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Douglas MacArthur's Colt Model 1903 Semi Automatic Pistol
This semi-automatic Colt pistol was given to Douglas MacArthur during his tenure as superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York.
Douglas MacArthur was the son of Arthur MacArthur, who, by the age of 19, had risen to the rank of colonel in the Union army during the Civil War. In 1890, he was awarded the Medal of Honor in recognition of his conduct at the Battle of Missionary Ridge, Tennessee in 1863. The senior MacArthur remained in the army, serving on the frontier during the Plains Indian Wars. During the Spanish-American War, he was appointed brigadier general of volunteers, then served in the Philippines during the war and the Moro Insurrection that followed. He later served as Commander of the Division of the Philippines and as Military Governor of the archipelago.
Prior to his retirement in 1909, he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant general and served as the Army's Assistant Chief of Staff. The third child of Arthur and Mary Pinkney Hardy "Pinky" MacArthur, Douglas was born into the Army, entering the world on January 26, 1880 at the U.S. Army Arsenal Barracks in Little Rock, Arkansas. His brother Malcolm died at age five, and his other brother, Arthur III, graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and later served in both the Spanish-American and First World Wars. The MacArthur family moved frequently as Arthur was assigned to various military posts, and the future general saw the soldier's life from his earliest days.
Although his education was irregular, Douglas worked hard at his lessons and in 1898, he passed the competitive examination and won an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy. Pinky moved to West Point while her son was enrolled there and her husband was away in the Philippines, and her profound influence over her son continued during these years. During his cadet career, the younger MacArthur played football and managed the baseball team. Most importantly, he excelled in academics, achieving the rank of First Captain and graduating first in the Class of 1903.
After receiving a commission as a second lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers, MacArthur was assigned to the Philippines. His early years as an officer were spent in the Far East as an aide to his father, and he had an opportunity to observe first-hand the armies and peoples of the region. He later attended a variety of army schools and served in various positions, including an appointment to the General Staff. By the time the United States entered the First World War, he had risen to the rank of major. He was promoted to colonel and became chief of staff of the 42nd Infantry ("Rainbow") Division, then served as first as commander of the 84th Infantry Brigade, then as division commander, with the rank of brigadier general.
In combat, he showed his mastery of strategy and tactics. He also exhibited personal bravery, receiving several decorations including two Purple Hearts for wounds received in action. After the Armistice, MacArthur returned to West Point, serving as superintendent between 1919 and 1922. He set about to modernize the curriculum and raise academic standards. General MacArthur also stressed the importance of athletic competition, stating that, "Upon the fields of friendly strife are sown the seeds that, upon other fields, on other days, will bear the fruits of victory."
He later held various assignments both in the United States and in the Philippines, where he served two tours. In 1925, he received his second star and, as a major general, he served as a member of the court-martial during the insubordination trial of Brigadier General Billy Mitchell. He also served as president of the U.S. Olympic Committee during the 1928 Games in Amsterdam. MacArthur also married during this period, exchanging vows with Henrietta Louise Cromwell Brooks in 1922. The marriage ended in divorce seven years later. In 1930, President Herbert Hoover appointed MacArthur to the post of Chief of Staff, where, at age 50, he became the youngest officer to hold this position. Serving during one of the darkest periods in U.S. history, he had the difficult job of convincing Congress to allocate sufficient funds to carry out his proposed reorganization of the Army.
Acting under presidential order in July 1932, MacArthur dispersed the 15,000-man "Bonus Army", a collection of largely unemployed First World War veterans who demanded early payment of bonuses promised them for their military service during the Great War. In a controversial action, the general and his aide, Major Dwight D. Eisenhower, sent tanks and cavalry troopers to break up both the demonstrations and camps of the unarmed Bonus Marchers. After completing his tour as Chief of Staff in 1935, MacArthur returned to the Philippines once again at the personal invitation of Filipino President Manuel Quezon to serve as military advisor.
In this position, he advocated the creation of a small regular army, supplemented by militia, naval, and air forces, as a means of discouraging attacks against the new Commonwealth. He continued to serve in this capacity after his retirement from the U.S. Army in December 1937. While in the Philippines, MacArthur married Jean Marie Faircloth. The couple had one son, Arthur, who was born the following year. Rising tensions with Japan prompted President Franklin D. Roosevelt to recall MacArthur to duty in July 1941, at which time he was given command of U.S. forces in the Far East. On December 7, Japanese bombers attacked Clark Field near the capital city of Manila, successfully destroying many army aircraft. An invasion followed on December 22, MacArthur was forced to order a retreat to the island fortress of Corregidor.
