The Original ‘Big Mac’

26 January marks the birthday of Douglas MacArthur, 5 Star General of the Army. MacArthur was the grandson of a Milwaukee, Wisconsin Judge and the son of a Medal of Honor winner, who fought in the Civil War as part of the 24th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry Regiment.

Douglas MacArthur would graduate first in his class from the United States Military Academy at West Point in June of 1903. In 1919 he would be named Superintendent of the United States Military Academy. In 1930 he was named Chief of Staff of the United States Army.

In 1941, MacArthur was named Commander of US Army Forces in the Far East. In February 1942, MacArthur and his staff were evacuated from the Philippines to avoid Japanese capture. Breaking a Japanese blockade to arrive in Australia MacArthur announced, “I came through, and I shall return”, thus creating one of the most famous slogans of the war.

At the end of World War II MacArthur was named Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (SCAP) and was effectively the interim leader of Japan from 1945 until 1948. In the rebuilding of Japan, MacArthur was determined to eradicate militarism and ultra-nationalism, promote political civil liberties, and institute a democratic government. MacArthur’s staff drafted a new constitution that renounced war and stripped the Emperor of his military authority. During the Occupation, SCAP successfully, if not entirely, abolished many of the financial coalitions known as the Zaibatsu, which had previously monopolized industry. Commentators at the time referred to MacArthur’s sweeping reforms as “SCAPitalism”.

During World War II, the staff of General MacArthur included, Philip LaFollette, a former Governor of Wisconsin.