Oral History Interview with
Executive Officer to Chief of Operations, Office of the Chief of Transportation, U.S. Army, and Deputy Commander of the Port of Manila, during World War II; Consultant, Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees, 1946-47; staff consultant on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, 1947-50; member of the Policy Planning Staff, U.S. 'State Department, 1950-53. Since 1953 Dr. Marshall has served in various capacities as an adviser, professor and author specializing in international studies and policy-making.
Charles Burton Marshall
June 21, 1989 and June 23, 1989
by Niel M. Johnson
[|Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | List of Subjects Discussed]
This is a transcript of a tape-recorded interview conducted for the Harry S. Truman Library. A draft of this transcript was edited by the interviewee but only minor emendations were made; therefore, the reader should remember that this is essentially a transcript of the spoken, rather than the written word.
Numbers appearing in square brackets (ex. ) within the transcript indicate the pagination in the original, hardcopy version of the oral history interview.
This oral history transcript may be read, quoted from, cited, and reproduced for purposes of research. It may not be published in full except by permission of the Harry S. Truman Library.
Opened February, 1992
Harry S. Truman Library
[Top of the Page |Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | List of Subjects Discussed]
Oral History Interview with
Charles Burton Marshall
June 21, 1989
by Niel M. Johnson
Topics discussed include the Truman Committee (Senate Special Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program); logistics of war; Army transportation policy in World War II; policies and procedures of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs in the postwar period; Point IV program; Marshall plan; theories and policies regarding foreign aid; Mutual Defense Assistance program; Statement of the Managers regarding military assistance legislation; the "China lobby;" Korean aid bill of 1949; U.S. intervention in the Korean War; theories concerning foreign policy; U.S. communication with the Peoples Republic of China during the Korean war; U.S.-Chinese relations; dismissal of General MacArthur; cooperative planning by Joint Chiefs of Staff and State Department during Korean war; prisoner-of-war issue during the Korean war; personality of General Douglas MacArthur; NSC-68; U.S. strategic plans, 1950-54; theories of deterrence; Psychological Strategy Board; critique of "psychological warfare;" Operations Coordinating Board; loyalty controversy involving Jesse McKnight; Herter Committee; report of the Foreign Affairs Committee recommending the European Recovery Program to the Congress; and war aims in a nuclear age.
Names mentioned include S.L.A. ("Slam") Marshall, Charles Timm, William Y. Elliot, Charles McIlwain, Robert H. Wylie, George Pettee, Thomas Jefferson Davis, General Douglas MacArthur, Paul Nitze, Charles Eaton, Sol Bloom, John Kee, Abraham Ribicoff, John Vorys, Robert Chiperfield, James Webb, Thurman Chatham, Walter Rostow, James P. Richards, Homer Ferguson, Lawrence Smith, John Davis Lodge, Karl E. Mundt, George C. Marshall, Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Joe Martin, Charles Halleck, Leslie Arends, Helen Gahagan Douglas, Andrei Vyshinsky, George Kennan, Herbert Feis, Dean Acheson, Phil Watts, Jack Everett, Felix Frankfurter, George Taylor, Saben Chase, Charles Bohlen, John Foster Dulles, E. Saquez de Breuvery, Louis Johnson, Omar Bradley, Robert Tufts, John Hull, Joe Collins, Forrest Sherman, William Fechteler, Ted Clifton, Geoffrey Blainey, L.C. Stevens, Charles D. Jackson,
Roger Hilsman, Arnold Wolfers, Kilbourne Johnston, Andrei Gromyko, Jesse McKnight, George Jaeger, John Lord O'Brien, Bethel Webster, George Ball, Ernest Gross, Boyd Crawford, Howard Piquet, Doris Leone, and Jim Cooley .
Donor: Charles Burton Marshall
Copyright: Donated to the Government of the United States
JOHNSON: Dr. Marshall, first of all I'd like to ask you where you were born, when you were born and what your parents' names were.
