General Douglas MacArthur essay


Student’s Name

refers to a famous military commanderduring the twentieth century. The General ranks among the mostdecorated military persons in US past. All through his militaryprofession, he got twenty two medals. Most of the medals were awardeddue to acts of heroism. He is famous for his position as a General inthe United States Army from 1944 to 1964, when he passed away. Othersignificant events in his life included his duty in Japan’sreformation after the Second World War, his appointment as a UNCommander during the Korean battle in 1950, his 1945 selection toSupreme Allied Commander and his release from duty in 1951 byPresident Harry Truman owing to rebelliousness.

MacArthur was born in 1880 in a military family from mid-westernAmerica. During his childhood, his family moved frequently due to hisfather’s career as a military man. The father was deployed indifferent wars, the most memorable being the Indian Wars. As fatewould have it, MacArthur developed a passion to join the military,similar to other members of his family. His first assignment was inEurope during the First World War where he fought amicably resultingin his promotion to Brigadier General. In addition, he was chosen toact as United States Military Academy superintendent for three yearsfrom 1919.

Before the Second World War, the General was positioned in thePhilippines where he commanded troops during the war as well as theKorean War. After this deployment he retired from military service.He lived at a significant time in US history and made significantcontributions in the declaration of his country as a super power. Asa result, he was awarded with accolades by fellow generals and globalleaders during his service. His exceptional and successful militaryleadership set him apart from other generals.

Background Information

MacArthur was born in America in a place referred to as Little Rock,Arkansas. His parents were Arthur MacArthur and Mary Pinkney Hardy.At the time of his birth, his father was already serving in themilitary and was posted in the Indian Wars. As the General grew up,he fell in love with the military life, mainly due to the fascinationof stories told by soldiers following their return from the Indiannation (Miller, 1942). During his childhood, the family lived withsoldiers. His upbringing coupled with a family history of militaryparticipation enhanced MacArthur’s interest to also serve in themilitary.

His clan is renowned to comprise of soldiers from the fourth century.They fought under the leadership of Robert the Bruce for theliberation of Scotland. This resulted in their awarding of largemasses of land. As the clan moved to America, they upheld theirmilitary prowess. The General’s grandfather moved to the US at theonset of the nineteenth era. Aged 21 years, he excelled in the BARexamination becoming a lawyer in New York. He was later promoted tothe position of a Supreme Court Associate Justice in the District ofColumbia. The grandfather fathered a son, MacArthur who “became thefirst Lieutenant of the 24th Wisconsin Infantry at just 17 years ofage (Miller, 1942).”

Apparently, Douglas MacArthur hailed from a great family, which iswell documented in history. His greatness is linked to the traits heacquired from his family. His immediate family comprised of theparents and a brother. He maintained perfect relations with hisfamily and was devoted to honoring his parents. Unfortunately, thefather passed away when Douglas MacArthur was in his thirties, butthe mother lived into his fifties. The parents did not divorce andneither are there any recorded disagreements among them. His familycan be described as normal and supportive of his militaryaspirations. Douglas married Louise Cromwell Brooks in 1922, buttheir relationship did not last for long and ended up in divorce. Helater remarried Jean Faircloth in 1937 (Stockner, 2013).

Military Career

Douglas was the best student from the United States Military Academyin 1903. He served as a junior officer in the years prior to theFirst World War in the Philippines and in areas close to America. Hewas also appointed as an aide to the father and took part in the 1914US occupation of Mexico (Stockner, 2013). Following the entry of hiscountry in the First World War in 1917, Douglas assisted in leadingFrance’s 42nd rainbow division resulting in his promotion asbrigadier general. Between 1919 and 1922, he acted as West Pointsuperintendent where he established a number of reforms aimed atimproving the learning institution (Stockner, 2013).

President Herbert Hoover appointed Douglas as chief of the armystaff, resulting in his rank as general in 1930. In his new position,he ordered Army troops to eliminate the Bonus Army of jobless FirstWorld War veterans two years after his appointment. This resulted inhis initial public disaster. Following the completion of his term,Douglas was given the responsibility of creation of an armed force.The force was meant for the Philippines and it became a commonwealthof America in 1935. Two years later, he resigned from serving in themilitary and acted as Philippines’ president Manuel Quezon’sadvisor.

MacArthur was recalled to continue serving in the military during theSecond World War. Japan posed significant threat to America in 1941.The country needed a commander in the Far East and Douglas MacArthursuited the position. However, the same year, his air force wasunexpectedly destroyed by Japan, which made it easy for Japanesetroops to invade the Philippines. This compelled Douglas’s army toretreat “to the Bataan peninsula, where they struggled to survive(History, 2016).” This resulted in an order from PresidentFranklin Roosevelt in 1942, for the General, the army he wascommanding and his family to flee to Corregidor Island, whichfollowed their flee to Australia. Unfortunately, the American forceswere at the time defeated by Japanese forces.

