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To Brigadier General Leigh R. Gignilliat
February 14, 1934 [Chicago, Illinois}
I am inclosing a letter to me from Mr. Mershon of February 8th, and a letter to me from Colonel Robbins with reference to Mr. Mershon’s letter.1
In acknowledgment of a Christmas greeting note to Mr. Mershon, in which I made some reference to the important benefits, which had resulted from his generous contributions, I received a rather lengthy letter from him expressing gratification over the fact that I thought positive good had been accomplished. In this letter he discussed the propriety of preparing a booklet describing the fund, with the view to securing other financial support. He did not wish his name to be brought to the front anyway.2
As our Committee was meeting here that same week I acknowledged his letter and told him that the matter of the booklet would be discussed at the meeting and a recommendation made to him. I also went into some detail in explaining an important part I thought the Committee, through his fund, had played in saving the situation for the ROTC and CMTC, as well as promoting considerably the professional standards of the ROTC through a pamphlet and through the Lehigh meeting. In this letter, of which Colonel Robbins has my copy, I commented on the difficulties of preparing a pamphlet about the fund without, of necessity, giving prominence to Mr. Mershon’s part in the matter. I also expressed some doubt as to whether we were ready at this time to propose a definite policy for the expenditure of a large additional amount.
Mr. Mershon’s letter, which I am inclosing, gives in considerable detail his reaction at the present time. I imagine that these are the result of a combination of two influences—his major interest in the CMTC and the serious depreciation of all utility stocks of public utility holdings.
The effect of his letter on me has rather been to crystallize for the first time in my mind what, at least at the moment, seems to me a legitimate and important use of a continuing fund in connection with the civilian-military education of the general public. I believe that his idea can best be served by setting up a permanent office, very much as we have at present, controlled by a Committee very much as exists at present, to function as a continual guard against the emasculation of the CMTC (and incidentally the ROTC) phase of military training, and to exert a continuing influence to secure the increase of the CMTC until it represents the most important phase, in point of size, of our military construction program.
The Regular Army has a headquarters from which to fight its own battles, however ineffective it may be politically; the National Guard has a solid backing to protect its future interests; the Reserve Corps is developing almost as much permanent strength from political pressure as the National Guard; the ROTC has at least the various college heads and the PMS&Ts to represent its interest. The CMTC is the only phase of our military training program which is not continuing throughout the year and has very little positive backing. Therefore, such a Committee, as I have described, would remain a continuing force to safeguard the existence and to promote the development of the CMTC.3
When I started this letter, I did not intend to go into any proposals, but merely to forward to you the attached communications as suggested by Colonel Robbins.
I hope your rest in the Arizona climate has been beneficial and that you have acquired some of those pounds that both you and I always seemed to lack.
With warmest regards.
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Illinois National Guard, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed letter.
1. Neither letter was found in the Marshall papers.
2. Marshall, Gignilliat, and Charles B. Robbins, members of the Civilian Military Education Fund’s National Committee, which Ralph D. Mershon supported financially, had met in Chicago on January 14. Prior to the meeting, Marshall had asked General Pershing to send “a little personal note to Mr. Mershon commenting favorably on his efforts in behalf of civilian-military education. . . . Mr. Mershon seems to be a very mild, unobtrusive person, with a great desire to be helpful—to the extent of his entire fortune." Pershing agreed to send the note. (Marshall to Pershing, January 8, 1934; Pershing to Marshall, January 12, 1934, J. J. Pershing Papers [General Correspondence].)
3. In 1933 Congress reduced the C.M.T.C. appropriation for summer camps to one million dollars—less than half the sum granted in previous years. The number of men who could he trained was reduced accordingly.
Recommended Citation: The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, ed. Larry I. Bland and Sharon Ritenour Stevens (Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 1, “The Soldierly Spirit,” December 1880-June 1939 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1981), pp. 416-418.