Douglas MacArthur (1880–1964)

General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, one of the six men to attain that rank, was born in Little Rock (Pulaski County). MacArthur Park and the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History in Little Rock bear his name.

Douglas MacArthur was born in the Tower Building of the Little Rock Barracks (previously the Little Rock Arsenal) on January 26, 1880, the third son of Captain Arthur MacArthur and his wife, Mary Pinkney Hardy. Arthur MacArthur had served in the Wisconsin Twenty-fourth Volunteer Infantry Regiment during the Civil War and was stationed at the Little Rock Barracks. The MacArthurs remained in Arkansas only six months before the captain was reassigned to New Mexico. Before departing Little Rock, Douglas MacArthur was baptized at Christ Episcopal Church, a site he visited when he returned to Little Rock in 1952.

MacArthur received countless awards and recognitions throughout his lifetime. He was first in his graduating class at West Point in 1903 and was one of the most highly decorated American soldiers in World War I. In 1928, he headed the American Olympic Committee for the Amsterdam games. He served as chief of staff of the army under two presidents. In 1937, he retired and became field marshal of the Philippine Army only to return to active duty in 1941. During World War II, he served as general of U.S. Army Forces–Far East and was later appointed supreme allied commander of the Southwest Pacific Theater, reaching the rank of a five-star General of the Army. For his actions, he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. He accepted the surrender of Japan and served as supreme commander of the Allied Powers in the occupation of Japan. Later, he was made commander of United Nations forces in the Korean War but was relieved of command because of public statements that were inconsistent with those of President Harry S. Truman. He delivered the keynote speech at the 1952 Republican National Convention.

MacArthur married Louise Cromwell Brooks in 1922; they divorced seven years later. He married Jean Marie Faircloth in 1937, and they had one son.

The preserved Tower Building stands today in MacArthur Park in downtown Little Rock and currently houses the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History. MacArthur returned to the Little Rock site in 1952 for ceremonies commemorating the park in his name. The site was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1994.

MacArthur died on April 5, 1964, at the U.S. Army Hospital Walter Reed in Washington DC from complications following surgery. He is interred along with his second wife in a museum dedicated to his memory in downtown Norfolk, Virginia.

For additional information:
MacArthur, Douglas. Reminiscences. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1965.

MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History. Little Rock, Arkansas. (accessed August 19, 2023).

Perret, Geoffrey. Old Soldiers Never Die: The Life of Douglas MacArthur. New York: Random House, 1996.

John Spurgeon
Bella Vista, Arkansas


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