TRUMAN, Harry S. (1884-1972), President. Typed letter signed ("Harry S. Truman"), as President, to Mr. Cyrus S. Ching, Washington, 18 April 1951, White House stationery. 1 page, 4to, two small spots, otherwise in fine condition.
ON THE FIRING OF MACARTHUR: "RELIEVING ONE OF OUR GREATEST MILITARY COMMANDERS OF HIS DUTIES... WAS NOT AN EASY DECISION TO MAKE..."
President Truman responds to a letter of support just days after one of his most controversial presidential decisions, the firing of General Douglas MacArthur: "Your letter...is a real comfort to me and I cannot tell you how gratified I am to have these expressions of approval of the regrettable action I felt compelled to take. Relieving one of our greatest military commanders of his duties in the Far East was not an easy decision to make, but in the interest of our aims and purposes in Korea I do not see how I could have done otherwise"
The epic confrontation with MacArthur had been building since the summer of 1950, when MacArthur made an unauthorized speech criticizing the administration's China policy. MacArthur apologized for that flap in a face-to-face meeting with Truman on Wake Island in October, during which MacArthur assured Truman that the fighting in Korea was nearly over. The massive Chinese intervention the following month and MacArthur's call for the use of atomic weapons against China brought his stock close to zero. The General hammered the last nail into his own coffin with a letter accusing the administration of weakness in the face of Chinese communism. Republican Joseph Martin, House minority leader, read MacArthur's letter before Congress on April 5. All Truman's senior advisors agreed that MacArthur had to go, but the firing, announced on Apil 11, provoked a torrent of critical and often abusive mail to the White House. Polls showed that only 29 of the electorate agreed with his decision. There were public calls for the impeachment of Truman and Acheson, and, one day after this letter, MacArthur appeared before Congress to deliver his famous "old soldier's never die" valedictory. Here, Truman gladly acknowledges the supportive words of Cyrus S. Ching (1876-1967), a liberal industrialist whom Truman tapped as the first head of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.
Letters of Truman regarding the controversial firing of General MacArthur are quite rare.