MACARTHUR, Douglas, Lieutenant General. Autograph letter signed ("Douglas") as Superintendant, U.S. Military Academy, to Mrs. Louise Cromwell Brooks, West Point, [15 November 1921]. 11 pages, 4to, U.S. Military Academy stationery, original postmarked envelope in MacArthur's hand, minor discoloring affecting two pages, otherwise fine.
MACARTHUR'S FIANCE BLACKMAILED BY "BLACK JACK" PERSHING
A fascinating letter written two months before the official announcement of their engagement, in which MacArthur advises his fiance on how to cope with the jealous advances of Army Commander- in-Chief General John "Black Jack" Pershing (1860-1948). He begins with a fanciful meditation on his new engagement ring: "Lovely Lady, As I write my hand with its rings fascinates me...I have watched it as it fought for me on many a bloody field...I have felt it drive the steel home, - and I have grinned at its cool readiness and skill as a killer...But today its sight thrills me..." In regard to Pershing, he writes: "Sorry he is such a bully...as to try and blackmail you...Above all things I hate cowardice in a man, and this is such a painful evidence of just that...He is trying to break your spirit. Don't let him...See the Secretary of War [John W. Weeks]...and tell him the entire story...He will be shocked beyond words...The C.I.C. misrepresents to you when he criticises my regime. It is universally regarded as successful. He has said so himself on numerous occasions. He is taking the other line only after knowing of our engagement." He concludes that his success at West Point includes "Pershing's own commendation" and advises her to "Maintain an inflexible poise, an invincible composure, and trust our destiny...Love me, laugh at his vulgar villany, and all will be well."
Pershing clearly was a rival of MacArthur's for the affections of Louise, his biographer mentions: "an unfortunate public episode - not a private one - connecting Pershing to Louise Cromwell Brooks, MacArthur's first wife. Pershing knew and liked her immensely, and she him...One rumor had it that Pershing sent MacArthur to the Philippines in a kind of banishment as soon as he married Louise." (F.E. Vandiver, Black Jack: The Life and Times of John J. Pershing, p.1091)