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Copy of letter from General Douglas MacArthur to Representative Joseph William Martin Jr. of Massachusetts, March 20, 1951

Writing to House Minority Leader Joseph William Martin Jr. of Massachusetts, General Douglas MacArthur argued for expanding the war against communism in Asia. MacArthur advocated military victory, which contradicted President Harry S. Truman’s plan to contain communism with a negotiated peace. Martin read the letter aloud on the House floor on April 5, 1951. Six days later, the president fired MacArthur.

Harry S. Truman Library and Museum

Copy of letter from General Douglas MacArthur to Representative Joseph William Martin Jr. of Massachusetts, March 20, 1951

Congress Investigates General MacArthur’s Dismissal

In 1950 President Harry S. Truman appointed war hero General Douglas MacArthur as supreme commander of United Nations (UN) forces in Korea. When the conflict between UN-backed South Korea and Chinese-supported North Korea reached a stalemate, MacArthur publicly challenged the president’s strategy to end the war through diplomacy. Truman fired MacArthur, but popular support for MacArthur prompted a Senate investigation of the Korean conflict and the Far East. The investigation confirmed Truman’s authority over MacArthur but reemphasized congressional war powers.

In 1951 Congress investigated whether President Harry S. Truman acted within his powers when he fired General Douglas MacArthur––and concluded that he did.