Also on this day
Napoleon exiled to Elba
On this day in 1814, Napoleon Bonaparte, emperor of France and one of the greatest military leaders in history, abdicates the throne, and, in the Treaty of Fontainebleau, is banished to the Mediterranean island of Elba. The future emperor was born in Ajaccio, Corsica, on August 15, 1769. After attending military...
Moravian missionary David Zeisberger is born
David Zeisberger, a Moravian missionary whose Native American converts were slaughtered by Pennsylvania militiamen in the Gnaddenhuetten Massacre of 1781, is born in Zauchental, Moravia, near Ostrava, in what is now the Czech Republic, on this day in 1781. The Zeisberger family moved to Herrnhut, Saxony, to join a Moravian community...
Henry Ford marries
On this day in 1888, 24-year-old Henry Ford marries Clara Jane Bryant on her 22nd birthday at her parent’s home in Greenfield Township, Michigan. Clara Ford would prove to be a big supporter of her husband’s business ideas: Fifty years later, Henry Ford–who by then had founded the Ford Motor...
Confederates surrender Fort Pulaski
The Confederates surrender Fort Pulaski, guarding the mouth of the Savannah River in Georgia, after a two-day Union bombardment tears great holes in the massive fort. Fort Pulaski was constructed in 1847 as part of the country’s coastal defense network. The imposing masonry stronghold was named for Polish Count Casimir Pulaski,...
War is narrowly averted
While visiting Marathon, Greece, Lord Muncaster of Britain is kidnapped by brigands, almost resulting in war. The pirates, led by Takos Arvanitakis, were experienced in kidnapping and had used it as a lucrative source of income for many years. However, their capture of Lord Muncaster and a group of English...
Last survivors of ferry accident rescued
Rescue workers pick up the last survivors of the Wahine ferry accident on this day in 1968. The ferry had capsized after hitting sharp rocks off the coast of Wellington, New Zealand, the previous day. Fifty-one of the more than 800 passengers and crew on board perished in the...
Apollo 13 launched to moon
On April 11, 1970, Apollo 13, the third lunar landing mission, is successfully launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, carrying astronauts James A. Lovell, John L. Swigert, and Fred W. Haise. The spacecraft’s destination was the Fra Mauro highlands of the moon, where the astronauts were to explore the Imbrium Basin...
Idi Amin overthrown
On April 11, 1979, Ugandan dictator Idi Amin flees the Ugandan capital of Kampala as Tanzanian troops and forces of the Uganda National Liberation Front close in. Two days later, Kampala fell and a coalition government of former exiles took power.Amin, chief of the Ugandan army and air force from...
Cher wins Best Actress Oscar for Moonstruck
On this day in 1988, at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, the actress and singer Cher collects the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in Moonstruck (1988). Cherilyn Sarkasian, who was born on May 20, 1946, first became famous as the taller, female half of the 1960s singing...
Dorothy Parker resigns as drama critic for The New Yorker
The witty and caustic Dorothy Parker resigns her job as drama critic for The New Yorker. However, she continues to write book reviews until 1933, which...
Bob Dylan plays his first major gig in New York City
Who knows how many other young men arrived in New York City in the winter of 1961 looking like James Dean and talking like Jack Kerouac? It would have been difficult to pick Bob Dylan out of the crowd at first, considering how much he had in common with the...
Talleyrand offers to sell Louisiana
In one of the great surprises in diplomatic history, French Foreign Minister Charles Maurice de Talleyrand makes an offer to sell all of Louisiana Territory to the United States. Talleyrand was no fool. As the foreign minister to French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, he was one of the most powerful men...
President Carter hosts White House Easter egg roll
On this day in 1977, President Jimmy Carter, along with first lady Rosalynn Carter, hosts local children at the traditional White House “Easter egg roll.” According to White House curator Bill Allman, the curious tradition of egg-rolling on the White House lawn originated in the mid-to-late 19th century....
Phil Mickelson wins first major at Masters
On this day in 2004, Phil Mickelson wins the Masters Golf Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club, his first major championship in nearly 12 years as a professional golfer. A native of California, Mickelson graduated from Arizona State University, where he won three NCAA individual championships and three Haskins Awards as...
