Douglas MacArthur

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MacArthur, Douglas

MacArthur, Douglas, 1880–1964, American general, b. Little Rock, Ark.; son of Arthur MacArthur.

Early Career

MacArthur was reared on army posts and attended military school in Texas. At West Point he achieved an outstanding scholastic record, and after graduation (1903) he served in the Philippines and in Japan. He was (1906–7) aide to President Theodore Roosevelt, a friend of his father, and was attached (1913–17) to the army general staff. After the United States entered World War I he fought in France, first as chief of staff of the 42d (Rainbow) Division and then, having been promoted (June, 1918) to brigadier general, as commander of the 84th Infantry Brigade.

As superintendent of West Point (1919–22) he helped modernize the academy's military training program. After holding various commands (1922–25) in the Philippines, he returned to the United States and served (1925) on the court-martial of Gen. William Mitchell. He was (1928–30) department commander in the Philippines and then served (1930–35) as chief of the general staff. In 1932 he provoked much criticism by personally commanding the troop action that evicted the Bonus Marchers from Washington. In the tense and threatening days of Japanese expansion President Franklin Delano Roosevelt appointed (1935) MacArthur head of the American military mission to the new Philippine Commonwealth. Accepting command of the Philippine military establishment, he retired (1937) from the U.S. army, but later returned to duty (July, 1941) to command U.S. armed forces in East Asia.

World War II

After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, MacArthur commanded the defense of the Philippines until Mar., 1942, when, under the orders of President Roosevelt, he left for Australia to take command of Allied forces in the Southwest Pacific. From Australia he launched the New Guinea campaign and later (Oct., 1944–July, 1945) directed the campaigns that led to the liberation of the Philippines. He was promoted (Dec., 1944) to the new rank of general of the army (five-star general). MacArthur accepted the surrender of Japan on the U.S.S. Missouri on Sept. 2, 1945. He was then named commander of the Allied powers in Japan and directed the Allied occupation of Japan. He was seriously considered for the Republican presidential nomination in 1948, but his defeat in the Wisconsin state primary discouraged his supporters.

The Korean War and After

At the beginning (1950) of the Korean War he was appointed commander of UN military forces in South Korea, while retaining his command of Allied forces in Japan. After driving the North Korean forces back over the 38th parallel, MacArthur received President Truman's permission to press into North Korea and advance all the way to the Yalu River—the border between North Korea and Communist China—despite warnings that this might provoke Chinese intervention. When China did intervene, causing the UN forces to fall back in disarray, MacArthur pressed for permission to bomb Chinese bases in Manchuria. Truman refused such permission and finally (after MacArthur had made the dispute public) removed him from command in Apr., 1951.

On his return to the United States, MacArthur was given a hero's welcome and invited to address a joint session of Congress. Another attempt to nominate MacArthur for the presidency was unsuccessful in 1952. Retired from active service, he became an officer of a large business corporation.


See biographies by D. C. James (3 vol., 1970–85), N. Finkelstein (1989), M. Schaller (1989), and G. Perret (1996); studies by C. Whitney (1956), J. W. Spanier (1959, repr. 1965), G. M. Long (1969), J. Clayton (1985), S. R. Taaffe (1998), S. Weintraub (2000) and (2007), S. Morris, Jr. (2014), and M. Perry (2014).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Macarthur, Douglas


Bom Jan. 26, 1880, in Little Rock, Ark.; died Apr. 5, 1964, in Washington, D. C. American military figure; general of the army (1944).

In 1903, MacArthur graduated from the US Military Academy at West Point. He took part in World War I (1914-18). In 1930-35 he was chief of staff of the US Army; in 1932 he directed the dispersal of participants in a march of unemployed war veterans on Washington. From 1935 to 1937, MacArthur served as military adviser in the Philippines; in 1936-37 he was field marshal of the Philippine Army. In 1941, MacArthur was appointed commander of the American armed forces in the Far East. From 1942 to 1951 he was supreme commander of the allied troops in the Southwest Pacific area. In 1945-51 he was commander of the occupation troops in Japan.

From July 1950 to April 1951, MacArthur directed the operations of the armed forces of the interventionists in the aggressive war against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. In April 1951, as a result of the failures of American troops in Korea, he was removed from all command responsibilities by President H. Truman. In 1952, MacArthur began his career in big business; he was chairman of the board of the Remington Rand Corporation (until 1955) and the Sperry Rand Corporation (from 1955).

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

MacArthur, Douglas

(1909–  ) diplomat; born in Bryn Mawr, Pa. (nephew of General Douglas MacArthur). As a diplomatic secretary to Vichy France, he was imprisoned for 16 months by the Germans. He was a State Department counselor and ambassador to Japan (1957–61) where he negotiated a second security pact between Japan and the U.S.A. He was ambassador to Belgium (1961–65), Austria (1967–69), and Iran (1969–72). He later served as a business consultant.

MacArthur, Douglas

(1880–1964) soldier; born in Little Rock, Ark. The son of a Union army hero during the Civil War (they are the only father and son to win the Congressional Medal of Honor) and a mother ambitious for his success, he graduated from West Point in 1903, rose steadily in the army, and demonstrated his bravado on a secret mission to Mexico in 1914. In World War I he commanded a brigade in combat in France (1918), where he earned a reputation for bravery (wounded three times) as well as foppery—he carried a muffler and a riding crop into the line, but not a helmet or a gas mask. After serving as the superintendent of West Point (1919–22), he completed his second tour of duty in the Philippines. Appointed army chief of staff in 1930 (the youngest ever), he offended liberal-minded people by characterizing as "communists" the Bonus Army veterans he evicted from Washington in 1932. From 1935–41 he served as the military adviser to the Philippine government; in July 1941 he was named commander of U.S. forces in the Far East; overwhelmed by the Japanese after Pearl Harbor, he was ordered to leave his forces on Bataan peninsula (with his promise, "I shall return!") and go to Australia. From 1942 to 1945, as commander of the Southwest Pacific area, MacArthur organized an island-hopping offensive that resulted in the return of U.S. forces to the Philippines in October 1944. As supreme commander of the Allied powers, he presided over the Japanese surrender on September 2, 1945. As military governor of Japan (1945–50), he was a benevolent dictator in forcing Japan to purge itself of its militarism and to adopt more democratic ways. On the outbreak of the Korean War in July 1950, he became commander of United Nations forces in Korea, in which capacity he directed the Inchon offensive that forced the invading North Koreans to surrender most of their gains. When Chinese forces began fighting alongside the North Koreans in November 1950, he forcefully advocated an extension of the war into China. This led to conflict with President Truman, who relieved MacArthur from command on April 11, 1951. This caused great controversy; MacArthur returned home to the hero's welcome he had not yet enjoyed and concluded his address to Congress with his citation of an old military song, "Old soldiers never die, they just fade away." Talk of his running for president came to nothing, and after serving as chairman of the board of Remington Rand, Inc., he lived out his final years as a much-honored hero. Flamboyant, vain—some would say pompous—and bold, he ranks as an imaginative, sometimes brilliant military commander; his troops generally respected him for the care he took with their lives. But most observers agree that his political instincts were stillborn and his ambitions, perhaps fortunately, were kept in check by his superiors.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
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