The online tool for teaching with documents, from the National Archives

What Kind of Leader Was General Douglas MacArthur?

Weighing the Evidence

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.


Name:
Class:

Worksheet

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.

Interpretation 1

General MacArthur's Ability to Lead
Interpretation 2



1

Activity Element

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

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2

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Photograph of Douglas MacArthur

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3

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

Page 1



4

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MacArthur Returns to the Philippines [Etc.]

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5

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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

Page 1



6

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Proposed Orders and Statement on Dismissal of General Douglas MacArthur

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7

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Telegram from General Omar Bradley to General Douglas MacArthur

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8

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List of Decorations and Service Medals Awarded to Douglas MacArthur

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9

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The Douglas MacArthur Story

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10

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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

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11

Activity Element

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

Page 1



Conclusion

What Kind of Leader Was General Douglas MacArthur?

Weighing the Evidence

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?

Your Response




Document

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

9/19/1918

This primary source comes from the Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer.
National Archives Identifier: 530758
Full Citation: 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; 9/19/1918; Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer, . [Online Version, https://docsteach.org/documents/document/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-ch, December 3, 2022]


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

Page 2



Document

Photograph of Douglas MacArthur

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.
This primary source comes from the Records of the Army Staff.
National Archives Identifier: 2595283
Full Citation: Photograph of Douglas MacArthur; 1932; Records of the Army Staff, . [Online Version, https://docsteach.org/documents/document/photograph-of-douglas-macarthur, December 3, 2022]


Photograph of Douglas MacArthur

Page 2



Document

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

10/1944

This primary source comes from the Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer.
National Archives Identifier: 531424
Full Citation: General Douglas MacArthur wades ashore during initial landings at Leyte, Philippine Islands; 10/1944; Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer, . [Online Version, https://docsteach.org/documents/document/general-douglas-macarthur-wades-ashore-during-initial-landings-at-leyte-philippine-islands, December 3, 2022]


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

Page 1



Document

MacArthur Returns to the Philippines [Etc.]

1944

This newsreel shows: 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.

You can also watch this video in our main National Archives online catalog.
This primary source comes from the Records of the Office of War Information.
National Archives Identifier: 39033
Full Citation: Motion Picture 208-UN-126; MacArthur Returns to the Philippines [Etc.]; 1944; Motion Picture Films from "United News" Newsreels, 1942 - 1945; Records of the Office of War Information, ; National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD. [Online Version, https://docsteach.org/documents/document/macarthur-returns-philippines, December 3, 2022]


MacArthur Returns to the Philippines [Etc.]

Page 2



Document

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

9/2/1945

This primary source comes from the General Records of the Department of the Navy.
National Archives Identifier: 520694
Full Citation: 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; 9/2/1945; General Records of the Department of the Navy, . [Online Version, https://docsteach.org/documents/document/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-, December 3, 2022]


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

Page 1



Document

Proposed Orders and Statement on Dismissal of General Douglas MacArthur

4/11/1951

Formerly classified "Top Secret," this document is President Harry Truman's order relieving General Douglas MacArthur of his Korean War commands due to insubordination, and designating General Matthew Ridgway as his successor. It includes a statement explaining MacArthur's dismissal.

It was featured in the article “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.
This primary source comes from the Collection HST-PSF: President's Secretary's Files (Truman Administration), 1945 - 1960.
National Archives Identifier: 201516
Full Citation: Proposed Orders and Statement on Dismissal of General Douglas MacArthur; 4/11/1951; General Files, 1945 - 1953; Collection HST-PSF: President's Secretary's Files (Truman Administration), 1945 - 1960, ; Harry S. Truman Library, Independence, MO. [Online Version, https://docsteach.org/documents/document/dismissal-general-macarthur, December 3, 2022]


Proposed Orders and Statement on Dismissal of General Douglas MacArthur

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Proposed Orders and Statement on Dismissal of General Douglas MacArthur

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Proposed Orders and Statement on Dismissal of General Douglas MacArthur

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Document

Telegram from General Omar Bradley to General Douglas MacArthur

6/1950

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.”
This primary source comes from the Records of the Army Staff.
National Archives Identifier: 2595495
Full Citation: Telegram from General Omar Bradley to General Douglas MacArthur ; 6/1950; Records of the Army Staff, . [Online Version, https://docsteach.org/documents/document/telegram-from-general-omar-bradley-to-general-douglas-macarthur, December 3, 2022]


Telegram from General Omar Bradley to General Douglas MacArthur

Page 2



Document

List of Decorations and Service Medals Awarded to Douglas MacArthur

1957

This primary source comes from the Records of the Army Staff.
National Archives Identifier: 2595357
Full Citation: List of Decorations and Service Medals Awarded to Douglas MacArthur ; 1957; Records of the Army Staff, . [Online Version, https://docsteach.org/documents/document/list-of-decorations-and-service-medals-awarded-to-douglas-macarthur, December 3, 2022]


List of Decorations and Service Medals Awarded to Douglas MacArthur

Page 2



Document

The Douglas MacArthur Story

1950

You can also watch this video in our main National Archives online catalog.
This primary source comes from the Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer.
National Archives Identifier: 2569682
Full Citation: The Douglas MacArthur Story; 1950; Motion Picture Films From "The Big Picture" Television Program Series, ca. 1950 - ca. 1975; Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer, ; National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD. [Online Version, https://docsteach.org/documents/document/the-douglas-macarthur-story, December 3, 2022]


The Douglas MacArthur Story

Page 2



Document

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

4/11/1951

This primary source comes from the Records of the Army Staff.
National Archives Identifier: 299772
Full Citation: 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 ; 4/11/1951; Records of the Army Staff, . [Online Version, https://docsteach.org/documents/document/house-of-representative-remarks-on-president-harry-s-trumans-decision-to-replace-general-douglas-macarthur-as-supreme-commander-allied-powers-commander-in-chief-united-nations-command-commander-in-chi, December 3, 2022]


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

Page 1



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

Page 2



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

Page 3



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

Page 4



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

Page 5



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

Page 6



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

Page 7



Document

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

4/5/1964

This primary source comes from the General Records of the United States Government.
National Archives Identifier: 299980
Full Citation: Presidential Proclamation 3579 of April 5, 1964, by President Lyndon B. Johnson announcing the death of General of the Army Douglas MacArthur; 4/5/1964; General Records of the United States Government, . [Online Version, https://docsteach.org/documents/document/presidential-proclamation-3579-of-april-5-1964-by-president-lyndon-b-johnson-announcing-the-death-of-general-of-the-army-douglas-macarthur, December 3, 2022]


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

Page 1



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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