MARSHALL: I was born in Catskill, New York, on March 25, 1908. That makes me 81 years old now. My father was Caleb C. Marshall, born in Shropshire, England. He emigrated to the United States at the age of 16. My mother was Alice Medora Beeman; she was born in Shiloh
JOHNSON: Shiloh Valley.
MARSHALL: Yes, which is in the neighborhood of East St. Louis.
JOHNSON: What was your father's occupation?
MARSHALL: My father wound up as a brick manufacturer.
Actually he was from a working class background in England. He had left school after four years and gone to work as a day laborer at the age of 11. My mother had finished grammar school. Her father was a country school teacher, principally.
JOHNSON: Your father emigrated from England at the age of 16.
MARSHALL: Yes, the whole family. The family was working class, non-conformist, and republican. They just had a natural preference for the idea of the United States, and they moved here to the United States. Curious to recall, I was the only member of my family ever to finish high school. My late brother dropped out of high school at the end of his third year and went into the Army in World War I. He became a rather notable military historian, S.L.A. Marshall.
JOHNSON: Is he your brother?
MARSHALL: Yes. Rather, he was.
JOHNSON: "Slam" Marshall.
MARSHALL: The home life was a simple one. My parents were meticulous about the use of the English language, and they were people rather rigorously Christian and . . .
JOHNSON: What denomination were they?
JOHNSON: How many brothers and sisters did you have?
MARSHALL: There were two sisters and three brothers. Three of us survived childhood. My brother Sam (that was S.L.A. Marshall), died in 1977 at age 77. My sister is 90 years old and is still living in Albuquerque, New Mexico. So I was the fifth of six children.
I was stricken at about age four with what was diagnosed as rheumatism of the heart. I had what they called a sickly childhood; I spent a lot of time in bed and couldn't run and couldn't walk upstairs fast, and all that sort of thing, and didn't attend public school. I was instructed at home by my elder sister, the one that still survives at age 90.
My health cleared up completely at age 12. I coached hard for a couple of years and entered school for the first time at high school. That is an important detail there in my own life. Getting ready to enter high school, I studied very, very industriously. I read Whitney and Lockwood's English Grammar and studied it in detail, and [I studied] Scott and Wooley's College Rhetoric. I learned how to write so that I didn't have to re-draft. I entered high school with great trepidation, thinking I was going to be handicapped. That turned out not to be the case at
all. High school was just a real breeze for me. At the end of my first year of high school, my older brother was working on newspapers at that time and he got me a job as a cub reporter. I worked my way through high school then and through college and graduate school, working on newspapers. I learned to write at one draft.
JOHNSON: Where was it you got educated, then; where did you go to high school and college?
MARSHALL: At El Paso High School.
MARSHALL: And then three years at Texas College of Mines and Metallurgy, but I was not studying mining. I just went there because that was the economical thing to do. I finished college at the University of Texas. The Depression had overtaken the country and it was impossible to find a job of any sort in the newspaper business. So I stayed on and did graduate work at the University of Texas and worked for a professor named Charles Timm, who had some research money; I became his research assistant.
I want to mention one other circumstance from those early years. Having had a very protective childhood, I was very innocent. I didn't even know any
bad words when I started school. At the end of that first year of high school, I went to work as a cub reporter covering the police station in El Paso. I spent the summer getting acquainted with prostitutes and pimps and dope pushers and dope addicts and child molesters and wife beaters, and every kind of person you could imagine. That was a great educational experience for such an innocent child and it completely cured me of any idea I might have had that human nature is naturally good. That's about the silliest idea I can think of.
JOHNSON: Of course, the Baptists weren't exactly preaching the inherent goodness of human nature either were they? You were raised in a Baptist household, sort of like Harry Truman?
MARSHALL: Yes, that's correct.
