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To Frank Murphy1
April 7, 1939 [Washington, D.C.]
My dear Mr. Attorney General:
There was mailed to me from your office a copy of your radio broadcast of March 27th on Civil Liberties.2 The logic of the discussion is impressive. To me, however, the manner of your presentation is the more important contribution to the subject, considering the exceeding difficulty of making a definite or lasting impression on the public mind regarding either the meaning or the importance of Civil Liberties. For that reason, it seems to me, the simplicity of your argument together with the interest of your illustrations, should really have an important effect on the public mind. The trouble, of course, generally lies in the very human trait of complete indifference to a problem until ones particular ox is being gored.
If I am indebted to you for the copy of the broadcast, please accept my thanks.
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed letter.
1. President Roosevelt had appointed Murphy, a former governor of Michigan, as attorney general of the United States in January, 1939.
2. No copy of Murphy’s speech was found in the Marshall papers, and it was not reported in the New York Times. On May 15, Murphy gave a speech to the United States mayors’ conference; having described civil liberties, he said: “These are ordinary things to a people that has done them pretty much without interruption for a century and a half. They seem elementary and commonplace—so simple that it seems unnecessary to speak of them. But actually they are not ordinary things. They are the hallmarks of civilization." (New York Times, May 16, 1939.)
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. 711-712.