of Austin's message on Formosa to Secretary-General Lie and his own letter to Austin on the same subject with the statement, "I am sure that when you examine this letter . . . you will understand why my action of the 26th in directing the withdrawal of your message to the Veterans of Foreign Wars was necessary." [26]

Although General MacArthur informed the national commander of the VFW that he had been directed to withdraw his message, MacArthur's statement appeared in print in U.S. News and World Report on 1 September 1950, [27] and thereby provided excellent grist for the USSR propaganda mill. Andrei Vishinsky, Soviet Ambassador to the United Nations, for instance, twisted MacArthur's comments on Formosa to his own purposes when, in a speech, he stated, "None other than General MacArthur recently informed, with cynical candor, the whole world about the decision of the ruling circles of the United States of America at all costs to turn Taiwan [Formosa] into an American base in the Far East." [28]

Even so, it is probable that the Formosa incident, had it been the last instance of friction, would have been forgotten, or at least overlooked, by Mr. Truman. But it was to be only the beginning of a series of incidents that progressively weakened President Truman's patience with General MacArthur. [29] When, in late October, he found the terms of his current directive a little too restrictive, he did not hesitate to ignore it by ordering all his forces north to the border instead of using only ROK forces in that area, as he had been instructed. But he did not openly criticize that directive.

[25] (1) Rad, DEF 89880, DEF to CINCFE, Johnson (Personal) for MacArthur, 26 Aug. 50. (2) Rad, C 61325, CINCFE to DA for Secy. Defense, MacArthur (Personal) for Johnson, 27 Aug. 50. (3) MacArthur, Reminiscences, pp. 385-86 and 389.

[26] MacArthur Hearings, p. 3480.

[27] JSSC Rpt. to JCS, p. 45

[28] MacArthur Hearings, p. 2002.

[29] MacArthur Hearings, p. 213.

During November, as signs that the Chinese were intervening in Korea began to appear, signs of differences between MacArthur and Washington officials also began to develop. MacArthur's order for bombing the Yalu River bridges on 6 November, for instance, aroused consternation in Washington. More than that, the order was not in accordance with the instructions issued him on 29 June, warning him to stay well clear of the USSR and Manchurian borders in conducting his air operations. When three days later the Joint Chiefs of Staff suggested that MacArthur's mission in Korea might have to be changed in view of Chinese intervention, he hotly proclaimed his disagreement [30] and his mission was not changed. The 11th-hour suggestion by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, prompted by the conviction of other nations participating in the Korean fighting that MacArthur should check his attack along a line short of the Yalu, was likewise roundly condemned by General MacArthur. [31] Yet at no time in this period did General MacArthur argue his case publicly, although he did deny that he had received any suggestion from "any authoritative source" that he should stop at any line short of the international boundary. [32]

With the intervention by Chinese Communist armies, however, General MacArthur's attitude toward public disclosures changed abruptly. Smarting from the defeat his forces had suffered, MacArthur spoke out sharply in his own defense, and in published statements in early December charged that the limitations upon his operations were an enormous handicap "without precedent in military history," and intimated that selfish interests in Europe were causing support to be withheld from his forces. [33]

These statements were widely assessed as a criticism of the United Nations policy of limited war in Korea and as an oblique criticism of the Truman administration in its conduct of the war. They were probably not so intended. General MacArthur pointed out quite rightly that at no time had he asked for authority to retaliate beyond the inviolate northern boundary of Korea. His statements, issued at a time when the administration was trying earnestly to reassure uneasy allies, were nonetheless of great concern to President Truman and his advisers. British fears that MacArthur might involve the west in a large-scale war with Communist China made his pronouncements especially regrettable. Too, his insistence on blaming operational restrictions for the situation in Korea was taken in Washington as a reflection on the judgment of the man who had decided to impose those restrictions. This inference was unfortunate, even if not intended as such, for the Joint Chiefs of Staff believed that MacArthur was partly responsible for his own predicament. They had been persuaded to approve his plans for the November advance by his great confidence that the Chinese either would not, or could not, intervene effectively. [34]

[30] Rad, C 68572, CINCFE to DA for JCS, 9 Nov. 50.

[31] Rad, C 69808, MacArthur to DA for JCS, 25 Nov. 50.

[32] (1) Statement, Gen. MacArthur (in reply to question from Arthur Krock), New York Times, December 1, 1950. (2) MacArthur Hearings, p. 3496.

[33] (1) Statements, Gen. MacArthur, 2 Dec. 50, in U.S. News and World Report, December 8, 195O, pp. 16-22, and in the New York Times, December 2, 1950. (2) MacArthur Hearings, pp. 3532-34.

