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To General Malin Craig
June 1, 1939 Bello Horizonte, Brazil
Your radio of May 29th reached me here in the mountains last night.1 Thanks for the news and especially for the greeting.
I have been traveling since last Wednesday, six days ago—all by air, with a very strenuous program everywhere and a devilish number of speeches a day— and under any and every condition. The reception given us has been remarkable, with a steadily increasing enthusiasm. It worries me because these people are very sensitive and comparisons are odious, and what they have done personally we cannot duplicate. Therefore I fear the result of comparisons which might well defeat the purpose of the exchange of visits. To illustrate my meaning, let me give you an outline of my last two cities—Porto Allegro in southern Brazil—and here at Bello Horizonte, north of Rio some 200 miles.
Arrived in Porto Allegro—Governor of State, Military Commanders, Arch Bishop, Cabinet civil officials, etc. at field. Guard of Honor, Cavalry escort surrounding my car, motorcycle police. Main street bordered by thousands of school children in uniform, 50 or 75,000 people crowded in rear of children, confetti and paper, like Broadway, for a half mile of blocks, four or five bands.
Another guard of honor at palace of governor, all civil officials present, champagne, etc. The same at headquarters of General. Tour of city with Mayor and general. Dinner by Governor—100 guests, usual variety of wines, elaborately printed menus in form of memento. Then a ball or dance. Civil guards in plume, jackboots, etc at entrance, all guests grouped to receive me, Governor as escort, national anthems, a dais at which to sit. It sounds like a joke or a bit of stage business, but it was all in deadly earnest in their desire to do the gracious thing.
Inspection of a frontier regiment at its barracks. Regiment paraded along road in advance of barracks, wide road leading 400 yards to barracks carpeted with flowers, sign across archway in letters two feet high “Welcome General Marshall”, complete inspection, including layout of all programs and schedules of instruction, welcome by officers in their club, formal speech—written—by Colonel, champagne; another inspection of an airfield, same arrangements, another formal speech, more champagne; return to city, luncheon by General for 60 guests—as formal in arrangements, menu, speeches, music, as dinner night before; visit to female academy (this, I think was probably arranged for you), indoor amphitheatre filled with girls, front row ones with flowers—they sing a welcome in English, do their flag stunt, sing some Brazilian chants and present me with 50 bunches of flowers—all sent later to my hotel. The whole thing was beautifully arranged and executed. Then a parade of 6000 school children, in school uniforms, 2 army bands, followed by 2000 men of various sport clubs. All this last was a hurried arrangement due to publicity regarding my contact with school children at Curitiba where I sent candy for 200 boys of agricultural orphanage who had paraded.2 The sport clubs insisted on being let in, which involved all the German rowing clubs—to the intensive satisfaction and amusement of Brazilians.
Then a reception and lastly the ball referred to. The next morning all the officials were at the airport. I arrived in Rio to change planes, at 2:30 PM—not to leave the airport. The minister of airways, roads and railroads received me and was host at a stand up buffet lunch—champagne. The Chief of Staff, the minister of War, a representative of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the General ADC to the President (Pa Watson)3 and others welcomed me. I left in 30 minutes for Bell Horizonte, arriving there at dusk. The same reception at the airport, a troop of cavalry surrounded my car as escort. When I reached the principal street or avenue I found the school children bordering my route, so over protest of Brazilian staff, I got out of car and walked 1 & 1/2 miles thru the streets. About 12,000 children, with all the city packed in behind—really a very inspiring sight. The applauded at first by clapping their hands but I soon got them going, as it were, and the thing developed into an uproar of cheering. The Ambassador tells me they receive people always in respectful silence, so the compliment or expression of friendly feeling was be measured accordingly. Call on Governor with another guard of honor. He returns call and takes me to see some of his special interests prior to banquet. Moving pictures of industries during banquet—100 guests. Box at prize fight later. Ovation there repeated for 3 or 4 minutes. The a formal ball of the “high society”. Another speech affair at midnight supper. The following morning the usual program of military inspections. A luncheon and then to plane. Governor hands me a small package which I did not open until the plane was “taking off”. I found a case containing 3 aquamarines and one quite sizeable gold nuget. They tell me the stones are worth about $300 to $400. I should say the gold nuget was worth $75 or $100. I went through a gold mine yesterday. Please don’t advertise this gift business; I am merely trying to give you an idea of how much is being done. The Governor was a business type, deeply concerned in the direction and development of industries. No funny business about him—a very able, direct, to the point sort of person.
Friday noon Rio
Since 8-30 a.m. I have been inspecting ordnance plants, a guard regiment of infantry and a guard regiment of cavalry. Tell Wesson that they serve champagne and cakes in the middle of a shell manufacturing shop. They are making rapid strides in manufacturing processes and their workmen quickly develop technical skill. Unfortunately, all schooling has been in Germany or France—therefore machinery from those countries.
I do not think it at all necessary for me to travel with Gen. Monteiro. He does not make a pretense of traveling with me. I might start him off by going to Langley Field, and meet him later at West Point, or some such arrangement. He sends Generals with me who are concerned with the region or the installations I am looking over. We might well do it that way: For example, Emmons from Langley to Barksdale and Randolph Field; Brees from Sam Houston to Fort Bliss; Bowley to meet him in Los Angeles and to San Francisco; Chaffee at Knox and me at West Point; Drum in New York. He sends aides with me, 2 for me and 1 for each member of mission. I would not do this: Let Col. Miller and Captain North manage affairs,4 assisted by 2 good orderlies to look after baggage, and do clerical. Have aides report at each place for the day.
I have written this at odd hours and hurriedly, so it is for you, and not for general circulation—too hastily and frankly written for the latter. I must leave now for luncheon by Minister of F.A—Arayana. Four speeches so far today, and 3 more yet to do.
Document Copy Text Source: Records of the Adjutant General’s Office 1917- (RG 407), 210.482, Brazil [4-29-39], National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.
Document Format: Handwritten letter signed.
1. This message was not found in the Marshall papers.
2. For an account of Marshall’s diplomatic coup at Curitiba, see K. T. Marshall, Together, pp. 48-49.
3. Edwin M. (“Pa”) Watson (U.S.M.A., 1908) had been President Roosevelt’s military aide since 1933. On April 1, 1939, he was promoted to brigadier general and given the additional title and duties of secretary to the president.
4. Lieutenant Colonel Lehman W. Miller (U.S.M.A., 1915) had been a member of the United States military mission to Brazil between 1934 and 1938 and was able to act as an interpreter. Marshall chose Captain Thomas North for the mission because he was a “geographic expert and good linguist." (Marshall to the Chief of Staff, May 1, 1939, NA/RG 407 [210.482, Brazil (4-29-39)].)
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. 717-720.