Troops from Hawaii sent to South Vietnam
One hundred U.S. troops of the Hawaiian-based 25th Infantry Division are ordered to temporary duty with military units in South Vietnam to serve as machine gunners aboard Army H-21 helicopters. This was the first commitment of American combat troops to the war and represented a quiet escalation of the U.S....
B-52s strike North Vietnamese positions
On this day, B-52 strikes against communist forces attacking South Vietnamese positions in the Central Highlands near Kontum remove any immediate threat to that city. Air strikes against North Vietnam continued, but were hampered by poor weather. Also on this day, the Pentagon ordered two more squadrons of B-52s to...
World War I1919
International Labor Organization founded
On this day in 1919, in Paris, France, the International Labor Organization (ILO) is founded as an independent, affiliated agency of the League of Nations. The call for just and equal labor standards and improved working and living conditions for the world’s workers had begun to be heard long before the...
World War II1945
The U.S. army liberates Buchenwald concentration camp
On this day in 1945, the American Third Army liberates the Buchenwald concentration camp, near Weimar, Germany, a camp that will be judged second only to Auschwitz in the horrors it imposed on its prisoners. As American forces closed in on the Nazi concentration camp at Buchenwald, Gestapo headquarters at Weimar...
Anonymous asked: Why did Truman fire MacArthur? Was he justified in doing so? How popular was the decision?
General MacArthur had been increasingly insubordinate and making statements that seemed to criticize the policies set forth by the Truman Administration. General MacArthur had very little respect for President Truman as a political leader and especially as Commander-in-Chief. When the Chinese jumped into the Korean War to support North Korea, MacArthur called for a total war against China despite fears that it would trigger World War III. President Truman made it clear that the United States was not looking to engage in an all-out war with China and General MacArthur openly disagreed with the Administration’s policy.
The President had made it clear that MacArthur shouldn’t make any statements on foreign policy without clearing it first with Truman or the State Department. General MacArthur directly ignored that order and didn’t hesitate to speak his mind or criticize the Administration’s policy in Asia even though he was already on thin ice. President Truman worried about the repercussions of dismissing MacArthur, but he was even more worried about the perception that the the civilian leadership of the military – a hallmark of our system – was slipping away and that MacArthur was bypassing the proper chain of command.
The President was absolutely justified in firing MacArthur. A soldier – especially the commanding general in a time of war – cannot disrespect or disregard the orders of the Commander-in-Chief. President Truman needed to show that he couldn’t be bullied or ignored by one of his generals, and it was important to demonstrate who was in charge.
The decision wasn’t popular at all. While most of Truman’s aides supported his decision and the Joint Chiefs of Staff gave him tepid support, the American people were outraged because General MacArthur was enormously popular. Congress took advantage of MacArthur’s popularity and Truman’s low approval ratings (which had been falling even before the feud with MacArthur) to hammer the President and invited the General to speak to a joint session of Congress. When MacArthur arrived back in the United States, hundreds of thousands of people turned out to give their support to him, and it was thought that MacArthur might be a potential Presidential candidate in 1952, but Dwight Eisenhower stepped into that role instead. Senator Bob Taft suggested that Truman should be impeached and the disapproval of Truman’s handling of the Korean War and the dismissal of MacArthur led to Truman setting a record for lowest approval rating since polling started tracking Presidential approval ratings. A few months after Truman fired MacArthur, the President’s approval rating was actually lower than Richard Nixon’s in the midst of Watergate. Truman probably wouldn’t have ran for President in 1952 anyway, but his unpopularity made the decision to retire an easy choice.
With that said, Truman made the right move and protected the power and duties of the Presidency by putting his foot down and not allowing General MacArthur get away with insubordination. As more years passed, Truman’s dismissal of MacArthur was seen much in the same way that Gerald Ford’s pardon of Richard Nixon was – a politically damaging act that was also the correct decision.
I know I rambled a bit with my answer (I’m really tired), so if you want a simple and direct explanation of why President Truman dismissed General MacArthur, Truman gave his side of the manner in plain, trademark Truman language while he enjoyed his retirement in Missouri in the 1960s:
“I fired him because he wouldn’t respect the authority of the President. I didn’t fire him because he was a dumb son of a bitch, although he was. But that’s not against the law for generals. If it was, half to three-quarters of them would be in jail.”