President Truman found MacArthur's statements at this time particularly objectionable. He was irked by MacArthur's publicizing the fact that because Washington had not let him do things his own way his 24 November attack had been defeated and the Chinese had intervened. President Truman charged that he should have relieved MacArthur at that point. He had not done so because he did not wish it to appear that he was being relieved because the offensive had failed. Truman had never gone back on people when luck was against them and he did not intend to do so in this case. [35]

Commenting later, President Truman stated that there was no excuse for the way in which MacArthur began to publicize his views following the failure of his offensive. Within four days, in four different ways, according to President Truman, MacArthur blamed his troubles publicly on Washington's order to limit the hostilities in Korea. He spoke of extraordinary inhibitions without precedent in military history and made it quite plain that no blame should be attached to him or his staff. [36]

As a result of MacArthur's statements President Truman had sent to the heads of all executive departments his 5 December memorandum ordering government officials to clear all public statements concerning foreign policy with the Department of State and all concerning military affairs with the Department of Defense. Although this memorandum was addressed to all executive branches, it was directed specifically at General MacArthur. [37]

Meanwhile, MacArthur had proposed to General Collins, then visiting in the Far East, that the United States should carry the war to China, through bombing, blockade, and other measures. Throughout December and January and into February, he insisted upon these measures, always through official media albeit quite forcefully. Not until mid-February did General MacArthur bring his views to the attention of the public. On 13 February, in a statement to the press, he contended that unless he was allowed to reduce materially the superiority of the Chinese, ostensibly through attacks upon their "sanctuary," he could not seriously consider conducting major operations north of the 38th Parallel; and on 7 March, in another such statement, he held that vital decisions, yet to be made, must be provided on the highest international levels. These statements may have been perfectly true, and there is considerable evidence that the latter opinion especially was valid; but both were considered by Washington authorities to be comments affecting both foreign and military policies of the United States Government that were not cleared by the Department of Defense and were, therefore, in violation of the President's directive of 5 December. [38]

[34] Hoare, The JCS and National Policy, vol. IV, ch. VII, pp. 32-33.

[35] Truman, Memoirs, II, 384; see also pp. 444-50.

[36] Ibid., 382.

[37] (1) Rad, JCS 98134, JCS to CINCFE, CINCEUR, CINCAL, et al., 6 Dec. 50. (2) MacArthur Hearings, p. 880

[38] (1) MacArthur Hearings, pp. 3539-40. (2) Ltr., Secy. Marshall to Hon. Richard B. Russell, 17 Aug. 51. (3) MacArthur Hearings, pp. 3665-66.

General Marshall later said that MacArthur's statement of 24 March offering to negotiate with enemy leaders in the field was the culminating factor in President Truman's decision to relieve MacArthur. Marshall charged that this statement contained a thinly veiled hint that the enemy should either negotiate or the war would be carried to the Chinese mainland. He based this view on that portion of MacArthur's statement which said, "The enemy therefore must by now be painfully aware that a decision of the United Nations to depart from its tolerant effort to contain the war to the area of Korea through expansion of our military operations to his coastal areas and interior bases would doom Red China to the risk of imminent military collapse." [39]

The President found this to be a most extraordinary statement for a military commander of the United Nations to issue on his own responsibility. He construed MacArthur's statement as defiance of his orders as Commander in Chief and a challenge to his authority. Additionally MacArthur was, in the President's view, flouting the policy established by the United Nations. By this act General MacArthur had left the President no choice. He felt he could no longer tolerate MacArthur's insubordination. [40] President Truman nonetheless delayed a final decision; neither the general public nor General MacArthur was aware of President Truman's steadily mounting dissatisfaction.

But the stage had already been set for the final act. On 20 March General MacArthur, in reply to a personal letter from Joseph W. Martin, House of Representatives Minority Leader, sent a relatively mild commentary to the Congressman on American foreign policy. There was nothing new in what he said, nor was it said in a particularly inflammatory manner. MacArthur merely reiterated his views that the Asian theater was fully as important as the European and that the United States must prosecute the Asian war until victory was achieved. MacArthur later testified that the letter to Congressman Martin was, in his mind, so trifling a matter that he could scarcely recall it. [41] But it was no trifling matter to President Truman; and when Martin chose to make public the contents of the letter on 5 April 1951, the President reacted strongly and quickly. On 6 April, he called together his special assistant, Averell Harriman, Secretary of State Acheson, Secretary of Defense Marshall, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Bradley, and put the matter squarely before them. What should be done with General MacArthur? Harriman told Truman that MacArthur should have been fired two years ago. [42] But Secretary Marshall appreciated the possible repercussions that might come with MacArthur's dismissal and advised caution. He observed that if the President relieved General MacArthur it might be difficult to get pending military appropriations through Congress. General Bradley approached the question from the point of view of military discipline. He believed that MacArthur had acted in an insubordinate manner and that, consequently, he deserved to be relieved of his command. But he told Truman that he wished to talk with General Collins before making a final recommendation. Secretary Acheson believed that MacArthur should be relieved, but only after a unanimous decision to do so by the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

