George C. Marshall


George C. Marshall

George C. Marshall was born on December 31, 1880, in Uniontown, Pennsylvania.  He graduated from the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) in 1901 and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant. During World War I he was stationed in France and won acclaim for his direction of the Meuse-Argonne offensive.  Before the offensive, Marshall was responsible for; the withdrawal of 200,000 men, and replacing them with 600,000 American soldiers, making sure that there were hospitals to treat the sick and wounded, moving more than 3,000 cannons and 40,000 tons of ammunition, all the while hiding these movements from the Germans by moving only at night.

After World War I he was a high-level aide to General John J. Pershing. Prior to the outbreak of World War II he progressed steadily from assistant chief-of-staff of the U.S. Army (July, 1938) to deputy chief of staff (October, 1938), to chief of staff the following year. In 1944, Marshall was promoted to General of the Army. He spent a year in China in 1945-46 as President Truman's representative, attempting to bring about a peaceful resolution to the conflict between the nationalists and the communists.

As Secretary of State from 1947 to 1949, he developed an economic program, the Marshall Plan, to help bring relief to war torn nations in Europe.  The plan stipulated that the United States war prepared to assist Europe on certain terms.  The European countries were to (1) Confer and Determine their needs on a continental basis; (2) show what resources they could put into a common pool for economic rebuilding; (3) stabilize their currencies; and (4) try to remove trade barriers so that goods could flow freely throughout the continent. With the assistance of the Marshall Plan, Western Europe began to recover from the ravages of war. Marshall's effort to include the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe in this grand design was rejected by Moscow. As Western Europe rebuilt, Europe was divided both economically and ideologically, and conflicting politics soon laid the ground for "The Cold War".  When it became evident that the gap between Eastern and Western Europe would not be bridged, and that the Western European states feared for their safety, Marshall was one of the leaders who created the North Atlantic Treaty Organization which has ensured the security of the West. The establishment of NATO in 1949 achieved a balance of power in Europe that endured until the end of the Cold War.

In the last official position as Secretary of Defense during 1950-51, Marshall oversaw the formation of an international force, under the United Nations, that turned back the North Korean invasion of South Korea. George Catlett Marshall died on October 16, 1959, and he was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Although he spent most of his life in the U.S. military, Marshall is best remembered as a true internationalist who sought peace for the world through cooperation and understanding among nations. It was a fitting tribute to a splendid career spent pursuing this ideal that Marshall received the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1953.

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