The General was selected as the highest commander of SouthwestPacific Allied forces in 1942. He was also given a Medal of Honor dueto his role in defending the Philippines. For the next two years,MacArthur was the commander of a movement in the Pacific prior to hiscomeback to free Philippines. His army was once again able to setbase in Philippine where he fought the Japanese resulting in their1945 surrender to USS Missouri. Between 1945 and 1951, MacArthurcommanded all Pacific Army forces. He also acted as the Alliedcommander. He used his position to oversee the victorious disbandmentof Japanese military troops (History, 2016).

Douglas MacArthur continued to participate actively in the militaryafter the Second World War, specifically during the Korean War. Thecommunist forces of North Korea attacked South Korea resulting in theKorean War. Because South Korea was allied to the US, America wasactively involved in assisting the nation. This resulted in theformation of a coalition led by US of United Nation soldiers, whichwas led by MacArthur. The soldiers successfully fought the NorthKoreans and managed to force them to retreat back towards the Chineseterritory in the process protecting South Korea.

The then president Truman was concerned that the Chinese communistadministration would perceive the move to push North Korea towardstheir border as a hostile act. President Truman warned MacArthur ofthe possibility of Chinese reacting by intervening in the war.Douglas was positive that it was impossible to Chinese to intervene.However, in 1950 a large group of soldiers from China moved intoNorth Korea when they formed forces against America. This resulted inthe forced retreat of American soldiers to South Korea. In reaction,MacArthur requested for consent from President Truman to bomb Chinesetroops as well as employ Taiwan forces to fight China. Trumanrejected the requests, leading to a public disagreement amid bothmen.

Consequently, Truman fired MacArthur from his position in themilitary on claims of rebelliousness, in 1951. The president lateraddressed the nations noting that it was important to limit theKorean War in order to save the lives of American troops, toguarantee the nation’s security and reduce jeopardy in the world(History 1). Truman envisioned the possibility of anotherworld war if America was to attack Chinese troops. The public was notpleased with the firing of MacArthur, but Truman’s devotion to limitthe Korean War was steadfast. In the end, the public understood thatDouglas’s policies and suggestions may have resulted in a massiveexpansion of conflict in Asia.

When Douglas went back to America in 1951, he was received as a herowith parade honors in several cities. Together with his wife, theysettled in New York. In 1952, he was called upon to run forpresidency, but the Republican Party selected another individual. Inthe similar year, the General took up a position as “chairman ofRemington Rand, a maker of electrical equipment and business machines(History 1).” He passed away at the age of 84 years.


skills in the military cannot be refuted.However, his moral conviction raised controversy. William Manchester,who has written MacArthur’s biography, describes him in a mannerthat questions the General’s ethics.

“He was a great thundering paradox of a man, noble and ignoble,inspiring and outrageous, arrogant and shy, the best of men and theworst of men, the most protean, most ridiculous, and most sublime.Flamboyant, imperious, and apocalyptic, he carried the plumage of aflamingo, could not acknowledge errors and tried to cover up mistakeswith sly childish tricks. Yet he was endowed with great personalcharm, a will of iron and a soaring intellect (Manchester, 1978).”

The passage highlights a number issue, which inform on MacArthur’sshortcomings. For instance, he is described as an individual thatreacted with differing ideals in the same situations. An illustrationis the General’s decision to hang Nipponese generals due to theirmove to engage him in combat. The decision conflicted with hisexoneration of Emperor Hirohito from duty after the collapse of Japantowards the end of the Second World War (Manchester, 1978).

Although the Japanese family had consented to the renunciation ofHirohito, MacArthur blamed the offences committed by Japan during thewar on the general that organized attacks in the country. Theconflict in thought illustrates that the General failed to operatewith a stringent group of ethical beliefs. He seems to have beenmorally confused, which has a negative effect in the way he headedhis soldiers. Also, it negatively affected the way he handled hisfoes.

The manner in which MacArthur treated his juniors as well assuperiors has been described as arrogant. He demanded unconditionalsubmission from his juniors. When he made orders and suggested ideas,he expected that everyone would consent to them (Manchester, 1978).This is because he was over confident about his military prowess. Asa result, he fired any of his employees that would question his ideasregardless of the order and opted to work with those who would fullydevote to his commands without question.