In my second year of college, though, which was at the Texas College of Mines and Metallurgy in El Paso, I was trying to broaden out a little bit. I played a lot of poker and did a lot of visiting to Juarez and tried to be one of the boys. The result was a little bit of scholastic deficiency that I had to make up in my last year of college, which I spent in Austin at the University of Texas. I was working at night on the Austin American, working on the copy desk from about 9
p.m. to 2 in the morning. It occurred to me that it was a good idea--I should interrupt myself to say I was having to take six subjects to make up for my neglect of studies in my second year--and it occurred to me that it was a good idea to schedule my six classes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday so I could sleep as late as I wanted to on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. The only way I could round out my schedule was to take a course in international relations. That was of determinative importance because the professor and I hit it off in a kind of an interesting interaction. He was the one who took me on as a research assistant.
JOHNSON: What was his name?
MARSHALL: Charles Timm. Timm really did not know how to do his work on this research project and he really didn't know how to get ahead and get things done, and so I was more of an entrepreneur, if I can use that term here, than he was in these things. He felt much obligated to me, and he wrote letters and made telephone calls that got me a grant to do graduate study further, a grant from the Carnegie Endowment.
Well, the Depression was on, and I couldn't find a job. So, for the lack of something else to do, I went up to Harvard and did graduate work and eventually took a Ph.D. at Harvard.
JOHNSON: In international relations?
MARSHALL: International law is what I wrote my thesis in, but it was in the field of government.
JOHNSON: Who was the most influential instructor you had up there at Harvard, or did anyone in particular have that much influence on you?
MARSHALL: Well, one that had very great influence on me was W. Y. Elliot, but I never had a course from him. I gave two courses with him when I became an instructor at Harvard and at Radcliffe. Bill Elliot was a true friend and took a very great interest in me and in helping me along. Bill Elliot was the greatest influence, but not from the standpoint of classwork.
It is hard to say who was the most influential among my teachers at Harvard. I suppose [it would have been] probably Charles McIlwain, who was a very distinguished professor of political theory. I never really got acquainted with McIlwain, but he was a marvelous source as a professor.
JOHNSON: What year are we talking about?
MARSHALL: I was a graduate student at Harvard from 1934 to 1936. I returned to Harvard as an instructor and wrote my Ph.D. thesis. I returned in 1938. I stayed on at Harvard until 1942, the end of the summer in 1942.
I had a very heavy schedule of obligations at Harvard that last year. I might interrupt here to say
I had married in 1937 in the interval when I was not attending Harvard, not instructing there. When Pearl Harbor came along, without any question in my mind, I was going to go into the military service as soon as I had finished my obligations at Harvard, which carried me through the summer session. That was a very heavy year of work for me, because so many people had gone off into Washington activities from Harvard. So I found myself with an extraordinary number of tutorial students and doctoral examinations to sit on, theses to direct, and I was one of the two examiners for the whole Government Department. I was also the examiner in French and German for graduate students in that department. I was just very, very busy but I finished my obligations at the end of the summer session, and I wrote off to the Army and the Navy. I was married and had a child by that time, and I was interested in doing the best for myself as I could. The Navy responded to my request immediately, and I was set up to become a lieutenant junior grade in the Navy. The only thing that got in the way was that I had a degree of temperature when they gave me the physical examination, and I was told to come back a week later.
During that week, W.Y. Elliot came back to
Cambridge from his Washington activities. He called me up, talked to my then wife, found out that I was about to go into the Navy, and told her, "For God's sake tell him not to do anything of the sort. If he goes into the Navy he'll just be carrying a briefcase for an Admiral. He must go into the Army." He fixed up some appointments for me in Washington when I got in touch with him. I went down to Washington, and I talked to people, and here was Brigadier General Wylie, who was Director of Operations in Army Transportation. He received me and talked to me about two hours, and he cordially invited me into the Army. I said, "Well, where will I be serving?" He said, "At this next desk; I want you for my executive officer." So I thought if I could go into the Army as Executive Officer to a man who had a general's grade and so on, that would beat lounging around in the replacement depot. So I went into the Army with Wylie, and spent most of the war with him. I served in the Pentagon, but wound up in the Southwest Pacific where I eventually became the Deputy Commander of the port at Manila.
