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To John L. Cabell
April 20, 1937 Vancouver Barracks, Washington
I have given your letter of April 9 careful thought, and while I appreciate exceedingly the compliment implied, I find myself still of the same decision regarding the V.M.I. appointment.1
You missed my point of view a little on the reason I did not feel free to give favorable consideration to the possibility at this time. That was almost purely financial. In other words, after about 35 years service, I would be throwing away a matter of about $2,000 a year for the rest of my life, even should I become a centenarian. Having just viewed the hazards of a profound depression, I am loath to walk away from as sure a thing as the United States Government.
Of course, through all of this, there is the question of abandoning the possibilities of the next eight or nine years, so far as that pertains to a professional soldier. With the world in its present turmoil no one can prophesy what the outcome will be, and as I made my life occupation that of a soldier I hesitate to take any decision which might leave me eliminated at the critical moment.
Of course, all the foregoing is confidential; I am giving it to you because of your flattering interest in me.
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Vancouver Barracks, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed letter.
1. Cabell wrote that Marshall was the best qualified of the candidates for superintendent and replied to Marshall’s statement of not accepting the superintendency without first having a major general’s commission. “It is only to be expected that a man, who, at your age, has made such an enviable record, must have mapped out a line of progress and, of course, towards a goal to be reached for the declining years. But, what if opportunity presents the final goal before it is to be expected in the regular order of things?
“Not being conversant with Army records, I do not know how many Major Generals there have been since 1839 but the number of Superintendents at V.M.I. can be counted on the fingers of one hand—an honor not often bestowed but very highly held—and one that should be appreciated more by a comparatively young man if it comes his way sooner than he might have expected it.
“At this time, the acceptance of the position might make it appear to you as a sacrifice. That may be, but in what better cause can the sacrifice be made than in the opportunity to serve in shaping the careers of thousands of young men! Where else can a man who is qualified for such a position really exert more beneficial influence than in this case?” (Cabell to Marshall, April 9, 1937, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Vancouver Barracks].)
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. 533-534.