After three months of heavy fighting and with defeat imminent. Roosevelt ordered MacArthur to Australia. Along with his family, he boarded a PT boat for the first leg of the journey in March 1942, but he promised that, "I shall return." On March 25, 1942, President Roosevelt awarded the Medal of Honor to the general, and three weeks later, MacArthur was named Supreme Commander of the Southwest Pacific. Realizing that the Japanese would attempt to isolate Australia by cutting her sea links to the United States, Aussies under MacArthur's command stopped both Japanese naval and land attempts to capture Port Moresby on the southern coast of New Guinea. Having stymied the Japanese for the first time since the war began, MacArthur next moved against Imperial forces elsewhere in the island nation.
By February 1943, the Allies had eliminated the Japanese garrisons in southeast New Guinea. Along with U.S. naval forces under the command of Admiral William "Bull" Halsey, American fighting men pushed into the Solomon Islands, winning a hard-earned victory at Guadalcanal. MacArthur pursued a campaign of "island hopping," in which the Allies advanced against certain strategically-important possessions in the Southwest Pacific while bypassing others and effectively cutting off enemy-held territory from the Japanese homeland.
Additional Navy and Marine Corps forces under the command of Admiral Chester Nimitz were simultaneously advancing through the Gilbert, Marshall, and Mariana island groups in the Central Pacific. MacArthur objected to this strategy as an unnecessary diversion of forces, but war planners in Washington overruled him, opting to retain the two-pronged advance against Japan. The seizure of Tinian in the Marianas group and Iwo Jima by forces under Nimitz made it possible for the U.S. 20th Air Force to stage massive B-29 bomber raids against Japan's principal industrial centers and set the stage for the nuclear strikes against Hiroshima and Nagasaki. MacArthur also disagreed with Washington about the necessity of re-taking the Philippines, but at a Pearl Harbor conference with Roosevelt in July 1944, he got the go-ahead to proceed with his proposed invasion.
In October, Allied forces struck first at Leyte in the central Philippines, then moved against Mindoro in December. During this operation, MacArthur received his fifth star when he was promoted to the rank of General of the Army. The main island of Luzon, along with the former American bases at Bataan and Corregidor, fell to U.S. troops in February 1945. MacArthur was present at the Japanese surrender aboard the battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay in early September, and he spent the next five years as Supreme Allied Commander of occupation troops in Japan. Under his leadership, Japanese military forces laid down their arms but not their devotion to their Emperor, who remained at the head of his people. Among MacArthur's greatest achievements during this period was the creation of a new democratic government and the rebirth of the country's shattered industries and economy. Many of the changes that have characterized post-war Japan were instituted during MacArthur's term.
In June 1950, communist North Korean troops crossed the 38th Parallel and invaded neighboring South Korea. President Harry S. Truman placed the meager U.S. forces on the Korean peninsula under General MacArthur's command. After viewing the situation first-hand, MacArthur recommended that the U.S. commit additional troops to aid South Korea's army, and President Truman authorized a wider U.S. involvement. When the United Nations agreed to assume responsibility for South Korea's defense, and MacArthur was placed in command of a multi-national force charged with repelling the invasion. By July, North Korean troops had overrun most of the South. The capital city of Seoul had fallen to Communist forces, and the remaining defenders were isolated in a defensive perimeter around the port city of Pusan.
In September, MacArthur successfully executed a daring amphibious assault at Inchon, located behind enemy lines on the western coast near Seoul. This attack, along with a massive counteroffensive by the U.S. Eighth Army near Pusan, forced the North Koreans to retreat. By early October, U.N. troops had advanced into North Korea, reaching the Yalu River border with the People's Republic of China by the 26th of the month. Chinese intervention turned the tide once again in favor of the Communists. MacArthur counterattacked, and the war settled into a stalemate. The American general advocated widening the scope of the war to include attacks against China, but the Commander-in-Chief overruled him. MacArthur then went public with his disagreements, and Truman relieved him of command in April 1951
. Returning to the United States for the first time in fifteen years, he received a hero's welcome that included an April 19th address to a joint session of Congress. MacArthur had been active in the Republican Party, and in 1952, he delivered the keynote address at the Republican National Convention. He also became Chairman of the Board of firearms manufacturer Remington-Rand. In 1961, he traveled to the Philippines and was accorded treatment befitting his status as liberator of the island nation. He returned to his residence at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York, where he withdrew from public life, but continued to received delegations of West Point cadets.
On March 2, 1964, he entered Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington for abdominal surgery. He died there on April 5 at the age of 84. President Lyndon Johnson declared a period of national mourning, and after lying in state in the Capitol Rotunda, MacArthur was buried with full military honors in his mother's hometown of Norfolk, Virginia.