JOHNSON: Where were you on April 12, 1945 when Roosevelt died?
MARSHALL: I was still in the Pentagon. I remember that very well. Colonel Heiskell, who had heard the news by
radio, came into the room and said the President is dead, and we were all much touched by that. I was in the E-ring of the Pentagon at that time. It was a very short time later that I then went over to the Southwest Pacific.
JOHNSON: Had you paid much attention to the Truman Committee in '41, '42, well, up to '44?
MARSHALL: Oh, a good deal of attention. Here I may disappoint you. I thought it was kind of a nuisance, and that was the general view around the office where I was in the Pentagon. Yet, I must say in retrospect that I think it was a very useful committee, but sometimes you have a very great difficulty explaining the problems of logistics to such a committee.
JOHNSON: The branch of the Army that you were in was Transportation?
MARSHALL: Yes, but we were dealing with the large questions of logistics.
JOHNSON: Was that a G-3 or . . .
MARSHALL: No, we were not in G-3; this is the Army Service Forces, and G-3 is the general staff, corresponding.
JOHNSON: The Ordnance Corps was a part of that Army Service Forces.
MARSHALL: That is right. That was [General Brehon B.] Sommervell's part of the Pentagon.
JOHNSON: Did you ever testify or ever have to write up anything for the Truman Committee?
MARSHALL: Oh, I got involved in certain questions which were Truman Committee questions, and there was sort of a parallel committee by the way that I did very definitely get involved with. It wasn't the Truman Committee, but it was a committee that was headed by a Senator from West Virginia.
JOHNSON: Harley Kilgore?
MARSHALL: Kilgore, yes. In a way this is perhaps too much of a digression, but let me just make one point about the Truman Committee. Just a sample sort of a question. One of the great items in demand, in short supply, was copra. Down in New Caledonia there were tens of thousands of tons of copra lying around with no place to go, and yet we were bringing ships into New Caledonia and unloading them and taking them out empty, and not loading them with copra. That was outrageous in the mind of the Truman Committee. Imagine bringing empty ships home when all that copra was lying around in the sun and that item was in short supply.
The problem was this; that was a point at which
you were transloading from big ships to small craft in order to supply the operation at Guadalcanal. You were using all your port capacity for that, and if you stopped to pick up copra to bring it home, you would have lost the Battle of Guadalcanal.
JOHNSON: It was a priority of cargos?
MARSHALL: Of course. You get into similar questions when you are sending ships that are not completely loaded out on convoys. It's better to send a three-quarter load out on this convoy than to wait for another three weeks in order to load fully, and so on. I don't want to get into a lot of detail on this.
JOHNSON: So you had mixed feelings about the Truman Committee.
MARSHALL: Well, it was one of those things you had to educate all the time of what were the problems of logistics, but the Truman Committee was not alone like that. You had a devil of a time educating the general staff of the Army
JOHNSON: An educational job, it sounds like. .
MARSHALL: Well, let us put it this way--in logistic problems, the thing you have to do is get an even flow that you can keep. Don't try to be perfectionist; keep
the thing going. If you start trying to match cargo to ship so that, let's say, we'll put all of our exigent cargo into fast ships and then the routine cargo into slow ships, that just gets you all tied up. What you have to do is keep the lines clear, keep things going at a pace that you can sustain.
JOHNSON: So this is part of the experience that affected, apparently, your political philosophy too. "The best is the enemy of the good, or the perfectionist . . ."
MARSHALL: Well, I think so, but between Washington and the experience of Manila, I learned a lot. I learned about the whole logistical picture of conducting war, and the idea of getting the even pace that you can sustain rather than to get into a rush. You have got to get things into rhythm that you can sustain. That's the important thing.