His demand that people should submit to his ideas is mainly apparentduring the Korean War. President Truman suggested to DouglasMacArthur of the possibility of Chinese responding by conflict to thedecision to push North Korea to China’s boundary (Stockner, 2013).However, Douglas was over confident in his decision and was quick toreject Truman’s analysis of the situation. Eventually, the Chinesetroops reacted by conflict and the General suggested that they shouldbe bombed. When Truman refused to consent to his ideas, they becameenemies.

The General’s military prowess was impeded by his high level ofpride. Due to pride, he demonstrated an insubordination to Truman.The scenario can be used to argue that Douglas was more interested incombat where he had control over an army. It was his source of prideto command troops into fighting other nations. But, his prideresulted in his fall as he was fired from active military duty.

MacArthur was innately driven by a desire to become famous. The manyaccomplishments he achieved and his contributions in protectingAmerica made him a well known General. Although there are somepositive advantages of his desire for fame, the many controversialdecisions he made were a ploy to draw the attention of the publictoward him (Manchester, 1978). His desire for fame is properly citedby Matthew Ridgeway who took over after him in Korea.

“The hunger for praise that led him on some occasions to claim oraccept credit for deeds he had not performed, a faith in his ownjudgment that created an aura of infallibility and that finally ledhim close to insubordination (Mitchell, 2002).”

Ridgeway’s claims are authentic considering that he was theGeneral’s direct junior. Hence, he was able to interact on apersonal level with Douglas in their work environment. The desire tobecome famous and receive praise made it impossible for the Generalto think logically in some instances.

Leadership Identity

Despite his shortcomings, MacArthur’s soldiers recorded lower ratesof casualty as compared to those of different commanders. He ledvarious global forces to winning during his military service. He “ledthe Philippine army, members of the Australian armed forces, theentirety of the US armed forced in the Far East against Japan, aswell as the UN coalition in Korea which consisted of the combinedforces of many nations (Manchester, 1978).” Such victory can only beattributed to effective leadership.

His leadership was founded on his personal judgment of everysituation he faced. This resulted in his realization of hiscapability to lead resulted in the development of a reputation ofunfriendliness as well as seclusion. As already discussed in hisshortcomings, these traits resulted in his decision to lead withminimal consideration for the ideas of other people. As a result, hispower and line of command was strengthened. This facilitated fastdecision making when at war. Because, MacArthur rarely consulted withother people, he was able to make decisions fast, which led to hisleadership success.

was a confident leader and a fast learner.The fact that he could make decisions on his own implies that he hada lot of self-assurance. His involvement in the First World War andonset of the Second World War enhanced his military skills. He wasable to learn fast from his service positions, which explains hisfast rise to power. Hence, he gained confidence once he became acommander that he utilized in his numerous military positions. It ishis confidence that encouraged him to pursue the Pacific islands in“an island-hopping campaign (Stockner, 2013).” He successfullycaptured all the islands that he attacked.

MacArthur pursued knowledge in all his military endeavors, whichsharpened his military prowess. This explains why he was a leaderwith the ability to lead troops to win single-handedly. For instance,following the attack and surrender of Japan, MacArthur presumed theduty of restructuring the Japanese administration. In the process hewas able to gain knowledge about the eastern way of life. Theexperience in Japan acted as an opportunity for MacArthur to explorehis capabilities as a statesman.

Once Japan surrendered in 1945, the General and his advisors createda new constitution for the nation. Japan was declared a sovereignstate. He further sanctioned the demolition of huge Japaneseorganizations as well as established labor unions. The reconstructionof Japan was a success. By acquiring knowledge about the Far East, itwas easy for him to make changes to the nation.


was without a doubt a successful militaryman. He had a renowned profession as a military officer. This isbecause through his position as commander, he was able to lead histroops in successfully conquering the countries and regions theyattacked. He did not just lead American troops, but those of othernations on several battlefields. In specific, Americans will alwaysremember MacArthur due to his dedication in ensuring that Americaremained victorious in defeating other nations, resulting in thecountry’s status as a super power.

His leadership was remarkable considering that his troops hadminimal rates of casualty. However, the General had someshortcomings, which resulted in the termination of his militarycareer. He made decisions on his own and rarely consulted with otherseniors. Even when he did, he expected that other people would notquestion his ideas. This led to a critic of his military tacticsamong juniors and seniors and subsequent fall out with PresidentTruman.


History. (2016). Douglas MacArthur. Retrieved from:

Manchester, W. (1978). American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur,1880-1964. Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Company.

Miller, F. (1942). : Fighter for freedom.Chicago, IL: The John C. Winston Company.

Stockner, M. (2013). The ingrained leadership of Douglas MacArthur.Christopher Newport University, 3(2), 16-25.