[39] (1) Ltr., Secy. Marshall to Sen. Russell, 17 Aug. 51, in MacArthur Hearings, pp. 3655-66. (2) Statement of Gen. MacArthur, 24 Mar. 51, in MacArthur Hearings, p. 3541.

[40] Truman, Memoirs, II, 441-42.

[41] (1) MacArthur Hearings, p. 113. (2) See also MacArthur, Reminiscences, pp. 385-86 and 389.

[42] Harriman was referring to MacArthur's plea in 1949 that he was too busy when requested to return to the United States to discuss matters concerning the occupation of Japan, and to subsequent difficulty in convincing MacArthur to withhold approval from a bill of the Japanese Diet which was contrary to the approved economic policy for the occupation. See Truman, Memoirs, II, 447.

President Truman had already decided to relieve General MacArthur but he kept this decision to himself for the time being. He asked all four of his advisers to return again the next day for more discussion, and directed Secretary Marshall to restudy all messages exchanged with General MacArthur in the past two years. The next morning, 7 April, the same group met again in President Truman's office. Secretary Marshall told the President that after reading all the messages he agreed with Harriman that MacArthur should have been relieved two years earlier. Before this brief meeting ended, President Truman directed General Bradley to obtain the views of the remaining Joint Chiefs of Staff and to be prepared to make a final recommendation on 9 April. [43]

General Bradley, General Collins, General Vandenberg, and Admiral Sherman met on the afternoon of 8 April in the Pentagon and discussed the military aspects of MacArthur's relief thoroughly. At the conclusion of this conference, these officers conferred briefly with Secretary Marshall. All of the Joint Chiefs of Staff agreed that from the military viewpoint the relief of General MacArthur should be carried out. General Collins, the Army Chief of Staff, later testified that he based his belief on two principal factors: first, he was convinced that General MacArthur was not in sympathy with the basic policies governing the operation of United Nations forces in Korea. "I felt," Collins stated, "that the President, as our Commander in Chief, was entitled to have as a commander in the field a man who was more in sympathy with the basic policies and more responsive to the will of the President as Commander in Chief." Collins felt, secondly, that MacArthur had failed to comply with the instructions given him directing him to clear any public statement that he made which involved matters of policy, particularly of foreign policy. [44]

After receiving the views of his principal advisers on 9 April, President Truman announced his decision to relieve General MacArthur of his commands in the Far East. General Ridgway was to replace MacArthur and Lt. Gen. James A. Van Fleet was to become the new commanding general of the Eighth Army.

The President originally intended to notify General MacArthur of his relief at 2000 Washington time on 11 April (1000 Tokyo time, 12 April). A message was sent to Secretary of the Army Pace, then visiting in Korea, telling him to deliver the relief message to MacArthur at his residence, the American Embassy in Tokyo, at the time indicated. But Secretary Pace failed to receive these instructions because of a breakdown in a communications power unit in Pusan. [45] In the meantime, late on 10 April, indications appeared that the action to be taken had become known publicly. It was then decided by President Truman to accelerate the transmission of the official notification to General MacArthur by approximately twenty hours. [46]

[43] Truman, Memoirs, II, 447-48.

[44] MacArthur Hearings, p. 1187.

According to General MacArthur, his first inkling that he had been relieved came from his wife. One of MacArthur's aides had heard the news on a radio broadcast and told Mrs. MacArthur who then informed her husband. The official notification, MacArthur claimed, did not reach him until half an hour later. [47] MacArthur immediately ordered General Hickey to telephone General Ridgway in Korea and to notify him of the change in command. He turned over to Hickey the functions of command until General Ridgway could leave the front and fly to Tokyo to take over in person. [48]

[45] MacArthur called the communications failure "incredible.... He [Pace] was in Korea at the moment in immediate message contact with my headquarters, which had similar contact with Washington." See MacArthur, Reminiscences, p. 395.

[46] MacArthur Hearings, p. 345.

[47] (1) Ibid., p. 155. (2) See also MacArthur, Reminiscences, p. 395.

[48] MacArthur Hearings, p. 155.

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