And another thing fascinating to me about the World War II experience is--you engage your mind with a problem that you'd never before engaged it with, at all.
JOHNSON: Learn new things.
MARSHALL: Learn new things. And learn how to operate in a field in which you're a tyro.
Well, I was unemployed [after leaving the military
service]. I couldn't make enough money at teaching. I had a lot of terminal leave and I looked and looked and looked for a job. I couldn't get on anybody's payroll. Finally, the Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees, which was a Switzerland-based outfit, but it had a Washington branch, was looking for somebody that knew something about transportation. They had a big operation that they were trying to get underway with, of moving displaced persons out of Europe. That quest got back to General Wylie, whom I had worked for in World War II. Wylie had me in mind and mentioned me, and I went to work for the Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees.
JOHNSON: What was his first name, Wylie?
MARSHALL: Robert Howard Wylie. Wylie was a good man. I was very fond of him. He had two weaknesses; one of them was women, and the other one was whiskey. But those weaknesses aside, I would have to say I found him a very able man. I learned one thing very important from Wylie. Soon after I went to work for him--I was a captain then and he was a Brigadier General--I went into Wylie with a question, to ask him what to do about something. Wylie said, "Marshall, I brought you in here because I thought you were smart. I brought you in here to tell me what to do, not to ask me what to
do." That's something that just stayed in my mind ever since; the boss is somebody you tell what to do.
JOHNSON: He turned the tables on you.
MARSHALL: That was one of the big lessons of my life. The boss is somebody you tell what to do.
JOHNSON: That was something, all right. He deferred to your judgment because you apparently had had the kind of expertise he needed.
MARSHALL: I don't think he was deferring to my judgment; he was saying, "You go out and find out what to do and don't bother me with the question. You don't see me about it until you know what to do and then you tell me what to do. "Wylie's idea is, "I brought you in here not to present problems to me; I brought you in here to solve problems before they get to me."
JOHNSON: Identify the problem yourself.
MARSHALL: Anyway, I was out of the Army and unemployed, but finally I got on this job, in the Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees. I knew it was a temporary job, but it makes a lot of difference if you get a job; that is, if you're on somebody's payroll, then it isn't so hard to get on somebody else's payroll.
JOHNSON: What kind of duties did you have? Were you a
consultant to this committee?
MARSHALL: Yes, I told them how you operate ships, how many people you can put on one, what it is going to cost you, and what kind of a schedule you can go on. Actually, our plan was to use Army transports to haul displaced persons out of Europe, to Canada or to Brazil, or to Australia, wherever they were going. I prepared the letters that go over to the Pentagon, to get people interested in the idea of leasing Army transports for this effort and so on. So there was a lot of work to do. Here was a problem to be solved, and then you weren't going to spend any more time at it. But it certainly eased my situation to get on somebody's payroll.
I took an oral examination for collateral entry into the Foreign Service, and that was an interesting experience to me. I verified this later, and found out that I had gone to the top of the list of candidates.
I met a board of seven very senior Foreign Service officers, and all of the members of that board were later colleagues of mine in the State Department. At that moment I was the applicant, and the first question they asked me was what was the largest number of people that had ever worked under my authority or direction, or something of that sort. I said, "Oh, about 22,000." Well, that was a better number than any of them could
come up with. They asked me how I ever had that many people under my charge, and I said, "Well, I was Deputy Commander of the Port of Manila; that's the last job I had in the Army and when the port commander wasn't there, I was in charge. That was the number of military exclusive of Filipino civilians and Japanese prisoners of war working for us." That was an impressive number. So, the scrutiny was over; it was just a chat among equals from there on.
So I was nominated for the Foreign Service, Class IV I believe it was, and confirmed by the Senate. I had to turn down the commission, because my wife (now deceased) was beginning to show definite signs of mental breakdown. I just couldn't be moving around the world. There was a day when I went to tell the people in charge of the Foreign Service, thanked them for the commission, and told them that, as much as I regretted it, I had to decline the commission for which I'd been confirmed by the Senate.
