Military Leaders and the Presidency

December 5, 1947

Report Outline
War Heroes and the 1948 Presidential Race
Issues Raised by Candidacy of War Leaders
War Leaders as Candidates for President
Records of Military Presidents in Office

War Heroes and the 1948 Presidential Race

Availability of War Leaders as Political Candidates

The spectacular growth of the Eisenhower-for-President boom in recent months and the possibility of a separate boom for Gen. MacArthur upon his return from Japan in April have revived a perennial controversy over the place of military leaders in the nation's civic affairs. A leading columnist1 has called the movements on behalf of the two generals a “military blitzkrieg,” and has warned that the nomination of either man would violate “our basic tradition of civilian responsibility in …politics and …government.” On the other hand, partisans of Eisenhower and MacArthur have pointed to the long line of military men who have occupied the White House in the past, and have argued that the high qualities of leadership demonstrated by the World War II heroes provide exactly what is needed to handle the domestic and foreign problems now confronting the country.

Although Eisenhower and MacArthur were frequently mentioned as presidential possibilities during the war, they were not taken seriously by the politicians of either party until an independent Republican movement for Eisenhower suddenly caught the popular fancy in the summer of 1947. A Gallup poll in August showed that 35 per cent of the persons questioned wanted Eisenhower to be a candidate; another poll in September indicated that 48 per cent would vote for him in a contest with Truman.

In view of repeated denials by Eisenhower of any interest in the presidency, his showing in the polls was considered phenomenal. It led Alf M. Landon to predict in a letter to Newsweek, Sept. 15, that Eisenhower would be “a factor at the Philadelphia convention, whether an announced candidate or not.” And a month later Henry A. Wallace said flatly that the general would be nominated by the Republicans and would win against Truman “hands down.”

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Nov. 23, 1960  Transfer of Executive Power
Apr. 04, 1956  Vice Presidency
Oct. 15, 1952  Change of Presidents
Jun. 09, 1950  President and Mid-Term Elections
Oct. 20, 1948  Federal Patronage
Mar. 24, 1948  The South and the Presidency
Dec. 05, 1947  Military Leaders and the Presidency
Apr. 16, 1947  Veto Power of the President
Sep. 20, 1945  Succession to the Presidency
Sep. 12, 1940  The War Powers of the President
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Jan. 06, 1938  The Power to Declare War
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Dec. 28, 1936  Limitation of the President's Tenure
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Dec. 16, 1932  The Veto Power of the President
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