Weighing the Evidence

What Kind of Leader Was General Douglas MacArthur?


All documents and text associated with this activity are printed below, followed by a worksheet for student responses.

Introduction

General Douglas MacArthur’s military career spanned five decades. He graduated from West Point Military Academy in 1903 and served in World War I, World War II, and Korea. He was a controversial figure, however, and his military career ended when President Harry S. Truman decided to remove MacArthur from command during the Korean conflict. Closely examine each document. Fill in two different conclusions about MacArthur that someone looking at this evidence might draw. Then organize the evidence by placing the documents on the scale according to which interpretation they support.

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Brigadier General Douglas MacArthur cleaned up after the Germans left and restored what he could of the original splendor. He is seated in the original chair of the old lord of the chateau. St. Benoit Chteau, France

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General Douglas MacArthur signs as Supreme Allied Commander during formal surrender ceremonies on the USS MISSOURI in Tokyo Bay. Behind General MacArthur are Lieutenant General Jonathan Wainwright and Lieutenant General A. E. Percival

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General Douglas MacArthur wades ashore during initial landings at Leyte, Philippine Islands

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House of Representative remarks on President Harry S. Truman’s decision to replace General Douglas MacArthur as Supreme Commander, Allied Powers; Commander in Chief, United Nations Command; Commander in Chief, Far East; and Commanding General, United States Army, Far East

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House of Representative remarks on President Harry S. Truman’s decision to replace General Douglas MacArthur as Supreme Commander, Allied Powers; Commander in Chief, United Nations Command; Commander in Chief, Far East; and Commanding General, United States Army, Far East (page 2)

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House of Representative remarks on President Harry S. Truman’s decision to replace General Douglas MacArthur as Supreme Commander, Allied Powers; Commander in Chief, United Nations Command; Commander in Chief, Far East; and Commanding General, United States Army, Far East (page 3)

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House of Representative remarks on President Harry S. Truman’s decision to replace General Douglas MacArthur as Supreme Commander, Allied Powers; Commander in Chief, United Nations Command; Commander in Chief, Far East; and Commanding General, United States Army, Far East (page 4)

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House of Representative remarks on President Harry S. Truman’s decision to replace General Douglas MacArthur as Supreme Commander, Allied Powers; Commander in Chief, United Nations Command; Commander in Chief, Far East; and Commanding General, United States Army, Far East (page 5)

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House of Representative remarks on President Harry S. Truman’s decision to replace General Douglas MacArthur as Supreme Commander, Allied Powers; Commander in Chief, United Nations Command; Commander in Chief, Far East; and Commanding General, United States Army, Far East (page 6)

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House of Representative remarks on President Harry S. Truman’s decision to replace General Douglas MacArthur as Supreme Commander, Allied Powers; Commander in Chief, United Nations Command; Commander in Chief, Far East; and Commanding General, United States Army, Far East (page 7)

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List of Decorations and Service Medals Awarded to Douglas MacArthur

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MacArthur Returns to the Philippines [Etc.]

Watch this video.

Part 1, naval guns bombard the beaches of Leyte and carrier-based planes bomb the island defenses. The amphibious assault begins. Shows Gens. MacArthur and Wainwright and Adm. Halsey. Part 2, Red Cross personnel pack food parcels for Americans imprisoned in Germany. Part 3, cadets parade at Uruguay’s military academy in Montevideo. Part 4, a MARK I calculator at Harvard University solves math problems. Part 5, Marines capture pillboxes and dugouts on Peleliu Island. Part 6, the 5th Army breaks through the Gothic line in Italy behind artillery and tanks.

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Photograph of Douglas MacArthur

Additional Details on this Document from our Online Exhibit the Digital Vaults:

General Douglas MacArthur in 1932

Douglas MacArthur, one of America’s great warriors, had a military career that spanned half a century and ranged around much of the world. MacArthur served as chief of staff of the United States Army from 1930 to 1935.

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Presidential Proclamation 3579 of April 5, 1964, by President Lyndon B. Johnson announcing the death of General of the Army Douglas MacArthur

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Presidential Proclamation 3579 of April 5, 1964, by President Lyndon B. Johnson announcing the death of General of the Army Douglas MacArthur (page 2)

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Proposed Orders and Statement on Dismissal of General Douglas MacArthur

This document consists of orders from President Harry S. Truman relieving General Douglas MacArthur of his commands and designating General Matthew Ridgway as his successor, along with a statement explaining MacArthur’s dismissal.

Additional Details on this Document from our Online Exhibit the Digital Vaults:

Removing MacArthur

Formerly classified “Top Secret,” this document is President Harry Truman’s proposed order relieving Gen. Douglas MacArthur of his Korean War commands due to insubordination.

Text adapted from “Truman’s Firing of General Douglas MacArthur during the Korean War” in the November/December 2000 National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) publication Social Education.

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Proposed Orders and Statement on Dismissal of General Douglas MacArthur (page 2)

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Proposed Orders and Statement on Dismissal of General Douglas MacArthur (page 3)

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Telegram from General Omar Bradley to General Douglas MacArthur

Additional Details on this Document from our Online Exhibit the Digital Vaults:

Relieving MacArthur of his command

In June 1950, after North Korea invaded South Korea, General Douglas MacArthur was designated commander of the United Nations forces defending South Korea. He conceived and executed a brilliant and daring amphibious assault at Inchon for which he was hailed as a hero. Seven months later, President Truman fired him for making public statements that contradicted the official policies of the United States Government. In a statement explaining this action, President Truman said, “It is fundamental . . . that military commanders must be governed by the policies and directives issued to them in the manner prescribed by our laws and Constitution. In time of crises this consideration is particularly compelling.”

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The Douglas MacArthur Story

The first two minutes of this video are available for viewing.

The original release sheet reads:

A filmed biography of General of the Army Douglas MacArthur.

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Name ________________________
Class ________________________

What Kind of Leader Was General Douglas MacArthur?

Weighing the Evidence

Examine the documents and text included in this activity. Consider how each document does or does not support two opposing interpretations or conclusions. Fill in the topic or interpretations if they are not provided. To show how the documents support the different interpretations, enter the corresponding document number into the boxes near the interpretation. Write your conclusion response in the space provided.

Balance

Interpretation 1

Interpretation 2

General MacArthur’s Ability to Lead

Response

Weighing the Evidence

What Kind of Leader Was General Douglas MacArthur?


Conclusion

What historical interpretation did the evidence best support?

Why did you place the documents where you did?

Which evidence do you think carried the most weight?