I'm pretty lucky about these things. I left the State Department and got as far as Connecticut Avenue, wondering what I was going to do next. A taxi stopped, and here was W.Y. Elliot in it. He said, "Come on and get in." So he said, "How would you like to work as staff consultant to the Committee on Foreign Affairs?" "That's fine. How much will it pay?" He said, "Well,
it's a five digit figure," probably . . .
JOHNSON: That was quite a bit of money in those days.
MARSHALL: Gee, was that good news to me! Well, within half an hour we were up at the Capitol, I had met the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and I was hired.
JOHNSON: I have the names here of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, such as Sol Bloom, John Kee, Helen Gahagan Douglas, and Mike Mansfield.
JOHNSON: Is there anyone here that's especially notable that you worked with, or that . . .
MARSHALL: Oh, I worked with all of them, except Sol Bloom. These things sound so boastful; I'm almost embarrassed to say these things. I went to work in the 80th Congress. Now, that was Republican.
JOHNSON: What Truman called the "do-nothing, good-for-nothing Congress."
MARSHALL: Yes, that was a kind of a libel. As far as the Committee on Foreign Affairs was concerned, it certainly was a libel. I think the Committee on Foreign Affairs was a very supportive committee, and I think it did a very fine job. After all, that's the
committee that reported the Marshall Plan and led the House into approving it.
JOHNSON: That's right. In foreign policy a lot was done; it was on domestic policy where I think Truman had his problems with the 80th Congress.
JOHNSON: So you were in the cockpit here, so to speak.
MARSHALL: Well, now, Bill Elliot, in addition to his duties at Harvard, had been taken on as staff director for that committee. He had got me; he also got George Pettee, and a third fellow that really was a ringer. I forget his name now, but he was of no value at all. He was one that was recommended by some Princeton professor.
Now, I knew how to get along with Congressmen--to treat them as clients, to cultivate them.
JOHNSON: You started in '47. Do you remember what month?
MARSHALL: June 1, 1947.
JOHNSON: All right, but first we have something involving your work with the Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees.
MARSHALL: I had a colleague there, who was Thomas Jefferson
Davis, a recently retired brigadier general. He had been Douglas MacArthur's aide for fourteen years, and he filled me in on Douglas MacArthur. Years later, in connection with something that I explain here, I made a memorandum of everything Davis told me about Douglas MacArthur.
JOHNSON: Maybe we can put this in our Miscellaneous Historical Documents Collection at the Truman Library.
MARSHALL: You can if you wish. Here is an impression of Douglas MacArthur that is very different from what the public grasped of the man then. Some of this had begun to come out about it, but from Davis I picked up the idea of MacArthur as the insecure man with a compensatory personality, trying to hide his insecurities.
JOHNSON: Do you want to put your name on this so that we know that you are the writer of this?
MARSHALL: Well, it's initialed up here, "From CBM"
JOHNSON: Well, we'll write it out so that we . . .
MARSHALL: I'll just write "C.B. Marshall" right here.
JOHNSON: Okay that's fine.
MARSHALL: I was reading the uncorrected proof of Paul Nitze's memoirs yesterday, and I read one paragraph
aloud to my wife. He explains in this particular paragraph, which I think occurs on page 102 of his uncorrected book, that after the Korean war had started, the U. S. had cooked up a paper with the British and the French, calling on the President to designate the commander of U.N. forces in the Far East. Nitze relates that Burt Marshall--he calls me by the name I go by there in the book--that Burt Marshall took one look at that and came to him and said, "This is a terrible mistake; we've got to get this corrected. You can't let this fellow think he's got two hats to wear. This fellow is too unreliable, and he is independent to the point of being insubordinate." That's what Nitze says. I said it much stronger than that. I said, "This fellow is a kind of a nut. This fellow has got something really wrong with him, and this is going to be terrible. You know there's going to be a real problem with this fellow. For God's sake, this thing is wrong; it should designate the President as commander and authorize him to designate his deputy in the field."
