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General Douglas MacArthur Making Famous Farewell Address to Joint Session of Congress, photograph by Mark Kauffman, April 19, 1951

Invited to address a joint session of Congress, General Douglas MacArthur urged a tougher stance against communism in Asia. After half a century of military service, he bid farewell to the nation, quoting a line from a West Point ballad: “Old soldiers never die, they just fade away.” The following day, MacArthur was honored by a New York ticker-tape parade.

Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

General Douglas MacArthur Making Famous Farewell Address to Joint Session of Congress, photograph by Mark Kauffman, April 19, 1951

Congress Investigates General MacArthur’s Dismissal

In 1950 President Harry S. Truman appointed war hero General Douglas MacArthur as supreme commander of United Nations (UN) forces in Korea. When the conflict between UN-backed South Korea and Chinese-supported North Korea reached a stalemate, MacArthur publicly challenged the president’s strategy to end the war through diplomacy. Truman fired MacArthur, but popular support for MacArthur prompted a Senate investigation of the Korean conflict and the Far East. The investigation confirmed Truman’s authority over MacArthur but reemphasized congressional war powers.

In 1951 Congress investigated whether President Harry S. Truman acted within his powers when he fired General Douglas MacArthur––and concluded that he did.