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To James W. Wadsworth
October 2, 1935 [Chicago, Illinois]
My dear Senator:1
The enclosed pamphlet reached me a few days ago. In it I noticed your letter to Colonel Orvel Johnson regarding John Palmer.2 This thought occurred to me: In my opinion, Palmer rendered one of the most important services to the Army and to the National Defense of the past fifty years. Few army officers have contributed more to the Government of lasting benefit. Yet, comparatively speaking, he has received literally nothing in the way of reward. Fellows have been made brigadier generals for keeping the grass cut and buildings painted. Others have been promoted and retired major generals for no other reason that I could see except more years and seniority. Yet he was retired as a brigadier.
I know, possibly better than most of his friends, what his weakness is, what has caused people to pass his services by; and I am familiar with the feeling created by portions of his recent books. But the fact remains he made a great contribution to our Government and he has been virtually ignored.
Some time when you are in a position to do so, which I am firm in the belief you will be, please consider the possibility of securing legislation that would register officially governmental recognition of his service.
I have not seen Palmer for eight years and only hear from him occasionally, but knowing the circumstances in his case I have always been impatient to see justice done him.
I had lunch with General McCoy an hour ago—he and I live side by side here in Chicago. Possibly you may know the two others who were at lunch—Mrs. Sidney Cloman and Lawrence Whiting.
I always look forward to the possibility of seeing you. Think I was out of the city when you were here buying cattle last year. I hope I will have better luck next time.
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Illinois National Guard, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed letter.
1. Wadsworth served two terms as senator from New York before being defeated by Democratic party candidate Robert F. Wagner in the 1926 election. He had served in the House of Representatives from the Thirty-ninth District of New York since his election in 1932.
2. This letter was printed in Washington’s National Defense Plan: Address by Brig. Gen. John McAuley Palmer. . . (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1935).
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. 473-474.