MARSHALL: Now, MacArthur would surely exploit this ambiguity about the chain of command. Nitze relates how we tried to get the thing changed, but it was too
late. Anyway, it was out of that long acquaintance with T.J. Davis, in the Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees, that I picked up this index to MacArthur's character. This is what I had in mind that day when I said, "You can't--this is wrong."
JOHNSON: We'll get back to MacArthur and his firing by Truman too.
MARSHALL: Oh, yes, we'll get back to that. But I just wanted to mention this.
Let's go ahead now to the Committee on Foreign Affairs. I knew how to get along with Congressmen; I knew how to cultivate them. I think I had a certain advantage in having just corning out of the Army as a lieutenant colonel. I was never cowed by working with Congress, for Congressmen. I really leveled with them.
Now, I never helped them on with their overcoats; I wouldn't carry their briefcase for anything in the world. You can't afford ever to get that kind of relationship with Congressmen. Talk right back to them. If they try to intimidate you, intimidate them back. Do things for them, but by golly always let them know you're doing it as a favor, not because you're obliged to do it, and so on.
Another thing that stood me in good stead is this--that I do not have to rewrite; I still don't have to.
I mentioned that earlier on. When I wrote my Ph.D. thesis it was the first draft that went to the bindery. Later on, when I was a professor, I used to tell the students that this was the standard by which one should write. I said, "Learn to make it right the first time you set it down. Don't write something that you're going to have to correct. Write it right." I used to tell them, "You don't take a bath that way; you get clean the first dip in the tub."
Anyway, I was able to just turn out a big volume of stuff.
JOHNSON: What were you doing for the committee specifically? What kind of work did you do for them?
MARSHALL: Oh, gad, that's so hard to explain. Again, one sounds so egotistical when one explains stuff like that.
JOHNSON: Well, they hired you for a job, didn't they? Did you kind of define your own job to a certain extent, or did you wait for them to initiate that?
MARSHALL: Well, let me explain here. Again, with due apologies, I tell you that being staff man at the Congress is a job you almost have to abuse; you almost have to assume more authority than you properly have. Hedrick Smith makes this point in his book on the
"Power Game." I was reading it within the last week and he makes that point; it's just inherent in the job. But let me explain a little bit about the chairman. When I went to work, the chairman of the committee in the 80th Congress was Charles Eaton of New Jersey. Eaton was a grand character, a grand man. Let me explain a little bit about his background. Back in the early 1900s he had been the prime Protestant minister in the United States. He was born in Canada; he had come to the U.S. to be pastor of the Shaker Heights Baptist Church in Cleveland. He had gone from that job to be pastor of the Park Avenue Church in New York. Then along about 1914 or '15, somewhere like that, Eaton's wife had been stricken. She had become paralyzed; she had become immobilized; she was just a complete basket case of some sort. Eaton struck up a liaison with his secretary, but he couldn't face his congregation anymore. He was living in adultery, and so he resigned from his church.
President Wilson appointed him the labor arbiter in the shipbuilding industry in World War I. That gave him something useful to do and was a source of income for him. Eaton after the war was prevailed upon by the Republican leaders of his district--I think it was Union County, New Jersey--to run for Congress, and he was elected. He stayed on and on in Congress. He
lived a very frugal life, because then there were no insurance policies or other resources to take care of that ailing wife who was in need of custodial care. Eaton was dearly loved by his secretary; he was very, very grateful and beholden to her. He and she told me about all this, about their long love affair, on--I think--his 84th birthday. They had a very small dinner party and invited me, and on this occasion they told me about all this. Eaton lived in very simple lodgings. He rode a streetcar up to the Capitol, had only two or three suits, and ate his dinners at Dole's Cafeteria, because so much of his income went into taking care of that wife who lived on year after year, unconscious, immobilized. Eaton had one goal in life: to stay in Congress long enough to enable that secretary to qualify for a pension. That meant 30 years. He was awfully tired.
