Biography of Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964)

Military American, born in Little Rock (Arkansas) on January 26, 1880 and died in Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington on April 14, 1964. During the second world war he/she was Supreme Commander of the Allied troops in the Pacific and became famous for the defense of the Philippines (see contemporary history of the Philippines). Led United Nations troops during the war in Korea and was relieved from his post by their differences with President Truman.

Son of Arthur MacArthur, a hero of the Civil War, Douglas MacArthur was raised in military environments and attended a school military in Texas. He/She remained in the Academy military West Point until 1903, year in which he/she graduated with full honors. He/She soon began a brilliant military career, which began as an observer in the Russo-Japanese war of 1904 and in some missions in the Philippines. Between 1906 and 1907 he/she collaborated with President Theodore Roosevelt, a friend of his father. It came at the beginning of the first world war with the rank of Colonel, but he/she was soon promoted to generalship and sent to Europe. He/She served in France in front of the 42nd ("Rainbow") Division, being wounded and decorated division. In June 1918, he/she was appointed brigadier general and Commander of the 84th Infantry Brigade, which took part in the occupation of Germany at the end of the war.

Between 1919 and 1922, Douglas MacArthur was Superintendent of the Military Academy of West Point, where he/she helped modernize the training methods. In 1922 he/she was sent to the Philippines as head of US forces in the country and returned to the United States three years later to put at the service of general William Mitchell. In 1928 he/she was appointed head of the Department of the Philippines and in 1930 he/she reached the headquarters of the General staff in Washington, where he/she served for five years, being the youngest and most controversial of those who had occupied it so far; in 1932 he/she received strong personal criticism for leading the forces that evicted some protest marches in the capital. In 1935, MacArthur was appointed director of the Organization of national defense of the Philippine Islands and the following year Philippine President Manuel Quezónappointed him Marshal of the Philippine Army. MacArthur left the service to the army in 1937, but in July 1941 American was reinstated to the service by the President Roosvelt and received the command of the U.S. Army in the Philippines.

In March 1942 general MacArthur should leave the Philippines because of Japanese superiority. Like his father, he/she received the Medal of Honor, and under orders of President Roosvelt, went to Australia as Supreme Commander of the Allied forces in the Southwest Pacific. Since Australia launched the campaign in New Guinea and between October 1944 and July of the following year, he/she directed the campaigns that led to the liberation of the Philippine Islands. MacArthur then undertook the conquest of Okinawa and other positions on the Japan route. Victory in these operations led to the victory Allied on Japan even before the release of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and carried that in December 1944 MacArthur was promoted to the position of general of the Navy (of five stars). MacArthur accepted the surrender of Japan aboard the U.S.S. Missouri anchored in Tokyo Bay, September 2, 1945 and was then appointed commander of the Allied forces in Japan and director of the Allied occupation of Japan. From this position, he/she worked for the reconstruction of the Japanese political structure, its economy, and even influenced the reconfiguration of relations between the Japanese and their own Emperor.

The candidacy of MacArthur was seriously considered by the Republican party for the presidential election of 1948, but his defection in the primary elections of the State of Wisconsin disappointed his followers.

Since the end of the second world war, United States militarily controlled territories which three years later became the Republic of Korea. General MacArthur had appointed general John Hodge Commander of the Government military of United States in Korea (August 26, 1945), Government that was already consolidated in September of the same year. The Republic of Korea (South Korea) was created by on August 15, 1948. MacArthur was found to be present at the opening ceremonies of President Syngman Rhee, who promised Seoul the US aid in case of attack by the Communists. However, this promise did not count with the blessing of Washington, where it was thought that the defence of Korea was not a subject of national priority; in June 1949 the American forces abandoned the occupation of the country.

And on 25 July the following year the troops of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) crossed the 38th parallel and invaded the territory of the Republic of Korea. US President Truman, declared war, and MacArthur was named general in Chief of the forces of the United Nations. From Tokyo, he/she directed the American counteroffensive during the first days of the conflict. Was your greatest victory landing on Ichon, which allowed cutting enemy supply lines and threatening their rear. The North Korean troops retreated and the UN authorized to be unified by force the peninsula of Korea (October 7, 1950). Immediately MacArthur with his Army crossed the 38th parallel. General calmed the fears of President Truman on a possible intervention of China in the Korea war and, while the Chinese claimed that they would enter the war if UN troops continued their advance toward the Yalu River, MacArthur told Truman that the Chinese intervention was unlikely. But on 25 October the Popular Army of liberation of China attacked, forcing UN forces to retreat to the South. MacArthur suggested that the best solution was to carry the war to China itself, which was vetoed by President Truman. The general began a controversial campaign in which he/she faced publicly with the President, missing to the constitutional principle of the subordination of military power to civilian rule, reason by which was relieved of his post on April 11, 1951.

Douglas MacArthur in 1952 began his career toward the Presidency of the United States of America, although it did not have any success. He/She spent the last twelve years of his life residing in New York, pronouncing speeches and advising the official rulers. In 1960 the Emperor of Japan, Hirohito distinguished him with the most prized Japanese decoration, the Grand Cordon of the order of rising sun.

On his death, his body received the homage of an entire nation in the Rotunda of the Capitol in Washington. Later his remains were moved to Norfold (Virginia). A few days after his death published appeared in the press statements made in 1954, with the condition not to make them public until after his death, which described as betrayal the American performance in the Korea war and left in doubt the English. His memoirs were published a year after his death.


Diego, e. (cor.) History of the contemporary world. Madrid, Actas, 1994.

GARCÍA DE CORTÁZAR, F. history of the modern world (1945-1995). Madrid, 1996.