JOHNSON: It took 30 years to earn a pension?
MARSHALL: Yes. Eaton said that when she finally got her pension, he was going to be through. He thought he would probably drop dead. That was about as it would happen. He died very soon after she qualified. Eaton was a charming man and a very fine person. I admired him tremendously, but Eaton had to do a lot of resting. He was really over the hill in respect of vigor, though
still bright in mind.
JOHNSON: He was chairman, though, of the Foreign Affairs committee?
JOHNSON: I see his name on here, Charles A. Eaton.
MARSHALL: Yes. He is listed there as senior Republican. After the 80th Congress, the Democrats came back in. [Sol] Bloom returned as chairman. The committee in a quiet way despised Bloom. Bloom tried to fire everybody that the Republicans had hired during the 80th Congress. He succeeded with one exception—I'm talking about the professional staff. He got only one committee member to go along with him on firing me, and that was the number two man on the committee, John Kee. The rest of them all voted Bloom down on the idea of firing me. So my colleagues moved on.
JOHNSON: So you're the only one who survived the purge, so to speak?
MARSHALL: Yes. Bloom never spoke to me again. I'd meet him in the elevator and he would not say, "Good Morning." He'd look the other way.
JOHNSON: Had you been known as a partisan Republican, or even as a Republican?
MARSHALL: No. I was a Democrat then. I don't call myself a Democrat now, but I was then. As I said before, I hit it off with that committee.
JOHNSON: Well, why would they try to fire you if you were a Democrat?
MARSHALL: Just because the Republicans had hired met that's But Bloom didn't succeed.
All right now, Bloom soon dropped dead, an event that the committee members in general took with, I think, the spirit of a small boy waking up on Christmas morning. They personally just didn't care a damn for Bloom.
JOHNSON: Do you remember what his relations were with the President?
MARSHALL: I don't have any idea at all. But Bloom was succeeded by Kee. Now Kee was a very nice old gentleman. The committee liked him, but Kee was a narcotic addict. He had got onto narcotics in some illness, and narcotics got a hold on him. Kee had no authority with that committee whatsoever; he could deliver only one vote. He didn't have the energy, or the voice of command; he didn't have anything. There wasn't anything villainous about him; he was a hell of a nice fellow, but way over the hill.
When we got to the second session of the 8lst Congress, there was a real difference between Kee and me on how to legislate. I knew my way around the Capitol; I talked to a lot of Congressmen, and I had a sense of what the political situation was. My view was that the committee could not again do what it had done in the preceding three sessions, through the 80th Congress and the first session of the 8lst. It could not take six or seven or eight separate authorization bills to the House. The House was tired of hearing this committee come up with successive bills to authorize diversions of funds from the treasury. The House just was not going to put up with it. I told the Committee something like this, "We are going to have one crack at it. We've got to get every big authorization bill and make it a section of one big authorization--an omnibus foreign aid bill." Kee, strongly advised by the State Department, thought that was a bad, bad idea. The State Department legislative people thought the various claims on the treasury would tend to sink each other. My idea was they would keep each other afloat. Anyway, the committee considered and voted overwhelmingly on my side of the issue. I said to myself then, "Gad, here I am, a flunky of the committee, and they are voting for me on a difference with the chairman on what's really the chairman's
business. I had better quit here while I'm ahead."
JOHNSON: You're talking about '48?
MARSHALL: No, this is '50.
JOHNSON: Oh, this is 1950.
MARSHALL: Now, we're in the second session of the 8lst Congress. So I looked around for a berth to go to.
JOHNSON: But now, before we leave that committee, you mentioned, of course, the Marshall plan coming in, Truman aid to Greece and Turkey . . .